DALLAS — I might characterize Mark Cuban’s post-Dwight Howard position as ‘stubborn optimism.’ Cuban himself would like his comments to be properly framed, presented in context and understood that to him, the failure to successfully court Howard is not necessarily damning to the Mavs. Here, I provide the owner with room for framing and context:
“What I said was that we obviously preferred Dwight,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tells DallasBasketball.com and FOXSports in an exclusive interview, referring to a much-ballyhooed remark about the club’s good standing despite not securing Howard as a free agent. “That is why we went after him. But that was a two-year plan because all we could add around him was going to be minimum(-wage) players.”
This is an accurate portrayal of Cuban’s pre-July 1 thoughts, when he did indeed detail Dallas’ so-called “two-year plan,” as detailed here.
In the owner’s view, a max deal for Howard starting at $20 million plus would’ve left Dallas scrambling to fill out the roster with “a minimum point guard, a minimum shooting guard, etc., and all of that would’ve been difficult to fill at minimum salaries.”
Instead, of course, the Mavs have filled those two particular starting spots with Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, respectively. DB.com’s numbers on those two players? We’ve got Calderon at a first-year salary of $6,791,570 to begin his four-year deal. We’ve got Ellis possibly starting as low as $8,087,087 for the first of his three years, meaning once Dallas gives him his max raises it could equal as low as $25,353,018.
Oh, and at center, our calculations on Samuel Dalembert means his two-year deal costs Dallas just $3,667,482.
“Not getting Dwight,” Cuban says, “allows us to fill in holes that we had from last year. It allows us to put more pieces around Dirk and get a potential star in Monta.”
Dallas is also adding Devin Harris (on what we believe might be a minimum-wage deal) and Wayne Ellington (on a Room-MLE of $2,650,000, we believe).
“Adding guys next to Dirk, Trix (Shawn Marion), Vince (Carter) and Brandan (Wright, soon to be signed due to his Early Bird Rights, possibly to a two-year, $8-mil deal) gives us a more complete team that will be better this year than if we had just added one max-out player.”
Cuban is acknowledging that this action represents a “Plan B” following Dwight as “Plan A.” “We had a Plan B in the event we didn’t get him,” Cuban says, “and I think we exceeded our expectations for that plan. We were able to go out and get really good players that will make us better sooner. With Dwight and the cap room next year (the ‘two-year plan’) we could fill in any missing pieces and possibly be better long-term. Which is why it was ‘Plan A’ and we went after Dwight. Longer-term, having the superstar is preferable.”
So it was on to “Plan B.”
“Shorter-term we think we have a better team for this year,” Cuban says. “All that said, I’m really happy with how things played out. I think if we stay healthy we are much better than last year. I think we can be pretty good.”