NBA Investigates Team for Sitting Players in Loss

Suspicion is Mavericks were shooting for a better draft pick
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2023 11:40 AM CDT
NBA Investigates Team for Sitting Players in Loss
The Dallas Mavericks' bench watches play against the Chicago Bulls late in the second half of an NBA game Friday in Dallas.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

It's not unusual for fans to argue a team's decisions about whom to play and whom to bench, but now the NBA has those questions for the Dallas Mavericks. The team lost by 3 points on Friday night—115-112—while holding several of its top players, including All-Star Kyrie Irving, out of the game, USA Today reports. The next day, the league announced an investigation into the Mavericks' "game conduct" and lineup decisions, "including the motivations behind those actions." The incentive for losing would be a shot at having a better draft pick, per Yahoo Sports.

Coach Jason Kidd described resting most of the regulars as an "organizational decision," naming governor Mark Cuban and general manager Nico Harrison. Cuban was fined $600,000 in 2018 after publicly admitting the Mavericks were losing intentionally. On Wednesday, Cuban said he realized some fans want the team to guard its lottery position in the draft by tanking. "Players aren't going to do that," he said. "Players don't do that." In addition to those who didn't play at all, All-Star Luka Doncic was pulled after 12½ minutes.

Before the game, the team announced it was holding out Irving over a foot injury, Tim Hardaway Jr. because of a sore ankle, Maxi Kleber over a hamstring injury, and Josh Green and Christian Wood to allow them to rest, per ESPN. "It's not so much waving the white flag," Kidd said after the game. "It's [that] decisions sometimes are hard in this business. We're trying to build a championship team." He said he didn't expect any of those players, or Doncic, to play in the team's final game Sunday afternoon. (More Dallas Mavericks stories.)

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