NBA

NBA opens investigation behind the Mavericks’ decision to bench star players in crucial game vs. Bulls

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Luka Doncic Kyrie Irving Dallas Mavericks

There is no doubt now that the Mavericks have become the biggest disappointment this 2022/23 campaign, as they missed out on the playoffs after 82 games of regular season. But it doesn’t end there, as there’s ungoing speculation surrounding the team’s failed tournament.

This weekend the Dallas squad still had a chance to qualify to the postseason in their Friday matchup vs. the Bulls, but ironically the team’s management decided to bench some of their best players, and the NBA wants to find out why.

The league opened an investigation over why the Mavs held out many of their key players as they still had mathematical chances of making it to the Play-in Tournament. The Texan team ended up losing 115 to 112 after blowing an 11-point advantage in the last quarter.

Some of the reasons behind this decision might be linked to the fact that this outcome helps guarantee that Dallas will recieve a top-10 draft pick in the offseason, and a 4.5% chance of earning the opportunity of selecting young french sensation Victor Wembanyama.

“The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks’ roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night’s Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions,” league representant Mike Bass announced.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that even though the possible penalties are still unclear, he insisted at the beginning of the campaign that the league is done with tolerating these blatant intentions to tank players.

“I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially through our lottery that they could get (Wembanyama), so they should all still compete very hard next season,” Silver said at the start of this season.

Mavs coach Jason Kidd was clear since before the match that their decision to sit star athletes was taken by “the organization”, talking especifically about General Manager Nico Harrison and owner Mark Cuban.

“The organization, they made this decision,” Kidd said before Friday’s game, later adding, “we have to go by that.”

When the game came to an end, the coach added: “This is maybe a step back, but hopefully it leads to going forward. … These are decisions that are made from my bosses and we’ve got to follow them and we trust that Cuban and Nico are going to put the pieces together to put us in a position to win a championship. And that’s just starting the process today.”

Take a look at the highlights from Chicago’s late triumph in this weekend clash vs. the Mavs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKzgXy9_kXg

This wasn’t the first time that the Texan squad had been investigated for tanking

Not too long ago, the Mavericks were also under investigation by the NBA for the exact same reason. Back then in February 2018, the league fined Cuban with $600,000 after the owner admitted in a podcast having purposely tanked players.

Those comments on a podcast with basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving were described as “public statements detrimental to the NBA,” by Commissioner Adam Silver.

Before this happened, Dallas was playing amazing basketball, until Cuban’s unfortunate comments everything began to fall apart into what became a 24-58 campaign. The Mavs owner eventually admitted to the press that he’d earned the fine.

“I got excited talking to Dr. J and said something I shouldn’t have,” he acknowledged.

This current season they have suffered a similar fate, as Dallas was comportable on their way to the playoffs by the trade deadline, but a series of bad decisions by the administration have cost them deeply.