There may be nothing that frightens the average NBA more than the idea of mediocrity. It is the notion that there is nowhere to go for an unidentified period of time — no improvement, no cap flexibility, no enticing trade assets — and nothing to watch but the gradual and steady decline of a core constituted for competitive basketball but not championships.
It’s why coaches and GMs are fired, because if there is anything that ticks off a fan base more than losing 50-plus games, it is a lack of direction or upward trend. As fans, we hate the staleness that accompanies a slowly deteriorating roster that peaks much too low for satisfaction.
The disgust for mediocrity is why teams tank late in the season; it is why the best players on the worst teams get hit with an injury bug come late March and drop like flies; it is why teams voluntarily build pathetic rosters to enhance future draft position.