One of the silliest things you’ll hear this summer is that free agents don’t want to come to Dallas.
That’s become a meme that’s often repeated in discussions about Mark Cuban’s bold plan to create ample salary cap space by stripping down the 2011 title team. Never mind the facts.
The fact of the matter is it’s difficult to sign free agents if you don’t have salary cap space. That’s not exactly unique to Dallas.
The Mavs whiffed on Deron Williams last summer, although Cuban’s effort in that recruiting pitch resembled some of Josh Hamilton’s final at-bats in a Rangers uniform. Being 0-for-1 doesn’t constitute a trend.
The point isn’t to predict that the Mavs will land Chris Paul or Dwight Howard this summer. The odds are against Dallas simply due to the rules that allow for their current teams to offer an extra year and larger annual raises.
However, from weather to a winning culture, Dallas’ attractiveness as an NBA destination is an advantage to the Mavs. Being a top-five market without a state income tax is a bonus. The days of Kiki Vandeweghe refusing to play for the Mavs are ancient history.
The Mavs have earned a reputation as a first-class franchise during Cuban’s 13-year ownership tenure. That’s why Jason Kidd’s agent helped orchestrate a trade to bring the point guard back to Dallas in 2008. That’s why Shawn Marion’s agent played a key role in making a complicated sign-and-trade deal go down the next year. That’s why Tyson Chandler was crushed when Cuban declined to offer him a long-term deal. That’s why Howard had the Mavs on his very short list of acceptable trade partners when he was forcing his way out of Orlando.
That’s why there will be plenty of free agents who will want to talk to the Mavs in July, a list that perhaps includes the two biggest prizes on the market.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in an environment like this every night?” restricted free agent Brandon Jennings said during the Bucks’ trip to Dallas in February. “You’ve got an owner who’s so into his team and everything like that. Every time you see the Mavs, you see him cheering or going crazy. They won a championship. They’re about winning.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Mavs will win this summer. But if they don’t, it’d be foolish to blame a mythical aversion NBA players have for joining the Mavs.