Mark Cuban admits Mavs tanked, Adam Silver has some explaining to do

Mark Cuban admits Mavs tanked, Adam Silver has some explaining to do

In the olden days when the Mafia was at its zenith, the worst thing a made guy could do was talk out of school. They took an oath of silence, and anyone who yapped got capped.

Pretty simple rule, all things considered.

Those days are done, though. Bosses, or in our example sports owners, can’t wait to tell us about themselves and what they do and how they make the sausage that they pass off to you as breakfast.

The latest example of this is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban telling Dan Patrick that the Mavs tanked games like fiends in 2017, going so far as to explain the already well-known machinery of the tank.

This is news in the way that the Donald Trump/James Comey memo is news – you already knew it, but seeing the admission and/or the paperwork somehow makes it worse.

At least it does to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who heard the interview and then spent much of the afternoon trying to figure out how to strangle Cuban over the phone.

But that’s his problem. He makes the big money putting up with 30 mega-narcissists who can’t help spilling secrets when their egos get involved – which is always.

And now Silver gets to explain to a skeptical public how maybe 10 to 15 percent of his league’s 1230-game inventory is not on the competitive up-and-up for quantifiable business and qualitative health reasons.

Understand this is not a plea for sympathy for Silver. He’s known these maniacs for decades, and he’s seen the change in franchises’ opinions toward the regular season for years. None of this is new to him, and he has no solution for any of it save the threat of relegation to the G-League, which has less chance of happening than America respecting its politicians ever again.

Still, to have Cuban blurt it out so cheerfully and brazenly, while refreshingly honest, is a bit of a jar to the sensibilities. He knows no lawsuit against him will ever fail because the batteries-not-included print on his team’s tickets don’t promise anything but an athletic contest. On that minimal standard, he is correct, and anyone who knows anything about the modern definition of customer service knows that the minimum is all you’re getting, and that’s only if you’ve kept the receipt and know the store manager.

Cuban is banking, and probably correctly, that fans hearing the news that what they already believe – that tanking is not only plentiful but an actual strategy – is actually true works to the advantage of the owners and the business. It’s the intoxicating peek inside the abattoir that appeals to the avid fan, and his or her need to feel in on the scam while being scammed.

Hey, it’s a psychology thing.

Cuban’s view, in fact, is probably closer to league orthodoxy than Silver is comfortable with, given that the draft lottery is the very telegenic by-product of tanking. The league has monetized the strategy of not giving it your all, and the Philadelphia 76ers its very embodiment.

Now tanking actually isn’t an effective strategy most of the time because there just aren’t enough generational players to go around. It is, however, the only sensible alternative to just being the Sacramento Kings, and Silver understands that part clearly.

So Mark Cuban showed us how the sawing-the-assistant-in-half trick works because that’s what he does. Adam Silver will fine him, nothing will change, and next year regular season venues will be littered with parachutes from teams bailing on their traditional customer responsibilities.

In other words, Cuban just told us in his best Lee Strasburg voice, “This . . . is the business . . . we’ve chosen.”

Kings move up to No. 5 pick, keep No. 10 pick in 2017 NBA Draft

Kings move up to No. 5 pick, keep No. 10 pick in 2017 NBA Draft

The ping pong balls have spoken. There is some good news and some bad. The lottery gods smiled down on the Sacramento when the team jumped from the eighth overall all the way to the third pick in the draft. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia 76ers had the right to swap picks, costing Sacramento two spots.

Sacramento now officially own both the fifth and 10th overall selections after the Pelicans failed to move up into the top three of the draft. While a top three selection would have been a huge boon for the team, the Kings have to be ecstatic with a top five selection in a highly regarded draft class.

The Kings GM Vlade Divac issued a statement shortly after the conclusion of the NBA Draft Lottery.

"We are pleased with the outcome tonight and excited to have secured two top 10 picks in a very strong draft. We’re in a great position to improve our team and we look forward to the draft this summer."

It could have been much worse for Sacramento. After six years, the J.J. Hickson transaction is finally off the books. By staying inside the top 10 with their own selection, the Kings will now relay their second round selection (pick No. 38) to the Chicago Bulls to complete the 2011 trade that sent Omri Casspi and a protected pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Hickson.

Hickson didn’t make it through the season before being waived, but the pick restrictions remained in place, hampering the Kings’ ability to make trades involving picks for ever since.

Sacramento also received good news when the New Orleans Pelicans card was flipped at No. 10. The Kings landed a top three protected pick from the Pelicans as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade over All-Star weekend. With New Orleans failing to move up into the top three spots, their picks is now officially property of the Kings.

It wasn’t a banner night. The team moved up into the top end of the lottery where a bevy of young point guards are waiting. But the fact that the Kings walk into a very strong draft night on June 22nd with No. 5 and No. 10 and an early second rounder obtained in the Cousins deal, is good news for a franchise in rebuild mode.

Here is the complete lottery:

14. Heat
13. Nuggets
12. Pistons
11. Hornets
10. Kings
9. Mavericks
8. Knicks
7. Timberwolves
6. Magic
5. Kings
4. Suns
3. 76ers
2. Lakers
1. Celtics

Kings' 2017 NBA Draft Lottery scenarios: Best case, worst case, most likely

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Kings' 2017 NBA Draft Lottery scenarios: Best case, worst case, most likely

Programming note: Watch the Kings NBA Draft Lottery show with Jim Kozimor and Jon Wilson tonight at 5pm, streaming live right here.

The anticipation is excruciating. Hope springs eternal. Reality is brutal. It’s Draft Lottery night 2017.

It’s complicated. That is the only way to describe the Sacramento Kings 2017 NBA Lottery that will unfold on Tuesday evening. Usually the night consists of nothing more than a bunch of ping pong balls in a hopper and a wall of numerical possibilities. Sacramento can only dream of that scenario.

The Kings cannot receive the top overall selection. Through a combination of two possible picks, they can land at two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen. They can also lose both of their selections in this year’s draft and come away with nothing, but the odds of that are almost statistically impossible.

Here is a quick primer on the situation. For those who do not understand the lottery process, there are 14 ping pong balls, numbered 1-14 that are put into a hopper. Four balls are drawn at a time, creating one of 1,001 possibilities. One of those possibilities is removed from the equation, leaving 1000 potential outcomes. The 14 teams that missed the playoffs are given a specific number of those 1000 possibilities, depending on their record for the 2016-17 season.

The worst team in the league, the Brooklyn Nets in this case (although their pick is owed to the Boston Celtics), have 250 of the potential 1000 combinations. The Miami Heat, who finished the season 41-41 and barely missed the playoffs have just five combinations in play.

Only the top three selections are drawn and the remainder of the draft goes in order according to record. The worst case scenario for the Nets (besides the one that has already played out with the Celtics owning their pick), is that they fall from the top spot to the fourth overall selection.

It’s a lot more confusing when it comes to Sacramento. They currently own the eighth (28 total numerical combinations) and tenth (11 numerical combination) most combinations in the lottery, but it’s still more complex than that.

The eighth overall selection has a 2.8 percent chance of landing No. 1 overall, a 3.3 percent chance of landing No. 2 and a 3.9 percent chance of landing the third overall pick. Unfortunately for Sacramento, the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently sit in the fourth position in the lottery (119 numerical combinations), have the right to swap picks with the Kings from a trade consummated in 2015.

If the Kings land the top overall selection, the Sixers will take the pick and their selection (2, 3, 5, 6 or 7) goes directly to Sacramento. If Philly lands a better pick than Sacramento, the pick swap goes unused and is extinguished moving forward.

In addition to the 76ers quagmire, there is an extremely small chance that three teams ranked lower than Sacramento (Dallas, Sacramento (yes, their second first round selection can hurt them), Charlotte, Detroit, Denver and Miami) move ahead of them in the draft lottery. In this scenario, the Kings would fall to the 11th overall selection and their pick would go to the Chicago Bulls as part of the nightmare J.J. Hickson trade from 2011. If this worst case scenario does not play out, the Bulls get the Kings second round selection (38th overall).

There are also restrictions on the tenth overall spot that Sacramento currently occupies. The Kings received a 2017 top three protected selection from the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade. If the Pelicans somehow land a top three pick, they retain the selection and the Kings receive a Top 1 protected pick from New Orleans in either 2018, 2019 or 2020.

New Orleans selection has a 1.1 percent chance of landing the top spot, a 1.3 percent opportunity of landing No. 2 and a 1.6 percent shot at No. 3. There is an 87 percent chance that the Pelicans remain at No. 10. There is also an 8.9 percent chance they drop to 11 and a .2 percent chance of they fall to 12 and less than a .1 percent chance they select at the 13th overall spot.

Best Case Scenario

In a dream world, the 76ers land the top overall pick, Sacramento nabs the second overall selection and the Pelicans pick stays at No. 10. Kings draft at No. 2 and No. 10 and are able to add two quality players.

A similar scenario, but one that leaves the Kings wondering “what if,” Sacramento lands the top pick, Philly lands the second overall selection (swaps) and the Pelicans stay at 10. This has the same outcome as scenario one, but with a little bit of egg on the Kings’ face.

Worst Case Scenario

Both picks go away. The odds of it happening are miniscule, but the possibility remains that three teams move above the Kings, including the Pelicans. In this horrific scenario the Kings lose both their own pick (to Chicago) and the Pelicans pick (because it’s top 3 protected).

There are plenty of other unfortunate scenarios for the Kings. They could land a top three spot and Philly could land at No. 7 and swap. Any combination of the Pelicans moving into the top three is bad, although the Kings would likely get New Orleans pick in 2018.

Most Likely Scenario

The odds are in favor of Sacramento retaining their own pick which will likely fall at eight or nine. It is also very likely (96 percent chance) that New Orleans will fail to move up and remain at No. 10. In this scenario, the Kings drafty at 8/9 and 10 and avoid a rough night.