07.24.09

Scenes From A (Broken) Marriage : Where It All Went Wrong For Nellie & Cuban

Posted in Basketball at 7:55 pm by

Don Nelson’s attempts to recover back salary from Mavs owner Mark Cuban — who maintains Nellie breached his Dallas contract in taking the Golden State job in 2007 — haven’t been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction, but at least the general public can sift thru the dirty laundry. Previously sealed transcripts from an August ’08 binding arbitration ruling against the Owner With A Boner revealed specific instances where the previously lovey dovey Nelson/Cuban relationship completely went down the toiled. Here’s a few highlights, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend and Gary Jacobsen :

Cuban testified that after the 2003 conference finals defeat to San Antonio, he had lost some trust in Nelson’s judgment, “not necessarily in his coaching ability, but in his ability as a general manager.”

Pressed for an example, Cuban cited the February 2002 seven-player trade in which Dallas sent power forward Juwan Howard to Denver and received Raef LaFrentz. Cuban said he agreed to the trade because Nelson said LaFrentz “would put us over the top.”

Cuban testified that in league circles “it was pretty much laughable that we would consider Raef LaFrentz this highly. Cuban said he realized player evaluations are often a crapshoot.

“But when the crap comes up a little too often,” he testified, “you question it more, more thoroughly.”

On draft day in 2004, the Mavericks acquired the No. 5 pick from Washington. Nelson testified that as he settled into the draft room to talk to team scouts, he was surprised to hear son Donnie, the team’s vice president of operations, discuss taking “this big Russian” with the No. 5 pick.

The player’s name is redacted from the arbitration transcript, but it is clear that Nelson was referring to 7-foot-5 Pavel Podkolzin.

“I said, ‘Donnie, I cannot take that Russian five,’ ” Don Nelson testified. “And he asked me if I would go in the men’s room. I went in the men’s room with him, and he informed me that I wasn’t in charge of the draft.

“And I said, ‘Oh, really? Well, who is?’ He said, ‘I am.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s nice of somebody to tell me.’

“And I said, ‘Well, if that’s the case, then as your father I’m asking you don’t draft [redacted].’ … And Donnie didn’t. He took Devin Harris.”

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