Mark Cuban took a risk, and he knew what could happen.
He did his best Dave Kingman impression — he swung for the fences, not fearing the strike out.
On one level this looks like a disaster of a summer for Dallas — no Deron Williams then no Steve Nash and no real shot at Dwight Howard. Jason Terry bolts for Boston. Jason Terry nearly says yes then leaves him at the alter, choosing the Knicks. It’s cheap and easy talk show fodder.
Cuban can live with it. He knows he made was the right play. Here is what he told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated on Wednesday (before Jason Kidd stood him up at the altar).
“It’s better to miss out on the right player than to sign the wrong player.”
Or put another way, it is better to miss and end up at the NBA’s bottom — where you can have cap space and draft picks to rebuild a contender — rather than live with mediocrity.
And the rules have changed with the new CBA, Cuban sees what the Nets have done and thinks they don’t get it. Here is what he told Stephen Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“If they spend on bad contracts, particularly contracts signed under old CBA, then it doesn’t matter how much you spend… You are locked in to only being able to improve your team using the tax payers exception. That puts you at a distinct disadvantage.”
And he is right. He gets how to build a winner in the NBA now, and while it may not be pretty all the time — or downright ugly, like the last 48 hours — what you don’t want to do is just be average. There are a lot of teams stuck in the rut of being average in the NBA and they don’t know how to break out of it.
Cuban’s risks were well documented.
He shattered the traditional model — his team won the 2011 NBA title and he broke it up rather than overpay to keep it together and try to win another ring. Tyson Chandler was allowed to walk to the Knicks. Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and other players left as Mark Cuban read the writing on the wall about the new labor agreement and knew this was his window to strip down the roster’s payroll. Then rebuild this summer when Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd’s deals came off the rolls.
It was a well laid out plan that didn’t work out. And unless things change dramatically the Mavericks will be mediocre next season.
But they will go into the trade deadline and next summer with a lot of cap space and flexibility, and they can again swing for the fences.
And some day, they are going to connect.
Cuban will just be leaning back when it happens, with a Cheshire cat grin on his face. He knew it would happen. And he took the risks to make it happen.