Mark Cuban made a gamble — he stripped down his championship roster to go after a big time free agent, to restock a roster while Dirk Nowitizki’s championship window is still open.
It didn’t work this summer — Deron Williams stayed in Brooklyn. It’s not likely to work next summer because people close to the players don’t expect Chris Paul or Dwight Howard to leave their Los Angeles teams.
So Cuban is doing the smart thing — if he can get a big name with a trade, or even seriously upgrade the roster, he will do it. That’s what he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.
“We’re letting everybody know that the Bank of Cuban is open,” the billionaire owner announced Monday night before his Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for a third consecutive victory to climb to 16-23. “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.”
Cuban’s declaration came two nights after he said there is a “100 percent chance” that the Mavs will aggressively pursue trades — either as a main trade partner or as a facilitator in a multi-team scenario — as the weeks and days count down to the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
This isn’t about making the playoffs this season (Dallas is currently the 12 seed in the West, five games back of the 8 seed Trail Blazers, it will take a heck of a run to make it).
This is about the long term — Cuban has bet that with the increasingly stiff luxury tax fines looming in future years, teams are going to maneuver to dump good players. Cuban wants to be there to scoop them up. We’ve seen this a little already in the case of Rudy Gay being on the block, although I’m not convinced he particularly is a player the Mavericks want.
Plus, this is a nice bit of public relations for the Mavericks — they are not a good team this season and Cuban wants to keep a large fan base used to winning happy (remember Dallas has made the playoffs 12 straight years). You have to sell championships or hope in the NBA, and Dallas isn’t selling anybody a title this year. But he can sell hope for the future, and this kind of public announcement helps that.