Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban Shares Proposal For Return To Play

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed earlier today, the format for the NBA’s potential return to play this summer is a topic of much debate within the league right now. Teams at the top of the standings will have different motivations than bottom-feeding clubs or those on the fringes of playoff contention, leading to disagreement over which format would make the most sense for the league as a whole.

On Monday, we discussed the possibility of the NBA re-seeding playoff teams, regardless of conference, for its 2020 playoffs. Earlier today, we explored the idea of what a World Cup-style play-in pool would look like in place of the usual first round. Now, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has shared his own proposal with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Cuban would like to see all 30 teams return to action and play approximately five to seven regular season games, as MacMahon relays. Once those games were completed, these steps would follow:

  • The top 10 teams from each conference would make the playoffs.
  • Those teams would be re-seeded from 1 through 20 based on regular season record.
  • The Nos. 17 and 20 teams and the Nos. 18 and 19 teams would face one another in a pair of single-elimination or best-of-three matchups.
  • The winners of those matchups would advance to face the Nos. 15 and 16 teams for the final two spots in the playoff bracket.
  • The postseason would proceed with its usual best-of-seven format from there, using 1-16 seeding rather than an East/West divide.

Cuban pointed out that such a format would give every team except the Warriors and Timberwolves a chance to qualify for at least the play-in tournament. Assuming safety and scheduling concerns didn’t get in the way, bringing every team back and playing several regular season games would also help out the league financially, allowing a number of clubs to fulfill their local TV deals, tweets MacMahon.

Cuban, who referred to his proposal as “fair” and “entertaining,” expressed concern about the play-in pool format that has been discussed by the NBA, according to MacMahon. The Mavericks owner argued that the group-stage concept “throws away the value of the whole season.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Cuban’s proposal would benefit the Mavs. They currently hold the NBA’s 13th-best record and – given their current cushion – would have no chance of slipping to 15th and being part of his proposed play-in tournament. If the NBA used another form of play-in tournament, putting the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference up for grabs without playing any regular season games first, Dallas would be at risk of losing the No. 7 spot in the West.

Mark Cuban Talks Mavs, Practice Facility, 2019/20 Season

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said last week that his team will proceed with caution when it comes to reopening its practice facility. Speaking this week to Tim Cato of The Athletic, Cuban provided a few additional details on his stance, reiterating that he doesn’t feel the need to reopen the club’s facility until frequent coronavirus testing is possible.

“The way the White House protects the president and vice president is the way that I want to protect our players and employees, you know?” Cuban said. “We’ll just try to just copy what they do as a means of knowing when the time is right. As of now, for all we know, for all we’ve been informed, anyways, they’re testing everybody. And they test their top people on a daily basis. And so they have access to the best science, the best information, and so it just makes sense to me that we just copy them.”

Noting that the NBA is limiting players to one-hour workouts at practice facilities, with limited resources available in those sessions, Cuban suggested that opening up the Mavericks’ facility wouldn’t hugely benefit his own players, who all have access to hoops. For that reason, Cuban also doesn’t believe that teams opening their facilities now will have a major leg up over the Mavs.

“I don’t think it matters because the competitive advantage of one guy on one basket for one hour at a time isn’t all that significant,” Cuban told Cato.

Here’s more from the Mavs owner:

  • Cuban isn’t worried about the possibility of lottery-bound teams resisting participation in regular-season games this summer, if and when the season resumes, as he tells Cato. “Guys realize there’s something bigger at stake,” he said. “And that’s the best way to put it. NBA players are smart. They recognize there’s something bigger at stake than, you know, the aggravation of playing five, six, seven, whatever-it-may-be more regular-season games even if they’re completely out of the playoffs.”
  • Cuban pointed to the most recent episodes of The Last Dance when he explained one reason why the NBA wants to play regular season games rather than jumping right into the playoffs if the season resumes. “If you watched Sunday, when Michael Jordan came back?” Cuban said, referring to Jordan’s 1995 return to basketball. “And we’re talking Michael Jordan, right, in his prime. And he talked about how he didn’t have his legs for the playoffs.”
  • The Mavericks won’t necessarily have to make major changes to their roster in order to become a championship contender, in Cuban’s view. Asked if he could picture eight or 10 players from the current roster being part of a title-contending Mavs squad a few years from now, he replied, “Yeah, absolutely. I expect our team to grow.”
  • As for what he’ll remember about the pre-pandemic 2019/20 season, Cuban singled out Luka Doncic‘s growth, Kristaps Porzingis‘ return, and the “great progress” that the Mavs made. “We went from being a team that, you know, was out of contention for everything to being a team that, if we’re healthy, can potentially compete,” Cuban said.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Brunson, Mavs, Pelicans

Before transitioning back into a media role with The Athletic, John Hollinger held a high-level position in the Grizzlies‘ basketball operations department for seven years, providing input on many key roster decisions during that stretch. Although Hollinger says he doesn’t spend much time contemplating “what-if” scenarios, he admits that he still thinks about the possibility of Memphis drafting Nikola Jokic back in 2014.

Looking back on the 2014 draft today at The Athletic, Hollinger concedes the Grizzlies weren’t eyeing Jokic with their No. 22 pick in the first round, but points to the No. 35 selection – which Memphis acquired from Utah – as a spot where Jokic would have made sense.

According to Hollinger, Jokic was ranked atop the Grizzlies’ list of draft-and-stash possibilities when the No. 35 pick arrived, but the team had Jarnell Stokes – who could potentially contribute right away – rated higher on its overall board.

Revisiting the pick now, Hollinger notes that the decision to select Stokes rather than Jokic – who was taken by the Nuggets at No. 41 – created something of a ripple effect of missed opportunities for the Grizzlies. Because Stokes occupied a spot on the 15-man roster, the team ended up waiving Hassan Whiteside that fall, despite an impressive training camp. If Memphis had stashed Jokic instead of drafting Stokes, the club may have kept Whiteside out of camp with that final roster spot.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Appearing recently on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson said his rehab from a shoulder injury is “definitely going well,” but that he’s still a ways off from being able to suit up and play. “As much as I would want to, as much as I would try my hardest to force them to let me play (if the season resumes in June), I don’t think it would be a possibility,” Brunson said, per The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is holding off reopening the team’s practice facility for the time being, suggesting to Brian Dameris and Mark Followill on their 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast that an inability to test players and staffers for COVID-19 is a roadblock (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward,” Cuban said, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that other teams share the Mavs’ concerns about not being able to test asymptomatic players entering their gyms.
  • The Pelicans aren’t reopening their facility this week and may not do so next week either, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. A source tells Lopez that May 18 may be a target date for the club. We heard on Wednesday that the Rockets are also circling May 18 as their reopening date.

Adam Silver, Mark Cuban Among Potential White House Consultants

United States President Donald Trump addressed the nation earlier today, speaking about how he plans to re-open the economy and detailing some steps he will take that would hopefully result in the NBA and other leagues booting back up later this year.

“We have to get our sports back,” Trump said (h/t Kurt Helin of NBC Sports).

He added that he plans on talking to upwards of 120 people – including NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – about the best way to re-open the economy and restart sports. The advisory panel, which includes executives and leaders from many industries, also includes a number of other sports commissioners and team owners, including the NFL’s Roger Goodell and MLB’s Rob Manfred.

“We’re not going to rip out every other seat in (stadiums),” Trump said in discussing how to get fans back to sporting events.

All the commissioners of the North American sports leagues recently conducted a call with Trump. All parties want the leagues to start back up, but Trump said he needs to get the “all clear” from officials first.

In addition to the league’s conversations with the White House, the NBA is consulting with health experts on the best way to get back up and running.

Hiatus Notes: Cuban, Temple, Board Of Governors

After recently predicting that the NBA will resume its season prior to June 1, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is backing off that aggressive forecast. Appearing on Wednesday morning on ESPN’s First Take, Cuban deferred to the experts on a potential timeline for a return to the court, as Eddie Sefko of details.

“I don’t know the date,” Cuban said when asked for his new prediction. “And it won’t happen until we can be absolutely certain that everybody will be safe. It’s safety first, no ifs, ands or buts about it. And so, I’ve been optimistic that it might happen before the start of June, but who knows now? We’ll listen to the scientists and take our cues from them.”

While Cuban acknowledged that he doesn’t know “how, where, or when” it will happen, he expressed optimism that the NBA will still be able to resume and complete its 2019/20 season at some point. However, he cautioned that the league “won’t do it until it’s safe.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s coronavirus-related hiatus:

  • In a column for USA Today, Dan Wolken argues against the practicality of eventually finishing the 2019/20 season in what would essentially be a quarantined “bubble.” The NBA has reportedly been weighing the idea of resuming the season in a single location, such as Las Vegas, but Woiken points to a number of logistical issues that would be hard to overcome to make that scenario a reality.
  • Nets swingman and NBPA vice president Garrett Temple spoke to Sam Amick and Joe Vardon of The Athletic about the measures the league would need to take to resume its season, suggesting that being able to test players for the coronavirus before entering the game facility would be of paramount importance.
  • The NBA is holding conference calls this week with front office committees as the league discusses the logistics of the postponed season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). As Wojnarowski notes, the league’s original calendar called for in-person Board of Governors meetings on April 16 and 17, but those meetings are likely to be replaced by an April 17 conference call.

Hiatus Notes: Dudley, Blazers, Ballmer, Booker, Mavs

Veteran forward Jared Dudley is pessimistic that the NBA will resume its season after this indefinite hiatus, he explained on FOX Sports Radio this week.

Dudley joins a growing list of NBA players and officials who are skeptical about whether the league can resume its regular season. The overall concern, he explains, is focused around limiting injuries.

“Once I heard the news of no more practice facilities, if that goes for a month or month-and-a-half to two months, I find it almost impossible to then have a season because now you’re telling a professional athlete, ‘For 60-to-80 days you’ve done no training,'” Dudley said.

League officials know that resuming the regular season after several weeks of limited training would be risky unless each team is awarded ample time of preparation, much like what’s already being offered in the fall with training camps. Dudley estimates that 70% of athletes don’t have a personal gym inside their home to utilize during this break.

“I’m not optimistic right now at all for a season to be honest with you,” Dudley said. “Unless something happens here in the next 30 days where they open back up the facilities. But how do they do that? Once everyone starts getting tested you’re going to hear more and more cases because it’s a very common thing to get.”

The NBA is discussing a plethora of different avenues to take as this unprecedented hiatus continues, with commissioner Adam Silver open to receiving suggestions from the league’s players, coaches, agents, executives and fans for the time being.

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • The Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have committed more than $4MM towards COVID-19 relief efforts, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). The money will assist game night employees impacted by the league’s postponement.
  • The Ballmer Group, founded by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have donated $1MM to community groups in Los Angeles to help during the coronavirus epidemic, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker is pledging $100L through Twitch livestreaming to support non-profits that best serve the needs of the most vulnerable in the community, the team announced in a press release. Phoenix Suns Charities will match Booker’s initial donation, the release adds.
  • Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell have teamed up with the Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital, the team announced (Twitter link). The funds will support childcare for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

Multiple NBA Teams Commit To Paying Arena Workers During Hiatus

Some of the first comments Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made on Wednesday night after the NBA announced that it had suspended the 2019/20 season were focused on the team’s part-time, seasonal, and hourly employees, such as security guards and concession workers at the American Airlines Center. Cuban made it clear that the Mavs plan to take care of those employees.

“I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work,” Cuban told reporters, per Mark Medina of USA Today. “They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income. So, we’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place. I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”

Since then, a handful of other teams have followed Cuban’s lead. Hawks owner Tony Ressler had been preparing for this possibility and had planned all along to compensate the team’s full-time and part-time employees who will have their jobs disrupted by the NBA’s hiatus, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We have a pretty clear set of priorities in this kind of remarkable time that we’re living through,” Ressler said. “Protecting our fans, protecting our employees, and protecting the reputation of our league, all of which is important, but let there be no confusion, that means taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time.”

After Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted about taking care of non-salaried arena staff, team owner Joe Tsai responded that the Nets are working on a plan for those workers.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love pledged $100K of his own money to aid arena employees displaced by the NBA’s stoppage, telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he hopes “others will step up” as well. The Cavs announced (via Twitter) shortly thereafter that they’d be compensating all of their arena and event staff members as if every game and event at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is still taking place.

While only a handful of teams have addressed the issue so far, I’d be surprised if that list doesn’t continue to grow in the coming days. Team owners and players will be affected financially by the suspension, but their losses likely won’t be as damaging in the short term as they would be for the lower-level employees who had been relying on the hourly wages earned at NBA events.

Mark Cuban Hopeful Season Will Eventually Resume

Appearing this morning on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that the NBA remains hopeful that the 2019/20 season can resume at some point, rather than being cancelled altogether.

“Hopefully, this virus runs its course over the next 60 days or so, and at that point we can start making decisions about does the NBA play games, what our schedule looks like, how we would progress from there,” Cuban said, noting that the situation is fluid.

Asked by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols whether his speculative 60-day timeline meant that the league would be prepared to have the playoffs end in August rather than June, Cuban replied, “Absolutely.” However, he cautioned that the NBA may not pick up right where it left off by playing its full schedule.

I can easily see us playing the last seven-to-10 games of the regular season to get everybody back on course and then going right into the playoffs and going into July, if not August,” he said.

One team executive who spoke to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report put the odds of the season resuming at 90%, but didn’t have an estimate for when that might happen. Another team official speculated to Beck that the league could resume play in mid-April and go “straight to the playoffs.”

While the speculation from Cuban and other team officials may reflect discussions and brainstorming sessions the NBA has had with its owners and executives, it’s far too early to draw any concrete conclusions about the plan going forward. The league will have to be patient and see how the coronavirus situation plays out around the country in the coming days and weeks.

Mavs’ Protest Denied, Cuban Fined $500K By NBA

The NBA has rejected the Mavericks‘ petition to replay the final seconds of their February 22 loss to the Hawks, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, the league has also fined Mavs owner Mark Cuban $500K for his comments criticizing officiating and for coming onto the court twice in the final seconds of that game vs. Atlanta to confront the referees.

The NBA issued a press release confirming both the protest ruling and the fine. The league explained in its statement that the substantial fine being levied against Cuban is for “his public criticism and detrimental conduct regarding NBA officiating.”

The release described Cuban’s comments as “personal and demeaning to the league and its officiating staff,” adding that demeaning NBA employees creates “an intimidating workplace environment.” The league suggested that his comments represented an effort to “influence refereeing decisions,” which created “the perception of an unfair competitive advantage and thereby undermines the integrity of the game.” The full announcement can be found right here.

As we detailed last month, the Mavs filed their protest because they believed officials misapplied rules on a play in the final minute of the game vs. the Hawks. The play in question saw Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith block a Trae Young layup attempt, with Atlanta big man John Collins scoring on a putback. Initially, goaltending was called on Young’s shot, but when a replay showed the block was clean, referees allowed the follow-up basket, citing an inadvertent whistle and saying Collins was in a shooting motion before the whistle blew.

In his post-game comments, Cuban blasted not only that end-of-game call, but the NBA’s entire referee development program. However, the NBA stated today that the rules were not misapplied on Collins’ basket.

“The league’s investigation included an analysis of the game footage showing that the whistle began to sound one-fifteenth of a second before Collins gained possession of the ball,” the league acknowledged in its statement. “However, it is well-established by prior NBA protest decisions that a factual determination by game officials – including replay officials – that is shown in a post-game review to be incorrect is not a misapplication of the playing rules.

“While officials strive to get every call right, games cannot be replayed when, after the fact and free from the need to make rulings in real time, a different judgment about events on the playing floor can be made. For these reasons, Commissioner Silver found that the extraordinary remedy of granting a game protest and replaying the last portion of a completed game was not warranted.”

Even before today, Cuban had reportedly been fined more than $2MM by the NBA over the years, a history that likely played a part in the size of his latest penalty. It’s actually not the most substantial single fine Cuban has faced — the league hit him with a $600K fine in 2018 for publicly admitting to tanking, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA To Weigh Mavs’ Protest Before Disciplining Cuban

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will almost certainly face some form of discipline for criticizing referees on social media and to reporters following his team’s loss in Atlanta on Saturday. However, the NBA isn’t expected to announce a penalty for Cuban until after commissioner Adam Silver has ruled on the Mavs’ protest of Saturday’s loss, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.

“We’re going to review the matter in its totality,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN.

As we detailed on Sunday, the Mavs filed a protest of Saturday’s loss, arguing that officials misapplied rules on a play in the final minute of the game. The play a question saw Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith block a Trae Young layup attempt, with Hawks big man John Collins scoring on a putback. Initially, goaltending was called on Young’s shot, but when a replay showed the block was clean, referees allowed the follow-up basket, citing an inadvertent whistle and saying Collins was in a shooting motion before the whistle blew.

In his postgame comments, Cuban blasted not only that end-of-game call, but the NBA’s entire referee development program. As the league weighs potential discipline for Cuban, it will take into account that the Mavs owner has already been fined approximately $2MM over the years for similar comments on officiating. Silver is also expected to consider the fact that Cuban came onto the court twice during dead-ball situations near the end of Saturday’s game, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon.

Presumably, if Dallas’ protest is upheld, the NBA will be a little more lenient on Cuban. However, even though it was a tough break for the Mavs, it appeared that the rules were applied properly and it’s unlikely to meet the high bar required for the league to rule that part of a game should be replayed, in the view of John Hollinger of The Athletic.

“You’ve got better odds of seeing Boban Marjanovic on a mount in the Kentucky Derby than you do of seeing the Mavs’ protest upheld,” Hollinger wrote.

Once a protest is filed, the two teams involved have five days to submit relevant evidence to the NBA. After that five-day window, Silver has another five days to make a final ruling. Typically the process moves a little quicker than that though — when the Rockets protested a loss to the Spurs in December, the NBA denied the protest just four days later. In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Mavs’ protest and Cuban’s punishment are both resolved by the end of the week.