With the Dallas Mavericks moving on from long-time GM Donnie Nelson, team owner Mark Cuban now oversees the search for Nelson’s successor.
DallasBasketball.com has suggested that Toronto Raptors president and GM Masai Ujiri be first in line among potential candidates - and on Wednesday asked Cuban about that option, and the coming search.
“We have not targeted any names (yet),” Cuban tells me. “We are using Mike Forde, who will put together a list and feedback on each candidate he presents. Then we will narrow it down and go from there.”
In words of our own Mike Fisher on Twitter, that process of compiling a list of candidates needn’t be a lengthy one. And, Fish notes wryly, if Masai Ujiri’s name isn’t at the top of that recommendation list, Cuban should fire Forde’s firm.
We can logically add to the list Dallas front-office aide Michael Finley, trusted by Cuban and endorsed by the owner as a viable GM candidate for other previous GM openings, as DallasBasketball.com has written previously. And Forde’s search firm can conjure up other names as well.
But in our view: Hiring a team president and general manager like Ujiri not only gives you a new front-office figure with fresh and creative ideas, but it also potentially helps the Mavs in free agency, an area where they’ve struggled mightily over the last decade-plus.
Kawhi Leonard? DeMar DeRozan? Kyle Lowry? All of those guys are unrestricted free agents this summer, and they all have good prior work experience with Ujiri, who recently built a champion with the Raptors and whose contract with Toronto just happens to be up. Hiring him guarantees nothing (and will of course have to come with a "No Shadow GM's Allowed'' promise), but at the very least, it in theory helps the Mavs get their foot in the door with some of these players before free agency begins on August 6.
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In addition to gauging the thoughts of superstar Luka Doncic on the direction of the franchise (Cuban to DBcom: “I pay close attention to what Luka says ...''), Cuban and the Mavs are on solid ground in putting trust into Forde’s "Sportsology'' firm; it has done great work for other franchises in the past.
But in the Mavs particular scenario, the No. 1 answer shouldn’t be hard to zero in on. The Mavs will go through the official process, but hopefully, when the dust settles, they start by offering the job to man for whom we’ve been banging the table since the moment it was announced that Donnie Nelson was out.
Dallas as of Wednesday night hasn’t targeted Masai Ujiri yet. But there’s no reason to wait too many days before doing so.