Cuban: Mavs 'in a better spot' without Howard
The Dallas Mavericks will be better off in the immediate future because they missed out on Dwight Howard, allowing them to sign several other free agents, owner Mark Cuban said.
"I think we've put ourselves in a spot where we're in a better spot than we were at if we got just the one max-out deal," Cuban told ESPNDallas.com during the Mavs' summer league game Wednesday night. "I think it'd be better shorter and longer term. I don't want to make that sound the wrong way. I think we'll be better this year because we added five good players or more."
Cuban made similar comments last summer, when point guard Deron Williams decided to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets after the Mavs had recruited him. Dallas went 41-41 in 2012-13 with a roster made up primarily of additions on one-year deals, ending the franchise's 12-year playoff streak.
The Mavs were one of five teams to meet in Los Angeles with Howard -- Dallas' admitted Plan A this summer -- before the perennial All-Star center decided to sign with the Houston Rockets. The Mavs would have had to make at least one significant roster adjustment, likely trading Shawn Marion or Vince Carter, to carve out the salary-cap space necessary to sign Howard to a four-year, $87.6 million contract.
Howard was the last of the superstars the Mavs hoped to acquire when Cuban made the post-lockout decision to strip down the 2011 title team, creating financial flexibility by declining to make competitive, multiyear offers to Tyson Chandler and other key pieces of the championship team in free agency. At the time, the Mavs anticipated that Howard, Williams and Chris Paul would all be free agents in the summer of 2012, but Howard and Paul didn't exercise their rights to opt out of their contracts last year and were traded to the two Los Angeles teams.
The Mavs weren't successful in their attempts to recruit Williams and Howard, and Paul didn't meet with Dallas before committing to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Obviously we didn't get Dwight," Cuban said. "We took a chance, and it didn't happen. I think we put together a really good team. It sticks within the culture we've tried to define. We've dealt with some of the weaknesses we had from last year. Hopefully if we stay healthy, good things will happen."
Dallas has since signed point guard Jose Calderon and agreed to terms with guard Monta Ellis, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and center Samuel Dalembert. Dallas also is close to finalizing deals with guard Devin Harris -- who originally accepted a three-year, $9 million offer from the Mavs but likely will sign a one-year, minimum-salary offer from the Mavs after his pre-signing physical revealed a dislocated toe that required surgery -- and center/forward Brandan Wright.
If Howard had agreed to go to Dallas, the Mavs wouldn't have been able to sign Calderon (four years, $29 million), Ellis (three years, $25 million) and Dalembert (unknown terms) to the deals they accepted. The deals with Ellington and Wright still could have been done because they will use the "room" exception and early Bird rights, respectively.
Cuban has said that this summer is the beginning of a two-year plan to rebuild the Mavs into a championship contender.
"Obviously, we were disappointed we didn't get Dwight, but we pretty much got everything else we wanted to get and then some. Much more," Cuban said. "We never thought we'd be able to get Monta. It turned into a good summer. Now, the key is to get everybody playing together, get everyone healthy, keep them healthy and go."
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