Speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday’s game against Sacramento, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban touched on a number of topics.
Cuban said the team acquired guard Kyrie Irving at the February trade deadline with the goal of keeping him around “long term,” as veteran reporter Marc Stein relays (Twitter links). Cuban added he thought the Mavs had “a good shot” at retaining Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
When asked if he thought Irving was worth a maximum-salary contract, Cuban replied, “I’m not going to negotiate with you,” tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The longtime owner said re-signing Irving is the team’s top offseason priority, but was noncommittal on big man Christian Wood, another potential free agent.
“I’m not going to go through individual players,” Cuban said, per MacMahon (Twitter link).
Here’s more from Cuban’s media session:
- Cuban claims the Mavs “never had the opportunity” to give former guard Jalen Brunson a four-year, $56MM extension in January 2022, tweets Stein. Dallas’ owner went on to explain that Brunson’s camp was looking for a deal in the range of $18-23MM annually in early February 2022, but the Mavs could only offer him $14MM per year due to the limitations on veteran extensions, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), the Mavs technically could have given him a deal in the $18-23MM range after the 2022 trade deadline, when Brunson was eligible to renegotiate his contract, but they would have had to clear $25MM+ in salaries in order to do so.
- As for last summer, when Brunson signed a four-year, $104MM contract with the Knicks, Cuban claims Brunson’s side never gave the Mavs a number he would accept, per Townsend (Twitter links). The Mavs had Brunson’s Bird rights, so they theoretically could have offered him more years and more money than a rival team. Cuban added that he had a strong relationship with Brunson and his agents, but “things went south” when Brunson’s father, Rick, took over the contract negotiations (Twitter link via MacMahon).
- It seems odd that Rick Brunson was ever in charge of negotiations, considering he was finalizing a deal to be an assistant coach with the Knicks on June 2, and free agents couldn’t sign until June 30. The elder Brunson previously worked under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, but resigned from the Wolves after allegations of improper conduct toward women, which he and his lawyer denied.
- Cuban’s tone regarding the Brunson situation was markedly different last summer, notes Fred Katz of The Athletic (via Twitter). Last July, a week after Jalen Brunson signed with the Knicks, Cuban said he had “no hard feelings” about Brunson leaving and that the guard had “earned the right to make a decision as a free agent” (link via Zach Braziller of The New York Post).
- According to Townsend (Twitter links), Cuban took responsibility for the Mavs’ poor season and for not recognizing they needed more help defensively, as the team has dropped from seventh to 23rd in defensive rating. “It’s absolutely my fault for not recognizing that,” he said. Cuban also said that the team plans to bring back head coach Jason Kidd next season.
- Cuban, who has owned the team since 2000, said he believes Doncic wants to spend his entire NBA career with the Mavs, “but we have to earn that” (Twitter link via MacMahon). Doncic has expressed frustration and disappointment with how the season has gone and recently said he missed Jalen Brunson “a lot.”