Mavericks owner Mark Cuban threatened staff’s job security if draft pick leaked

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban treated the identity of his team’s first-round draft pick like a matter of national security. (Joe Raedle/EPA) ( Mark Selig, WP )

For those following the NBA draft on both Twitter and television, ESPN’s telecast seemed tape delayed. As has happened in the past few years, well-connected reporters — with Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, or “Woj,” the king among them — identified which player each team would pick several minutes before Commissioner Adam Silver announced the selections to fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.


Look back at Woj’s timeline to see that he tipped every lottery pick except No. 1, No. 2 and No. 9. The first two picks were somewhat obvious, and it appears Woj was instead working on a report about the forthcoming Jimmy Butler trade during that time. As for No. 9? Well, that one remaining quiet was the result of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban practically locking his employees in a bunker.

“Mark said, ‘Okay, we’re going to give Woj a pump fake,’ ” a Mavs staffer said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Then he said, ‘No one touches their phones or they’re fired.’ Coming from The Boss, you take it seriously.”

The Morning News reports that in the lead-up to the Mavericks’ pick, Cuban told staffers to put their phones on the table in front of them, lest someone discreetly leak news to a reporter. As phones buzzed and rang, they disregarded the notifications — which seems as cruel as placing a birthday cake in the middle of a third-grade classroom and telling the children not to eat it.

Cuban spoke to reporters Friday at the introductory news conference for Dennis Smith — the N.C. State guard whose identity was finally revealed when Silver stepped up to the podium to announce the pick.

“The closer it gets to the [No. 9] pick, the more tense it became,” Cuban said, recalling the events of Thursday night. “I said, ‘Okay, two things. One, when I’m on the phone, everybody shut up. Two, if this gets to Wojo before our pick, whoever we find out did it is fired.’”

Smith was a bit of a polarizing prospect entering the draft, but most experts think Dallas got great value at No. 9 because he has such a high ceiling. The explosive guard averaged more than 18 points and six assists as a freshman for the Wolfpack, which had a disappointing 15-17 record last season, leading to the ousting of coach Mark Gottfried.

The Wolfpack’s undoing was its 322nd-ranked defense, and Smith’s response Friday to a question about his “D” was pretty damning.

“I want to learn exactly how to play defense,” he said. “That’s not something that we were really pressed about last year.”

Well, he’s in the right place. Under respected Coach Rick Carlisle, Dallas allowed the fourth-fewest points per game last year. And on Thursday the Mavs showed a proven ability to defend against reporters scooping their draft picks.

Ki Monique
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Ki is an actress, tv personality, and reporter. She has many hobbies and talents. Her father is a retired military veteran.