DALLAS -- Q&A with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: On the NBA's possible schedule and playoff format changes, the NBA's TV ratings conundrum, Kristaps Porzingis at center and the trade deadline ...
Q: What are your takeaways from last week's report that the NBA and NBAPA are negotiating potential changes to the schedule and playoff format, beginning with the 2021-22 season? (proposals include shortening the season to 78 games; a mid-season tournament; a "play-in" playoff round; and reseeding the playoffs for the final two rounds, which would create the possibility of two teams from the same conference meeting in the finals)
Cuban: The play-in for the last playoff spots just creates some interest that there otherwise wouldn't be. But other than that, I'm not a big fan of the mid-season (tournament). I'm a big believer in "Pick a goal and try to win it."
Q: Yes, it seems contrived. Just because it seems to work for European soccer doesn't mean it would work here, does it?
Cuban: In Europe, there's geographic opportunities. It's just a different vibe.
Q: But I assume all the owners signed off on this, or the league wouldn't be negotiating these points with the players association.
Cuban: It's news to me if they have. I don't know. It could be that we're just looking at options and then we'll vote on them.
Q: What do you think about the potential playoff seeding changes?
Cuban: I'm not opposed to that at all and never have been. Just 1-4, 2-3, hopefully you get the best matchup in the end. To me that's a plus. The last two series the travel isn't nearly an issue, so I would be a big proponent of that.
Q: Been meaning to ask you, do you know what your season-ticket number is this season?
Cuban: We're up over last year. We're selling tickets left and right. It's gotten a lot easier than it was the past couple of years.
Q: So you're not having to do giveaways to keep the sellout streak alive.
Cuban: We're not having to give them away to fill up the upper bowl. I mean, we still give away to schools and stuff, but not as many we would as in previous years.
Q: You don't know the number?
Cuban: I do, but I'm not going to share it.
Q: I also saw that you were recently interviewed about the NBA's TV ratings.
Cuban: We've got a challenge in that all of our games, until we start on ABC, are on cable. Which means if you cut the cord, you can't see any of our games. That's a challenge.
Q: Some of the reaction that I saw was that some read that as doom and gloom, but that's not the impression I got from your comments.
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Cuban: I don't see that at all. It's a challenge. It's going to be hard to find the equilibrium, but that's the innovators' dilemma. Businesses go through that. The technology is changing. Streaming, who knew that it would be a big deal?
We are where we are. Kids, I forget the exact number, but the majority of homes with millennials and younger in the household, they don't have traditional cable TV. And so the number of options for them to get our games is minimal and that's going to hurt our ratings because other than MLS, we have the youngest viewing the league.
Q: So what is the workaround?
Cuban: That's the thing we have to work out with our broadcast partners. Now, if they open it up for streaming, that makes life easier. That's a big discussion for everybody, though. We don't have a solution yet, but soon we'll have more games on ABC.
I think one of the things is you're seeing more and more college games that were on weekends go to ABC and broadcast television throughout the week. I think as that happens more, that solves the problem. So I guess the real answer to your question is that once we start having games on broadcast television then things should pick up significantly.
Q: Regarding your team, I've been sitting back to an extent, watching things develop before drawing conclusions, but I thought the recent discussion about Kristaps Porzingis playing more center was interesting.
Cuban: The numbers kind of point in that direction, but you've got to pick your spots.
Q: There's been some commentary among fans about Dwight Powell's numbers being down this season, but Rick Carlisle says he is thrilled with his play, that it's not so much about raw statistics but how many opportunities for others that are created by Powell's screen-setting and dives to the basket.
Cuban: He's playing great. What I wish is that the NBA could create a category. We used to talk about creating one for the hockey assist (a pass setting up another pass, leading to a basket). Now it's a hard-roll assist.
That's one of the important plays. That's what makes guys better. Because without that we're having issues.
Q: Could you see Porzingis do that?
Cuban: Not as much because he gets bumped off, but he's so much better at spacing the court. Now it's even easier for Luka if there's no big player under the basket at all. We can play five-out, where the five (center) is outside.
Q: So when he is playing center, who is playing power forward?
Cuban: It doesn't matter. You just have somebody you hope can shoot, whether it's Dodo or Dwight or Maxi. It doesn't matter. Seth could play power forward if he can guard the guy if (opponents) are playing small, but if there's a big (opposing center) on the floor, he has to come away from the basket or you're giving KP easy shots.
Q: Finally, I know we're a solid two months away from when things will get interesting leading into the Feb. 6 trade deadline, but already people are speculating about Blake Griffin and other players.
Cuban: I can't talk about other teams' players, but we're hard-capped.
Q: How does that affect you?
Cuban: In order to make a huge deal, you have to give up a lot in salary as well. It means we can't take on a ton of salary without giving up a lot of salary.
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