January 14, 2009 3:21 AM
Mark Cuban expecting J.R. Smith to be suspended
By Chris Tomasson
Rocky Mountain News
Dallas owner Mark Cuban indicated he will file a complaint to the NBA about an elbow thrown Tuesday night by Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, and he expects Smith to be suspended.
In e-mails to the Rocky Mountain News early Wednesday morning, Cuban was critical of an elbow thrown by Smith in the final seconds of the first half of Denver's 99-97 win over the Mavericks at the Pepsi Center.
"I do take exception with players throwing elbows that could have severely injured one of our players,'' Cuban wrote. "I was very cordial in letting Mr. Smith know (at halftime) that I will be turning it into the league, and I expected him to be suspended for it.''
Nuggets coach George Karl referred to the incident speaking to reporters after the game. He took exception to Cuban talking to Smith at halftime.
"I don't care if Cuban barks, but he shouldn't be barking at my players,'' Karl said. "He barked at J.R. at halftime. I thought it was very unprofessional, irresponsible. And, if he sees something that he wants to deliver to the league, fine, he can do that.
"But he shouldn't be on the court talking to one of my players. And he was talking to J.R. about an elbow situation. And I thought it doesn't look good for anybody.''
Cuban was asked via e-mail about Karl's comments, about the elbowing incident and about Cuban's post-game conduct. Cuban went onto the court after the game, and was seen yelling at someone soon after a controversial officials call with 2.2 seconds left that allowed Denver's Chauncey Billups to hit two game-winning free throws. Cuban claimed he wasn't yelling at the officials.
Cuban took exception to Smith's elbow. Cuban wrote that after the game Smith sent him a pair of signed shoes in an apparent goodwill gesture, and Cuban declined them.
The Rocky Mountain News viewed the Smith incident on an Altitude replay. In the final seconds of the first half, Smith threw an elbow toward the head of Dallas swingman Antoine Wright that missed.
"Away from the play, J.R. threw a full-force elbow right at Wright's head,'' Cuban wrote. "Barely missed connecting... That's uncalled for. He could have severely hurt him.
"And you can ask George why he is condoning his players throwing elbows at people's heads away from the play? He thinks that looks good?''
Cuban did not believe he was out of line talking to Smith at halftime.
"I have conversations with a lot of players,'' Cuban wrote. "Often. It's no big deal. I talked to Chauncey, other guys. It happens pretty much every game. All very cordial.''
Cuban wrote that a Nuggets official, whom he did not name, dissuaded him from talking to Smith at halftime.
"The professional thing to do would be to find out what the issue was and the volunteer to address it with his player,'' Cuban wrote. "One of (the Nuggets') people came up to me, told me to not talk to the player, at which point I told him I would be very happy to discuss it with him. It would have given the Nuggets the opportunity to discuss it with J.R. Instead, the Nuggets official just walked away.
"My conversation with J.R. was actually very cordial and levelheaded. I told him that it's not cool to throw elbows at someone's head, that I would be turning it into the league. He politely and cordially told me our player (Wright) had grabbed him before that. I told him that, if our guy did something wrong, I will say something to the player and he should turn it into the league . No 'barking.' There were several other Nuggets right there. They made the point to tell me J.R. and our guy 'had history.'
Cuban wrote he spoke to Wright at halftime.
"I went to our player and told him that he was not to retaliate, that I would deal with it with the player and the league,'' Cuban wrote. "He agreed.''
Cuban made reference a brawl the Nuggets had at New York in December 2006. Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games for his role in the incident, and Smith got a 10-game penalty.
"The professional thing to do was to make sure that an altercation was avoided and that throwing elbows at another player's head would have consequences with the league,'' Cuban wrote. "You would think that the Nuggets already had a bad enough experience in this type of situation that they would be overly cautious at even the slightest red flag.''
Cuban wrote Smith made an apparent goodwill gesture after the game.
"The humorous part of the whole thing was that, after the game, J.R. sent over to our locker room a signed pair of shoes for me,'' Cuban wrote. "I sent them back, saying he should sell them, if you could get anything for them, to help pay for the fine he was going to face.''
It was a tough day for Smith. He was cited for contempt of court earlier Tuesday for failing to appear at a hearing in New Jersey regarding traffic summonses from a 2007 accident in which his passenger died, and he shot 1-of-14 for two points against the Mavericks.
Meanwhile, ESPN, while showing game highlights, mentioned the possibility of Cuban being fined for going onto the court after the game. With 2.2 seconds left and the score tied 97-97, Dallas guard Jason Terry was called for a foul on Billups. Terry said it was a bad call.
"The guy said I hit him with the body,'' Terry said. "There was no body at all. He kicked his leg out falling down so I don't see how I could hit him with the body. He saw it different and that happens. Human error.''
Following Billups' two free throws, the Mavericks had no timeouts left, and a desperation full-court pass failed. Cuban then went onto the court after the final buzzer.
"That last call on Chauncey could have gone either way,'' Cuban wrote. "And I didn't run onto the court. I walked off the court the same way I do after every game, right next to our coaches. And I wasn't talking to the refs, I was talking to someone else (not named by Cuban) who was quite clear in their pleasure of their team winning the game and mocking the fact they got away with the calls. I definitely wasn't as polite to them (as Cuban claimed he was to Smith).''