May 20, 2010, 11:31 PM EST
UPDATE 11:27 PM: That didn’t take long. Well, of course it didn’t, if there is one thing the NBA league office seems to love it’s a good investigation.
The NBA is officially investigating Mark Cuban’s comments to see if they are tampering, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst. No timetable for a decision.
In an email to ESPNDallas, Cuban said that the comments were not tampering.
8:24 pm: Mark Cuban wouldn’t mind having the best player in the world on his team. You think?
It’s not really shocking news, but it is the first time Cuban has really said this in a public venue. In an interview with CNNMoney (via ESPNDallas) Cuban flirts with NBA tampering rules — and David Stern doesn’t joke about tampering rules — by saying he’d have interest in talking with LeBron James after July 1 if the free agent to be decides to test the market and has interest in a strong organization.
“Come July 1st, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James, and if he leaves via free agency, then it’s going to be tough. If he does like I’m guessing, hoping he will, which is say, ‘I’m not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,’ if he decides to leave — there’s still a better chance he stays — then he’ll try to force a sign-and-trade, and that gives us a chance.”
Cuban’s fellow Mavericks fans have his back — they even have the Website. However, here is what the league wanted — and by league rules required — him to say.
“I can’t discuss LeBron, he is still under contract with the Cavaliers.”
That’s not nearly as much fun, but the guys in suits in New York can be that way sometimes. Don’t be shocked if Cuban’s rather obvious comments earn him a fine from the league. It’s not what he said, it’s that he said anything.
The Mavericks do not have the cap space to sign James as a free agent (they don’t have any cap space at all). And right now the Cavaliers are not talking sign and trade at all, they won’t even begin to discuss it.
But if James tells the Cavaliers he is gone for sure, he could force a sign-and-trade deal — the Cavs would want to get something back if he leaves. They will not begin to get equal value — on or off the court — but some picks and expiring contracts might help speed a rebuilding process. They may nave no choice.
And if it comes to a sign-and-trade, the Mavericks become an interesting dance partner with players and expiring deals to offer. But we’re a long way from talking about that. Plus we don’t want a fine.
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