Cuban on allowing trade: 'It's just wrong'

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban lambasted the NBA on Wednesday for allowing the league-owned New Orleans Hornets to complete a trade with the Sacramento Kings in which the financially troubled franchise will absorb salary and send an undisclosed amount of cash to the Kings.

New Orleans sent guard Marcus Thornton, who is earning $762,195, plus cash to Sacramento for forward Carl Landry, who is earning $3 million. The Hornets, who are over the salary cap, were able to fit Landry into a trade exception.

The difference in salary is $2.24 million, of which the Hornets will be responsible for the prorated amount for the remainder of the season.

"If New Orleans is taking back $2 million and the team is losing money and I own 1/29th of it, I'm going to go against the grain and say that's just wrong," Cuban said prior to the Mavericks' home game against the Utah Jazz. "There's no way, with their payroll, having to dump salary before they were sold to us [NBA owners]; now they can take on more salary while they're losing money. That's just wrong every which way."

The NBA -- Cuban and 28 other owners -- took over ownership of the Hornets from George Shinn on Dec. 6. The league funds the organization and set an operating budget. Cuban said he never anticipated the Hornets to be in a position of taking on salary.

"I don't have a problem if they go dollar-for-dollar, great, more power to them," Cuban said. "You could see if it was like a marquee guy and he's going to bring in lots of dollars. No disrespect to Carl Landry, but I don't see that's the way it works. It's just wrong. I'm one of the owners. The league is supposed to just give them a budget and it never dawned on me that the budget would say you can spend more money to bring in players."

The Mavs and Hornets are Southwest Division rivals and split two heated games earlier in the season. It is possible they could meet in the first round of the playoffs. Cuban wouldn't acknowledge if the Mavs had interest in acquiring the 6-foot-8 power forward, who is in the final year of his contract.

Cuban said plenty of teams did have interest in Landry, though few are willing to take back salary, making the Hornets' deal the sweetest for a struggling Sacramento franchise.

"That's the whole point," Cuban said. "Other teams have interest in him, but not a lot of teams are going to take back money. If it's a better deal, great. But the dollars should add up."

Cuban launched the most pointed criticism toward the league since it took over ownership. Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has publicly questioned the wisdom of the league's owning the Hornets, but has not criticized the league as firmly.

"All I know is if most of the owners in this league can't take back salary in a deal," Cuban said, "the Hornets shouldn't be allowed to either."

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.