The NBA has opened an investigation into the Dallas Mavericks over its apparent tanking of Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls.
"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.
On Friday, the Mavericks announced that Kyrie Irving and four major contributors would sit out the game against the Bulls.
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Head coach Jason Kidd said star Luka Doncic would play just one quarter, and the four-time All-Star was pulled from the game after committing a foul early in the second quarter.
Entering Friday’s game, Dallas still had a slim chance of securing a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament with just two games to play, but without its key players, the Mavericks lost to the Bulls, eliminating Dallas from postseason contention.
The Mavs, who made a move for Irving at the NBA’s trade deadline in February, still owe a top-10 protected draft pick to the New York Knicks, stemming from their 2019 trade for Kristaps Porzingis
Missing out on the playoffs helps Dallas in its quest to get and keep a top-10 pick in the 2023 draft, giving them at least a chance at drafting French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
"We were fighting for our lives, and understanding this is a situation we're in, but the organization has made the decision to change," Mavs coach Jason Kidd said during his pregame media availability, according to ESPN. "So, you know, we have to go by that, and that's something that happens. So the guys that are playing, we got to go out there and put our best foot forward, and we talked about that this afternoon.
"And the guys that are playing are gonna go out and try to play to win. You gotta be pros. You can't cheat the game."
Kidd said the decision to sit the players was made by owner Mark Cuban and general manager Nico Harrison.
"Those are my bosses, so yes," Kidd said when asked whether he agreed with the decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.