DALLAS Dallas Mavericks mercurial owner Mark Cuban threatened a player clearout and accused the team of a lack of effort after defeat to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder.
"It's only one game, which I keep reminding myself," Cuban said in Wednesday's edition of the Dallas Morning News after a 96-87 defeat on Monday.
"But let's just say I wasn't happy with our preparation, execution or effort. Not only did it look like we had no idea what we were doing, but we did it without effort.
Oklahoma, 15-45 this year and 33.5 games behind the front-running Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, outscored Dallas 31-15 in the third quarter to take a 20-point lead into the final 12 minutes.
"The effort and energy, on both sides of the ball, by each player will decide their future with the Mavericks," said Cuban.
"If each player can't take the personal initiative to make every game important and play like it, I don't see them being here next season."
Dallas is 36-24 and clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Mavericks reached the NBA finals in 2005-06 but lost in the first round of the playoffs the next two seasons.
"The ball won't always bounce the way we want it to, but every player can control their level of effort," said Cuban, normally a vocal defender of his club.
"If it's not important enough to them to lay it out every game the rest of the season, they won't be back. I don't care what their contract is.
"This team has the talent to win in the playoffs. But that's only going to happen if all 15 guys know and execute their assignments and play every possession like it's important."
(Writing by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Justin Palmer)