Taylor: All-or-nothing free-agency period for Mark Cuban, Mavericks

Let's remove any and all ambiguity as it pertains to the Dallas Mavericks and free agency, which now is open.

This is an all-or-nothing free-agency period for the Mavs.


The Mavs either persuade DeAndre Jordan or LaMarcus Aldridge -- both ridiculous to even dream about -- to join the team this season, or we all need to accept that the end is upon us.

Understand, the Mavs have had a glorious run over the past 15 years, especially considering they were the NBA’s worst franchise in the early 1990s.

The Mavs have been among the league’s model franchises since Mark Cuban bought the team in 2000. They've had nine 50-win seasons, three 60-win seasons and an NBA championship in 2011.

Dirk Nowitzki has provided too many fantastic moments to list and will end his career as one of the all-time greats.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has milked every ounce of potential out of this team each season.

Cuban has spent money.

And overall, the Mavs have made considerably more good decisions than bad decisions.

That said, they’ve never recovered from Cuban outsmarting himself in his quest to position the Mavs to add a key free agent and blowing up the championship team in the process.

It’s really the only promise he hasn’t kept.

Oh he has tried, but Cuban hasn’t delivered the big prize.

During the past few years, the Mavs have whiffed on Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony.

They've had good chances to get some of those players and virtually no chance to acquire others. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is they haven't added the "big fish" Cuban figured they would eventually land when he dismantled the title team.

Well, this is probably his last chance to get the elite player the Mavs need to help Dirk finish his career on a championship contender instead of a fringe playoff team.

Aldridge is the long shot. No one really expects the hometown kid from Seagoville High School to sign with the Mavs, because he has a litany of teams vying for his services and most of them have better supporting casts than Dallas'.

The Portland Trail Blazers are a fine, young squad, so it's hard to see him leaving them for a team that isn’t as good.

And he would have more help in Portland with Damian Lillard than he would in Dallas with an aging Dirk, who also would have to come off the bench if Aldridge signed.

Aldridge is set to meet with the Mavs on Wednesday, according to sources.

The Mavs seem to have a much better shot at signing Jordan, who is good friends with Chandler Parsons and yearns to be more than the third option on the Los Angeles Clippers, behind Paul and Blake Griffin.

League sources said the Mavs met with Jordan and Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews in Los Angeles as free agency opened at midnight ET on Wednesday.

The Mavs will always be a solid offensive team under Carlisle, but Jordan would give them a legitimate rim-protector and rebounder. He would give them the kind of nastiness they've often lacked, as well as an infusion of youth.

He doesn’t make them a championship team, but he makes them a solid playoff team.

Frankly, the surprise over the years is how Cuban has been unable to persuade big-time free agents to join the Mavs. Don't forget, that was supposed to be one of his strengths.

He was an excitable dude, a player's owner who could and would connect with his team. He had PlayStations installed in every player's locker along with other amenities that were supposed to give the Mavs an edge in recruiting.

There is no state income tax in Texas, and the cost of living in Dallas-Fort Worth is great compared to most of the country's other big cities. Either coast is just three hours away, the weather is usually terrific, and there are plenty of wonderful golf courses.

Still, none of that has translated into the Mavs' getting the best free agents to sign on the dotted line.

Cuban has one more opportunity to get it done. Or we’ll bid adieu to a wonderful era of basketball.