“We’re rebuilding. Right?” Cuban said during the ESPN broadcast of the Mavs’ 88-77 win Sunday over the Phoenix Suns in the Las Vegas Summer League. “There’s no question about it. If we were in the East, we would not be rebuilding. We’d be handling things completely different. I think I’m going to kidnap [commissioner] Adam Silver and not let him out until he moves us to the Eastern Conference.
“Given where we are, given where the Warriors are and what’s happening in the Western Conference, it kind of sealed what we have to do.”
The Warriors have won two of the past three NBA championships. They are three-time defending Western Conference champions, with a regular-season record of 207-39 (.841) during that span.
Dallas is coming off a 33-49 season, the franchise’s first losing campaign since 1999-2000, when Cuban purchased the team midseason. The Mavs missed the playoffs for only the second time in the past 17 seasons and used its lottery pick to select point guard Dennis Smith Jr., whom coach Rick Carlisle immediately projected to be the starter.
The Mavs had dual goals last summer: attempt to acquire players who can be part of the franchise’s foundation after Dirk Nowitzki‘s eventual retirement, but try to build a team that gives Nowitzki a chance to compete in the playoffs during his final seasons. A slow start, which occurred in part due to an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined Nowitzki for most of the first two months of the season, contributed to the Mavs’ midseason decision to emphasize the youth movement.
Dallas parted with two stopgap veterans at the trade deadline, waiving point guard Deron Williams and dumping center Andrew Bogut in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that brought center Nerlens Noel to Dallas.
The Mavs have been mostly spectators during this free-agency period, aside from re-signing the 39-year-old Nowitzki to a hometown-discount, two-year, $10 million deal and acquiring Josh McRoberts in a salary dump from the Miami Heat. They intend to re-sign Noel, a restricted free agent who hopes to drive up his price by receiving an offer sheet from another team.
The Mavs consider 25-year-old Harrison Barnes, 23-year-old Noel and 19-year-old Smith three potential cornerstones as they begin their rebuilding process.