The NBA Investigates If Shark Mark Cuban Tanked Dallas Mavericks’ 2023 Play-In

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104 on Feb. 8, which was Kyrie Irving’s first game with his new team. At that time the Mavericks were 30-26 and in fourth place in the crowded Western Conference race. Since then they’ve gone 8-17, and with Friday’s home loss to the Chicago Bulls they were eliminated from the NBA playoffs and play-in race.

But that seems to have been their motive, tank the last couple of games and keep their top-10 pick, because they still owe the New York Knicks a top-10 protected pick for Kristaps Porzingis back in 2019. 

In Friday’s 115-112 loss the Mavs still had a legitimate shot at making the play-in, but instead opted to sit trade deadline acquisition Kyrie Irving and four other key players in what looked like a complete tank job. For some odd reason they sent superstar and franchise player Luka Dončić out to start the game, and while he played a quarter, he also exited for the season early in the second quarter.

In essence the Mavs were reeling it in on a season that had so much promise after last season’s surprise run to the Western Conference Finals. 

Friday’s actions have now prompted an open investigation into the Mavericks’ plan, and from the looks of it this won’t end well for Mark Cuban and his guys. In a statement released by the league it outlined what they’re looking into. 

“The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night’s Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions.”

Mark Cuban And Mavericks Are No Strangers To Blatant Tanking

Tanking isn’t unknown territory for Mark Cuban and his team. In fact the outspoken owner had his team blatantly lose games in 2018, and it’s safe to say it paid off as it landed them the aforementioned Dončić following a draft-night trade with the Atlanta Hawks. 

During a 2018 podcast appearance Cuban told the host why his team blatantly pulled the string on the season.

“Losing is our best option,” Cuban said.

That comment ended up costing Cuban $600,000, but to a multi-billionaire that’s chump change, and based on the player (Luka) they landed it’s obvious Cuban would pay that fine over and over. 

With the league investigating this move it’s higly plausible an even bigger fine could he in store for Cuban this time around, considering it’s the second offense.

Knicks And Mavs Joined At The Hip?

The protected pick is something the Mavericks decided was more important than trying to make the playoffs this season. The team is hoping for lightning in a bottle to land consensus top pick Victor Wembanyama of France. Also it sticks it it to the Knicks a bit, as they’re the team who got point guard Jalen Brunson to sign with them last season after he spent the first four years of his career in Dallas. 

It was the Mavs’ fault for not signing him to an extension prior to him hitting free agency. Cuban claims it was the fault of Brunson’s dad, former NBA player Rick Brunson, the Mavs didn’t get a chance to keep their second-best player. 

Now the Mavs are making sure they don’t lose their top pick in this year’s draft to the Knicks as well. Head coach Jason Kidd was sent to the podium to clean up their mess. Kidd called it an “organizational decision.” And he also said this: 

“It’s not so much waving the white flag. It’s that decisions are hard in this business. We’re trying to build a championship team. With this decision, this is maybe a step back. But hopefully it leads to going forward.”

Sounds good, but with rumors of Dončić maybe wanting out after next season, the Mavs are desperately trying to build a winner. Well, if that’s the case, re-signing Irving this summer is a must considering how much they gave up for a two-month rental. 

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