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Monday, June 17, 2013
Cuban's pitch: Help us pick next year's team

By Tim MacMahon

The Mavericks’ big-fish recruiting pitch includes essentially offering an assistant GM job and a squeaky-clean salary-cap picture for next summer.

We’ll see whether Chris Paul or Dwight Howard bite as they weigh the opportunity in Dallas against other options.

Never mind the dollar details for a moment. The Mavs must sell that their situation is more attractive than staying in Los Angeles – where the Clippers’ front office is working feverishly to upgrade the supporting cast and coaching staff and the Lakers will also have loads of cap space next summer – or joining James Harden in Houston or CP3 and D12 forming a duo in Atlanta.

Here’s the pitch …

“In essence, you get to come in and, it’s you and we have room for two more max free agents (next year),” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said during a Monday appearance on KTCK-AM. “That’s why when I talked about a two-year plan, that’s the concept there.

“So part of our sales pitch is, look, we’re not going to try to fool you and say that you and Dirk (Nowitzki) and Shawn Marion and Vince (Carter) and fill are basically a championship team. Maybe we get on a run, maybe we’re pretty good. But the reality is you’re going to work with us and Dirk to get out there and pick your team.”

Nowitzki’s intention to take a massive pay cut on his next contract is no secret. The big German has essentially hollered from the mountaintops that having a chance to win another championship is much more important than padding his bank account at this point of his Hall of Fame career.

There’s no doubt that Dirk will do what he can to make sure that the Mavs are active shoppers in next summer’s market, when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Danny Granger and many others could be available along with restricted studs such as Kyrie Irving, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins. Cuban’s comments are an indication that Nowitzki would be willing to play for the minimum, or close to it, if the Mavs can add multiple stars.

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The most logical Step 1 is signing one of the two proven superstars who are available this summer. (The odds of adding both via various versions of cap gymnastics are “extremely difficult,” as Cuban puts it. We’ll call it so miniscule that they don’t merit more than a parenthetical mention.)

But the Mavs aren’t the favorite for either big fish.

“I can’t lie and say, 'look, this is a slam dunk,'” Cuban said.

Let’s be brutally honest. Neither one is even an acceptable shot out of a typical offensive set. Some consider Paul and Howard halfcourt heaves for the Mavs. I’m optimistic enough to call them 30-footers, with the right for revision depending on news that develops as July 1 approaches.

So it’s on the Mavs to come up with Plan C, D, E and so on. And it’s smart of Cuban to try to create a little PR wiggle room for how this summer is judged.

“If we get one of our big names, that would be successful and get us on a two-year plan,” Cuban said. “(If) we don’t get one of the two big names and we sign two or three guys that make us good this year and allow us to compete for the fifth or sixth playoff spot or better and still keeps our cap room for next year to sign … let’s just say we keep it under $18 million, $19 million and we get a lot better with those three players and we still have cap room for two max-out guys, then we’ll also be successful.”