LAS VEGAS — Mark Cuban lost his starting winger to the Knicks without an opportunity for a final offer, but the Mavericks owner said he’s excited for Jalen Brunson and took the lead when questioned about New York’s tampering allegations.
“It really wasn’t about the amount of money,” Cuban told the Daily News and another New York channel Summer League. “We didn’t really get a chance to make an offer. It was Jalen’s choice. And I understand that. He’s known these guys his whole life. He grew up there. It makes perfect sense.”
While it’s not yet official — and a source said the Knicks and Mavs can still negotiate a contract — Brunson has agreed to a four-year deal worth more than $100 million. It was an opportunity born of Brunson’s breakthrough last season with the Mavericks, as he became a worthy second-choice behind Luka Doncic and climbed into the playoffs.
The Mavericks, according to sources, pitched Brunson about $106 million over the five years before free agency. Dallas was hopeful for another meeting with Brunson in New York before his decision, but it never materialized.
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was already in the Hamptons at the time, and Cuban said he never flew to New York.
“We didn’t get the chance,” Cuban said. “We wanted him to stay, but he had his reason, and I respect that.”
The circumstances of Brunson’s hiring sparked conversations around the league of tampering, with news about the point guard’s commitment to New York circulating long before discussions were allowed. The Knicks hired Brunson’s father Rick as an assistant coach last month. Jalen Brunson is also represented by the son of Knicks president Leon Rose.
Cuban said he is leaving any investigation to the NBA.
“This is all league stuff,” he said. “That’s not for us to say. It’s up to them.”
The owner also ruled out Knicks executives William Wesley and Allan Houston’s front row appearances at the Mavs’ playoff game, a move that was interpreted in the NBA as a brash draft.
“I do not care. Why would I care?” said Cuban. “It’s not like, ‘Okay, we’re not going to the playoff game, it changes what we think and what we’re doing.’ I don’t mind.”
In addition to family ties and the nine-figures, Brunson’s desire to join the Knicks, according to a source, was fueled by the opportunity to play as a point guard. It was something he flirted with in Dallas but couldn’t do full time with Doncic.
“No hard feelings,” Cuban said. “I wish him nothing but the best. You bust your ass and you have that choice. He deserves.”