Even though the Dallas Mavericks are the worst team in the league sitting at a 2-13 record, owner Mark Cuban made it clear that he has no plans of tanking this year.
Prior to the Mavs home game against the Pelicans on Sunday, Mark Cuban took time at his stair climber machine prior to the game to answer questions from us reporters about the current state of the team and the idea of tanking this season.
With a bucket of ping-pong balls (motivation for working out?) in front of his stair climber, Cuban was dripping with sweat as he took the first couple of questions on the state of the team.
Cuban made it very clear that negativity is not part of his DNA.
“We are five and half games out of the playoffs with 65-66 games to go,” Cuban said when asked about their playoff hopes going down the drain. Cuban addressed the media right off the bat showing optimism and hiding behind the curtain of health problems the Mavs have had to start the season.
“We have only had two games with our starting lineup together and those weren’t full games,” Cuban adamantly declared when defending the team. He is obviously referring to the injuries to Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris (who has missed the whole season so far).
But even at 2-13 and what most people assume to be lottery bound, Cuban makes it clear that “tanking” isn’t a guaranteed solution. “Even if you have the worst record in the NBA, there is a 75% chance you won’t get the top pick,” Cuban said. “There is no one way to do it, there is no template.”
When the term “tanking” is brought up in Dallas, there is only one name that comes to mind that would counter that idea for the Mavs and that is Dirk Nowitzki. When asked if it would be different without Nowitzki, Cuban discussed how bad tanking is for the development of the younger players.
“It’s not even that. There is so many teams that were four years away from four years away because guys learn how to lose and they stop caring. You don’t want guys to develop those bad habits. We want the games to mean something,” Cuban said.
The whole goal of tanking is to obviously land a top pick in the draft in hopes of landing that next transcendent cornerstone of the franchise. But that player just isn’t there in this upcoming draft according to Cuban.
“I don’t see any Shaq’s, or LeBron’s, or Tim Duncan’s in this draft,” Cuban said. “It’s tough to draft the ultimate superstar.” But if there were one of those type of players in this upcoming draft, it could be a different narrative this season. “If there was 2 of those guys, 3 of them….we would be winning 12 games,” Cuban laughingly said.
So what exactly is the goal for this season? What if they do play hard, don’t try to tank, and it still doesn’t work out this season?
“Then we have to grab a great pick, but we are trying to win. We are teaching them to win as opposed to them…I mean you saw teams they were blowing it up and doing everything possible to lose in the fourth quarter. That’s just not how we are.”
Whether you agree with Mark Cuban or not, tanking is not part of the equation for the Dallas Mavericks at this moment.