In fact, Cuban has repeatedly pointed out that the Mavs might not opt to create significant cap space this summer, which would mean buying out Lamar Odom, using the amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood and trading Shawn Marion to a team under the salary cap.
“There’s nothing that says we don’t just keep our same guys, right?” Cuban said on Bill Simmons’ podcast, The B.S. Report, last week from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. “Again, there’s a variety of options. It’s pure market theory. You’ve got to see how the market prices itself. If you look at it, this year, there’s a ton of cap room. Chances are because everybody’s got so much cap room, it’s going to be inflationary and that’s not a good time to buy.
“So, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, all these guys that people talk about are out there, but that might not be the best decision for us. It may be better for us to pay our existing guys, keep our existing guys. It may be better for us to wait another year, because in the third year of the CBA, the new tax kicks in with the big escalators and then that pushes down the price of players, so we might be in a better position waiting for Year 3 or Year 4, just depending on what it is, to go out and get that complement to Dirk or the next Dirk, whatever it may be.”
The problem with Cuban’s point: If they don’t upgrade this offseason, they’re missing an opportunity to maximize the potential of the remainder of Dirk Nowitzki’s prime.
But Cuban swears the Mavs didn’t just have this summer in mind when they let Tyson Chandler and other key cogs from the franchise’s first title team leave in free agency. He hints that he a two- or three-superstar system might not be the best way to build a title contender under the new collective bargaining agreement because of the limitations on teams that are over the cap.
“Now, if you look at the Heat, as an example, because they’re going to be above the luxury tax the next few years, put aside the financial side of it, they can only use the mini-midlevel and minimums to add a player,” Cuban said. “That’s a big restriction, so it raises the question: Is having three stars or two stars the best way to build a team or is there going to be a re-pricing -- particularly in Year 3 of the bargaining agreement when the luxury tax escalates and there’s doublers and all those things -- or will the market for players re-price themselves so a player who might have been a $12 million or $14 million player be a $6 million player?
“So you can have one star and three really, really good All-Stars and package those guys together to build a winning team and still maybe leave yourself some flexibility where if somebody gets hurt, you still have your full midlevel to add. Or do you sign three max-out guys who are going to very quickly be $60 million or let’s just say $54 million out of the $70 million in cap? And those numbers will stay basically relative, and now you have $16 million for the next 12 players on your roster and you only have $2.5 million basically to add another player of any consequence forever more.”
The simple answer: If you have a chance to add the game’s best big man and a top-five point guard in their prime, do it and deal with whatever challenges come next.