With two weeks left until NBA free agency, the revamped Dallas Mavericks front office, featuring brand new general manager Nico Harrison and head coach Jason Kidd, has now been formally introduced and is in the midst of formulating their offseason strategies.
For at least the last decade, the Mavs have gone into free agency with starry eyes for the “big fish” players on the market. That ambition was always nice to see, but after falling flat time after time, it’s fair to wonder if Dallas should start off this new era by spreading its cap space around to multiple second-tier roster upgrades, given that the team has a handful of holes that need to be filled. On the other hand, it's also fair to wonder if the new regime is capable of pulling off the pipe-dream scenarios that the old regime could not.
“That's going to be up to Nico," Mavs owner Mark Cuban tells DallasBaskeball.com when asked which way the Mavs will lean in their free agency approach. "He, J-Kidd, Fin and I will share ideas."
”But,” Cuban continued, “Nico will take all the info he collects from us, the scouts and analytics and determine some alternatives.”
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Given that we have yet to receive any confirmation on whether or not Bob Voulgaris is still employed by the Mavs, despite asking multiple times, hearing Cuban mention that Nico Harrison will collect info from “analytics” as part of formulating his strategy made us raise our eyebrows a little bit. Before former GM Donnie Nelson got fired, and before former head coach Rick Carlisle resigned, it was reported that Voulgaris had rubbed a lot of people the wrong way within the organization, including 22-year-old superstar Luka Doncic.
We will continue to monitor that situation of course, but regardless, Cuban continues to be adamant that Harrison will be given the authority to do what he wants to do this summer, despite also reiterating in Thursday's press conference that he ultimately has the final say over all decisions made. That feels a bit contradicting, but we only have to wait a few more weeks to see how much rope Harrison will truly be given.
In an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Friday, Harrison made a couple of things known:
1) He honestly doesn't know if Voulgaris will be working with the team or not this season, but that he will get a chance to talk to him at some point.
2) He believes players about the league want to come play in Dallas.
3) He's confident that he can build a championship contending roster in Dallas due to his heavy basketball background and connections.
"I’m a basketball guy," said Harrison. "I’ve played basketball my whole life, I played basketball overseas. So me putting pieces together isn’t going to be a problem. That’s why teams have pursued me for so long, because the guys in the industry understand I’m truly a basketball guy."
The Mavs continue to be connected to a number of upcoming free agents in rumors, including Kawhi Leonard, John Collins, Spencer Dinwiddie, among others, but the most intriguing smoke to entertain is the smoke coming from the Leonard situation. After it was announced that Leonard had surgery to repair his partially torn ACL, Marc Stein reported that Dallas "will not be dissuaded from pursuing Leonard, even if he's forced to miss all of next season."
We discussed this exact scenario at length on the most recent episode of our Mavs Step Back Podcast here as well.
Although the Mavs are proud of being thought of as tight-lipped when it comes to detailing their offseason plans, they've given us enough personally, paired with other reports around the league, for us to make an educated guess that Kawhi Leonard will be this summer's "Plan A." Rehabbing for a full season or not, if you can sign Leonard to a long-term deal to pair him with Luka Doncic for the foreseeable future, you do it immediately without thinking twice.
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Will the Mavs finally be successful in reeling in their 'Big Fish' this time? People who have been deeply hurt by Dallas’ previous offseason failures will be quick to say "no" to that question, but Nico Harrison has a quiet confidence about him that makes us have confidence in him too. Regardless of whatever happens in the next few weeks, it's hard to see a scenario where the Mavs don't improve. It's just a matter of 'how much' improvement is made.
“Obviously we want the best players possible," Cuban tells us. "But Nico is in charge of how we approach it.”