The Los Angeles Lakers might have only one win after eight games, but that's not by design. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with Baxter Holmes of ESPN and said the Lakers would "never" lose on purpose, and that tanking is "counter" to professional sports:
"We would never do that," he said. "This business doesn't work that way."
"Our feeling is, you can't manipulate [the system]," Kupchak said. "It's bad Karma. First of all, just the whole concept of talking to your coaches and sending a message that, 'We want to lose,' it's just so counter to professional sports and to the way that this organization thinks."
Some have questioned whether the Lakers have been "stealth" tanking, trying to do so by building a roster that doesn't naturally fit together, and by hiring a coach that many felt would have a difficult time adjusting to the signed-talent, but Kupchak refutes the notion. Of course, a top-tier executive isn't going to admit to tanking either.
This all stems from the importance of the Lakers landing in the top-five of the 2015 NBA Draft lottery in order to take their first-round pick back from the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers are currently in line to retain the pick, though there's still plenty of basketball to be played. On the other hand, taking a quick gander at the Philadelphia 76ers, who seem to be shamelessly tanking for another top-three pick, shows why it'd be nearly impossible for the Lakers to surpass them in tank rankings even if they tried.
Be sure to give Holmes' column a read, as he has plenty of other quotes and tidbits from Byron Scott and Kupchak to go with this bit on tanking.