Fans will forever fall in love with players on their hometown teams. At times, the free agency era can really mess that up because players don't always stick around long enough for fans to fully invest their emotions, or they do and get disappointed.
The Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of taking the short-term fan-player relationship to an all new level as they position the franchise under the new collective bargaining agreement. The plan, and they are sticking to it as owner Mark Cuban pointed out the other day, is to always preserve cap space for the following summer to be in the running for whichever franchise-making superstar might hit the open market.
The emerging 2012-13 Dallas roster is full of players, by design, on one-year contracts. At the end of the season, those contracts will be off the books and the Mavs will be equipped with cap space to chase potential big-fish free agents Dwight Howard or Chris Paul or Andrew Bynum, and to a lesser extent James Harden or Serge Ibaka.
The Mavs have added five players so far this offseason. Three -- Elton Brand, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones -- were acquired because they are all on the final year of their contracts. Chris Kaman was signed as a free agent to a one-year, $8 million contract. And the fifth, O.J. Mayo, essentially agreed to a one-year contract. His deal includes a second year, but it is a player option. He can opt out of the second year next summer and jump back into the free-agent market, something he would fully be expected to do so he can seek a larger deal either with the Mavs or another team.
Once Mayo's new deal is completed, the Mavs will have 11 players under contract, plus three rookies. Three will carry that status as of next July: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter (whose 2013-14 season is only partially guaranteed). If the Mavs don't land a superstar next summer, then the plan, as it stands now, will be to do this all over again and fill the roster as competitively as possible with players on one-year arrangements.
Here's a look at the current 2012-13 roster and future status:
Dirk Nowitzki (signed through 2013-14)
Shawn Marion (signed through 2013-14)
Vince Carter (partially guaranteed through 2013-14)
Chris Kaman (signed through 2012-13)
Darren Collison (Restricted free agent after 2012-13)
Dahntay Jones (signed through 2012-13)
Brandan Wright (signed through 2012-13)
Elton Brand (signed through 2012-13)
O.J. Mayo (signed through 2013-14, player option for second year)
Rodrigue Beaubois (restricted free agent after 2012-13)
Dominique Jones (signed through 2013-14, team option for last year)