The pick was top-20 protected through 2017, so the Mavs had to finish with one of the NBA’s top 10 records to unload the pick this season. With the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls both losing their regular-season finales, the 49-33 Mavs have the league’s 10th-best record, giving the pick to Oklahoma City.
Had the Bulls or Raptors won, there would have been a random drawing to break the tie with the Mavs and determine the draft order. If the Mavs won the drawing, they wouldn’t have lost the pick this year.
It was the Mavs’ preference to part with the pick this season.
“I’d rather just get it over with,” owner Mark Cuban said before the Mavs’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “I’m fine just getting it out of the way so it’s no longer over our head or an issue.”
The Mavs owing Oklahoma City a protected pick prevented Dallas from discussing giving up future first-round picks in trade talks. An NBA rule prevent teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years, so the earliest first-rounder the Mavs can deal now would be their 2016 pick.