Mac Engel

Mark Cuban can’t make the Mavs the LA Lakers. He thought he could, but he can’t.

The Dallas Mavericks were ready for this, even if you were not, or hoped for a different outcome.

Talking to a few members of the Mavs organization, morale and the feeling about their team is “pretty good” since NBA free agency began. They were all braced for a scenario that included the potential landing of unrestricted free agent Boban Marjanovic as their “big get” of the off-season.

They were braced that after giving Kristaps Porzingis his five-year deal, they would take home the leftovers from the party.

At a minimum, the Dallas Mavericks will be the NBA’s most popular team in places such as Prague, Budapest, Riga and other Eastern European cities.

Now that Kawhi Leonard made his decision, the Dallas Mavericks are moving ahead with what they have, with the idea that maybe they will grab one or two other guys.

Kawhi’s teammate in Toronto, Danny Green was thought to maybe sign with the Mavs but, of course, he opted for the Lakers.

The Dallas Mavericks’ organization, and the NBA, are both better because of Mark Cuban, but his popularity, big mouth and “influence” have limits. NBA free agency has exposed Cube’s sphere of power.

He can’t make the Mavericks the Los Angeles Lakers, or the city of Dallas and it’s sprawling community South Beach. He thought he could, and he can’t.

Since the NBA dramatically changed its free agency rules after the Mavs won the 2011 title, players change teams like they do girlfriends.

Cuban’s plan was to use his influence, charm and cash to sign those bigger names to sustain the Mavs as an NBA contender. We are now in our eighth year of NBA free agency fun, and the top unrestricted free agent the Mavs have signed is Harrison Barnes, or Wes Matthews.

Cuban’s plan failed to take into account one vital fact: Football. Other than the Dallas Cowboys, we are not a destination wedding locale.

Watching this all play out again is yet another reason to appreciate Dirk Nowitzki.

There are countless theories as to why NBA players don’t come here, including the semi-popular “African American players don’t want to live here.”

Please, take that stupid somewhere else.

Race has a place in a lot of arguments in this world, but it has no merit in the discussion of why the Dallas Mavericks can’t sign top free agents.

The Mavs typically sign one-third of Eastern European basketball players to contracts, primarily because Donnie Nelson loves the Euro game like a parent does a child. His dad is the same way. Watch the NBA game today and the influence of the Euro is unmistakable; Big Don was right.

Players go where they want, and there are places on the NBA map that will always be more attractive than the Mavericks. The same for Oklahoma City. The same for Milwaukee. The same for Detroit. The same for about half of the league.

Move the Nets back to the swamp of New Jersey’s Meadowlands, and Kyrie Irving is not signing with the Nets. Neither is Kevin Durant.

Now that the Nets are in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn is a nice complement to Manhattan, guys like Kyrie and KD find that as a destination of choice.

Like the Thunder, or the Hawks, or the Pacers, the Mavs are limited in what they can offer to a free agent.

A big name will come, and stay, if they are drafted and groomed here. A big name is not going to make the Mavericks a priority destination.

Mark Cuban can drive you crazy, but he has made the Mavs a better organization. He has done what he can.

NBA free agency has exposed his limits and, this time, the team was ready for it.

BIG MAC BITES

Unlike the Dallas Mavericks, the team that shares the American Airlines Center, has found players in free agency.

The Dallas Stars signed veteran forward Joe Pavelski to a three-year contract, as well as Corey Perry to a one-year deal.

Perry is 34 and missed 51 games last season. He should be a nice second-line forward.

Pavelski is coming off a 38-goal season with the San Jose Sharks. He spent his entire 13-year NHL seasons with the Sharks, who did not offer him this deal for a reason.

He is 33, and the Sharks didn’t want to go long. Stars GM Jim Nill has been willing to give older guys bigger deals to get a signature. It typically works in the first year or two, and looks bad by year three or four; Jason Spezza comes to mind.

Think of the Pavelski deal as a two-year move and, by the third year, the Stars will have to eat. The Stars are in a good window and they desperately needed more scoring. Pavelski is that.

This time one year ago the Texas Rangers were 39-50; entering Saturday’s game in Minnesota, they are 47-41.

According to BetOnline.org, the Rangers’ odds of winning the World Series are 40-1. On June 1, the odds were 100-1. I would not touch either ... (because I’m painfully cheap).

My friend Darrell, who appeared to be irritated with my Pulitzer Prize-worthy column on the Donald Trump/Megan Rapinoe flap, emailed me and wrote, “This is the team representing the USA. Stand for your country. You need to get a job at the New York Times.”

OK ... Fine!

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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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