The NBA Just Fined the Mavericks $750K. Was That Enough?

It's one of the largest fines in league history

Dallas Mavericks
: Head coach Jason Kidd converses with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On April 7 of this year, the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks faced off in a game that was less about the athletes who did play and was more about those that didn’t, even though they were eligible to. As the Associated Press explained, the issues involved many of the Mavericks’ higher-profile players sitting the game out entirely or, as was the case for Luka Doncic, playing a minimal amount.

After an investigation, the NBA announced that it was fining the Mavericks $750,000, arguing that that decision showed “the organization’s desire to lose the game in order to improve the chances of keeping its first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.” The Associated Press’s reporting pointed out that the Mavericks could still have technically reached the playoffs — with the decision to sit certain players basically guaranteeing a loss.

Joe Dumars, the league’s Executive Vice President, Head of Basketball Operations, had stern words for the Mavericks. “The Dallas Mavericks’ decision to restrict key players from fully participating in an elimination game last Friday against Chicago undermined the integrity of our sport,” he said in a statement.

Why run the risk of a fine in this situation? In noting that this is the third-highest fine in NBA history, NBC Sports also observed that the Mavericks’ draft pick was top-10 protected — thus giving them an incentive to finish lower, rather than higher, in the standings.

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As the Dallas Morning News pointed out, this isn’t the first time that the NBA has fined the Mavericks over losing games to guarantee a low regular-season finish. But while a $750,000 fine isn’t exactly small, it isn’t hard to imagine a team weighing that cost against the likelihood of signing a highly-rated draft choice and opting for the fine. All of which means that the NBA could well see more of this behavior in the future.

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