The Philadelphia 76ers have been criticized by many for tanking this season, but the most powerful man in basketball says that he has no issues with the Sixers' rebuilding strategy.
Prior to last night's Sixers-Wizards game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended the 76ers' plan, one day after former head coach Stan Van Gundy told the audience at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC) that what the Sixers are doing this year is "embarrassing."
"I don't agree with Coach Van Gundy at all," said Silver. "It is an insult to the entire league suggesting these guys are going out on the floor and not doing their very best to win games."
Silver went on to explain that the 76ers and general manager Sam Hinkie are only doing what was necessary in order for the franchise to compete for years to come.
"You look at any business, you look at short-term results and long-term results," Silver said. "And if you told a business, if somebody told you a business was going to operate on a quarter-by-quarter [basis], you'd say, 'That's not the way to operate a business.' You'd say, 'You need a strategy. You need to look at the long-term.' And I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they're doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up."
"And so, if you look at what's happened here over the last several years, it's badly needed," he said. "Somebody needs a plan. Somebody needs a vision to win here. And I think that's what's happening."
Van Gundy doesn't see it quite the same way, and he made no secret of his feelings during a session on basketball analytics last Friday at SSAC.
"I don't care, Adam Silver can say there's no tanking or what's going on -- if you're putting that roster on the floor, you're doing everything you can possibly do to try to lose," said Van Gundy.
During the same panel, former Toronto Raptors' GM Bryan Colangelo admitted that he privately wanted his team to lose games during the 2011-12 season in order to improve its draft standing.
"I tried to tank a couple years ago," Colangelo said. "And I didn't come out and say, 'Coach, you've got to lose games.' I never said that. I wanted to establish a winning tradition and a culture and all of that. But I wanted to do it in the framework of playing the young players, and with that, comes losing. There's just no way to avoid that."
The Raptors finished the abbreviated season with a 23-43 record and the eighth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Colangelo's goal was the No. 1 overall pick, but said that then-head coach Dwane Casey "did too good of a job in motivating his players."
The tanking discussion didn't end with Silver on Saturday night: According to our very own Michael Baumann, a couple of reporters tried to goad Allen Iverson into offering his thoughts on the Sixers' current situation, but Iverson chose not to address the issue.
Whether they're intentionally trying to lose or not, it's clear that the Sixers simply don't have the talent to compete on a nightly basis. After last night's loss, the team fell to 15-44, and has dropped 13 straight for the first time since the 1996-97 season.