Buzzer Beater: Tanking

Sports editors weigh in on the controversial technique

The Spectrum

As of Monday morning, the Amar’e Stoudemire era in New York City officially came to an end. The New York Knicks successfully completed a buyout of his lucrative 5-year, $100 million contract signed in the summer of 2010.

But the release of Stoudemire continues the controversy of “tanking” in the NBA. Tanking is a technique that failing franchises use to flop its current season in order to receive a higher draft pick in the following year’s lottery. The Knicks – whose record currently stands at 10-43 – have been criticized for doing just that for Stoudemire and shutting down their best player in Carmelo Anthony.

The Spectrum sports desk discusses whether the controversial move was right for the Knicks and if there should be something done about tanking for the league.

Jordan Grossman, senior sports editor

There is a moral and an immoral way of tanking – and the Knicks are currently doing the latter.

I’m an advocate for tanking. It can only make the league better as a whole. Commissioner Adam Silver has made it a point to make the entire league more competitive, not just the same three or four teams that make it to the conference finals each year.

Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves who hold two of the four lowest records in the NBA this season – are in the middle of rebuilding stages. It’s understandable why they would tank: they have nothing to lose. The Sixers and the Timberwolves drafted young talent and are awaiting more in next year’s draft.

The Knicks, however, are tanking for all the wrong reasons. They shut down one of the best players in the game in Carmelo Anthony and have traded away essential parts of the team to clear space to sign big-time free agents next summer.

The Knicks have also been a perennial powerhouse in one of the biggest markets in the world. Players will flock to New York, but not Philadelphia or Minnesota. The Knicks could be relevant as soon as next season, but probably not the Sixers or Timberwolves.

Quentin Haynes, sports editor

For starters, I’m pro-tanking. 

Some NBA teams can’t manage to play with larger markets like Los Angeles, New York and surprisingly, Miami for superstars on the open market. What’s the best way to combat that? You build a treasure trove of first round draft picks and try to land a superstar in the NBA draft. From there, you have seven seasons of control on a possible superstar.

As for the New York Knicks, I’m positive that the controversial tactic is the right way to go. Carmelo Anthony is currently injured and the rest of the team is lackluster. The Knicks, like they’ve been for most of the 21 years I’ve been on this earth, are just plain bad and they turned that into a tanking season.

This year, they just so happen to have their first round pick, so the combination of being awful, Carmelo’s injury and a ton of changes (the triangle offense, Phil Jackson in the front office and Derek Fisher on the sidelines) equal the Knicks being one of the worst teams in the NBA. After years of getting rid of young talent, the Knicks will be in prime position to add a top five pick.

If you’re still against tanking, look at what happened this past week: Goran Dragic was just traded to the Miami Heat – one of three teams he looked to be traded to. The other markets were New York and Los Angeles.

Tanking, for better or for worse, allows teams like New Orleans, Charlotte or Sacramento to get a good basketball player and get their best seasons before he falls victim to unrestricted free agency.

Oh, and no way the Knicks win the lottery this June.

James Battle, asst. sports editor

Don’t be fooled by the Nets cap in my headshot: I am a Knicks fan through and through.

Frankly, being a Knicks fan has been tough for as long as I can remember, and the fact that the Knicks still have such a large and dedicated fan base says a lot about the resilience of New Yorkers.

The Knicks are currently 10-43 in the season, and with 29 games to go, winning every game would still see the Knicks with a losing season. With the loss of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony’s season-ending surgery, attaining that feat is as unrealistic as ever.

So, why lose again?

While many think that tanking is unethical and immoral, I believe that it is a legitimate tactic. Rarely would a team plan on tanking as soon as the season ends. It’s a mid-season decision. I still believe that up until very recently they weren’t even trying to tank – they were just playing bad basketball.

With an impressive draft class with the likes of coveted Duke forward Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay to name a few, the Knicks could pick up some serious talent in the offseason if they got an early draft pick.

Personally, I feel that Okafor would be most beneficial to the team. New York desperately needs a center, as we are non-existent in the paint. Even right now, Okafor could most likely start over Cole Aldrich and Andrea Bargnani.

So as a Knicks fan who is tired of calling a first-round playoff run a “good season,” I am all for tanking. #TankForOkafor #KnicksTank