A day after Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic admitted he missed Jalen Brunson, governor Mark Cuban tried to clear the air on how the point guard made his way to the New York Knicks last summer.
Cuban pointed the finger at Rick Brunson — Jalen’s father who also works as an assistant coach on the Knicks — as to why Brunson left as a free agent.
“Things went south when the parents got involved,” Cuban told reporters Wednesday.
The Knicks were found guilty of tampering with Brunson prior to signing him, a league investigation concluded in December, causing them to lose their 2025 second-round draft pick.
Cuban also clarified a previous report that Brunson and his representatives asked for a four-year, $56 million extension in the days leading up to the trade deadline in February 2022. He said that the Mavericks “never had the opportunity” to offer him, as Brunson’s side asked the team to clear cap room so they could offer him an extension in the $18-to-$23 million per year range, according to Cuban.
Brunson has thrived in his first season in New York, putting up career highs in points (24 per game) and assists (6.2 per game). Dallas, on the other hand, spent over half of the season trying to find a co-star for Doncic before trading for Kyrie Irving.
The Mavericks’ trade for Irving hasn’t brought the results they were hoping for. They’ve gone 9-16 since the trade was agreed to on Feb, 5 and are just 4-11 in the 15 games in which their two star players have played together. The Mavericks have now fallen to 11th place in the Western Conference entering Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, a far cry from their Western Conference finals appearance last season.
Despite the Mavericks’ poor record since acquiring Irving, Cuban still wants the point guard in Dallas next season.
“I want him to stay,” Cuban said of Irving, telling reporters that keeping him is the team’s No. 1 priority.
Cuban wouldn’t say if Irving was worth a max contract, which he was reportedly seeking for prior to requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m not going to negotiate with you,” Cuban said.
Cuban also gave a vote of confidence in second-year coach Jason Kidd, telling reporters that he is “absolutely” the team’s head coach moving forward. He didn’t have the same future assurance though for impending free-agent big man Christian Wood.
“I’m not going to go through individual players,” Cuban said when asked about the Mavericks possibly re-signing Wood.
As it appears, the Mavericks’ season is just days away from ending, and Cuban said the blame should ultimately fall on him for the disappointing year. In particular, he took the blame for the Mavericks’ defensive downswing, going from sixth in defensive rating last season to 23rd this season.
“It’s absolutely my fault for not recognizing that,” Cuban said.
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