The Dallas Mavericks are in a good position. They’re 15-5, sixth in the West, and have a solid group of players surrounding Dirk Nowitzki, thanks to a big summer in free agency.
But there may be some internal regrets about how the Mavericks went about building their current squad.
Owner Mark Cuban admitted to the Dallas Morning News that at the 2013 NBA Draft, GM Donnie Nelson wanted to draft Giannis Antetokounmpo, the now-famous “Greek Freak” with unlimited potential. Cuban said no:
“[Giannis Antetokounmpo is] making us look bad for sticking to our plan. That was Donnie. That (taking Antetokounmpo) is what Donnie wanted to do and I said we should stick to the plan. The whole point was that I wanted to stick to the plan and Donnie was like, this guy’s going to be good. I’ll risk everything that he’s going to be good. I said, I believe you Donnie.
“But still, what if all of the sudden we find out that so-and-so (free agent) is dying to come to the Mavs and now you don’t have the cap room. That’s why we put together a plan and our consolation wasn’t too bad.”
Cuban and the Mavs front office’s “plan” was to try to reserve as much cap room for free agents that summer. The Mavericks were going all-in on Dwight Howard, who later joined the Houston Rockets.
The Mavericks had the 13th pick in the 2013 draft, but traded down to the 18th pick where they selected Shane Larkin. There’s about a $US200k salary difference between the 13th and 18th picks, and clearly, Cuban wanted every penny.
The Mavericks had a quiet summer in 2013, signing Monta Ellis as their biggest addition. However, they used Larkin this summer in a trade with the Knicks to get Tyson Chandler, who’s averaging 11 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Cuban and the Mavericks aren’t alone, of course. Antetokounmpo was still a question mark in the 2013 draft, and he fell to 15th before the Bucks took him. Fourteen other teams also passed up the 6’11” forward who’s averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds per game this season.
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