Mark Cuban: Mavericks will be in ‘luxury-tax hell’ next year

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Luka Doncic
Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mark Cuban took the NBA by storm after buying the Mavericks in 2000. The league’s youngest owner turned heads with his casual attire, referee criticism and – especially – big spending.

“I know what these guys see,” Cuban said in 2000, “is a guy walking into a room with money falling out his pockets, saying, ‘Where’s the game, and what are the rules?’ That’s me. And they probably can take advantage of me to a certain extent. I might overpay.”

Cuban paid the luxury tax the first nine seasons it was assessed. Dallas’ total tax bill in that span (more than $150 million) was lower than only the Knicks’ (about $195 million) and eclipsed the 20-lowest-spending teams’ combined.

But he hasn’t paid the tax since. This will be Dallas’ 10th straight year outside the luxury tax.

That tax avoidance could change next season. Luka Doncic‘s super-max extension begins. Dorian Finney-Smith just got a big raise on his contract extension. Tim Hardaway Jr., Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans, Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock remain locked into lucrative deals.

If they re-sign Jalen Brunson to a $20 million starting salary, the Mavericks would have a projected luxury-tax bill of about $55 million.

Cuban sounds ready to pay up.

Cuban, via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

“We’re going to be in luxury tax hell next year, but that’s OK; it frees up the year after that,” Cuban said, managing a smile.

We’ll see how much Cuban actually pays. The tax isn’t assessed until the end of the season. By then, Dallas could move players like Dinwiddie, Bertans, Powell, Bullock, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown and Josh Green.

The Mavericks won’t even necessarily re-sign Brunson if the price gets too high. Though Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent, free to leave if he wants, this still reads like Cuban trying to scare off other suitors. The possible subtext: Don’t waste your time trying to sign Brunson. We’ll pay what it takes to keep him.

Cuban is definitely setting the expectation of paying the luxury tax. He needn’t even look outside the state to see how doing that and not following through goes over.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

It might have been the loudest the Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.