The National Basketball Association (NBA) has opened an investigation into the Dallas Mavericks after a 115-112 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday led to their elimination from the playoff race. The inquiry will focus on the Mavericks’ roster decisions and game conduct, particularly whether the team intentionally tanked the game to secure a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft.

During the game, four important rotation players were benched: Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery), Josh Green (rest), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery), and Christian Wood (rest). Additionally, Luka Doncic played only the first quarter before being sidelined for the remainder of the match. The Mavericks’ loss meant they were out of the playoffs, which could potentially result in a top-10 draft pick. Had they made the playoffs, their first-round pick would have been given to the New York Knicks.

The investigation stems from a 2019 deal in which the Mavericks traded a first-round pick (protected picks 1-10) to the Knicks to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. NBA spokesperson Mike Bass has said that the investigation will look 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.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban may face a fine if the team is found guilty of purposely tanking the game. Cuban was previously fined $600,000 during the 2017-18 season for publicly hinting at tanking tactics to secure a favorable lottery pick.

The Mavericks have struggled this season, falling from conference finalists last year to a lottery team with a 38-43 record. A key factor in their decline has been the acquisition of Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. Despite initial optimism, the team’s performance has faltered since his addition, and they have gone 8-17 in that time.

With Irving’s free agency looming, the Mavericks must decide whether to re-sign him to a max deal, which would limit their salary cap flexibility and ability to add supporting players around Doncic. Recent reports suggest that Doncic may request a trade in December 2024 if the team cannot provide him with a championship-caliber roster.

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