DALLAS – Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t too happy with the league-owned and funded New Orleans Hornets taking back salary and sending cash in today’s trade for Sacramento forward Carl Landry. That a franchise previously on such shaky financial ground that it needed an NBA bailout earlier this season actually increased its payroll greatly irritated Cuban.
“That’s just wrong. That’s just wrong. That’s just absolutely, positively wrong,” an incredulous Cuban said before tonight’s Dallas-Utah game. “I’ll probably go against the grain from everybody else, but that is so far wrong that it’s not even close.
“There’s so few teams in the league that can afford to do that and yet we’re allowing a team that’s owned by the league to do that?”
New Orleans sent the Kings second-year guard Marcus Thornton and cash considerations for Landry, who’s in the last year of his contract making $3 million. Thornton, also in the last year, is on the books for $762,195. (New Orleans, which is over the salary cap, was able to fit Landry into a trade exception.)
The Hornets’ payroll went up about $2.24 million, though that difference is prorated for the remainder of the season. That increase plus the cash paid to Sacramento clearly upset Cuban, a consistent luxury tax payer.
New Orleans is also a Southwest Division rival of Dallas and potential first-round playoff opponent.
Asked if there was any recourse with the league, Cuban said: “What am I gonna do? That’s wrong. Beyond wrong.”
The NBA — Cuban and the other 28 owners — purchased the Hornets from troubled former owner George Shinn in December for approximately $300 million. The league set the Hornets’ operating budget and funds the team, which is operated by David Stern-appointed chairman Jac Sperling.
The idea was broached that the Hornets-Kings deal amounts to a form of revenue sharing and the other owners helped subsidize the trade.
“I don’t need to be competing economically with the league and myself,” Cuban said.