DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks “plan to acquire a big star.”
That’s the easy headline and the easy storyline and it’s also an easy truth ... as it generally is for all 30 NBA teams. Recent national-media speculation - plus our boots-on-the-ground reporting, including recent one-on-one interviews with Mavs bosses Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson - drive us toward the easy part of the plan.
The Dallas Mavericks “plan to acquire a big star.” That's not in question. The question is ... "When?''
A further look at the answers from three angle of examination:
1) Windhorst "Head of The Line: The Mavs, says ESPN's Brian Windhorst, are "going to be at the head of the line in pursuing Giannis. They want to have a third star. ...They want to keep their books clear for 2021, I wouldn’t expect them to add any major free agents this year. They’re going to wait.”
This is, on the surface, heady stuff. But let's watch and listen a tad more closely.
Check it: Windhorst begins his presentation by mumbling the phrase "to me.'' That's vastly different than reporting that the Mavs are "going to be at the head of the line''; it's Bryan speculating that "to him'' they will be.
Maybe. Kinda. Sorta.
2) Shams' Star Take: "The Mavericks are willing to take on large salaries from a team to acquire a star player, sources say,'' writes Shams Charania. "Dallas is building the roster around its two stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and could emerge as a destination for top talent.''
Shams' angle is about the "present tense.'' The Mavs ARE willing. Dallas IS building. That's in conflict with Windhorst's increasingly shaky take about what MIGHT happen, and WHEN, and HOW ..
3) And what does DallasBasketball.com say? In our conversations on the record with Mavs bosses Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson, we're left with a sense of urgency regarding opportunism.
"(We're) never 'patient,'" said Nelson in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview on our Mavs Step Back Podcast. "Because we want to be as good as we can be... yesterday. ... We're always working phones, looking for every angle. ... It's 'turn over every rock,' and then turn it over three more times just to make sure."
This mindset is reflected in a new story in the Dallas Morning News that talks of working to make an NBA Draft-time trade, with a willingness to trade anybody not named "Luka'' or "KP,'' as we detail here.
We also believe the Mavs have come to understand - the hard way - about the importance of assets (as part of a good roster) over cap space when it comes to acquiring talent. Jimmy Butler to Miami is the most recent obvious case of a star player dictating where he wanted to be - regardless of whether that destination had "space.''
They simply MADE space.
So, frankly, we think Windhorst's guesses on Giannis are at-best educated ones, and we think the "cap-space hoarding'' for next year is dead-wrong, both as a report and as an idea. We think Shams has it right: The Mavs, already employing Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, are ready to add more star talent now ... and more star talent later.
"We're cut out to bring the best possible on the planet earth right here to our backyard in Dallas," says Nelson.
The fact is, the acquisition of talent in the 2020 NBA offseason won't prevent Dallas' chance of adding Giannis or whomever in 2021 - it will enhance it. However, for the Mavs to truly bring the ‘best possible on the planet earth’ to Dallas, it’s safe to assume all eyes are on the 2021 offseason, despite also being prepared to be opportunistic here in 2020.