Mark Cuban

Southwest Notes: Irving, Doncic, Brooks, Popovich

Before he took the court for his first game with the Mavericks Wednesday night, Kyrie Irving talked to reporters about what went wrong in Brooklyn, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Irving said there were times he felt “very disrespected” by the Nets during his tumultuous three and a half years with the organization. He admitted he was at an impasse with the team in extension negotiations and claimed he wasn’t “getting transparency and honesty from people in the front office.”

“I worked extremely hard at what I do,” Irving said. “No one ever talks about my work ethic though. Everyone talks about what I’m doing off the floor. So I just wanted to change that narrative, write my own story.”

Irving’s off-court behavior dominated the headlines during his time in Brooklyn, highlighted by his inability to play for much of last season due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine and his suspension in November for his online promotion of an antisemitic film. Irving added that he wishes he had done more research on the Nets’ front office before he and Kevin Durant opted to sign with the team in 2019.

“I left them in fourth place — I did what I was supposed to do,” he said. “I took care of my teammates, was incredibly, incredibly selfless. And in my approach to leading, I just want to do all the right things for myself, not to appease anybody.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • It didn’t take long for Irving to impress his new Mavericks coaches and teammates, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. With Luka Doncic missing his third straight game due to a right heel contusion, Irving delivered 24 points and five assists in a road win against the Clippers. “That’s how talented he is,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “He makes things look easy. He works on his craft. He’s a pro, up for any challenge.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed confidence that Irving and Doncic can work together despite both being ball-dominant guards and said Doncic was fully on board with making the trade, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “Go for it. We need talent,” Cuban responded when asked about Doncic’s stance on the deal. “He’s a Hall of Fame player, and I’d love to play with talent. Why would you not want to play with him?”
  • Dillon Brooks‘ teammates came to his defense after he was booed by the home crowd Tuesday in the midst of a bad shooting night, according to Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Brooks’ combination of erratic offense and tenacious defense makes him a polarizing player among Grizzlies fans, creating a difficult decision for general manager Zach Kleiman on whether to try to trade him before today’s deadline.
  • The Spurs made one significant trade late Wednesday night, sending Jakob Poeltl to the Raptors, and longtime coach Gregg Popovich said he has confidence in general manager Brian Wright’s ability to reshape the team, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News.

Jason Kidd: Irving’s Talents Needed For Championship Run

Coach Jason Kidd brushed off criticism of the Mavericks’ acquisition of Kyrie Irving, saying that the team now has a much better shot at winning a title, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes.

“We feel that the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed,” Kidd said. “We feel that getting him is going to help put us in a position to win a championship.”

The deal with the Nets became official earlier today. Irving flew to Dallas on Monday and could make his Mavericks debut on Wednesday against the Clippers. He won’t play with new backcourt partner Luka Doncic immediately, however. Doncic will remain sidelined on Wednesday by a heel contusion, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan.

Once the duo takes the court together, Kidd expects the Mavs to be even more dangerous than they were last year when Doncic and Jalen Brunson led the team to the Western Conference Finals, Caplan writes.

“He’s played with the best players in the world, and he’s had success doing that,” Kidd said of Irving. “To give Luka an opportunity to come down the court without having to dribble or run every play, this gives us an opportunity to do different things. We look back at when we had [Jalen Brunson], being able to have a playmaker like that. When you look at Ky — nothing against JB — but Ky is at a different level, so this gives us another weapon. Someone’s going to be free. Someone’s going to have the advantage.”

Kidd doesn’t seem too concerned about Irving’s past issues and unpredictable moods. Irving idolized Kidd growing up and they developed a friendship while sharing a personal trainer, Robin Pound. Irving also attended Kidd’s Hall of Fame induction.

“He’s all about basketball,” Kidd said. “He wants to win, and he wants to be coached, and this is a great opportunity for me to have someone like this to help.”

Kidd also predicts that Doncic will benefit from not having to bear such a heavy burden. Doncic’s usage rate is highest among all NBA guards.

“It’s going to come down. And that’s a healthy thing. It’s not a bad thing. … Actually, he’ll be stronger in the fourth (quarter),” Kidd said. “The team will be better. Then the trust between the two — it’s going to take some time to get that rhythm and trust, but Kai is about winning.”

Dallas owner Mark Cuban also feels the team is much more dangerous offensively with the addition of Irving, Caplan reports in a separate story. Cuban believes that will override the loss of defensive ace Dorian Finney-Smith, who was part of Dallas’ package.

“They are the two players in the NBA that are most able to get anywhere they want on the court,” Cuban said. “They can create their own shots and finish every which way. That should make us incredibly potent on the offensive end. And while it’s going to be tough to fill Dorian’s shoes defensively, we think Josh (Green) will be able to step in and take advantage of the increased minutes he will be getting.”

Cuban: Luka Hasn’t Asked For Roster Changes

Within a larger feature about the career paths of 2018 lottery picks Luka Doncic and Trae Young, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon cites sources who say Doncic has “strongly indicated” that he wants the Mavericks to upgrade their roster ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.

However, Mavs owner Mark Cuban denies that’s the case.

Tim MacMahon got it dead wrong. Luka has never suggested, asked, demanded or discussed changes to the roster,” Cuban said in a statement (Twitter links via MacMahon). “Luka and (president of basketball operations) Nico (Harrison) have a great relationship. They talk almost daily. Luka knows exactly what we have going on and is very supportive.”

Doncic has been carrying a significant load in Dallas this season. He has a career-high 38.2% usage rate and leads the NBA with 33.8 points per game.

Christian Wood has emerged as a consistent second scorer, and role players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr. are having solid seasons, but the team has missed last season’s second-leading scorer, Jalen Brunson, and could use more reinforcements to make a real run at a title.

Still, while reports in the past have indicated that the Mavs’ front office keeps Doncic apprised of potential roster moves, he hasn’t yet exhibited a strong desire to be involved in those decisions, as MacMahon notes. He also stated during the preseason that he didn’t believe Dallas needed another All-Star caliber player to be a contender, telling Malika Andrews that “we have a great team.”

Perhaps Doncic’s workload this season and the team’s up-and-down first half has prompted him to be proactive in conveying his desire for roster upgrades, but if Cuban is to be believed, the All-NBA guard isn’t pushing for changes.

Although Doncic has three more guaranteed years on his contract left after this one, the Mavs are likely still feeling a sense of urgency to build a strong roster around him, since we’ve seen star players request trades with multiple seasons left on their contracts in recent years. There’s no indication that Doncic has considered or will consider taking that route, but it will be a subplot to keep in mind if Dallas is unable to make another deep postseason run in the next year or two.

Mavs Notes: Doncic, Cuban, Wood, Green, Finney-Smith

Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who outdueled LeBron James in double overtime on Thursday night, is leading the NBA with 34.3 points per game this season and recently became the sixth-youngest player in league history to surpass the 8,000-point mark for his career.

With James on track to supplant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer later this season, could Doncic be a candidate to eventually take that record from LeBron? When Tim MacMahon of ESPN approached him to discuss that possibility, Doncic shut down the conversation before it even started.

“If you’re saying me, there’s no way, because I’m not playing that much,” Doncic said.

As MacMahon notes, it’s the second time recently that Doncic has suggested he doesn’t necessarily envision himself spending enough time in the NBA to challenge for those sorts of career records. He said something similar when responding to a comment made by Dirk Nowitzki about the possibility of Luka matching Dirk’s record of 21 seasons with a single franchise.

“I don’t know about 20 years,” Doncic said. “That’s a long time to play basketball. I’d rather go back to my farm in Slovenia.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Team owner Mark Cuban may be facing a fine from the NBA after complaining on Twitter about the whistle in Thursday night’s win over the Lakers. “Stan Van Gundy is absolutely right,” Cuban tweeted, referring to comments the analyst made on TNT’s broadcast. “Worst officiated game. Luka gets no respect. Unreal.”
  • In a Q&A with Mark Medina of, Mavericks big man Christian Wood spoke about his relationship with Doncic, the Mavs’ championship potential, how he dealt with coming off the bench to start the season, and his desire to make an All-Star team, among other topics.
  • Mavericks wing Josh Green has been out since December 9 due to a sprained right elbow, but his return appears to be around the corner. On Wednesday, he went through a full practice and scrimmaged for the first time since the injury, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News and MacMahon (Twitter links).
  • Green sounds closer to a return than forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who has been sidelined since December 19 with a right adductor strain. Finney-Smith is making progress and doing some on-court work, but hasn’t yet been cleared to practice, tweets Townsend.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Doncic, Wood, Rockets, Vassell

The Mavericks will play a preseason game next fall in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, Marc Stein reports in a Substack story.

Dallas will also play a game against perennial Spanish League power Real Madrid during the overseas journey. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to arrange a preseason game in Madrid for Luka Doncic, who played for Real Madrid until he became an NBA lottery selection.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Mavs, Wesley, Bassey

The Grizzlies blew out the Bucks by 41 points on Thursday night, holding stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to 22 total points on a combined 6-of-25 shooting. After guarding Middleton for much of the night, Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks was asked if he ought to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year and replied that he “100%” should be, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link).

“I don’t get the steals or the big-time blocks, but I’m going to give fits to whoever I got that night,” Brooks said.

Defensive Player of the Year voting typically favors big men, so if a Grizzlies player receives serious consideration for the award, it might end up being Jaren Jackson Jr., who is averaging 3.3 blocks per game. Still, Jackson has missed some time and it’s Brooks who is tied for third in the league in’s defensive win shares stat at 3.8.

Let’s round up a few more Southwest notes…

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has grand ambitions for a new arena in Dallas if the state of Texas legalizes gambling and sports betting, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). “My goal, and we’d partner with Las Vegas Sands, is when we build a new arena it’ll be in the middle of a resort and casino,” Cuban told Townsend. “That’s the mission.”
  • Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley will be available on Friday for the Austin Spurs’ game in Mexico City, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. A knee injury has sidelined Wesley since October 30 and limited him to just two NBA appearances so far this season, but it sounds like he has been cleared to return.
  • Waived by Philadelphia during the preseason, Charles Bassey made his first career start on Wednesday for the Spurs and admitted after the game that he was “a little bit” nervous. As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required) details, Bassey got into early foul trouble and mishandled a couple passes from Doug McDermott in the pick-and-roll. “He just flat-out dropped a few of them; he told me that,” McDermott said. “I told him, ‘I am going to continue to throw it to you, because you are setting great screens. You are either going to have a shot or you are going to have a dunk. So don’t overthink it.'”

Community Shootaround: In-Season Tournament

Details are still being worked out regarding a proposed in-season tournament, but the NBA appears to be targeting the 2023/24 season to implement it.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that the current framework has cup games being held throughout November with eight teams advancing to a single-elimination format that would be played in December. All the games would count toward the teams’ regular-season record, and the finalists would each have one extra game.

The tournament would have to be approved by the players union, and the two sides are continuing to sort through ideas. One important step will be deciding what incentives will be given to the final eight teams to make advancing worth the effort. Charania states that the Competition Committee discussed the tournament last September and considered prize money of $1MM per player for the winning team.

Commissioner Adam Silver has been a longtime proponent of the in-season tournament, believing it will eventually become as popular as a similar event in European soccer. Silver said in February that the players appear more receptive toward the idea after seeing the success of the play-in tournament that determines the final two playoff spots in each conference.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told NBA writer Marc Stein that he has changed his mind about the in-season tournament and is “actually open to it,” starting with next season (Twitter link). Cuban said the event “has a chance to build interest” for the league during the early part of its schedule.

Cuban also proposes expanding the draft from two to four rounds and giving the first pick in the two new rounds to the tournament winner (Twitter link). He would add the stipulation that those two picks cannot be traded. Like the tournament itself, any changes to the draft process would require NBPA approval.

We want to get your opinion. Do you believe an in-season tournament would cause more fans to pay attention to the NBA during the fall? And do you see merit in Cuban’s idea to expand the draft? Please leave your answers in the space below.

Mark Cuban Suggests Mavericks Don’t Need A “Second Star”

Asked by Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link) whether Luka Doncic has enough talent surrounding him to win a title, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested Dallas already has the pieces in place to accomplish that goal.

“We hadn’t been out of the first round in 10 years and so a lot of it was execution and talking to our guys during the series, that was the thing that kept coming up,” Cuban said of the Western Conference Finals matchup against the Warriors (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of “… So I think for us it’s not so much we need that second star or whatever, it’s more, let’s just get some time and experience in crunch time situations in the playoffs and that will pay off.”

As we relayed last night, Cuban also credited Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as a difference-maker in the series, and said Golden State’s combination of execution, experience, and adjustments made the team too difficult for the Mavericks to handle.

Cuban’s comments are noteworthy for a few different reasons. After trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the Mavs found success with lineups featuring multiple shot creators and floor spacers, as well as more versatile defenders. Obviously Porzingis was pegged to be Dallas’ second star, but things never really worked out with the 7’3″ big man for a variety of reasons.

He didn’t state it outright, but Cuban’s comments give the impression the club didn’t view Jalen Brunson as a star, and the Mavs were reportedly unwilling to match — or exceed — the contract he received in free agency from the Knicks. Brunson had a strong playoff run for Dallas, averaging 21.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.7 APG on .466/.347/.800 shooting in 18 games (34.9 MPG), so losing him will sting.

Along the same lines, it could be interpreted that Dallas doesn’t view offseason acquisition Christian Wood as a star either. The Mavs traded the No. 26 pick of the 2022 draft and four players on expiring deals to Houston to land Wood.

Of course, how a team perceives players doesn’t matter nearly as much as the on-court product, and the Mavs are coming off their most successful season since winning the championship in 2011. The question is, have they done enough to keep progressing toward another ring? With the Clippers and Nuggets getting healthy, potential improvement from the Timberwolves and Pelicans, and the Warriors, Grizzlies and Suns still in the picture, the West is going to be stacked with talent in 2022/23, so winning the title certainly won’t be easy.

Rooks’ interview with Cuban lasts over an hour and is worth checking out in full for any Dallas fans.

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, LeBron Extension, Kings

Appearing with Taylor Rooks on her Bleacher Report show, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban cited Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as the difference in the Western Conference Finals. Wiggins was outstanding in the five-game series, averaging 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per night while shooting 46.2% from the field.

“It was just guys who knew their roles, like an Andrew Wiggins,” Cuban said. “I think he was the one who beat us. And I told him that after the series, you know? We knew what to expect from Klay (Thompson), from (Stephen Curry) and from Draymond (Green). We didn’t know what to expect or how Wiggs would step up, and he did.”

Cuban doesn’t believe there’s a huge talent disparity between his team and the eventual NBA champions, but he said Golden State benefited from having its core together for so many years.

“I think the Warriors deserve a lot of credit because they had played together so long, their execution was phenomenal,” he said. “… That wasn’t as much talent as it was corporate knowledge, the experience of having played together for all those years and been in crunch situations knowing what to do.” 

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Now that LeBron James has agreed to an extension, the Lakers‘ best strategy may be to commit to trying to win a championship this season instead of targeting 2024 or 2025, contends Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha believes James’ decision on the extension was tied to a promise from management to be aggressive about improving the roster. Sources around the team had been confident that James would eventually commit to a longer stay with the Lakers, Buha adds.
  • The Lakers may have doomed themselves to more years of mediocrity with the James extension, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. He argues that James isn’t good enough to carry a team to a title anymore, while Anthony Davis is too injury-prone and James’ deal ensures that the franchise won’t have enough cap room to add another star while he’s still around.
  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines the Kings‘ schedule to see whether it will help or hurt their effort to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Keels, Grimes, Gibson

The Knicks are expected to add Jalen Brunson via cap space rather than trying to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Mavericks, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Brunson agreed to a four-year, $104MM contract with New York shortly after the start of free agency on June 30. But the signing hasn’t been made official yet as the Knicks review their options on the best way to add him to the roster.

Marc Stein confirms that a signing using cap room is the most likely option (Twitter link), and a source tells him that Monday is probably the soonest it will happen.

Brunson played an important role in helping Dallas reach the Western Conference finals, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tells Steve Popper of Newsday there are “no hard feelings” about his departure. Cuban said he never got a chance to make a final offer, but acknowledged that it may not have mattered given Brunson’s close ties to the Knicks organization.

“I wish him nothing but the best,” Cuban said. “You bust your [butt] and you have that choice. He deserves it. It happens. It’s the way this league works. It’s a business. You trade a player, you say it’s a business. You lose a player, it’s a business. It’s just the way it goes.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Trevor Keels, who’s expected to fill a two-way slot in New York, admits having “chills” before his first Summer League game, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. After sliding to No. 42 in last month’s draft, Keels is determined to prove that he should have been taken higher. “I didn’t think I was going to [get drafted] that low. But it is what it is,” he said. “Of course, I’m going to make sure all the teams pay that passed up on me. But I’m excited I’m a Knick. I wouldn’t change it for anything.” 
  • Quentin Grimes had eight assists along with a team-high 24 points in the Summer League opener and has been working on becoming a better play-maker, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. For the second straight year, Grimes spent part of the offseason working with University of Memphis coach Penny Hardaway“He’s kind of like a big uncle to me,” Grimes said. “Just took me under his wing and helped me play the point guard position a lot better. Because that’s what I was in high school.”
  • After waiving Taj Gibson this week, the Knicks were hoping to bring him back on a veteran’s minimum contract, but he believed he had a better chance at playing time with the Wizards, tweets Ian Begley of