Barkley says Nets tanked to get No. 1

NBA legend Charles Barkley on Monday accused the New Jersey Nets of tanking last season in an effort to attain the No. 1 draft pick.

The Jets finished 12-70 last season, but Barkley said the team was not as bad as its record suggested.

“They tanked it last season,” said Barkley, who is now a TNT analyst. “That team has some good players, but they tanked it to get the No. 1 pick.”

If that was the Nets’ plan, it didn’t work. They finished the regular season with the NBA’s worst record, but lost out on the first pick to the Wizards in the draft lottery. They settled for the third selection, which meant no John Wall, and instead picked Derrick Favors, a power forward out of Georgia Tech.

The Nets started the 2009-10 season with a record-breaking 18 consecutive losses, but avoided total infamy by not being the worst team in NBA history — an honor that still belongs to the 1972-73 76ers, who finished the season 9-73.

“If you just go out there and compete on a nightly basis, it’s impossible to only win 12 NBA games,” added Barkley, a Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA All-Star.

The Nets fired Lawrence Frank after a 0-16 start and replaced him with General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe on an interim basis.

Marv Albert, who is a part-time broadcaster for the Nets on YES, defended the team from the tanking charge.

“Players could care less about the next season,” Albert said. “It was more of a case that they were so bad that psychologically they got despondent, (so) that you just go through the motions.”