Mac Engel

Mavericks owner must start winning in free agency to convince Nowitzki to stay

Mark Cuban’s record in free agency needs a boost this year.
Mark Cuban’s record in free agency needs a boost this year. AP

NBA free agency has not begun but according to a report, the devil of the Dallas Mavericks is interested in being on Mark Cuban’s toy.

Dwyane Wade — the man whom the NBA personally escored to the free throw line 835 times during the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals win over the Mavs in 2006, and mocked Dirk Nowitzki in ’11 — is willing to listen to Cubes.

ESPN is reporting that Wade’s people reached out to the Spurs and Mavs because Wade is not entirely crazy about remaining with the Heat.

The way free agency has gone for Mark, this registers as a major win.

Wade calling Cubes feels like Roger Clemens flirting with the Texas Rangers back in the day; it’s a leverage play to get more cash out of his preferred destination.

Because if there is one thing about NBA free agency we know, for whatever reason, no top NBA free agent considers the Mavs a preferred destination.

The NBA free agency period begins at 11:01 p.m. CDT Thursday, and Cuban needs to start winning. Cuban needs to prove he can do this, or else yield to someone who can build an NBA roster through the draft.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside would be a win. Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley would be a win. It makes me sick, but Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard would be a win.

When/if this trio, and D Wade, pass on Big D, Dirk Nowitzki should acknowledge the obvious and sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dirk has given his boss every chance and, despite his best efforts, Cuban has continually failed to give him a worthy supporting cast.

Few people trust in their own intellect and charisma more than Cuban, and this free agency period should be the final chance to prove he can do it. This will be the fifth summer of pursuing this route.

The last time Cuban’s toy won an NBA playoff series was 2011, and he needs to demonstrate to the Mavs’ fan base, NBA players and NBA agents he can convince a big free agent to do what none has done before — sign with the Mavs.

DeAndre Jordan’s change of heart does not count; Cuban may have had a verbal agreement from DJ but he never got the signature.

To date, Cuban’s biggest free-agent additions are Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews.

Cuban’s grand vision to rebuild the Mavs via free agency has flopped, partly because he misread the new collective bargaining agreement after the lockout of 2011 and missed on signing Chris Paul and Howard.

He likely has misread this coming NBA free agency signing period as well.

Cuban has repeatedly said that he believes, despite the NBA’s increase in salary cap, that the owners are not going to throw big money at players this summer because the superior free-agent class is ’17 rather than ’16. That sounds more like wishful thinking.

The majority of NBA owners have no choice but to overspend — otherwise players are not coming to their teams. Owners have consistently shown they are short-term thinkers and will throw around money for this coming season while not worrying about the next.

As such, Parsons should cash in this summer.

The Mavs swing forward took to Twitter this week to say that he does indeed deserve a max contract because, as he tweeted, “cuz im really good at basketball.”

There is some disagreement among the Mavs about just how good at basketball Parsons is, but the safe bet is he is gone. It’s no secret his relationship with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is not great, but The Rick has shown the ability to coach everybody not named Lamar Odom.

Cuban does not want to give a guy who is under 30 and required two major operations on the same knee in the past year monster money. Can’t blame him.

Assuming Parsons does not re-sign, a strong case can be made that J.J. Barea is the Mavs’ third-best player behind Dirk and Wes Matthews.

That bursts the eardrums.

Dirk has said he wants to remain with the Mavs as long as they are competitive. The only way he does not want to remain is if the Mavs become a tear-down project.

What does he do if the Mavs and Cuban try like hell and come up with Ian Mahinmi and some other ish players?

It’s not as if Cuban wants to be in this spot; his foresight, planning and execution have the team in the position where it must beg players to come here.

What is he supposed to do if the players he covets simply choose elsewhere, even if he does grovel?

Dirk is not going to immediately re-sign with the Mavericks; as a de facto assistant general manager, he has the right of refusal on potential signees, which include Howard. It’s no secret around the Mavs that Dirk would rather not play with D12.

And if Dwight, Conley, Whiteside and the rest sign elsewhere, Dirk has a decision, too.

Is his loyalty to the Mavs and his preference to remain with one organization great enough to negate the fact the team is going to lean on his body again to carry it to, at best, another first-round playoff exit?

He could potentially sign with the Thunder and commute to Oklahoma City for a year or two.

Assuming Kevin Durant remains with the Thunder, Dirk would be the third option and would simply just have to hit jumpers in about 24 minutes of playing time per game.

No one could blame Dirk if he left, but he is going to give his boss every chance to give him a reason to stay.

The only way that happens is if Cuban starts winning, starting late Thursday night.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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