As the NBA’s Board of Governors prepared to meet Friday to gauge the pulse on when and how the season should resume, Mark Cuban joined Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s The Jump to discuss the current state of the NBA and his thoughts on the impending return of the season.
Nichols’ first question, and one that is largely the most pressing, was centered around safety and how Cuban planned on getting the Mavericks comfortable that it will be safe but not foolproof simply because there is no vaccine. Cuban’s response focused on clear and effective communication.
“Just be honest and transparent,” Cuban stated. “Where they have uncertainties, where they have questions without answers, we tell them exactly what we know. And that’s the only way to do it.”
The Mavericks’ owner went on to say that health officials continue to learn more about the virus every day, and while there likely won’t be a cure anytime soon, Cuban was confident from the time the league makes a decision to resume and when games actually start there will be even more improvement and progress in ensuring players remain safe.
Cuban also touched on his proposal on how the NBA should ramp back up. He expressed the importance to play games before the playoffs officially start.
“You don’t want to throw guys right into the heat of the playoffs,” Cuban explained to Nichols. “ Physically that would be a problem.”
Considering the Mavericks have used the entire regular season to work Kristaps Porzingis back into form, and backup point guard Jalen Brunson is recovering from shoulder surgery (it’s yet to be determined if he would play when the season resumes), it makes sense why Cuban would want to include tune-up games before postseason play.
The second part of his proposal included the top-ten teams from each conference and was broken down like this:
- Top 10 teams from each conference qualify for postseason, reseeded based on record
- Bottom four seeds play each other in single games or best-of-three
- Winners advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for final two spots
Cuban explained this approach was fair, exciting and met financial obligations, and it’s hard to argue with the logic. Teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson get one final crack (which satisfies the excitement), while the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks and Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies are in based on their work during the regular season (which is only fair).
When Nichols asked how a decision would ultimately be made Cuban expressed the utmost confidence in Adam Silver’s ability reach an agreement with everyone. He described him as “open minded”, “willing to listen” and able to “herd cats, which the 30 board of governors typically ends up being”.
And what are those meetings like?
“…does that get contentious every now and then? Yeah,” the outspoken Cuban revealed to Nichols. “Have there been screaming battles? Typically only people yelling at me. But we’ve done this long enough… so we usually get to a good conclusion.”
Cuban also doesn’t think there was any drop-dead date to make a decision. Revealing he’s always been a proponent of starting the season on Christmas Day and having at least two months to give players time to recover and allow the draft and free agency to occur, Cuban thinks the season doesn’t have to conclude until the end of September.
In Cuban’s mind there is still lots of time left on the clock.
“We could start playing in August because we don’t have all the travel restrictions,” Cuban explained to Nichols. “With everybody in one location, you don’t have to fly across country. Give everybody one day off if need be. You can play multiple games in one day. You can compress it in ways you never were able to before.”
Because of the unique scheduling opportunities, Cuban was also confident Silver would approve a unique playoff format.
“I don’t think it will be regular because this is our chance to experiment and learn with unique circumstances and unique opportunities,” he said. “I just think that’s smart from a business perspective, and I think the players want that as well.”
Cuban, like most people, believes including some sort of tournament element to the playoffs gives certain teams a chance to “make a run and get hot”. And while the Mavericks would already be in the playoffs based on Cuban’s proposal, a quicker lead into the playoffs could give teams led by young players, like Doncic, Morant or Williamson a unique leverage opposed to teams like the Los Angeles Lakers led by Lebron James who, told by conventional wisdom, would need time to physically prepare for his 14th playoff appearance.
“Anything is possible,” Cuban explained. “So I think expanding that opportunity would be good for the league and create incredible excitement for fans.”
You can check out the entire interview below, where Cuban touches on a few more topics like his research into HGH (Human Growth Hormone) for athletes recovering from injuries.
.@MCuban says on #TheJump he thinks whatever format the NBA picks, it will be different from the 16-team playoffs we're used to with East vs West in the Finals: "Unique circumstances, unique opportunities. So I'm confident we'll take advantage of it & do something differently." pic.twitter.com/ITINjddONP— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 29, 2020