When wondering why Mark Cuban won’t consider trading Dirk, it’s as simple as that—he is the Mavericks. Even at 35, he represents everything Dallas wants to stand for, everything that Cuban is looking for in a franchise superstar.
Asked on the Artie Lange show why he wouldn’t trade Nowitzki, that’s more or less what Cuban said, according to The Dallas Morning News:
Dirk defines our culture. When your best player, no matter how old, is the first one in the gym and the last to leave, and works the hardest and encourages guys the way Dirk does … that has a value that goes far beyond what you see on the court.
There isn’t a team in the NBA that doesn’t want its best player to display that type of work ethic. The same kind that shows he’s a leader, and he’s not going anywhere. To look at your cornerstone and know he’s that reliable, to know he’s that committed to winning and the team and general is comforting.
It’s also nothing new in Dallas. All 15 of Nowitzki’s NBA seasons have been spent with the Mavs. Neither he nor they knows anything different. He’s been praised for his devotion and leadership qualities before, and he’s the reason Dallas shocked everyone in 2011. That championship isn’t won without him. And those 12 consecutive playoff berths aren’t clinched without him either.
Teams don’t trade those types of players, the lifers if you will. The Los Angeles Lakers would never trade Kobe Bryant and the San Antonio Spurs would never deal Tim Duncan. When a player has been with a team for that long, for his entire career, that’s just how it is.
But that doesn’t mean things won’t change.
Cuban doesn’t have any plans to trade Dirk. And he shouldn’t. At full strength, he’s still one of the more dangerous scorers in the league, someone who continues to give the Mavs an outside chance at securing a postseason appearance.
The feeling is mutual too. Dirk hasn’t said or done anything to suggest he would rather play elsewhere. Finishing his career in Dallas has to be priority No. 1. That’s what I believe.
I also believe that he’s done with wallowing in mediocrity. Since winning the title in 2011, the Mavs have been nothing more than a middling outfit, headed for an early postseason exit or, in last year’s case, no playoff berth at all. There’s no way he wants to dwell in that uninteresting purgatory for another few years.
Sadly, there’s no escaping mediocrity for the Mavs. Try as they might to sign another superstar this summer, it didn’t happen. Just like last summer. They wound up with Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon instead of Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. Their current roster wasn’t a part of the master plan.
What if Dirk gets sick of it? Not of Dallas, but of losing? Of not making the playoffs? Of not contending for a championship?
Nowitzki is a free agent at season’s end, at which point he can sign with another team of his choosing if the Mavs haven’t played up to snuff for the third consecutive year. Or he could even request a trade midway through 2013-14, when it becomes clear Dallas isn’t making a strong postseason push.
Though it seems almost cruel or impossible to believe he’d inevitably plan his exit, it is possible. If the Mavs can’t give him what he wants, don’t expect him to stick around.
Don’t expect to continue representing the current culture when Cuban himself knows Dirk should spearheading something more competitive and more important.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.