NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Cuban: Mavericks got “lucky” with free agent Plan B — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue in matters of business, basketball or politics. So when he talks about the Mavericks getting “lucky” with their free agent contingency plans this summer, he means what he says. The Dallas Morning News provides some highlights of Cuban’s recent discussion with ESPN Radio 103.3 in Dallas, where he discussed the departure of Chandler Parsons, the acquisition of Harrison Barnes and more:
Chuck Cooperstein: Unfortunately the Plan A [in free agency] didn’t work out the way you had in mind, didn’t work out the way you hoped it would. Even you knew that it was going to be an uphill struggle to make it work. Yet again, you’ve been able to sort of cobble something together that looks just a little bit more than interesting.
Mark Cuban: Yeah, you know I keep a whole trunk full of rabbits so I can put them in my hat. We got lucky. There’s not other way to say it. We knew we were long shots with both Hassan [Whiteside] and with Mike Conley. We knew Mike Conley wasn’t going to turn down the largest contract in NBA history. But we also know that it’s not just about the short-term, it’s the long-term. We wanted to introduce the Mavericks, our style and our organization to both of them because you never know when they’re going to be available in a trade. You never know next free agency. So many things can happen over a period of time in an NBA.
Look what happened with D-Will [Deron Williams]. I think our presentation to him from coach and Donnie [Nelson] in particular really set the groundwork for him understanding who we are. On one hand, we didn’t expect to get them to come to the Mavs, but we still think it served a function. From there Harrison [Barnes] reached out to me at 12:01 like, ‘Dude I want to come there. You’re my first pick, my only pick.’ I went back-and-forth with him like, ‘Yeah, we’d love you too but you’re a restricted free agent. Here’s our course of action. Here’s what we’re going to do.’ I laid it all out for him. He was like, ‘Okay, we’ll see what happens but you guys are my team.’ Fortunately it turned out the way it did.
Matt Mosley: Mark, why did you essentially pick Harrison Barnes over Chandler Parsons? Parsons ends up getting very similar, if not the same money, from Memphis. Y’all had a great relationship. I saw quotes recently [where] you said, ‘It continues to be a great relationship.’ Did it simply come down to the knee, the medical, as comparing Barnes to Parsons or do you just feel like maybe Barnes has more upside?
Mark Cuban: Can’t go into any details, but I’ll just say it wasn’t a basketball issue. Chandler obviously is a very, very skilled player. There’s a lot of great things to his game. But he’s, in essence, a different player from Harrison. Harrison is longer, more athletic, younger. Just like Chandler really didn’t get a chance to have his game blossom when he was with the Rockets. He just showed glimpses of it because of Dwight [Howard] and James [Harden] being there. I think Harrison was kind of in the same role. I think we’re going to give Harrison the opportunity and I know he’s excited about the opportunity to really shine and be a featured guy for us.
Chuck Cooperstein: I don’t know if you saw the ESPN piece…about the summer ranking of the Western Conference teams in which they had the Mavericks ninth. I said something, ‘Well, here we go again.’ Right?
Mark Cuban: You never know until you know. That’s why we play the games. If you look at last year you look at New Orleans, you look at Houston, you just don’t know. I would have told you last year, and I think I did tell you guys, that we’re about eight sprained ankles away from being a top contender. Now we’re probably only three, maybe four. You just don’t know. Look at Portland and what happened there. You just don’t know.
No. 2: Careful challenging Michael Jordan even now — Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul learned the hard way what generations of NBA players before him know well. It’s not wise to challenge Michael Jordan, even after all of these years. Paul challenged Jordan in the name of campers at Jordan’s Flight School, testing his shooting ability. If Jordan missed three shots, all of the campers would go home with free shoes, courtesy of MJ. Rob Perez of FoxSports.com has more:
“His Airness” has never been one to turn down a challenge.
At Michael Jordan’s Flight School camp this week, Clippers point guard Chris Paul challenged the all-time great to a wager — if he missed three shots, every camper in attendance would receive free sneakers courtesy of Jordan. Paul tried everything in his power to get MJ to miss, getting the kids to pound the floor and scream at the top of their lungs, rolling a ball at Jordan’s feet during a shot, even covering Michael’s eyes during another …
Guess what happened? He made every single one.
No. 3: Waiting paid off for Lue, Cavaliers — The city of Cleveland is still basking in the afterglow of the Cavaliers’ epic championship run, a journey that was paved by shrewd decisions that didn’t always make sense at the time they were made. Tyronn Lue taking over for David Blatt midway through the season was panned by many. In hindsight, of course, it looks like a masterstroke. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer breaks down the moves and how patience paid off for Lue and the Cavaliers:
Winning the first title by a major Cleveland sports franchise since the 1964 Browns has paid off for Lue. He signed a five-year, $35 million deal. The final season is not guaranteed. It averages $7 million a year, but he’s not paid quite that much in the early seasons.
Dan Gilbert and his ownership group put together the contract. Is it big? Yes.
It’s about what Scott Brooks received to coach the Washington Wizards. Dwane Casey signed a three-year, $18 million extension with the Toronto Raptors.
Both have more experience than Lue. Neither has won a title.
What happened with the Cavs this season is one of the most remarkable events in Cleveland sports history. How much is that title worth both economically and emotionally to the Cavs organization and their fans? It’s impossible to put a dollar figure on it.
For a little context, Matthew Dellavedova received a four-year, $38 million deal from the Milwaukee Bucks as a backup point guard.
Obviously, LeBron James was the driving force to the title. But James and the players believed in Lue. One of the reasons for the firing of Blatt was to take away the coaching excuse from the players.
Many of them — not just James — had major doubts about Blatt. So did Griffin, and it was Griffin’s decision to fire Blatt.
We’ll never know for certain if Blatt would have won the title. But we do know that Lue stayed calm through the entire postseason. He made some excellent adjustments in the final games of the series against Toronto and Golden State.
At the very least, it was evident the players had faith in Lue. And it was clear James was fully behind his coach.
That meant a lot when the team was down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series to Golden State.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Whenever it happens, Doc Rivers believes Paul Pierce should retire a Celtic … For all the fun the some members of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team are having, Carmelo Anthony has his limits … ICYMI, Dennis Schröder joined this week’s Hang Time Podcast to discuss his new role as the starting point guard in Atlanta … Business leaders in Charlotte tried (in vain) to save the 2017 All-Star Game bid … Jimmy Butler wanted Dwyane Wade in Chicago and the Bulls made it happen …