Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban weighed in Thursday on Dwight Howard's decision to sign with the Houston Rockets as a free agent. Predictably, Cuban did not love Howard's choice because Howard did not choose the Mavericks, via the Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko:
"Obviously, he made a mistake in judgment," Cuban said with a laugh when asked if he could blame the 6-11 center for choosing young James Harden and the Rockets over older Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. "Do I blame him? No, that's what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment."
Not sure it's really Cuban's place to judge, but at least it sounds like he's being a bit tongue-in-cheek here. He went on to state that sometimes players decide on their destinations based on who else is already there, the implication being that Howard went to Houston because he could team up with James Harden and Chandler Parsons and make a run at a title. Cuban does not agree with this type of thinking.
"You choose teams," Cuban said. "You don't choose players. If he made a choice off of an individual player, yeah, he made a mistake. You choose teams. You choose organizations. You choose coaches. And it's just not relative to Houston. That's just the way I look at it, because if he's that good, then the right organization ... Put aside Dwight. Any young superstar looking to make a move, if you're that good, then the right organization gets all the right pieces around you.
"So it's not about, you'd rather play with this guy. If you're that good and you have [salary cap] flexibility, the right organization will put the right pieces around you and get you there."
Again, Cuban is likely intending to drive interest in Friday's Mavericks vs. Rockets matchup more than he is trying to make a serious criticism of Howard and the All-Star center's current organization. This does ring a little hollow, though. Even if former Chicago Bulls boss Jerry Krause was right when he said, "Players and coaches don't win championships; organizations win championships," players are always going to take the talent level of their teammates into consideration if they're serious about winning. That's why Cuban always tried to entice free agents with the prospect of playing with superstar Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki, by the way, totally understands Howard's move to Houston and thought that Dallas was a longshot before meeting with him in July, via ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon:
"Not really," Nowitzki told ESPNDallas.com [when asked if he blamed Howard for picking the Rockets]. "Houston obviously is an up-and-coming team. [Chandler] Parsons to me is a phenomenal player, an up-and-coming player, and Harden is one of the best in the league at getting to the basket and scoring. They're going to be a handful."
Even though Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had the last laugh, you can't imagine he will be thrilled to hear about Cuban's comments. Apparently in other teams' meetings with Howard, people tried to convince the big man he shouldn't want to play with Harden, via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Morey doesn't forget it, and it became understandably difficult for him to separate the professional posturing with what became increasingly nasty, personal vitriol. From Golden State to Dallas to the Los Angeles Lakers, there were pockets of people taking turns calling Harden a selfish player, a bad teammate, a non-leader. Harden would never pass the ball to Howard, they told him. They'd never win together.
"After we had our meeting, we heard second-hand about what went in the others," Morey said. "In one of them, we know a team tried to portray the fact [to Howard] that James was the same as Kobe. It kind of blew my mind. I mean, you're saying the fact that he's like one of the greatest players ever is actually an insult?
In his first regular season game alongside Harden as a Rocket, Howard finished with 17 points, 26 rebounds and two blocks in a 96-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. The Mavericks started their season with a 118-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks, led by offseason addition Monta Ellis' 32 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals.