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Star-Telegram.com

Dallas Mavericks don't see one-and-done years with new players

Posted Friday, Jul. 20, 2012

By Dwain Price

dprice@star-telegram.com

DALLAS -- Don't make too much about the players the Dallas Mavericks acquired this summer who have one-year contracts.

The strategy was certainly by design, make no mistake about that. It was set up to maintain the Mavs' salary-cap flexibility next summer so they can attempt to lure some of the NBA's top talent to Dallas.

But the pickups of one-year contracts in no way indicate that the Mavs will be flipping their roster year after year until they finally land that really big fish.

At least that's what they're saying.

"Our intent is we look first and foremost at the guys in our locker room," said general manager Donnie Nelson, referring to free agency. "I'd say the majority of the time we don't want change.

"We want to have continuity, because I think that breeds success. We're not looking to flip shirts every chance we get."

If the shirt-flipping happens, that could create a sense of uncertainty. And a revolving door is not something that's viable in the fan-friendly NBA.

The league's new collective bargaining agreement, however, has sent teams down a path never traveled before. Teams that are able to have salary-cap flexibility are the ones who eventually will rule the roost.

"We were dealt a little bit different hand this summer," Nelson said. "Some of which we had control over, some of which we didn't and most of which we didn't.

"At that point you've got to get the most talent that you can, the right kind of character that you can and, when the dust settles, you put yourself in position to make another run for the roses."

For the Mavs, that run for the roses will include center Chris Kaman, power forward Elton Brand, point guard Darren Collison and shooting guard Dahntay Jones. Kaman and Brand signed one-year contracts, while Collison and Jones are in the final year of their respective contracts.

Even O.J. Mayo, who signed a two-year contract with the Mavs on Thursday, has a player option after the first season.

That means he can opt out of his contract after the 2012-13 campaign and seek greener pastures.

College basketball has had its challenges when star players wound up playing just one season before jumping to the NBA. Let's hope that trend won't be repeated in the NBA, with players lasting only one year before packing up.

"I don't really see a comparison," Nelson said. "I think you see more of that because it's just been such a weird marketplace -- it's been really strange.

"I think the market is changing, really, by the day. But I think the teams that stay flexible are going to fare better."

The problem with players on one-year contracts is that they may be selfish on the court so they can land a more lucrative deal. But the positive is that players on one-year contracts tend to play a little harder because they want to land a more lucrative deal.

"Hopefully, they'll want to play much harder to get one more deal," Mayo said. "You've got to come out and compete. We're all ballplayers. It's just about going out there and getting it done together, collectively."

In other words, it's a Catch-22 with players with one-year contracts. But it can be a victory for both parties.

"I think, more than anything, flexibility is an advantage to the players as well," Nelson said. "So it's not just the franchises.

"I think if you're really a talented player and the marketplace has kind of dried up, to go to a place that has had the kind of success that we've had where you get to play for sold-out buildings, and with an owner like Mark Cuban and [forward] Dirk [Nowitzki] -- and you can go on down the line.

"And then you get to get back out on the marketplace the next year, so those are real win-win situations for both the team and the player."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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