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Don Nelson: ‘I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t getting more free agents’

Jan 29, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

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Just two years ago, the Dallas Mavericks were dreaming of adding Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.

But Dallas struck out on both, Williams re-signing with the Nets and Howard joining the Rockets.

Instead, the Mavericks – who play in a state without an income tax, haven’t had a losing season since 2000 and have one of the NBA’s most committed owners – have chosen from the free agent scrap heap.

Former Dallas coach Don Nelson, via Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

“I’ve said that for years that I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t getting more free agents, because it’s such a great place to play,” Nelson said.

“You’ve got an owner (in Mark Cuban) that spends money and is a players’ kind of owner, and you’ve got Donnie (Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations) there who knows talent. I know they’ve tried and missed on a few, but that’s always surprised me how come they don’t get a big-time star player who wants to come there.’’

It is a little surprising the Mavericks haven’t attracted better free agents, but we’re dealing with a small sample. For years, they had one of the NBA’s highest payrolls and no cap room. Since Dallas trimmed costs and increased flexibility, how many top free agents have been on the market? The Mavericks got Howard and Williams to strongly consider them, but ultimately those two signed elsewhere. That doesn’t mean free agents have something against Dallas.

The Mavericks’ fortunes could change soon, anyway.

Dallas has just $28,675,575 in salary committed for next season. Some of the remaining cap room will go toward keeping Dirk Nowitzki, but that still leaves a whole lot of money to work with.

if I were a free agent, I’d view the Mavericks very favorably. I’d see how they turned Monta Ellis from leper to someone getting darkhorse All-Star consideration. I’d see how they boosted the stock of O.J. Mayo, who received $4.02 million for his lone year in Dallas before the Bucks gave him $24 million for three years. I’d see how Rick Carlisle uses the sweet-shooting Dirk Nowitzki to make the job of everyone around him easier.

That doesn’t mean I’d ultimately sign in Dallas, but it’s an appealing place.

If the Mavericks keep pursuing free agents, they’ll get some good ones soon enough.

  1. misremembered72 - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Just so we’re clear… you are talking about Lebron James, yes?

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Cuban is a di-ckhead.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 29, 2014 at 7:28 PM

        So just WHAT does that make Dolan?

  2. davidly - Jan 29, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    if I were a free agent, I’d view the Mavericks very favorably.
    They tried, but Cuban sent ’em packing.

  3. bougin89 - Jan 29, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    “I’d see how they boosted the stock of O.J. Mayo, who received $4.02 million for his lone year in Dallas before the Bucks gave him $24 million for three years.”

    For the record I’m still upset about this. Also upset about Zaza’s ridiculous contract. Both deals were too long. Such is life when signing free agents in Milwaukee…

  4. therealhtj - Jan 29, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    The first thing free agents want is money. Getting a premiere FA to jump ship for less money, like a D12, when he can get max money anywhere would require a unique situation. Lifestyle is one thing, but a better organization with a better chance to compete for titles in the short term would be the mitigating factors to get a prime FA to take a paycut.

    No matter what kind of owner Cuban is purported to be, and Dirk’s talents notwithstanding, Dallas just ain’t throwing that kinda party.

  5. sensiblevoice - Jan 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    Crap. As a Knicks fan this terrifies me because i can see Melo going to dallas all too easily….

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      Terrifies you? You should be praying it happens.

  6. cbking05 - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    It’s cuz the woman have beards in Dallas

  7. timberwolvesbrisin - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    They are better off without Deron Williams, who is barely a top 15 PG anymore, and possibly even Howard.

  8. csbanter - Jan 29, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    The Mavs are old, Dirk is just padding his stats these days. What star in his prime wants to play second fiddle to old man Dirk ? Dirk is a first ballot HOF but he cannot carry the Mavs anymore.

    • schlitzuous - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      .. and two hours later Dirk has 38 points and 17 rebounds and surpasses the 26,000 point mark.

  9. bhunter1995 - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    The taxes in Texas are very low compared to most of the country. 10M a year for a Knick is a hell of a lot smaller then 10M for a player in Dallas or Houstan. That is another big reason why a player, especially a guy with a smaller market value would have to consider offers from the Rockets or Mavs.

  10. onlyavoice - Jan 30, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    Over the years I have always posted that out of all the owners, I like Cuban the best.
    If for the 1 reason being is that he’s never scared to change the team in hopes to make it better.
    Sure it always hasn’t panned out & Mavs fans get upset, but the guy definitely wants to compete
    for a title.
    My liking may also be why free agents Do Not want to be a Mav, they feel that with Cubans track record he may trade them. (though he has been very loyal to a number of players throughout the years)
    Who Knows.
    (Dirk is no longer an attraction is the biggest reason)

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