The plan, all along, was to get through this season with a half-filled cabinet, and then clear it for a strike at the summer free agency bonanza. But Dallas lost Dirk Nowitzki to injury for the first leg of the season, and even with a few guys playing out of their minds (O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter), the Mavs aren’t a playoff team. Despite winning three straight games, Mark Cuban‘s boys are only 16-23.
So yesterday, Cuban finally relented and told ESPNDallas.com, “We’re letting everybody know that the ‘Bank of Cuban’ is open. If it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money. But we’re not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It’s got to be worthwhile.”
In Dallas, thankfully, it’s no longer appropriate to say you’re leaning on hope. The fans are used to the playoffs, and it seems Cuban is as well. The lottery potential of this year’s team is forcing action.
With over $10 million in room before they hit the luxury tax line, Dallas is in a unique position. We always figured they were saving room to go after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard this summer. Chris Kaman, Dahntay Jones, Elton Brand, Dominique Jones and others all have expiring deals, while O.J. Mayo has a player option (he’s definitely not picking that up), and Darren Collison and Roddy Beaubois could both be let go if the Mavs don’t extend qualifying offers. Dallas could conceivably start over if they wanted to.
Yet we know how tough going after superstars in the free agent market is. New York tried that with LeBron. Didn’t happen. Chicago tried it with Dwyane Wade. Didn’t happen. Dallas already tried it with Deron Williams. Didn’t happen. Their chances of landing CP3 or Superman aren’t good either – no way Paul is leaving the Clippers, and despite a rocky start, I highly, highly doubt Howard is going to give up Hollywood to go to Dallas to play with an aged Dirk. That leaves them with one choice that’s now viable because of the extra flexibility they have: improve while taking on salary.
They can use the help. They’re dead last in the NBA in rebounding rate, a consistent problem they’ve had with Nowitzki. Their defense is No. 25 in efficiency, and they lack size and athleticism in the backcourt. There are holes everywhere.
So as the trade deadline gets closer, expect to hear about the Mavs being involved in a lot of different trade scenarios with a lot of different partners. They might be direct participants, or perhaps just facilitators coming in at the last minute to help get another deal done. In the end, Dirk is happy his squad is willing to go out and get him some help, and for Cuban, that’s what matters.
They’ve made the playoffs in 12 consecutive years. Cuban doesn’t want to see that streak snapped.
Who should they try to acquire?
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