For the fourth consecutive summer, the Dallas Mavericks missed out on their primary free-agent targets, only to overpay for mid-tier options instead.
After losing out in the sweepstakes for Hassan Whiteside and Mike Conley, Dallas had to resort to giving Harrison Barnes a four-year, $94.4 million contract. It’s a deal that will likely come back to haunt the organization long term.
While he did re-sign with Dallas on a two-year, $40 million contract, star big man Dirk Nowitzki seems a bit upset about the direction of the organization.
“We, as an organization, really have to begin to question everything. Is it me people don’t want to play with? Is it Rick (Carlisle)? Is it Mark (Cuban) and some agents and players hold a grudge because he blew up the 2011 champions? Nobody truly knows. Over the last five years, we have been continuously in for the truly big names in free agency, but all we achieved in the end was that we got them more money and a better contract elsewhere,” Dirk told a German newspaper recently. “As for me personally, I don’t truly care how much I make these days, my main focus is on playing for a winner.”
Dirk has a right to be upset here. He’s given up nearly $80 million to remain in Dallas over the past few years. That was rewarded with a first-round playoff exit last season.
In addition to Barnes, the Mavericks landed Seth Curry in free agency and traded for injury-plagued former Warriors center Andrew Bogut.
This clearly isn’t going to be enough to compete with the big boys in the Western Conference. That’s likely why Dirk himself seems so frustrated.
His questions are clearly as solid as it gets. Why aren’t these stars taking the large sums of cash owner Mark Cuban is throwing their way? Is there a culture issue in Dallas? What’s changed between the team’s championship and now?
Until the Mavericks are able to answer those questions, they are going to continue being nothing more than a bottom-rung playoff contender out west. That’s the harsh reality of the situation.