“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games,” Cuban said on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday.
It’s unclear who Cuban meant when he said “we,” however. He said no player was told to actually throw any games. Instead, he told the radio show the team’s strategy was to keep the better players on the sidelines to make way for less experienced young players, including Yogi Ferrell, Nerlens Noel and Dorian Finney-Smith — all of which is pretty standard practice for non-playoff teams. Despite being on the team for a year or less, those three players each averaged at least 20 minutes per game, with the rookie Ferrell, a midseason signing, getting the most at 29.1. He averaged 11.3 points.
“Once a guy walks on the court, they’re going to play their heart out,” Cuban said.
“Particularly the young guys,” he added. “Because they have something to prove.”
That the Mavericks rested some of their more experienced veterans late in the season isn’t surprising. As mentioned, many teams without postseason hopes do the same thing. The difference is, most owners don’t blab about it or publicly characterize it as doing “everything possible to lose games.” It’s neither good for team morale, nor your fans, who you presumably want to keep paying to come watch competitive basketball games.
With their young guys getting big minutes, the Mavericks went 2-5 after being eliminated from playoff contention on April 1. That’s less than great, but really no worse that the team was already doing after it started the season by winning just three out of their first 15 games, a time in which injuries kept aging star Dirk Nowitzki off the court. The Mavs ended the season at 33-49 overall. Under the convoluted NBA draft lottery process, that left them with a 6.1 percent chance of winning a top-three pick, but that wasn’t the way the ping-pong balls fell, meaning the Mavs ultimately stayed locked into the ninth overall pick in next month’s draft.
With our luck at the draft our pick is probably gonna slip to second round tonight....— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) May 16, 2017