DALLAS -- It's difficult to figure out why the Dallas Mavericks never have the pleasure of signing one of the top free agents from the other 29 teams in the NBA.
The Mavs have an energetic deep pockets owner in Mark Cuban who does cartwheels in his attempt to give his players whatever they want and whatever they need. The Mavs play in American Airlines Center, which is one of the NBA's finest arenas.
And the Mavs have a huge fan base, as evident by the fact that the Mavs have sold out every home game since December of 2001 and currently owns the NBA's longest sellout streak.
Also, in Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs have one of the greatest players in NBA history. Yes, Nowitzki just turned 36 last week.
But Nowitzki was the oldest All-Star in last season's midseason classic, which means he has defied Father Time. And he is humble enough that he doesn't mind another player coming in and being the No. 1 go-to guy on this team.
In addition, the Fort Worth/Dallas area is one of the nation's top metropolitan areas with two quality airports, Six Flags Over Texas, numerous golf courses, terrific restaurants, fine arts facilities, great schools and terrific neighborhoods. This area also has several lakes, all four major pro sports -- plus soccer -- and is home to Texas Motor Speedway and the most palacious football stadium in the world in AT&T Stadium.
If I'm a pro athlete, that's the type of cool stuff I'd like to have where I live.
Another perk awaiting everyone is that Texas has no state taxes, which makes real estate less expensive here than it is in a lot of other places across America. I know, property taxes may be higher here than elsewhere, but you can't have everything.
Over the past two years, the Mavs swung and missed out on free agents Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Among the bumper crop of players in this summer's free agent pool are LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Someone from Anthony's camp said he's got the Mavs on his wish-list of teams he's considering signing with. James, meanwhile, hasn't yet said if he plans to re-sign with Miami or take his talents to another city.
Meanwhile, Chris Gatling is the highest-touted free agent who has left another team to sign with the Mavs in the 34-year history of the Mavs. Gatling left the Heat following the 1995-'96 season to sign with the Mavs.
In his only season with the Mavs during the 1996-'97 season, Gatling averaged 19.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and played in the 1997 All-Star game. But just eight days after that All-Star game, the Mavs included Gatling in a nine-player trade which brought Shawn Bradley and Robert Pack from the New Jersey Nets.
When the free agency season opens July 1, the Mavs will again step up to the plate and be armmed with sufficient salary cap space to sign James, Anthony or any other free agent. But the reality of the situation is it's up to the free agent to say 'yes' or 'no' to whatever that franchise or city has to offer.
For the Mavs, they've been on the 'no' side way too many times.
-- Dwain Price
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