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NBA fines Mavericks $750,000 for tanking, which will do nothing to stop tanking

Mike Florio and Peter King debate the likelihood of draft possibilities, such as Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud going No. 1 overall, Jalen Carter going in the Top 5 or falling out of the Top 10 and more.

Tanking happens in the NFL, usually with some degree of subtlety and always with zero degree of interest on the part of the league office in acknowledging that tanking happens.

Tanking happens less subtly in the NBA, where the powers-that-be are willing to issue punishments when it clearly happens. But the punishments imposed raise an obvious question. If all the NBA will be doing in response to taking is issuing a fine, why bother to stop?

Via the Associated Press, the NBA has fined the Dallas Mavericks $750,000 for resting players last week in an effort to improve their chances at a lottery pick in the 2023 draft. The NBA concluded that the Mavericks engaged in “conduct detrimental to the league.”

While $750,000 is hardly a parking ticket, it still can be dismissed as the cost of doing business. For the Mavericks, missing the play-in phase of the postseason meant keeping a top-10 draft pick -- and avoiding the surrender of their first-round selection to the Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade in 2019.

“The Dallas Mavericks’ decision to restrict key players from fully participating in an elimination game last Friday against Chicago undermined the integrity of our sport,” NBA head of basketball operations/executive vice president Joe Dumars said. “The Mavericks’ actions failed our fans and our league.”

But the Mavericks succeeded in keeping their top-10 pick. The proper response for this one is clear, if the NBA truly cares about conduct detrimental to the league -- strip the pick. Especially since the NBA already fined Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 in 2018 for admitting to tanking.

Without that kind of sanction, the NBA’s response is that it will huff and it will puff and it won’t blow anyone’s house down.

It’s almost better to take a page from the NFL’s playbook and not bother huffing and puffing at all.