Gil LeBreton

With Jordan in mind, Cuban going free-agent fishing

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, above, is already the player the Mavericks hoped Roy Tarpley would become.
Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, above, is already the player the Mavericks hoped Roy Tarpley would become. AP

Although he plays a shark on TV, Mark Cuban is just another fisherman starting Wednesday.

He’s just another NBA owner with a worm on a hook, looking to improve his team.

For the Dallas Mavericks, it’s free agency time again, and you know what that could mean:

Hamburger Helper, anybody?

The Mavericks did outbid rival Houston for the services of Chandler Parsons last July, and Cuban had to take some smug satisfaction in that — until the Rockets ousted Dallas from the playoffs.

But if we can believe the NBA archival footnotes, Cuban’s Mavericks have a lengthy legacy of finishing second in these free-agent pursuits. And when only one signature counts, second place may as well be last.

If I’m reading my old notes correctly, previous recent fishing trips have failed to land, among others, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, Chris Kamen, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and — really? — Greg Oden.

This time, however, all signs point to this July being different. The Mavericks have remodeled the bass boat, and Cuban is using live bait.

Parsons is helping to recruit Los Angeles Clippers big man and Aggie DeAndre Jordan. Cuban and Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson are scheduled to meet Wednesday with Jordan and his representatives.

His old team can offer him a five-year, $109 million contract, but Jordan reportedly wants the flexibility of a four-year deal with an opt-out clause. The Mavericks can do that.

He is said to also want more of the spotlight than he was allowed with the Clippers. And with Monta Ellis gone, the Mavericks can do that as well.

True, in Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks already have a center, the franchise’s best ever. But Jordan is six years younger than Chandler, plus he led the NBA in rebounding and was named to the league’s All-Defensive team.

To put it in franchise historical terms, Jordan is already the player that the Mavericks once hoped a troubled Roy Tarpley would become.

Also while in Los Angeles, Cuban and Nelson are also scheduled to meet with representatives of free agent (and Dallas native) LaMarcus Aldridge. But this is where the waters seem to get impossibly crowded.

The Lakers want Aldridge. The Spurs want Aldridge. His old team, Portland, wants Aldridge. Lots of teams want Aldridge.

San Antonio is the X-factor here. The Spurs did not build a five-time championship franchise by mostly signing somebody else’s players.

But Tim Duncan isn’t going to play forever — I think — and the lure of one last dash for the title with Duncan, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich is probably going to have immense appeal to Texas-born Aldridge.

It’s not hard to envision Cuban coming away from the Aldridge meeting and telling Nelson, like the scene in Jaws, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

And in NBA free agency, remember, second place is just as bad as last place.

Cuban is due. The franchise clock — the one with Dirk Nowitzki’s face on it — is ticking.

DeAndre Jordan just seems like the right time, the right guy, the right fit.

If Cuban truly wants him, it’s time to play shark.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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