The Dallas Mavericks missed out on the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in 2013, and that’s something simply unacceptable for Mark Cuban, who thinks of his team, usually built around Dirk Nowitzki, as an ever present threat on the NBA title. In order for that to happen, the first thing they need is patience, and a a little bit of time.
The Mavs can pursue on of the top free agents this summer – Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, especially if a lot of the contracts up for renewal are dropped, or Shawn Marion to the Cleveland Cavaliers via trade, because he’s owed more than $9 million for next season.
But… they’re not likely to get them. Howard, at the moment, is biding his time, and prefers to play for either the Houston Rockets or remain with the Los Angeles Lakers. Chris Paul got his wish and Vinny Del Negro was fired, and now it’s not going to be surprising seeing him stick around with the team he is now helping shape with his own decision making.
We want to be a championship team. We’ve never said we have to be a championship team this year. We want to be a better team, a top-seed team. If we get the top free agent, that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of flexibility to add a lot of players, but we have a good nucleus around them.
We know we’ll have a good team, but we won’t know if we have a great team. If you look at this like a two-year plan, then we think we’re on a track to have a great team by the end of next year.
One of the differences from the past is Dirk Nowitzki no longer being the unanimous candidate to lead the team. Cuban has said that the Mavs, ideally, are looking for a situation where they can get someone to take a lot of the scoring and pressure off of Nowitzki, and Dirk is willing to cut back on his salary (over $20 million a season) to help make that happen.
The aim is starting to re-tool this season, with no big names more likely than not, and then get that one big free agent in 2014. All big three for the Miami Heat can opt out in 2014, and so can Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, Zach Randolph from the Grizzlies and others around the league. Dirk Nowitzki will also become a free agent, but the plan is for him to stay on a lessened salary, while a “bigger” star, or one just as good, can join in and bring back the Mavs to where they were a couple of years ago.