Terdema Ussery

Mavericks Notes: Cuban, Front Office, Warney, Draft

The Mavericks don’t believe there’s any truth behind the sexual misconduct allegations against owner Mark Cuban, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. A team source told Sefko the organization spent a lot of time on the matter today before determining the charges are unfounded.

A report Tuesday night said police in Portland investigated a complaint against Cuban in 2011 that was filed by a woman who claimed inappropriate physical contact. No charges were filed in the case and Cuban has denied the allegation. The team is concerned that more stories of this type will be unearthed as the investigation continues into sexual misconduct at team headquarters, Sefko adds.

There’s more tonight out of Dallas:

  • Sexual misconduct allegations against former Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery are still being investigated, and the process could continue into the the summer, Sefko notes in the same story. Ussery was a prominent figure in the Sports Illustrated story on the Mavs’ front office that resulted in the current investigation. Sefko also learned that Roger Caneda, GM of Mavs Gaming, was suspended after a racist tweet from 2016 was discovered. There are unconfirmed reports of similar Twitter comments in 2017, but it’s possible Caneda’s account had been hacked, and the team is continuing to investigate.
  • Jameel Warney will make history as the first Stony Brook University alumnus ever to reach the NBA, relays Greg Logan of Newsday. The 24-year-old confirmed that he will sign a 10-day contract with the Mavericks on Sunday, allowing him to return to New York next week for road games against the Knicks and Nets. Warney is the university’s all-time scoring leader and a three-time American East Conference Player of the Year.
  • The Mavericks will have to get better at using their draft choices before they can think about becoming a contender again, writes Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders. He notes that last year’s selection of Dennis Smith Jr. marked the team’s best pick since obtaining Dirk Nowitzki in 1998. The most pressing need is in the frontcourt, where DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba and Marvin Bagley would all be welcome additions, but the Mavs also need to find a partner for Smith in the backcourt.

Mavs Investigating Alleged Workplace Misconduct

In the wake of an SI.com report detailing a corrosive workplace culture within the Mavericks’ organization, the team has hired outside counsel to “conduct a thorough and independent investigation” into the allegations and into the franchise’s workplace practices and policies. The NBA has also issued a statement calling the alleged behavior “completely unacceptable” and indicating that the league “will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter.”

In their report for SI.com, Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther describe an “Animal House“-type culture in Dallas. The allegations outlined in the story focus on former Mavs president and CEO Terdema Ussery and former Mavs.com beat writer Earl K. Sneed, who was fired on Tuesday, according to the team. However, the reported workplace misconduct isn’t limited to those two men. As Wertheim and Luther write, accounts from their sources “paint a picture of a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior.”

One former female Mavs staffer tells SI.com that she never had an issue with any of the team’s players — the club’s actual locker room is described as a “refuge,” while the business offices represented more of a “locker room culture,” in the worst sense of the term. According to SI.com’s account, Ussery earned a reputation as a “serial sexual harasser” who allegedly made inappropriate remarks to – and publicly fondled – female employees.

Sneed, meanwhile, was involved in two domestic disputes, including one with a fellow Mavs employee he was dating at the time. Although the Mavs weren’t entirely in the dark about Sneed’s behavior, the team indicated in its statement on Tuesday night that it was “misled” by an employee (Sneed wasn’t specifically named) about a prior domestic violence incident, resulting in his dismissal.

In a statement of his own issued to The Dallas Morning News, Sneed says the domestic disputes were inaccurately described in SI.com’s report, but admits that he underwent counseling after both altercations. Sneed says he also “signed a contract stating that I would not have one-on-one contact or fraternize with female employees” after the second incident. His assault record prevented him from traveling to Canada with the Mavs when the club played in Toronto.

According to Wertheim and Luther, their sources made it clear that team owner Mark Cuban was not involved in any way in sexual harassment himself, though most found it hard to imagine that such a hands-on owner would be entirely unaware of what was happening. For his part, Cuban insists that he didn’t know what was going on, explaining that he’s more involved in the basketball operations side of the Mavs, deferring to the CEO and HR in business operations.

“This is all new to me,” Cuban told SI.com. “The only awareness I have is because I heard you guys were looking into some things….  Based off of what I’ve read here, we just fired our HR person. I don’t have any tolerance for what I’ve read.

“It’s wrong. It’s abhorrent. It’s not a situation we condone,” Cuban continued. “I can’t tell you how many times, particularly since all this [#MeToo] stuff has been coming out recently I asked our HR director, ‘Do we have a problem? Do we have any issues I have to be aware of?’ And the answer was no.”

The details in SI.com’s report reflect poorly on the Mavericks and on the NBA as a whole, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see more firings or policy changes occur as a result of the independent investigation.

Latest On NBPA Executive Director Vote

The three finalists for the vacant NBPA Executive Director position are Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery, Michele Roberts, a trial attorney, and Dean Garfield, the CEO and president of the Information Technology Industry Council. The players are scheduled to vote at 10pm (CDT) this evening in Las Vegas.

Here’s the latest on the upcoming vote:

  • Former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse attended the NBPA meeting regarding the Executive Director vote and criticized the process, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). One player told Wojnarowski that Stackhouse was trying to “initiate a divide.”
  • The NBPA executive committee believes it will get a vote on a new executive director tonight despite talk of potentially delaying the vote, tweets Wojnarowski.
  • Another player told Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that, “This is a cluster. They’re trying to slam a director down our throats.

Earlier Updates:

  • The Kevin Johnson-led search committee interviewed more than 70 candidates for the union’s executive director vacancy, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reports. The union is set to vote this evening on the three finalists, though Johnson won’t be present after an apparent falling out with the executive committee. Union secretary-treasurer James Jones told Zillgitt that the players would have preferred that he stayed on until the hire was complete, but added that there was little for Johnson and his committee to do once the finalists were identified.
  • There have been some rumblings from those present for the vote asking if the vote is happening too quickly given the relative anonymity of the three finalists, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • According to the schedule presented by the union, players will get 45-minute sessions to get to know each of the three candidates and then cast their votes, tweets Stein.
  • Stein also tweets that numerous agents, after a conference call earlier today, have advised players to seek a delayed vote to ensure the finalists are indeed the best finalists for the job.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Union To Vote On Executive Director Finalists

SATURDAY, 9:35am: Dean Garfield, a tech industry CEO, is the third finalist, tweets Wojnarowski.

9:00pm: Union president Chris Paul had been tight with Johnson, but others on the executive committee weren’t as supportive of the Sacramento mayor, as Wojnarowski details in a full story. Some prominent union members and agents worried that Johnson owed too much to commissioner Adam Silver in the wake of the NBA’s efforts to keep the Kings in Sacramento, according to Wojnarowski. Tension had festered for months between Johnson’s search committee and the executive committee, Wojnarowski hears. The union invited Johnson to take part in Monday’s proceedings, but he has no desire to participate, a source tells Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski also pegs the number of remaining candidates at three in his latest dispatch.

7:59pm: Union members are set to choose from a field of three finalists Monday, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick, suggesting that a fourth finalist, as Wojnarowski alluded to, either dropped out or was never truly in the running. About 150 players are expected for the meeting in Las Vegas, as the union has made a strong push for its membership to take part.

7:50pm: Attorney Michele Roberts, who appeared to have been a finalist in February, is another candidate among the three making presentations on Monday, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

7:19pm: Mavs CEO Terdema Ussery is one of the three who’ll make presentations to the union, Wojnarowski reports (on Twitter).

6:52pm: Wojnarowski tweets that three finalists will make presentations to the player’s union on Monday, and that a vote will follow.

FRIDAY, 6:32pm: Kevin Johnson informed NBA players via email that he is no longer a part of the search committee designed to find the next executive director of the player’s union, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports in a series of tweets. Wojnarowski describes the email as a “terse” message that reveals an out-of-process committee. Johnson was hired to head the committee this spring.

The Yahoo! scribe’s sources say that the search committee had run into conflict with the NBPA’s executive committee, with the latter desiring to exert more influence in the lead-up to a hire (Twitter link). Wojnarowski’s sources said that the candidates for the job have been narrowed to four in the last 48 hours, although the list was reportedly at just three names in recent days.

The union has been without an executive director since Billy Hunter was ousted in February of 2013. After working with the NBA in the initial stages of the ongoing Donald Sterling scandal, Johnson was presumed to have a favorable chance at landing the union job, a possibility that was disputed based on Johnson’s broader political aspirations.