This is not the first time Mark Cuban’s professional basketball team has quit, but don’t expect him to publicly admit it this time.
Rather than go all-in to make the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Dallas Mavericks are “opting out” of pursuing their postseason chances. Needing to win both of their remaining regular season games for a chance to qualify for the play-in, the Mavs would rather pass.
Several hours before their home game on Friday night, the Mavs announced the following: Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery), Josh Green (rest), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery) and Christian Wood (rest) will all miss tonight’s game against the Bulls.
The only reason the Mavs didn’t include Luka Doncic on this list is because April 7 is Slovenian Night at the American Airlines Center. Before the game, Mavs coach Jason Kidd said Doncic would only play the first quarter.
He said the idea to rest the starters was an “organizational” decision.
Not to be outdone, the Bulls planned to sit starters DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine in a night that will look more a preseason game.
The Mavericks needed wins against the Bulls on Friday and the Spurs on Sunday, plus a loss by the Oklahoma City Thunder against Memphis, to make the play-in tournament.
In the history of the Dallas Mavericks there have been worse seasons, but this one is its own special brand of horrendous. The Mavs have gone from reaching the Western Conference finals to tanking in one year.
The Mavs are 38-42, and … they stink. They are the most disappointing team in the NBA this season.
The Mavs are in “Lose out” mode to protect what will be a top 10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. If they finish outside the top 10 the pick goes to the New York Knicks as the last piece of the trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis.
If you are desperate to look at the positives in a season full of negatives, go with this: The last time the Mavs tanked they ended acquiring Luka Doncic.
That process was an expensive job, but it was worth it.
In February of 2018, the NBA fined Mavs owner Mark Cuban after he made comments on a podcast hosted by NBA great Julius Erving.
On the podcast, Cuban said, “I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night. And here we are. We weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, ‘Look, losing is our best option.’
“(NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver) would hate to be hearing that. But at least I sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans are going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again. This is like a year and a half of tanking. That was too brutal for me.”
Cuban was right. He wasn’t supposed to say that.
The NBA and Silver fined Cuban $600,000 for publicly admitting a reality that has become common in pro sports: Flushing a season in order to secure a high draft pick. MLB teams have been doing it for forever.
In this case, tanking worked. The Mavs finished 24-58, and the team had the fifth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
On draft night, the Atlanta Hawks selected Doncic with the third pick and traded him shortly thereafter to the Mavericks in exchange for their selection, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, plus a handful of draft picks.
What happened with the Mavericks this year is nothing like that 2017-2018 season. That team featured an aging Dirk Nowitzki, and knew the score long before the start of the regular season.
This current team has Doncic, and long before they traded for All-Star Kyrie Irving they thought the playoffs were a given.
Instead, an offseason that was at best “horrible” resulted in a poorly built roster, which led to the panic-trade of Irving back in February. They are in desperate need of real players, and defenders.
Even with a backcourt featuring two breathtaking scorers in Doncic and Irving, the team is still bad. The defense is horrible. The rebounding isn’t much better.
And now they’re so bad they think tanking is a better play than the play-in.