How Las Vegas is preparing for NBA tanking
The second half of the 2017-18 NBA season is here, which means Las Vegas bookmakers are bracing for the bizarre, but expected, ritual of tanking.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving, "Losing is our best option," relaying a recent conversation Cuban had with his staff. The NBA subsequently fined Cuban $600,000 for that public comment.
An NBA-record seven teams are at least 20 games below .500 at the All-Star break. And those seven teams will face one another a combined 17 more times, which is when we may learn the true depths of this year's tanking.
Not only do the current standings have an unprecedented logjam at the bottom, but many experts anticipate a loaded NBA draft, assuming certain underclassmen declare.
"You can probably get five franchise-changing players this year," ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose told host Bob Ley on Outside the Lines this week. "[Tanking is] almost worth it for those teams."
How are Vegas bookmakers preparing for this inevitability in the second half of the season?
'We see it every year'
For many, it will be business as usual, with tanking seen as just another aspect of booking the second half of the NBA season.
"We see it every year," Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told ESPN. "It's part of being informed of what's going on."
"The NBA is always a headache," William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said. "Sharper players already have lower limits."