- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- The Mavericks have been a profitable business since the NBA lockout. That doesn’t necessarily please owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban confirmed a Forbes report that the Mavs turned a profit last season for just the second time during his ownership tenure, although he called the reported $13 million figure “a little high.” Unless the Mavs take on significant salary before the trade deadline, Cuban said he expects to make a profit again this season.
That’s not necessarily the plan.
“I’ve got money,” Cuban said. “I like that trophy a hell of a lot more than I like money.”
Cuban operates several businesses that are designed to make money. The Mavs aren’t one of them.
The Mavs are more of a full-time hobby for Cuban. Their success is judged on wins and titles, not dollars and cents.
“I don’t ever plan starting with the bottom line and work backwards,” Cuban said. “I always plan (starting with) what we can do to win and work backwards.”
If you listen carefully, you can probably hear disgruntled Mavs fans hollering about the dollar-saving decisions of stripping down the title team by letting Tyson Chandler and other key pieces leave in free agency.
Those decisions put the Mavs in position to be profitable. Dallas paid only $2.7 million in luxury tax last season, the lowest of the Cuban era, and will avoid the luxury tax as a team under the salary cap this season.
However, the decisions weren’t designed to avoid luxury tax. Cuban believed that it’d be in the Mavs’ best basketball interests to create significant space under the salary cap, providing them the financial flexibility to remodel an aging roster, hopefully with the addition of a superstar or two.
That plan obviously hasn’t panned out to this point, but Cuban continues to make winning a much higher priority than profit with the Mavs.
“You operate as a business from the perspective of your customer. You want to give the best service, create the best atmosphere, make everybody happy. But I’ve made money and lost money, won games and lost games.
“Losing games hurts a whole lot worse than losing money.”