It had to be more than a bit awkward, Steve Ballmer milling about in a Las Vegas ballroom with Mark Cuban only days after the Clippers won a bizarre, back-and-forth battle for prized free agent DeAndre Jordan.
Cuban described the initial exchange between the NBA team owners as “more than a little frigid” Wednesday on his messaging app Cyber Dust but added “we both cleared the air on a few things” related to Jordan backing out of a verbal commitment to the Dallas Mavericks last week to re-sign with the Clippers for four years and $87.6 million.
“I told him exactly what I told other owners, I didn’t have a problem with his hail Mary approach to keeping a player,” Cuban wrote of his Tuesday conversation with Ballmer during the NBA team owners meeting. “I understood why they did it. And even how they did it. They got their player back. End of story.”
Ballmer was among a contingent of Clippers players and executives who traveled to Houston to convince Jordan to renege on his commitment to the Mavericks after Jordan had expressed second thoughts to Clippers Coach Doc Rivers and teammate Blake Griffin.
Jordan never informed Cuban of his decision to stay with the Clippers, and the Mavericks owner refused to accept a subsequent Twitter apology from Jordan about the way he handled the situation.
Cuban wrote there were “a few unresolved issues” the NBA needed to address related to Jordan’s situation, but he did not feel one of them was the moratorium period in which players are not allowed to formally sign with teams.
“Nothing that happened with this deal was the result of the moratorium,” Cuban wrote. “The thing about the NBA is that you don’t know which deals are the good deals and which arrows you avoided till you start playing the games.
“My guess is that we open the season against the Clippers. That’s when the real fun will” begin.
The NBA schedule will be released next month.
Ballmer could not immediately be reached for comment.
There was no debating what Jordan’s return meant for the Clippers’ prospects next season. Golden State Warriors executive Jerry West told a San Francisco radio station that had the Clippers lost Jordan, “they would not have been a factor” in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the construction of the rest of the Clippers roster continued. The team signed second-round draft pick Branden Dawson to a two-year contract that will pay him $525,093 next season and waived reserve guard Lester Hudson before his contract became fully guaranteed.
Dawson, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward, impressed in the Orlando summer league, averaging 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game while recording a double-double in three of his four appearances.
“Never will I ever forget this day!” Dawson wrote on Instagram next to a picture of him signing his contract. “I get to play the game I love at the next level and achieve one of my ultimate goals I’ve dreamed about as a kid. This is the start of working even harder than I’ve ever worked in my life.”
The Clippers paid the New Orleans Pelicans $630,000 for the rights to draft Dawson, a former Michigan State standout who finished his four-year college career as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots.
The Clippers have 13 players under contract for next season, two below the league maximum, and are still in discussions to add a backup power forward, with Glen Davis, Darrell Arthur and Josh Smith among the possibilities.
Shooting guard Jamal Crawford, long the subject of trade rumors, officially remained a member of the team despite his response to a Twitter question about whether he was still with the Clippers.
Tweeted Crawford: “i think.”