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Normally, I'm not allowed to use obscene words in my column ... something about being family friendly ... but every year I go ahead and push the envelope here and write an entire column using the dirtiest word in the NBA. Cover your childrens' ears if you just happen to be reading this out loud.


Tank, v.: To suffer a sudden decline or failure.


There, I said it.


The Hawks deny they're doing it. The Magic, at this point, have no choice but to do it. The Clippers and Warriors are proving once again they've perfected the art form. The Bulls, despite all that talent, can't get off the merry-go-round.


We all know what goes on behind closed doors, in the dark corners of locker rooms and in the wandering mind of Tracy McGrady.


Avert your eyes if you must. Flee the scene if you can't take the heat. Hang a scarlet "T" around your mascot's neck if it makes you feel any better.



UConn's Emeka Okafor is among the top prizes for the NBA's lottery teams.

It's tanking time folks. You know it. I know it. And the American people know it. And secretly, you love it. You want Dwight Howard or Emeka Okafor on that wall. You need him on that wall. You don't want the truth because, frankly, you can't handle the truth.


What else should teams like the Bulls or Wizards be doing at this point in the season?


While it's reprehensible for a team to begin the season with such a goal, at this point several teams would be stupid not to dump their last 20 games.


The Cavs did it shamelessly last season, and look what it landed them. Sold-out arenas every night for the next decade and a fighting chance at the playoffs this season.


Everyone is still playing for something. Playoffs or lottery balls? Experience or upside? Honor or hope? For the good teams out there, there's no time like the present. For the bad ones, there's always next year.


The key is understanding which category you're in. Sure, it's easy to say the Suns are playing for the lottery and the Kings are playing for a ring. But what about the Celtics, Sixers, Jazz, Blazers and Sonics?


Should they be going for the gold or enrolling in the Lottery Ball Acquisition Program? In our ongoing effort to educate, Insider reveals the answers today. But remember, sometimes the truth hurts.


There should be one simple mantra for lottery-bound teams 60 games into the season: If it's broke, don't fix it.


Here's a look at 10 teams that should tank the rest of the season ...


Orlando Magic

Record: 17-44

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 25%

The Skinny: The Magic are playing their best basketball of the season (four wins in their last 10 games) at the worst possible time of the year. The Magic don't have the flexibility to dramatically alter their roster in free agency or via trade. They just don't have enough pieces. After severable miserable drafts, they need to hit a home run this year. The problem is, the two best players in the draft -- Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor -- play the same position as Orlando's second- and third-best players -- Juwan Howard and Drew Gooden. The Magic do seem enamored with 7-foot-5 Siberian giant Pavel Podkolzine, but he's not ready to contribute yet.


Chicago Bulls

Record: 17-42

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 20%

The Skinny: Deja vu? The Bulls are in serious running for the first pick in the draft. GM John Paxson has a thing for Okafor, so don't assume the Bulls are tired of collecting inexperienced players in the draft. If they slip to No. 2 and Dwight Howard is on the board, pass Paxson the Rolaids. Most believe the Bulls will try to trade this pick, along with another asset or two, to land a veteran all-star. Still, to get the most for their money, they need to stop this silly streak of winning and get back to what they do best -- dumping the ball into Eddy Curry, then limping off the court with another "L" in the Win-Loss column.


Washington Wizards

Record: 18-41

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 15.7%

The Skinny: Like the Bulls, the Wizards probably have had their fill of young, inexperienced draft picks. The team has eight players with three years of experience or less. But there is a lot of interest in Okafor, who by NBA draft standards is a 10-year vet, and also interest in moving the pick. If they can add a tough, legitimate center to play alongside Kwame Brown, the Wizards might actually be able to make some noise next season. They're another team that's been winning a little too much lately.


Atlanta Hawks

Record: 19-40

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 12%

The Skinny: They have nothing to play for. Next year's roster, with the possible exception of Boris Diaw and Travis Hansen, won't look anything like this season's ragtag squad. The Hawks' latest move, dumping Dion Glover, proves they have the right idea, but when are they really going to get serious and sit Jason Terry for the season? The Hawks' worst nightmare is an injury to Terry that makes him untradeable this summer. As far as the draft goes, it's likely the Hawks' chances of landing the No. 1 pick will improve, as the odds of them reaching 22 wins seems pretty slim right now. Look for Atlanta to nab local product Dwight Howard if it gets the No. 1 pick.


Phoenix Suns

Record: 20-41

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 8.9%

The Skinny: The Suns are, by far, the most talented team in this group. Unlike everyone else here, they have a very solid core with Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson and some nice young players in Leandro Barbosa, Zarko Cabarkapa, Casey Jacobsen and Maciej Lampe. Throw in the draft rights to Milos Vujanic, and it's pretty clear the Suns don't need this pick. Unless there is a legitimate, Western Conference center waiting for them in this draft, you can be pretty sure they'll try to package this pick, along with Jahidi White's contract, to get the cap room they need to make a major run at a veteran free agent. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have the buzz, with Mehmet Okur as a sleeper should the Pistons decide to only re-sign Rasheed Wallace.


Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 24-36

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 6.4%

The Skinny: The Sixers have crumbled before our eyes this season. I know they're still trying to grit things out and make a run at the playoffs -- and they have a legit shot, as almost everyone in the East does -- but is it in the Sixers' best interest? The team is getting old and needs fresh blood, especially on the front line. Philly's only young players with much promise are Samuel Dalembert, John Salmons and, to a lesser extent, Kyle Korver. The Sixers need a freakishly versatile, athletic player like Howard in the worst way. Landing the No. 1 pick could turn a dying franchise around pretty fast.


Boston Celtics

Record: 25-36

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 2.9%

The Skinny: Danny Ainge loves this draft so much, he was willing to take on the last two years of Chucky Atkins' contract just to get a third first-round pick, even if it's low in the round. With the Celtics playing some of the worst basketball in the league right now, I believe Ainge has decided it's time to throw in the towel. He wants head coach John Carroll to play young players like Jiri Welsch, Brandon Hunter, Marcus Banks and Kendrick Perkins so he has a better feel for what he does and doesn't have going into the summer. Given Danny's preference for up-tempo basketball, you can be pretty sure he's gunning for a player like Howard to add size and versatility to his front line.


Golden State Warriors

Record: 25-33

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 1.5%

The Skinny: No one knows this game better than the Warriors. They should miss the playoffs for a league-leading ninth consecutive year. Another late lottery pick isn't going to help things, and the playoffs appear to be out of the question now. Time to pull Erick Dampier (before he gets hurt), Cliff Robinson and Calbert Cheaney out of the rotation and let Mike Dunleavy and Mickael Pietrus shoot the team into lottery land.


Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 25-33

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 1.4%

The Skinny: Does it really matter?


Seattle SuperSonics

Record: 27-32

Chance of landing No. 1 pick: 0.7%

The Skinny: Nate McMillan hates this. You don't blame him. But when the Sonics decided not to make a move at the trade deadline, GM Rick Sund essentially told McMillan the playoffs weren't a priority this year. It's probably just as well. Now's the time to throw Ronald Murray and Luke Ridnour out there and see how well they'll mesh with Ray Allen.

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