May 15, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
The Mavericks missed the playoffs this season for the first time in 13 years, and if we’ve learned anything from Mark Cuban over time, it’s that mediocrity in Dallas won’t be tolerated for very long at all.
Dirk Nowitzki is equally competitive, and doesn’t want to spend the twilight of his career playing for a losing team, or one that’s planning on going through a rebuild while the 11-time NBA All-Star still remains on the roster.
Dallas has the salary cap space to make a big splash in free agency this summer, and if things don’t fall the right way for the team with the players who are currently available, they have virtually no one on the books for the following season and can make another run at that time. But Nowitzki wants to win now, which is why he’s willing to step up his involvement in the recruiting process — both personally and financially.
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the biggest names on the open market, and Nowitzki said the obvious during a radio interview on Tuesday: He’d love for the Mavericks to improve immediately by landing one of those two superstars.
From The Dallas Morning News:
On Dwight Howard and Chris Paul:
Dirk Nowitzki: We’d love to get one of those two. We’d love to get a player in here who can create his own shot and be a superstar-type player. It’s still a long way to go until July. Those guys need to clear their minds a little bit and get away and then start thinking what they want to do with their futures. Hopefully, that’s where we come in and put a great pitch out there and see what happens.
On the pitch to free agents:
Dirk Nowitzki: I’ll definitely be a little involved. But I’ll be in the draft ‘war room’ for the first time … order some pizza and talk some basketball. I got one year left on this deal and then I’m coming off the books. So if that helps for us to be better I’m going to take a paycut. That’s part of the pitch. Cuban and Donnie have got to be part of the pitch.
Both Howard and Paul are likely to re-sign with their respective teams in Los Angeles, for a variety of reasons. But Dallas, due to a combination of being a large market and Cuban’s willingness to spend to keep his team relevant, make for one of the more attractive free agent destinations outside of L.A., New York, or Miami.
If you had to choose which player would be more likely to be tempted by the Mavericks, you’d have to go with Howard, given how little he enjoyed living with the championship-level expectations during his first season with the Lakers, as well as his historic level of indecisiveness about where he’d like to play.
As for the pay cut part of Nowitzki’s comments, that wouldn’t happen until the 2014-15 season.
Nowitzki has one more year remaining on his contract, and will earn over $22 million next season. The year after, he could play for as little as would make sense in order for Dallas to stockpile talent in pursuit of one more title before he decides to hang ‘em up.
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