The Memphis Grizzlies got off to an awful start to the season, but they've compiled this very fact by disgracefully and unashamedly vying for the worst record in the league.
On Friday night, what was an even match with the Utah Jazz was turned into a blatant tank job, as head coach J.B. Bickerstaff took his star center Marc Gasol out of the game after only 23 minutes of action.
Gasol, who was shooting a career-low 41 percent from the floor, was putting an absolute clinic on Jazz center Rudy Gobert — one of the frontrunners for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Time and time again, Gasol made Gobert uncomfortable by forcing him to step out to the 3-point line, torching him throughout the game, making 11 of his 12 field goals, including 6-of-7 from deep en route to a game-high 28 points.
The Jazz moved to 43-33 for the season, and climbed up a spot in the Western Conference standings after a 107-97 win over the Grizzlies — one even local journalists didn't think was deserved.
The Jazz were aided by a blatant tank tonight, for which Memphis should be ashamed, and frankly, the NBA should step in to prevent situations like the Grizzlies sitting Gasol after 23 min
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) March 31, 2018
Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns, and the Grizzlies have been warned against tanking by the league — but Memphis is perhaps the biggest culprit of them all — playing players out of position, resting guys more often than usual, and now glueing their stars to a spot on the bench as they're on their way to a career-night.
The 7-foot-1 Gasol has put on an absolute clinic on one of the best shot-blockers in the league, yet the franchise's priorities of accumulating as many ping-pong balls as possible won out over their veterans' desire to win the game.
Bickerstaff (likely with orders from the front office) pulled Gasol rather quickly — a maneuver he wouldn't have been able to do at home, likely facing the ire of The Grindhouse with the move.