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Stern concerned about 'tanking', wants to examine lottery

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- The NBA may consider examining its draft
lottery system after speculation some teams weren't trying their
best to win late in the season, with the hope of improving their
chances of getting the top pick.

NBA commissioner David Stern, speaking Tuesday before the
lottery was held, also defended the league's mandatory suspension
policy for players leaving the bench during an altercation. The
rule helped the San Antonio Spurs oust the Phoenix Suns after Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended for Game 5.

Stern would like the owners to talk about the current weighted
lottery, which gives teams with the worst records the best chance
of selecting No. 1. He said he likes the system but wasn't happy
with the way some teams played down the stretch.

"I haven't spoken to a lot of owners," Stern said. "On the
end of the season and what teams do competitively, I think we
should look at the lottery system and see whether it can be
improved. I believe that."

Boston, which had the second-best chance of winning the lottery,
rested some starters for the fourth quarter of a game and blew a
lead.

"It's a system that favors teams to not win games,"
Philadelphia 76ers president and general manager Billy King said.
"I think any time you have a system like that, it's not good for
the league. It's something I'm sure that will be brought up and
discussed and debated."

Philadelphia 76ers chairman Ed Snider believes each of the 14
teams in the lottery should get one ball instead of the team with
the worst record having the greatest chance of winning.

Stern doesn't like that idea.

"You could have a 45-win team in a particular year be in the
lottery and get the first pick," he said. "I'm not sure that's
what drafts were meant to achieve. But if the tide has turned on
this or if opinion has switched, we'll let the owners talk about
it."

The suspension policy was put under a microscope last week when
Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended for leaving the bench after
Robert Horry committed a flagrant foul against two-time MVP Steve
Nash of the Suns.

Neither player got into a scuffle, but they were forced to miss
Game 5. The Spurs won to take a 3-2 in the series and closed out
Phoenix the next game.

"I've been commissioner for 25 years almost," Stern said.
"... You enforce the rules as you see them. And one of reasons the
rule is in effect is that we guard zealously the court. We want our
fans to be able to have the best seat in sports and we want them to
feel safe."

Stern said that the intent of the rule is to make sure the
players stay on the bench and things don't escalate. He added that
there was no doubt that Stoudemire and Diaw were both 20 feet away
from the bench in Game 4 after the incident.