The Dallas Mavericks may not have max-level cash to spend, but that won't stop them from pursuing max-level free agents this summer.
Per Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told 103.3 FM's ESPN Dallas Gameday: "We're going to swing for the fences. I think some of these guys are opting out just to create leverage, and they'll go back. Then there's some that really want to go to different teams. We'll try to put ourselves in position to get them."
With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade opting out of their contracts with the Miami Heat—and Chris Bosh expected to follow, per ESPN's Chris Broussard (via Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne)—there will certainly be stars on the market.
Toss in Carmelo Anthony and his free-agent status, plus a load of second-tier options that includes Kyle Lowry, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Luol Deng, and you've got a vast array of options for the Mavs to pursue.
In fact, according to Stein and McMahon, both Gasol and Deng are already on Dallas' radar.
On first hearing Cuban's comments, it might seem like the desire to pursue big names without the ability to offer big money doesn't square. Adding Tyson Chandler in a trade further shrunk Dallas' available cap space, and it remains to be seen how significant Dirk Nowitzki's pay cut will be.
Really, though, Cuban's bold approach is just an extension of what Dallas has been successfully doing for the past couple of seasons. It has shown a real knack for finding undervalued assets and paying them reasonably. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon were the two most recent examples of that practice.
The Mavericks are smart opportunists who look for chances to exploit undervalued commodities, but they also have some built-in advantages to their sales pitches—advantages that might make it possible to snare top-end free agents at below-market prices.
In addition to fielding consistently competitive teams, the Mavericks also have a reputation as a franchise that takes great care of its players, offering perks and creature comforts that are second to none. Plus, ownership has always been committed to winning, and, according to Cuban, there's something else Dallas can offer that most clubs can't:
If you look at other teams with cap room and then you just look at their coach and if they've made the playoffs, you look at how their playoff runs went, you're not looking at them and saying, 'Wow, that team really ... .' I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but their coaches are not as good as Rick Carlisle.
Coaching excellence should appeal to any free agent, and it's worth mentioning that even someone as seemingly out of reach as James might see the value in what Carlisle did for the Mavs last year.
Per B/R's Zach Buckley: "Dallas more than held its own in a seven-game slugfest with the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. That's a claim none of San Antonio's other playoff opponents could make—not even the Heat."
What the Mavericks are attempting is, without question, a long shot. But if any organization can get away with pitching less than max money to max-level players, it's probably the Mavs.