A fair number of fans because VERY nervous when it appeared the 2011 Dallas Mavericks NBA championship team was not going to remain intact. Instead, the word was Mark Cuban preferred to keep “financial flexibility” in the hopes of getting a superstar to complement Dirk in his twilight years, presumably Dwight Howard or Deron Williams.
And so, four key members of the championship team were only offered one-year contracts and opted to play elsewhere, much to the chagrin of many observers. Earlier this year I wrote about how no matter what the circumstances, this was the wrong move.
Regardless of the future potential it was a given that without Tyson Chandler at minimum, along with J. J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler the Mavs had little chance of repeating. Brining in Lamar Odom was supposed to keep the Mavs in contention and we all know how that worked out.
The 2011-2012 season became a sore spot as Odom’s catastrophic collapse along with injuries to Dirk, Jason Kidd and Delonte West resulted in a mediocre record and a first-round sweep by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For many who hadn’t originally poo-pooed the Mavericks lack of any attempt to try and repeat, hindsight became 20/20 pretty quickly.
But there was still hope going into last summer with the allure of getting Deron Williams and if not him, perhaps Steve Nash or Jeremy Lin. When that didn’t happen, followed by the departures of Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, things were looking exceedingly dim.
Surely then, Mark Cuban would have a slice of humble pie and say something conciliatory.
Instead, he doubled down. “”We don’t try to win the summer…we want to win championships.”
Umm…well, except for last year.
But anyway, fast forward to today. The Mavericks have done an amazing job, frankly, of turning an amazingly depressing start to free agency into what appears to be one of the better free agent shuffles in the league, upgrading 3 starting positions and the bench. Despite the naysayers, an objective look at the new roster leaves significant cause for optimism.
So what might throw a wrench into this feel-good moment? Could it be Mark Cuban saying something suspiciously nonsensical yet again?
Or is it just as Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com points out, after losing the two big fish, “you certainly had to wonder when the spin control would start. Well, the wait is over.”
On ESPN Dallas’ “Ben & Skin Show” Cuban said, “obviously the decision was to go for him (Deron Williams) — but the conversation was, ‘OK, once you add $17.1 million in salary to what we’d have with Dirk (Nowitzki) and Trix (Shawn Marion), then what do you do?’ That’s your squad… for this year…[and] next year other than the $3.3 million mini midlevel. ”
“… everybody talks about Dirk’s window…it would have been difficult to add players…trade players, and in reality that was the same problem that Deron had. Because he looked and saw the same thing and said, ‘OK, now what are you going to do?’”
So somehow we are to believe that this scenario was not vetted in the war room prior to making Williams an offer; in fact, prior to letting Chandler and Co. walk? Or more likely, that multiple scenarios involving Dwight Howard, Williams and other possibilities were not explored thoroughly? Instead, they made Williams an offer, which he rejected and now, in hindsight, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to start with?
< cue crickets >
Growing up in a time when George Steinbrenner was the most notable sports franchise owner and seeing my beloved Cowboys taken over by Jerry Jones, the highly visible and outspoken head honcho who rubs the fans raw is not a new phenomenon for me. I’m not going to do Mark Cuban a disservice by putting him in that category but the last few years have hardly been devoid of eyebrow-raising statements and actions.
At some point a little humility or dealing with reality would be refreshing.
It’s been many years since I happened to catch a C-SPAN conversation between former Utah Senator Bob Bennett and his opponent but I distinctly remember the challenger objecting to a bill which Bennett had supported and Bennett saying “yeah, we came out on the wrong side on that one.” It’s not happening in the political world today and apparently not in too many other places either.
In all likelihood the current roster is going to exceed expectations and if nothing else, provide Mavericks fans with a number of things they haven’t seen in a long time, if ever – starting with a center who can score. It may very well turn out that all things happen for the best, even if Chris Paul doesn’t end up in Dallas.
But fer cryin’ out loud Mark – we aren’t all owners of an NBA franchise but we ain’t stupid either.
– Craig Berlin