For three days, the decision between Dallas and Los Angeles was a 50-50 decision for free agent DeAndre Jordan. He ended up signing with the Mavericks on a four-year deal worth a little less than $80 million.
If the Mavericks had failed to sign him or Wes Matthews, though, Cuban was prepared to take a more drastic approach. In an interview with 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, while you can listen to in full right here, Cuban said the Mavericks would have gone for a high draft pick. Here's the full quote.
I'll be brutally honest. Literally, we wanted to get Wes, he was a target for us all summer and we wanted to get DeAndre as well, but if we got shut out, we weren't going to try and fill the roster. We literally had the discussion that if we couldn't get a serious free agent, whether it was DeAndre or one of the others guys that are still out there or any of the earlier ones that went, that it was time to take a step back. The reason why we thought this year versus other years was simple math. Over the last few years, there was a race to the bottom with six or seven teams trying to have the worst record, but most of those teams have improved themselves significantly through the draft or free agency or both, or just getting better and playing better together like Orlando.
We felt like this year there aren't going to be six teams in the race together, especially in the Western Conference. Utah's significantly better, Sacramento is significantly better, Denver is even going to be significantly better with Gallinari being healthy and etc. ... who was going to be that team that was going to be really, really, really bad no matter what? Because I think there's only going to be two, maybe three teams in that race to the bottom, we said, "OK, this could be our David Robinson year" and we go out and get someone who we think we can develop and who is supposed to be an impact player and we take our lumps, we have lots of cap room and we do lots of trades to add lots of draft picks. Because draft picks, the way the cap is going, is only going to increase in value significantly. Fortunately that didn't happen!
It's completely possible the Mavericks could have pulled it off. It would hurt to see Dirk laboring on a team like that, but if Parsons had taken half of the season to return from injury and the Mavericks had only really worried about signing younger players, they could probably have reached down towards the bottom of the roster. Of course, Mavericks' draft pick in 2016 is owed to Boston if they finish outside of the top seven, so they'd have to be sure they could make it that far.
When asked about the strategy of pushing hard at signing a big-name free agent, Cuban said this:
"But we hadn't been able to do, and one of the reasons I was willing to be so persistent or stubborn, if you will, is we hadn't got younger. There's only a few ways to get younger and the challenge was, if everyone is tanking all the time, then blowing it up to try to get a draft pick, particularly with Dirk being so good, the odds are against you. And I'm not going to trade Dirk. If the odds are against you, everyone's tanking and Dirk's too good to give us a chance to be in the bottom six, then I might as well go for it. If I don't get that 1A free agent, then we've been able to put together some pretty decent teams and hope maybe we get a great trade."
Cuban also touched on several other fascinating topics in the interview, which you really should listen to.