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Friday, February 22, 2013
Mavs' hopes still based on financial flexibilty

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS – For all the talk about the Bank of Cuban being open, there were very few players the Mavericks would have considered acquiring if it meant sacrificing salary cap space this summer.

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They ended up trading for reserve gunner Anthony Morrow. His career 3-point percentage (42.5) explains why the Mavs were interested in Morrow. The fact that he’ll count $0 against the cap after the Mavs renounce his rights this summer explains why they were willing to trade for him.

It needs to be a big summer for the Bank of Cuban. The Mavs’ front office made sure they’d be positioned to be major players this offseason by not doing anything that would dampen their powder.

“Flexibility has always played well for us,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said, perhaps forgetting about whiffing on Deron Williams and scrambling to put together a temporary supporting cast last summer.

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“We’ve had the good fortune of making two trips to the Finals, and those were two completely different teams," he said. "They only shared two common players. Flexibility has been an important piece for us. I think as the ceiling comes down a little bit on the new CBA, we’re in a good position to be really active in the market place.”

In other words, the Mavs don’t want to look at this summer as Dwight Howard or doom, although the dramatic big man will definitely be their top target. If the Mavs don’t win the Dwight sweepstakes, they still need to make moves that provide a foundation for the franchise’s future.

That could mean taking advantage of luxury tax-fearing teams desperate to dump salary. That could mean signing quality complementary players at affordable prices, constructing a supporting cast for the star(s) they can chase the following summer when the contracts of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter expire.

“First of all, you guys make up the plans,” Mark Cuban said. “I tell you we’re going to be opportunistic. I tell you, based off of what we interpret in the CBA, that you can’t just go ahead and sign older players. The guys you do sign, if you make a mistake, it’s expensive to move them. Or you’ve got to give up a lot and not get a lot back.

“From there, we say we’re opportunistic. And that’s what you’ve heard me say every day since we walked in the door. You can’t expect any one thing to happen, because it never does. We have cap room; we’ll see what happens. We’ll try to be opportunistic; we’ll see what happens.”

The Mavs must begin building some continuity again, but they have to balance that goal with leaving enough financial wiggle room to acquire a player capable of being a franchise centerpiece for a contender.

But this can just be another summer of signing guys to one-year deals and acquiring expiring contracts. That wouldn’t play well with the Mavs’ frustrated fan base or with Nowitzki, who has vented repeatedly about the problems that come with so many new, temporary teammates and has made it clear that he doesn’t want to finish his career chasing the final playoff seed in the West.

“We certainly feel for all of our fans and some of the frustrations that have taken place this year,” Nelson said. “Whether it’s them or Dirk or some of the guys in the locker room or ownership on down to management or coaches, we are committed to bringing a championship back to Dallas. Whether it’s the short term or the long term, we’ll make it happen.”