Ever since the Dallas Mavericks won the 2011 championship, Mark Cuban has had his eye on the future. An odd thing to do after reaching the top of the league.
He sold off much of the core of that championship team, letting Tyson Chandler walk in free agency to New York and letting Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Jason Kidd leave in free agency soon after. He turned to signing veterans on short-term contracts, hoping to keep cap space open for the next era of Mavericks basketball.
With Dirk Nowitzki in tow, he probably figured he could entice a star to join for another championship run and then anchor the team after Nowitzki retires.
The first idea did not work as Deron Williams spurned the Mavericks over the summer and Dwight Howard opted in to the final year of his contract. Cuban was left holding the bag so to speak and had to quickly put together a roster for this upcoming season . . . while still maintaining cap room for the summer of 2013.
The result was Dallas missing the Playoffs for the first time since 2000. Mark Cuban will not like seeing that happen a second time. Yet, he has stuck to his guns in building through and making a big splash in free agency.
Yes, Cuban has not given up on the Dwight Howard dreams and the Mavericks might be looking to move their first lottery pick in more than a decade to keep the cap room to sign him. Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports several sources are saying the Mavericks will try to shop the 13th pick in the upcoming draft in hopes of keeping cap room to make a run at Dwight Howard.
Cuban and his Mavericks have never been one to be slow builders. Then again, they have always had Dirk Nowitzki to anchor their team. Nowitzki is still around, but no one is quite sure for how much longer.
Dallas does indeed seemed poised yet again to make a run for a big-name free agent. Howard and Clippers guard Chris Paul are the two the Mavericks will reportedly target. Dallas has only $29.5 million in salary committed for next year without picking up any options. The salary cap is expected to be somewhere near $60 million. That is a lot of money to be able to spend on free agency — with Dirk Nowitzki as a selling point.
It is certainly still a risk. Cuban could end up empty handed like he did last summer and scramble to make a competitive team again (rebuilding is not in his vocabulary).
That is the risk the Mavericks have opted to take.