The last two free agency periods haven’t gone exactly as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has planned. After gutting the roster of the 2011 NBA champs to free up the ever-valuable “cap space” for the summer of 2012 when Deron Williams would hit the market, Cuban was quickly forced to find a plan B when Williams re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
So Cuban opted to fill his roster with free agents signed to one-year deals and shift his focus on the free agency class of 2013, with Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum all were slated to be on the open market. Except a few things transpired along the way; Bynum’s missed the entire 2012-2013 season due to those achy knees, Chris Paul actually loves playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and Dwight Howard decided that the young up-and-coming Houston Rockets — not the barren, aging Dallas Mavericks — offered him the best chance to win now.
All of this led Cuban to inform ESPNDallas during summer league that the Mavs may be better off with Howard on the roster. Here are his quotes:
“I think we’ve put ourselves in a spot where we’re in a better spot than we were at if we got just the one max-out deal,” Cuban told ESPNDallas.com during the Mavs’ summer league game Wednesday night. “I think it’d be better shorter and longer term. I don’t want to make that sound the wrong way. I think we’ll be better this year because we added five good players or more.”
Although many will immediately dismiss Cuban’s claim as trying to save face after failing to land a top dog, he may actually be right. If Dallas had signed Howard, the chances of them landing a competent point guard like Jose Calderon for four years, $29 million would have been razor slim. The Mavericks wouldn’t have been able to sign Monta Ellis — for better or for worse — for three years.
Howard was arguably the cream of the free agency crop, but without the proper players around him his value is a bit depleted. As much as he believes that he is, Howard is NOT a center than you can throw it in the post to and get 25-30 points out of. Most of what Howard does on offense is dependent on his teammates ability to either create for him or their ability to stretch the floor to give him space. Besides Dirk Nowitzki, no one else on the Mavs roster would have been able to do that on a more than mediocre level.
Dallas probably will hover around the .500 mark next season, much like they did this past one. But at least they won’t be doing it with Howard making $20 million+ or the next three years and being unhappy. Cuban may have lost out on some of his free agency targets, but all in all it may have been a blessing in disguise.