GARLAND – Since he purchased the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 4, 2000, owner Mark Cuban has attended the National Basketball Association’s annual Draft Lottery just one time.
And that was in 2000.
Cuban’s impressions of the made-for-TV event?
“I hated it, so that’s why I’ve never gone back,” Cuban said on Saturday. “It means we didn’t make the playoffs.”
The Draft Lottery will be held May 15 in Chicago. And the Mavs will send Chicago native Michael Finley – the team’s vice-president of basketball operations — to the Windy City to represent them.
Like Cuban, Donnie Nelson also has attended the Draft Lottery just once. And Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations, would rather watch paint dry than be in the company of a bunch of NBA representatives from teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
“When I went I had good luck charms in both pockets,” Nelson said. “Since it was a one-time experience you kind of really don’t know what to do.
“So you ask spiritual advisors to bartenders to moms to dads to kids what do you think.”
Nelson represented the Mavs in the 2013 Draft Lottery. While the Mavs didn’t move up in the lottery, Nelson pointed out that they held serve with the No. 13 overall pick and wound up drafting Kelly Olynyk, who they traded to Boston on draft day so they could move down to the No. 18 spot and get Shane Larkin.
In all, both Cuban and Nelson know that winning the Draft Lottery is nothing more than pure luck. The luck is either going to fall in the Mavs’ lap or not. Unlike coaching, there’s no underlining particular strategy to it.
“I’m not a big superstitious guy,” Nelson said. “I think I had some drawing that my daughter did when she was really young and I had something my son made when he was really young.
“You just hope for the best, and at the end of the day we’re going to get a really good player.”
Whoever the Mavs wound up choosing in next month’s NBA Draft, Cuban said the team’s priority will blossom from there and hope to get the right pieces so they won’t be in this predicament next year.
“It’ll build off of what we do in the draft,” Cuban said. “We’ll see what happens in the draft and go from there.”
Cuban added that it’s not a given that next year’s roster will be loaded with young players.
“We want to get better on certain terms,” Cuban said. “We’re not just going to look at young kids.
“It’s not going to be, ‘Well, he’s over 25, we’re not going to sign him if they’re a free agent.’ We’re trying to make ourselves better.”
The Mavs were fixtures in the playoffs as they earned postseason berths 15 out of 16 years from 2001-’16 before missing the playoffs the last two seasons. What transpired on the court the last two seasons irked Cuban, who, like Nelson, was at Jonathan’s Place on Saturday to support guard Yogi Ferrell.
“We’ve gotten to the point now where we’ve had two less than stellar seasons and I don’t want our young guys to learn how to lose,” Cuban said. “Who knows how good we can be, but we’re going to compete every game.
“Last year was my first losing season and this was my second, and it was no fun. I don’t want to go back there.”
Cuban also doesn’t want to go back to the Draft Lottery. That’s why he’s banking on some hometown cooking from Finley paying off in what will be a huge day for the Mavs’ organization.