Mark Cuban: Deals 'completely separate'
After Dallas squeaked out an 87-86 victory over New Jersey on a Dirk Nowitzki shot that rolled around the rim and dropped in with six seconds to play, Cuban volunteered a detailed account of the Mavs' pursuit of Stojakovic and why other teams lobbied complaints about the Ajinca-to-Toronto deal, putting it on ice Thursday night.
Cuban said when forward Caron Butler went down with a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 1 he called Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo and asked if he was interested in buying out Stojakovic. Cuban said Colangelo said he hoped to trade him first, but Cuban said Colangelo gave him permission to speak to Stojakovic's agent, David Bauman, to gauge the forward's interest in coming to Dallas.
Mavs president Donnie Nelson then phoned Bauman, Cuban said, and Stojakovic agreed to join the Mavs if a buyout with Toronto was worked out and he cleared waivers. Toronto waived Stojakovic on Thursday and will become a free agent on Monday.
Once the buyout was completed and Stojakovic was put on waivers, Cuban said Colangelo inquired about Ajinca, the Mavs' 7-foot-1, fourth-string center.
"He says, 'What about Ajinca?'" Cuban said. "Are you guys still interested in trading him and pay his salary?' OK, well yes. Same amount of money, not playing a lot, so we did the trade. They were completely separate, independent deals. One had nothing to do with the other. But obviously, I think a lot of teams were upset because we got the jump on them. And that's legit.
"You're allowed to call teams," Cuban continued. "Teams are calling the Nets and saying, 'Are you going to buy out Troy Murphy?' You call his agent, 'If you guys get a buyout from Troy Murphy would you be interested in coming to us?' That's just the way it works. That's how you get what they call divorce contracts where there's a buyout, because if he doesn't know where he's going or what he's going to get, he doesn't know how to do the buyout."
But teams began to complain that the deal tried to skirt salary-cap compliance, and the league decided to examine it and put the trade on hold. Cuban said he was in the NBA's New York offices when all this was going down. He said he showed league officials his text messages as evidence of the sequence of events.
"Teams just got mad and so they start talking and talking," Cuban said.
Cuban said he expects the Ajinca trade and the Stojakovic signing to be completed Monday.
"I expect it," Cuban said. "I mean, it's the NBA, but you know, that's what I expect."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.