The outspoken owner indicated Wednesday morning on "The Dan Patrick Show" that it wasn't the players' fault, but he orchestrated moves to lower the team's chances of success.
"Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games," Cuban said on the radio show.
"Once a guy walks on the court, they're going to play their heart out. Particularly the young guys because they have something to prove."
The Mavericks finished 33-49 in 2016-17 after starting an injury-marred season 3-15.
Dallas was officially eliminated from the playoffs on April 1 and the Mavs then went 2-5 in the last seven games.
In spite of Cuban's strategy, Dallas was not able to overcome its 6.1 percent odds of landing a top-three pick in Tuesday night's lottery and will select ninth overall in next month's draft.
"It works well enough, I guess," Cuban told Patrick of the lottery. "It obviously creates some misincentives toward the end of the season for teams that aren't going to make the playoffs. Until you come up with a better solution, that's what we've got."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been critical of any form of tanking.
"We are gonna have to react and change incentives a bit. I do think it's frustrating," Silver said last month on ESPN's "Mike Mike" radio show. "I was talking to my European soccer men a few minutes ago. I'm not saying we are gonna do it in the NBA, but they have the best incentives of all because teams actually get relegated from the league. Think of the consequences there, they lose their television money, they lose their big ticket revenue by not playing the top teams. So teams have every incentive not to fall to the bottom."