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Daryl Morey says he called Mark Cuban last summer asking to trade for Dirk Nowitzki

Mar 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitizki AP

BOSTON – Rockets general manager Daryl Morey appeared on a panel with Warriors general manager Bob Myers on Friday, as part of a negotiation discussion at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

The two GMs were extremely open in detailing their perceived shortcomings and missteps in their personal negotiation processes, and one of the more interesting stories to come out of it involved last summer’s mad scramble to sign Dwight Howard in free agency.

Golden State couldn’t sign Howard even if he decided that’s where he wanted to play, because the team was $12 million over the salary cap at the time. It wasn’t Howard who the Warriors had to move mountains to acquire, however. It was free agent Andre Iguodala who had agreed to play for the Warriors, if only they could clear the necessary $24 million in salary to sign him.

Meyers detailed just how difficult this process was, and how low the odds were of him actually being able to pull it off — after all, few if any teams are usually willing to sign up to take on an extra $24 million in salary to essentially help someone else add a marquee free agent to the roster.

But Meyers found a willing partner in the Utah Jazz, and that sent Morey into a complete panic. He thought that Howard would be persuaded to choose the Warriors based on their addition of another All-Star talent, and so he went running to the phones to try to acquire another star of his own — without knowing that Howard had already made his decision to join the Rockets.

“This is where my emotion takes over,” Morey said. “I go into a complete panic. I really did. I thought it was down to us, Dallas, L.A.”

So Morey called Mark Cuban to try and poach his franchise superstar.

“I was like, ‘Well, you’re not getting Dwight Howard. Can you trade us Dirk Nowitzki?'” Morey said. “It was a bad moment for me.”

A really bad moment, considering that Howard had already informed Dallas that he was signing elsewhere, even though Morey hadn’t been made aware of his decision just yet.

“Mark thought I was taunting him,” Morey said.

That phone call must have been priceless from Cuban’s standpoint, given the sting of just losing out on Howard along with another general manager trying to do even more damage by asking for a player who has remained untouchable in Cuban’s eyes ever since Nowitzki came into the league some 15 years ago.

“We worked it out,” Morey said, in what was likely a painful negotiation all its own.

  1. dylude - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    I don’t know how many times in sports history loyalty to an aging star is rewarded but Cuban should have ended Morey. Take the right players a day fill up the salary cap enough and it could have prevented Dwight from coming.

    Hindsight 20/20.

    “In Morey we trust.”

  2. 1forest1 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    I remember Cuban mentioned this proposal a few months ago.

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