The Brooklyn Nets are a playoff team. But they are not viewed as a championship contender, and are going to have a difficult time upgrading their roster going forward because they’re well over the salary cap.
“That’s the position we didn’t want to be in,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told reporters prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Nets.
The Nets are in that position because they gave out $330 million in contracts during the offseason. Nets GM Billy King was able to convince Deron Williams (five years, $98 million) to pick Brooklyn over Dallas because he re-signed Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million) and traded for Joe Johnson (four years, $89 million). After failing to land Dwight Howard, King retained Brook Lopez (four years, $60 million), giving the franchise a solid core. The Mavericks could only offer Williams four years and $73 million based on CBA rules.
Cuban was filming “Shark Tank” when the free agency period began and never got to meet with Williams. So why weren’t the Mavericks all-in on D-Will?
“I’m not talking about any one player, but that’s why we were concerned in our approach,” Cuban said. “If you sign a max-out guy, you get to a point where you’re above that tax (apron) plus $4 million, then you’re limited in sign-and-trades. You’re limited in your ability to use the exceptions. There’s all kind of limitations, which means unless you think that’s a championship team, it’s going to be tough to improve. That’s been the message I’ve been giving fans in Dallas here since the CBA and that’s what’s been guiding our approach.”
But what’s the point of creating cap space if you don’t end up signing a superstar?
“All you have to do is look at players and teams giving up players,” Cuban said. “It creates opportunities to do trades. It’s not just about signing a max-out player. It’s about building a championship team. You guys have heard me say it over and over. In my opinion, the rules for doing that have changed. So we’ll see if I’m right or wrong. But if you just have $75 million in payroll, you’re stuck, and I didn’t want to be stuck.”
Right, but you can’t win without at least one start in his prime, no?
“We’ll see, but you’ve got to be able to get them, and at least we’ll have all our options available to us,” Cuban said. “If you don’t have cap room and you don’t have the ability to sign-and-trade for a free agent, that makes it awfully tough. Or if you don’t have the ability to make a trade for that kind of player, then you have no chance to get one other than through the draft.”
Information from Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com was used in this report.