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The NBA has opened an investigation into the Dallas Mavericks‘ decision to rest several players while the team still had a mathematical chance of making the play-in tournament.
The league made the announcement Saturday, one day after the Mavericks held out Kyrie Irving for the full game, Luka Doncic for most of the game, and many other rotation players in what became a loss to the Chicago Bulls. The loss knocked Dallas out of postseason consideration.
“The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks' roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night's Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions,” league spokesman Mike Bass said.
Dallas was in an uphill spot for the last play-in berth in the West anyway. It needed to win Friday and Sunday, and hope that oklahoma City would lose to Memphis on Sunday — just to get the No. 10 spot and still need two more road wins to make it to a Round 1 series against Denver.
“We were fighting for our lives and this is the situation we're in,” coach Jason Kidd said Friday. “The organization has made a decision to change and we have to go by that.”
The question now becomes whether that organizational decision will be considered tanking, something the league warned teams not to do this season.
Not making the play-in tournament helps Dallas' chances of claiming no worse than the No. 10 pick in this summer's draft — which is important — and provide at least a tiny chance of winning the lottery and the chance to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
If the Mavs' pick is between No. 1 and No. 10, Dallas keeps it. If it is No. 11 or deeper in the draft, it conveys to New York as part of the compensation agreed to as part of the kristaps porzingis trade in 2019.