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Cuban says new labor agreement forced Dallas changes

May 8, 2012, 12:26 PM EDT

NBA Finals Mavericks Heat Basketball AP

Here’s the thing, he’s right. Mostly.

Before the Dallas Mavericks were swept out of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cuban went on the defensive talking to the media. He had heard the statements from the media and others saying he and his franchise gave up winning the title the day they didn’t re-sign Tyson Chandler (and J.J. Barea and Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson). I’ll admit I said they would not be the same without Chandler (although this season it was the Mavericks offense, and late game offense in particular, that faltered and not their defense).

Cuban told the Dallas Morning News he had no regrets about the moves because the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement — one with steep luxury tax penalties coming in a few years — has changed the business model. He just had to adapt.

“Hell no,” Cuban said (if he had regrets). “Nope. Not even a millisecond. Because those who are talking otherwise haven’t read the CBA and are just talking out their (expletive) without any foundation. But that’s what you guys do.

“Given what happened, I think we put together a damn good team. If we had one break, one call, one bounce, we’re having a completely different conversation and you’re thinking how smart we are instead of how stupid we are…

“If you want to nail me for something, I’ll be the first to admit that it was a huge (expletive) that I didn’t fight for the new (CBA) harder,” Cuban said. “I said it before, I’ll say it again. It put us and other teams in a bad spot, and it was an overnight handshake deal that I should have fought harder. I’m the first to say that.”

Cuban is right about the CBA — he and the Mavericks were one of the biggest spenders the last decade and he just absorbed the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax (salary over a certain threshold, $70 million this year) as part of doing business. It got him a lot of wins and eventually a ring.

But you can’t do that anymore. Under the new rules by the 2014-15 season if a team paid the tax the previous three years (or three of the previous four years in subsequent years) teams pay a steeper “repeater tax” that is between $2.50 and $4.25 per dollar over the cap — the more you are over the cap the more steep the price.

Dallas lived well above the luxury tax threshold for a decade, but for example if they were $10 million over the tax line in 2015 their tax payment would jump from $10 million to $17.5 million. At the level the Mavericks salary was at last year the tax would have been well in excess of $20 million.

The new CBA punishes the model the Lakers, Mavericks, Knicks and other teams used to build a roster (the Knicks far less successfully, thank you Isiah) where teams lived $10 million or more into the tax regularly. The league and its small market owners think that more parity is needed and good for the league and those big spending teams needed to reigned in. We can have a debate about why I think that is wrong — stars sell in the NBA and the nature of the sport will never allow NFL-style parity or anything close to it — but it is reality.

Cuban has embraced that reality in an aggressive way — Dallas will be well under the cap this summer and can go after Deron Williams to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. They can put more affordable (read: younger) talent around them.

This was not his only option. He might have been able to keep Chandler and others on shorter deals by selling them on making one more run. Cuban went another way. He tried to replace them with Lamar Odom and while that flamed out it was a good gamble. But the bottom line is everyone knew this wasn’t going to be the same team, and if you believe that your team was going to have a hard time repeating what Cuban did is a logical course of action.

Basically, in two years we’ll be saying Cuban was a visionary and made the right moves, or that he gambled and lost and now the Mavericks path back to the top is much longer and steeper.

But he’s right, the new CBA did help force his hand.

  1. davidly - May 8, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    But I’m saying he gambled and lost now. He says “one bounce, one break, one call”? He must be taking crazy pills. His team got bounced in the biggest way, not by one little thing here and there.

    It took him a while to build his championship, and the one thing that would have recruited players after this CBA would have been another stellar showing in this year’s playoffs. Nobody is coming to Dallas.

    Hats off again to last season’s Mavs. They were something else.

  2. southpaw77 - May 8, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Gotta call BS on this, Miami continues to spend over the cap, if the owner has the cash then they pay the luxury tax without blinking.
    No secret Cuban’s money isn’t as big as it was so he tried to save this year to score this off-season and his team got swept.

    Let’s see how many years the Heat will be way over the cap and you think the steepers tax will stop them?

    The CBA for the NBA is a joke, certain teams continue to go over the cap anytime a free agent comes available or quit on a team like Lebron did on the Cavs in 2010 in game 5. Need NFL rules with a hard cap and you can franchise these guys.

  3. southpaw77 - May 8, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    The NFL model won’t work for the NBA? Says who.
    In the 80s every team dang near had a hall of famer.
    Drexler in Portland
    Olajuwon in Houston
    Reggie in Indiana
    Mullin in Golden State
    Richmond in Sacramento
    Stockton n Malone in Utah
    Mourning in Charlotte
    Dumars n Thomas in Detroit
    Robinson in San Antonio
    Magic in LA
    Jordan n Pippen in Chicago
    And so on..

    So basicly it came down to which stars worked harder (like Jordan), who had the good coach, who drafted well, who traded well, and who stayed healthy. It didn’t come down to these crybabies think they’re entitled to titles so they team up and certain teams are constantly allowed to go over the cap and snag up every veteran that’s bought out or waived.

    • snoopy2014 - May 8, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      You named 11 teams. And while Mullin and Richmond were great, it’s a bit of a stretch to put them in the same category as the others on your list.

      If you define parity by the distribution of elite franchise players (I’m not going to predict who’ll make the Hall of Fame), then…

      Chicago – Rose
      Miami – Lebron and Wade
      Boston – self-explanatory
      NY – Carmelo
      SA – Duncan, Ginobili, Parker
      OKC – Durant
      LAC – Paul
      MN – Love
      Orlando – Howard
      Charlotte – Ha OK just kidding
      NJ – Williams
      Phx – Nash
      Dallas – Nowitzki
      Washington – Wall, while definitely not a HOF favorite right now, at least has the potential to be a franchise player
      Cle – Irving is a franchise player right now

      You also forgot to mention that “Magic in LA” had 3 other HOFs with him (Wilkes made it too) and that Bird guy (who isn’t on your list) also had multiple HOFs beside him.

      You can hate Lebron and Wade for teaming up – I’m not a fan of it either – but let’s not use revisionist history to try to suggest the 80s were a decade of parity. The 80s were THE decade of dynasties. Those Lakers teams with McAdoo, Thompson, were stacked in a way that no team today is.

      • snoopy2014 - May 8, 2012 at 1:45 PM

        I also left the Lakers off, because I thought that was self-explanatory as well.

  4. fordman84 - May 8, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    What I take away from all this is that as soon as Dirk retires, Dallas will be drafting in the lottery every year. Since we can no longer afford to pay the big bucks for the veteran talent (be it via trade or one of these FA signings that never happen for Dallas), we will have to rely on the draft. Other than Dirk, who has Dallas drafted and developed/kept around/ still in the league on the Cubes-Donny clock?

  5. chargerdillon - May 8, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Was Shaq, Kobe, or Pau drafted by the Lakers?

    Was Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen drafted by the Celtics?

    Was Tyson Chandler drafted by the Mavericks before he helped them win a championship?

    My point is a franchise that succeeds by trading for talent in the NBA is THE NORM. Not the other way around. Teams that just draft good are farm system teams like the Clippers of old. The Clippers draft great, and then in a few years when they dont build around their great talent, their great talent leaves for a real team thats willing to make moves to bring in talent like the team that drafted them wouldnt do.

    Cuban won a ring because he made the right offseason trades which brought him in the pieces to win a championship. Not because he drafted Dirk. Anybody who drafted Dirk would have a good team, but they would never have a championship team with Dirk if he’s not complimented with the right pieces. Keep in mind Dirk and Steve Nash played on the same team, one would think that would make for a pretty unstoppable force. Guess what, it never worked out.

  6. sprest83 - May 8, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    “This was not his only option. He might have been able to keep Chandler and others on shorter deals by selling them on making one more run.”

    Donnie Nelson and Cuban have both been on record saying they offered Chandler a one year and a two year deal. The one year deal was for $20 million…but Tyson wanted a longer commitment.

  7. lakerluver - May 8, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    1 hit wonder!!

  8. astrosfan75956 - May 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Odom really screwed Dallas this season, go back to being a kardashian PAB.

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