You don't have to like it, but Mark Cuban is the voice of the Mavericks. He's a fantastic owner, engaged with his team and always on the cutting edge of new ideas. He also likes to have some fun with his rivals.
This offseason, he's gone on the record multiple times with comments about Daryl Morey. If you're looking at a loose timeline, the key events include Dallas bringing in assistant general manager Gersson Rosas only to see him walk away a few months later, both the Mavericks and the Rockets courting Dwight Howard last season only to have him choose the latter, Houston trying to sign Dirk in free agency and, most recently, Dallas signing Chandler Parsons away from Houston.
Cuban's been vocal about it all, saying he would have matched the Parsons offer sheet if he were Houston and that he "wanted to kick Morey's ass" this offseason. All of this, and more Cuban comments, went untouched by Morey -- until he finally opened up to Adrian Wojnarowski.
"I think [Cuban's] pissed that we went after Dirk [Nowitzki] in free agency, however unsuccessful it was," Morey told Yahoo Sports.
"We've been pretty good, and I think he's doing a smart thing to take on a rival," Morey told Yahoo Sports late Sunday. "He should want to beat up on San Antonio, too, but it's hard to paint the Spurs that way. So he's directed his bully pulpit onto us. Our owner stays above the fray, so I'm outgunned honestly.
"But let's be clear: If the money's equal between the Rockets and Mavericks, I think players are picking Houston. Every time. For Dwight [Howard], I just don't think it was a hard choice between us and Dallas. If you want to win, you're going to want to join our organization. We have a first-team All-NBA player in his prime [James Harden]. They have an enormously talented superstar [Dirk Nowitzki] but he obviously isn't 24 years old.
"The choice was pretty obvious between the two teams. Dwight is the smart guy in this."
Morey also disputes the Cuban claim that Houston doesn't care about chemistry.
"Our teams have had great chemistry, and it's something we believe in. Hey, if Mark believed so much in chemistry, he wouldn't have busted up a title team for cap room. He's trying to reunite a lot of those people now, bringing back the center [Tyson Chandler] from that title team. Maybe he's got some chemistry religion recently.
"He's tripled his analytics staff. If he's equating analytics with not caring about chemistry, well, he's tripling down on it. I think he's smart to paint a competitor in a negative light, but none of those statements are lining up. He says that we're the team that you sign with and then we will trade you, when that's what he said he would've done with Dwight.
"We don't care about chemistry, but he busted up a championship team for what he hoped cap room could do."
Morey sees his approach to an offseason virtually the same as the rest of the league, including Dallas.
"We're no different than other teams," Morey told Yahoo Sports. "We have a core of two players - Dwight Howard and James Harden - who we are going to build around and never trade. San Antonio has had three core guys who they've done an unbelievable job of building around, making a lot of changes around that core. We had Tracy McGrady and Yao [Ming] and we made changes around them. And Mark's had a core of one [Nowitzki], who was there since before he bought the team."
Still, Morey respects Cuban as a basketball mind and his success in 2011. "He has a ring. I don't." While the other differences between the two can be debated one way or the other, that one is set in stone.