Bill Simmons discusses the 2024 NBA Playoffs on 'The Bill Simmons Podcast' Bill Simmons on his podcast in 2024.

Following the Dallas Mavericks’ series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, Bill Simmons took to social media to do what many basketball fans were doing and praised Dereck Lively.

“Great job by Dallas, that was a monster comeback [especially] when it felt like they couldn’t get a call. Just a whiff better in these nail biters,” Simmons wrote on X. “Lively was unbelievable.”

On the surface, Simmons’ post was fairly benign — a rather obvious observation in which he singled out Dallas’ rookie center, who had just scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a closeout postseason win. Dig a little deeper, however, and you might find that the Sports Guy’s praise of Lively runs counter to one of his stronger NBA stances.

Following the final day of last year’s regular season, Simmons took issue with the Mavericks tanking their final two games of the regular season in order to ensure a higher probability they would keep the first-round pick they owed to the New York Knicks as a part of the 2019 Kristaps Porziņģis trade.

“It is realistic that they could have gotten the eight-seed, which goes back to my point that I’m gonna stay firm on that I really haven’t wavered on my entire life: if you have the chance to make the playoffs, make the f**king playoffs. That’s just how I feel,” Simmons said. “You’re never going to talk me into, ‘Oh, no no. They had a chance to get the No. 10 pick.’ Great.

“The No. 10 pick. I know it’s a nice pick. It’s fine. It’s not a guaranteed awesome guy. I just hate it. I don’t think you can do it when you have Luka [Doncic]. Honestly, Russillo, I thought it was one of the darker moments in recent league history. I thought it was disgusting.”

For what it’s worth, Dallas was fined $750,000 for “conduct detrimental to the league” as a result of the apparent tank job. But thanks largely to losing their final two games of the regular season, the Mavericks wound up keeping the No. 10 pick in 2023 NBA Draft, which they used to select Lively (via a trade with the Thunder, ironically), who has been a key contributor to the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals.

In Simmons’ defense, this isn’t a total flip-flop — at least not on the same level as his Timberwolves-Nuggets takes. Disliking a team tanking, but also liking the player they wound up picking aren’t two incompatible thoughts. And it’s not like the Mavericks knew they’d be winding up with Lively when they tanked the final two games of last season.

Still, it would be tough to see Lively’s emergence this postseason and think that it doesn’t validate Dallas’ decision to prioritize keeping its draft pick over a shot at the Play-In Tournament a year ago. It might have been “one of the darker moments in recent league history” to Simmons, but it also proved to be a pivotal one for the Mavericks’ current postseason run.

[Bill Simmons on X

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.