An NBA tanking mystery is upon us!
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated in a recent episode of his podcast that an NBA coach was berated by his owner for beating a good team on the road and not doing all he can to ensure losses.
“I never heard more talk from front office executives, frustration with coaches who were winning games they didn’t want them to win. And owners, I know of an instance of an owner berating, really berating his coach here in the last several weeks of the season for going in and beating a pretty good team on the road, going ‘what are you doing?’ And that should not… think about that, that should not be going on.”
Shown above are the potential teams who have an owner savage enough to go off on a coach for winning. You can go ahead and cross off teams 8-14, which leaves us with Mark Cuban (Mavs), Vivek Ranadive (Kings), Robert Pera (Grizzlies), Robert Sarver (Suns), Antony Ressler (Hawks), Richard Marvin DeVos Sr. (Magic), and Jerry Reinsdorf (Bulls).
Cuban, of course, was fined $600,000 in February for saying “Losing is our best option,” so he’s obviously a strong candidate on the surface. That being said, the Mavs did not beat any quality teams on the road in March or April which effectively eliminates them.
In fact, only the Kings (beat Golden State), Grizzlies (beat Minnesota), and Hawks (beat Boston, Washington, Utah) logged unexpected road wins over good teams over the past two months so that narrows the field down to just three: Ranadive, Pera, and Ressler.
My best guess? It’s Ressler. The Hawks finished with the fourth-worst record at 24-58 but could have been worse if they didn’t come up with inexplicable back-to-back wins over the Celtics and Wizards to close out the season. Pera would be second given the Grizzlies had an interim coach in JB Bickerstaff for most of the season.