Mac Engel

Luka Doncic’s next task is conquering NBA free agency as a recruiter for Mavericks

Amari Cooper talks about what it’s like being a Dallas Cowboy

Dallas Cowboy's WR Amari Cooper talks about his experience as a Dallas Cowboy and growing up in sports.
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Dallas Cowboy's WR Amari Cooper talks about his experience as a Dallas Cowboy and growing up in sports.

Luka Doncic’s next NBA challenge to conquer is not on the court but doing what Dirk Nowitzki never could.

Neither could Donnie Nelson. Same for Mark Cuban.

Outside of the New York Knicks, no NBA franchise builds up more hope to sign celebrity free agents like the Dallas Mavericks only to come home from the store with a bag full of Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews.

To date the highest profile free agent the Mavs have bagged is Harrison Barnes, whom they liked so much they traded him earlier this season for Justin Jackson.

This essential task to making the Mavs a winner is up to a kid from Slovenia who has an improving command of English and is not old enough to drink a Shiner in Texas. Do top NBA guys, the ones who guy by one name, want to play with Luka and Zingis, or are the Mavs just another team to be used as leverage?

The most exciting time of the NBA season is finally here, which for a Dallas Mavericks fan means it’s ‘bout that time to stock up on said Shiner to brace for the imminent, crushing disappointment.

THIS FREE AGENCY PERIOD

The official signing period for NBA free agency begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, which means deals were made about four months ago.

The Mavs’ priorities are point guard, and a banger. In that order.

Expect them to land both. Expect neither one of them to be Kemba Walker, or Al Horford, both of whom are desired targets, and fit.

Forget about any nonsense of the Mavs landing Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving.

The only guarantee from this summer is the Mavs will offer restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis a max deal, and that he will sign it.

According to ESPN’s basketball insider savant Adrian Wojnarowski, Walker is the top priority of the Boston Celtics, who plan to lose Irving.

So those two options are gone, so maybe Jose Calderon can come back.

Horford is an ideal fit because he rebounds well, is a good pro and he doesn’t require to shoot the ball often, but he will require stupid money and a guaranteed fourth year on his contract.

THE MAVS’ IN FREE AGENCY

When the NBA changed the collective bargaining agreement after the Mavs won the 2011 NBA title, Cuban’s plan to rebuild his toy was to bag “big fish” free agents. None of said fish jumped into the S.S Cubes.

The prospect of playing next to an aging Dirk did not motivate top tier free agents like Dwight Howard and Deron Williams to come here. Instead, Cuban made do with second and third-tier free agents.

As a result, the team became the Central Time Zone’s Sacramento Kings.

The Mavs are now banking that with Luka and Zingis, this time “it’s going to be different!”

Maybe it will, but until they land a Kemba, a KD or a Horford, we should expect a continued dosage of Jose Calderon and Wes Matthews.

Just to be sure, stock up on Shiner.

BIG MAC BITES: Why no HR Derby for Joey Gallo?

How is Joseph Gallo not in the MLB home run derby?

Speaking of the Texas Rangers, Rougned Odor is batting .188. It’s OK, though; batting averages don’t matter.

You likely missed it but on Saturday the Dallas Stars concluded one of the biggest misses in the history of their organization when they bought out forward Valeri Nichushkin with two years remaining on his rookie contract.

There have been few, if any, bigger Stars’ busts than the Russian the team selected with 10th overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. The team should never have agreed to put him with the big club in his first season, and his tenure and time here is an opportunity wasted.

He has the skills and size to be a top NHL forward. He is not dumb. Another part is missing.

When it comes to sports personnel, the best question is the easy one. Listen to former Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl “Moose” Johnston, who is now in charge of player personnel with the new Dallas XFL franchise, he simply asks a potential prospect, “So tell me your story.”

During an interview with former Dunbar basketball and Georgia Tech star forward Jeremis Smith this week I asked him who the best player he ever played against was.

“I hate to say this but Chris Bosh,” Smith said.

Why does he hate to say that?

“Because,” he said, “Bosh is a Dallas guy and I’m a Fort Worth guy.”

Well said.

Last Saturday, I completed my first (and last?) Spartan Stadion series race, this at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Other than looking at a few pictures of the obstacle course competition, I had no idea what this event actually is.

Here is what it is: Lunatics who want to pretend to be Navy SEALs while drinking a free beer at the end. I thought this event would last 40 to 50 minutes.

It’s a four mile course with enough stairs to climb to Pluto.

Running from the ground floor to the top of Jerry’s Night Club four times, with obstacles such as weighted jump ropes, balance beams, 54 million burpees and other exercises God did not intend a human to complete, took me 1 hours and 23 minutes.

I finished in the 20th percentile of the 4,615 competitors, but have yet to figure out why I did it.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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