Cuban over Jordan drama: ‘I just want to win’

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LAS VEGAS — It took Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and DeAndre Jordan a matter of seconds to make up a few years after the big man left the franchise at the altar in free agency.

“There’s like four guys I hold grudges with, and three of them are from grade school, maybe even before,” Cuban told ESPN hours after Jordan officially signed with the Mavericks on Friday. “I just want to win. Look, only Dirk [Nowitzki] and J.J. [Barea] were there from that period anyway. All of our guys were like, ‘Go get him! Go get him!’

“I talked to him on the phone and he’s like, ‘Everything behind us?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go win.’ He goes, ‘Let’s go to war.’ Done.”

Jordan, who infamously reneged on his verbal commitment to the Mavs to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer of 2015, signed a one-year deal with Dallas. His salary will be $22.9 million, sources told ESPN. That’s less than the $24.1 million Jordan could have made if he exercised the player option for the final season of his contract with the Clippers, but the lack of state income taxes in Texas makes up the difference.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t have any discussion with Jordan about burying the hatchet.

“There was no need. There just wasn’t,” Carlisle told ESPN. “Sometimes things take a while to happen. Sometimes you have obstacles, you work through them and figure it out. That’s what we did.

“He’s a good fit for any team that’s trying to get better. He gives us a great rim presence on both ends of the floor.”

Cuban believes Jordan, a dominant finisher who averaged 12.0 points and 15.2 rebounds per game last season, will aid the development of young franchise cornerstones Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic by providing them a lob threat to go along with reserve center Dwight Powell.

“Hopefully, it’s just the start of something and they play together so well that we just add to it,” Cuban said.

Cuban said the parties mutually agreed that a one-year deal was the best way to go because they want to test the fit before committing to each other long term. The Mavs offered Jordan a four-year maximum contract in 2015.

“It’s not like it was a few years back when we had a veteran team and we were trying to make it all work together,” Cuban said. “We have a relatively young team. We wanted to get a chance to see how he fits, he wanted to see how he fits, and if we make it work and we get to where we think we can be, we keep it all together.

“It was really just making us both comfortable. There’s no question about his skill set. There’s no question about his abilities. There’s no question about any of it. It’s just that he wanted to check us out, too, and I think he was just done with where he was.”

The Mavs had interest in All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, who eventually agreed to a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors for $5.3 million, but Dallas decided to make Jordan their top priority in free agency. That decision was impacted by the fact that Cousins is coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon, according to Cuban, who acknowledged that a desire to win in what might be Nowitzki’s final season influenced the Mavs’ offseason approach.

“That had a lot to do with it,” Cuban said. “We talked to Boogie’s folks, and because of his injury, it would have been difficult for us to make the improvements. You don’t want to put somebody in a position where they have to rush back, and the Warriors obviously don’t have to deal with that. I was happy for him. A lot of people talk trash about [Cousins], but we thought he would have been great. But I wanted to win now, and that’s what I told his guys.

“We thought DeAndre gave us the best chance to win now. And not just now, but going forward.”

Cuban anticipates that the Mavs, who are coming off a 24-58 campaign, will contend for a postseason berth this season.

“[Jordan] makes us much better,” Cuban said. “I think he’ll be more engaged this year. It’s a contract year obviously. Not everybody was all excited last year where he was. The West is a beast, but I think we can compete for that playoff spot and see where it goes from there.”

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