The Mavericks are off to a slow start this season, with a league-worst 3-13 record so far, as our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show. However, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on Sunday night that his club has no interest in engaging in an all-out tank this season, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details.
“Haters gonna hate. We think that you always compete,” Cuban said. “If you’re competing when the league is better, like it is this year, if you don’t do well, you’ll be in a position to get a good pick. Which, remember, even if you have the worst record in the NBA, there’s a 75% chance you’re not going to get the top pick.”
Despite the Mavs’ struggles in the first month of the 2016/17 campaign, Cuban wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge that it’s a rebuilding season in Dallas. He’s also averse to building the roster or having Rick Carlisle coach in a way that would encourage any sort of losing culture, per MacMahon.
“There are so many teams that became four years away from four years away because guys just learned how to lose,” Cuban said. “They stopped caring about any individual game and just got used to it, and you don’t want guys developing those bad habits. We have so many young guys on this team, we want the games to mean something. Not to be, ‘OK, who are we going to pull in the fourth quarter so we can lose this game?’ That’s not how teams develop good habits.”
While Cuban doesn’t view 2016/17 as a “race-to-the-bottom year,” he did acknowledge that he won’t rule out making trades with the future in mind prior to February’s deadline. He also pointed out that the Mavs could end up with a top pick even if they play hard and try to win. The franchise has been hit hard by injuries in the early going, with Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Deron Williams, and Devin Harris among the players who have missed significant time.
Still, in Cuban’s view, there aren’t any “Shaqs or LeBrons or Tim Duncans” in the 2017 draft class, and even if there were a player of that caliber out there, finishing with the NBA’s worst record doesn’t guarantee anything.
“The team that has the worst record has a 75% chance that they won’t get the No. 1 pick. That’s not good odds,” Cuban said. “You’ll get a top-three pick … but there’s no good reason to tank unless you think that there’s three difference-makers. Not just All-Stars, but difference-makers.”