DALLAS — If the Dallas Mavericks are to return to the top of the basketball mountain in the next two years then it will all be according to proprietor Mark Cuban’s plan.
Saturday, while beginning to make his radio rounds, Cuban took the time to break down the Mavericks’ two-year plan to return to an elite level beginning this summer as he and the Dallas front office tries to lure top-tier free agents to Dallas. And after seeing his team miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 years following a 41-41 season, Cuban made it clear that he will work tirelessly to help the franchise claim its second NBA championship while also exploring all options.
“We want to be a championship team. We’ve never said we have to be a championship team this year,” Cuban told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Saturday in his first interview since the season finale. “We want to be a better team, a top-seed team. If we get the top free agent, that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of flexibility to add a lot of players, but we have a good nucleus around them. We know we’ll have a good team, but we won’t know if we have a great team.
“If you look at this like a two-year plan, then we think we’re on a track to have a great team by the end of next year.”
Heading into this summer with financial flexibility for the second straight offseason and also armed with the 13th selection in the first round of next month’s draft, Cuban and the Mavs will undoubtedly be in a position to upgrade their talent level and make a play for a big fish in the free-agent pond. However, just two seasons removed from capturing the 2011 title, the Mavs may have to make more than one significant move in order to add the building blocks necessary to bring Cuban’s declaration to fruition.
Currently, the Mavs have just six players — veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter and a trio of rookies — under contract heading into next season. Dallas also finished its second straight season with a bevy of players on the last year of their contracts, a formula that hasn’t boded well for the Mavs after their title run ended with a first-round playoff series sweep last season during the lockout-shortened year before missing the postseason all together in the ’12-13 campaign.
And with that in mind, Cuban and the Mavs’ brass will try to begin putting the pieces together to once again contend with the league’s upper-echelon squads, keeping in mind the two-year window.
“We can go out there and get guys that are really good players that want to come here, whose agents have suggested that they’d really love to come to Dallas,” he continued. “We can go put together a good team and see what we’ve got. If it doesn’t work, with Dirk and Marion coming off the books (at the end of next season), with the stretch provision and contracts, we still have the opportunity to go after two max free agents (next summer) if we’re willing to take the hit on the stretch. I’m willing to do that.”
He added: “There’s so many different ways and permutations that I don’t think we can say if we don’t get Free Agent A, B and C that this summer is a failure. … There’s a lot of different options, and we have to explore all of them. I’m not about winning the summer; I’m about trying to do what I think is best for the franchise.”