Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says the Boston Celtics should have tanked during the 2003-04 season.
Morey worked for the Celtics before he joined the Rockets in 2007. During the 2003-04 season, Boston finished with a regular season record of just 36-46, but made the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Boston got swept by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2004 playoffs and ended with the 15th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
The Celtics selected big man Al Jefferson. If they had tanked, Boston could have ended up with a higher draft pick in a draft featuring Dwight Howard, Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng:
“We had no business being in the playoffs,” Morey told ESPN’s Zach Lowe on The Lowe Post Podcast. “We should have [tanked]. We didn’t. We were trying to win every game. But that would have been a year to not be in the eighth seed.”
The term “tanking” wasn’t around back then when this was happening to the Celtics. It kind of originated in Philadelphia.
The Sixers, led by Sam Hinkie, were losing games left and right for multiple seasons and were the laughingstock of the league. However, Philly was able to draft Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with their high draft picks, and now the Sixers are one of the best teams in the league.