Word leaked Ntilikina’s coach in France would coach Dallas summer-league team:
Yet it was all something of a ruse. That whole time Dallas was growing infatuated with Smith
If it were a ruse, it worked. The Knicks drafted Ntilikina No. 8, and Dennis Smith Jr. fell to the Mavericks at No. 9.
Vincent Collet never coached the Mavericks’ summer-league team. They hired Smith’s college coach at North Carolina State, Mark Gottfried, as a scout, though.
So, did Dallas pull a fast one?
“Not a stunt at all,” Cuban wrote Friday. “We like Frank quite a bit. If Dennis had been selected there was a very good chance we would have taken Frank.”
Take Cuban’s denial for what it’s worth – something, but not everything.
Maybe he’s telling the truth. Ntilikina would have been a reasonable pick at No. 9 (just as he was a reasonable pick at No. 8). If the Mavericks tricked the Knicks, Cuban might take a victory lap.
But maybe Cuban doesn’t want to offend Ntilikina or his agent by acknowledging they’d been used. Or maybe Cuban doesn’t want to reveal tricks that would make future Dallas subterfuge less effective.
Cuban and the Mavericks could have just been playing their Ntilikina interest straight all along. But if they were misdirecting, there’s at least some incentive to keep it up.