May 25, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) hoist the Western Conference champions trophy after game five against the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference Finals of the 2011 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Thunder 100-96. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
It is still literally unfathomable to me that the Mavericks’ front office decided to dismantle the 2011 Championship team. As I wrote last summer, it violates every old adage I can think of and every tenet that comes to mind.
If the team had a better year last year and/or Lamar Odom had worked out or if they had successfully landed D12 or Dwill, that would not have changed my opinion. A gamble you win and a gamble you lose are still a gamble and my feelings have not changed: a bird in hand is worth two in the bush and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You can see the rest of my reasoning here:
“Move on already” you say and most of us have,or at least we’re trying to. Unfortuantely, with the rough season the Mavericks have had the justifications for the insanity have only increased. Coming from the front office, I’m not surprised; coming from journalists is a different story (no pun intended):
"“The potential reward was worth the risk. The Mavs needed to get much better to have a chance to compete with the Thunder for the foreseeable future.That was a case of a veteran team peaking at just the right time and a baby-faced bunch learning some hard playoff lessons. The lightning-in-a-bottle Mavs got to pick on their little brothers one last time.‘We…would not have won that series had he [Tyson Chandler] been here” according to president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the day after the Thunder swept the Mavs in last season’s firstround.’ “"
Even with the rise of the Thunder, I still disagree. Part of it is principle but what I wrote last summer hasn’t changed and in fact, it’s more obvious than ever.
While McMahon and other believe that decrying the exodus of Chandler, etc. is “hindsight” due to the Mavs difficulties post-mortem, I strongly believe McMahon’s position, which claims the lucky and aging Mavericks could not have competed with the improving Thunder, is nothing more than speculation.
The “hindsight” is in justifying the historically unprecedented move of dismantling a championship team. There is no reason to believe the 2011 Champs would not have had a good chance at repeating.
- They would have played together another year
- Caron Butler, a solid defender and the team’s second-leading scorer before his injury, would have been healthy
- They could have cut some dead wood (Cardinal, Dojo) and still added veterans like Vince Carter or Delonte West who made significant contributions last year
If last year had been successful, even without another ring, they still could have unloaded Brendan Haywood and signed someone like Chris Kaman or Elton Brand, or simply given that time to Brandan Wright and Bernard James (who both ought to be playing more than they are).
There is a valid financial concern over future years of luxury tax and CBA provisions that would have limited adding new young players to an aging team. For better or worse, that simply doesn’t change how I feel. You go with the guys that brung ya and if it doesn’t work out, you cross that bridge when you come to it. Something tells me there is enough creativity in the front office to make things happen even under difficult circumstances.