Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban may believe tanking is the team's best option at this point in the season, but it's safe to say the face of the franchise doesn't agree.
Dirk Nowitzki, who is in his 20th season with the Mavericks, believes it's important the organization does everything it can to promote a winning atmosphere, even during tough times.
"You don't really want a culture here that's just giving up and quitting and not playing hard. I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future. I think it's important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard.
"You play your minutes hard. That's the only way to get better. That's the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we'll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win."
"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option.'
"[Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."
Cuban was fined $600,000 for those comments after Silver deemed them detrimental to the league.
Sitting at 19-42, Dallas will miss the postseason for the second consecutive season. Prior to the 2016-17 season, the Mavs had only missed the playoffs once this century.
Nowitzki, of course, has been a big part of helping the Mavericks establish a winning culture throughout his career, with a championship to show for it. The 39-year-old's career may be winding down, but even if he is unable to help the team return to glory, he wants to make sure the organization is in a good place when he calls it a career.
Tanking to get a high draft pick could land the Mavericks the next face of their franchise, but it could also lead to unintended consequences in the locker room. With his team nearing the end of a second consecutive losing season, Nowitzki just wants to make sure his younger teammates don't allow a losing culture to build in Dallas.