DALLAS – As the former coach and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, Don Nelson struggles to come up with answers on why the Mavs haven’t been able to attract a star free agent in his prime to come and play for their organization.
The Mavs have had salary cap space over the past two summers, yet no top-notched free agent bothered to come and take their money. That puzzles Nelson, who was the Mavs' coach and general manager from 1997-2005.
“Who wouldn’t you want to come play for Dallas?,’’ Nelson asked. “I’ve said that for years that I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t get more free agents, because it’s such a great place to play.
“You’ve got an owner (in Mark Cuban) that spends money and is a players’ kind of owner, and you’ve got Donnie (Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations) there who knows talent. I know they’ve tried and missed on a few, but that’s always surprised me how come they don’t get a big-time star player who wants to come there.’’
Over the past two summers the Mavs have been shunned via free agency by the likes of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. And yet the Mavs will have even more cap space this coming summer, so they’ll pull up to the free agency table for another swing at trying to lure one of the NBA’s coveted young free agents.
At least for now, forward Dirk Nowitzki was delighted that the Mavs didn’t have a repeat of the summer of 2012 -- when they signed several players to one-year contracts – last summer. Jose Calderon inked a four-year, $29 million deal last summer, and Monta Ellis signed a three-year pact worth $25 million.
“I think we moved away from the concept of one-year deals,’’ Nowitzki said. “We signed Jose, we signed Monta, and both have been great.
“We went in a different direction there. But saying all that we’ll have a lot of cap space again this summer.’’
That’s because the salaries of Shawn Marion ($9.3 million), Vince Carter ($3.1 million) and Nowitzki ($22.7 million) will come off the books. Plus, Samuel Dalembert’s $3.8 million contract for next season isn’t guaranteed.
Nowitzki said: “So that’s over $30 million coming off the cap space.’’
The Mavs really want to make Nowitzki, who turns 36 in June, the second-best player on their team. Obtaining a young superstar would do the trick, but that’s not something Nowitzki is worried about at this moment.
“As far as I’m concerned I’m trying to make the playoffs this year,’’ he said. “Everything else is kind of secondary to me.
“We missed the playoffs last year and it was disappointing to watch it from home. So that’s really all where my focus is at, and everything else I’ll figure out this summer, I guess.’’
Don Nelson believes he has it all figured out now.
“Hey, Monta’s there,’’ Nelson saiid. “He signed there for a reason.
“So maybe that’s a trend now and they can pick up another one or two players. That’ll be great.’’
-- Dwain Price
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