Mavs’ front office should seek advice from…Michael Jackson?


1987 was a wonderful year.

For starters, yours truly saw the light of day for the first time and was brought to this earth. But from a basketball perspective, the Dallas Mavericks were just coming off of a 55-27 season and made it to the Western Conference Finals. Of course we all know the franchise’s story as the calendar flipped to the 1990s, but I digress.

Maybe the current Mavs’ brass, some 28 years later, should open up their time capsules from ’87 and look at the date August 31. In fact, let’s get more specific and look into our record collection from late 1987.

Michael Jackson, the king of pop himself, released his “Bad” album on this date – a record that set Billboard records with five chart-topping singles.

But the Mavs need to check out not one of the tunes that made it to #1 status, but instead one that was an anthem to people across the globe needing a pick-me-up in their lives. And lord knows, Mark Cuban and co. could use a pick-me-up right about now.

Here’s a snippet from that anthem:

“…A summer disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
‘Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer…”

Take heed, Mark and Donnie.

It is debatable whether or not the highly-touted DeAndre Jordan‘s decision to go back on his word should be considered immoral. By the laws of the NBA land, his decision, or indecision I should say, was perfectly legal and not completely unprecedented.

What is not debatable is the inscrutable nature of how he went in reverse from 60 to 0 from Tuesday night, when Mark Cuban last heard from the big man, to the point Wednesday when his teammates were trolling the Dallas faithful by tweeting pictures of DAJ signing a contract, chairs blocking the door handle to Jordan’s house, celebration emojis, etc.

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And while Jordan’s behavior has been the most criticized aspect of this circus-esque story, maybe we should all be taking a step back and looking elsewhere for criticism.

For Cuban, how about we start with the man in the mirror?

I’m not sure I can put my finger on why this continues to happen to a franchise that certainly hasn’t gone through great lengths to anger the basketball gods – unless of course you think these deities dislike Cuban’s outspoken demeanor.

But for one reason or another, the members of the Dallas front office have been cursed into making poor character judgments since winning that lightning-in-a-bottle championship in 2011, some of which negatively affected the franchise for a painful amount of time. Let’s take a look:

Lamar Odom – traded to Dallas on December 11, 2011 following the championship and the NBA lockout. Odom goes full-out quit on the Mavericks and is later investigated for charity fraud with wife Khloe Kardashian – which, being married to a Kardashian should be red flag number one, if you ask me. Add to the fact that Dallas gave up assets in the draft that made subsequent free agencies that much more challenging, and you have a move the crippled the Mavs for years.

Deron Williams – Pursued in the summer of 2012 as a top free agent target. Since taking a max deal with the Brooklyn Nets, he’s fallen so far off the radar that rumors have circulated about the Nets wanting to buy his contract out. And the biggest cause for concern with Williams? His lack of heart and a love for basketball (translated: personality concerns).

Monta Ellis – Signed in the summer of 2013. Probably the least guilty on this list, as he actually made strong contributions to the Mavericks during his two years in Dallas. He led the team in scoring last season, after all. But his career has been defined by character concerns as well, and according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, he became a cancerous force in the lockerroom towards the end of last season.

Rajon Rondo – traded to Dallas on December 19, 2014, almost exactly three years after the Odom deal, in an effort to put the Mavs over the top in a point-guard driven Western Conference. They broke up one of the most efficient offenses in the league in hopes of fitting a square peg into a round hole. The round hole won that battle, and the square peg eventually quit on the team – IN THE PLAYOFFS.

And now we can add DeAndre Jordan to this list, with his crime against the franchise arguably being the most egregious.

(and by the way, I left off a few other debacles along the way: remember Josh Howard‘s National Anthem blunder, O.J Mayo’s quit according to Carlisle, and Derek Fisher‘s touch-and-go?)

Jordan’s indecision, flip-flop, and gutless dodging of Cuban and “close friend” Chandler Parsons are not only indicative of another swing-and-miss for the Mavericks in free agency.

It more than likely signals a complete re-build for a team that has contended for the last 15 seasons – a re-build that could be set back even another year if the Mavs fail at tanking and ship their top-7 protected first round pick to Boston (thanks, Rondo).

It more than likely signals the last playoff game for Dirk Nowitzki – at least in a Dallas uniform.

It possibly signals the end of Rick Carlisle in Dallas, who is entering the final year of his contract and will be a hot commodity by contending teams in a star-studded free agent class of 2016. You don’t think he’d prefer to coach, oh I don’t know, LeBron James or Kevin Durant instead of a soon-to-be retired Dirk Nowitzki and Satnam Singh?

I don’t cast any blame on the Mavs’ brass for swinging for the fences summer after summer in an attempt to woo the big free agent to Dallas. The “go big or go home” mantra succeeded as of a week ago. Or at least the Mavericks thought it did.

But as Dallas begins what could be a very lengthy re-building process, the organization needs to look at itself in the mirror and try to recapture its former ability to recruit not just whoever the most talented player on the market is, but high-quality characters that have NBA-level work ethic and are not afraid to ride the waves of an NBA season and commit to basketball in Dallas.

The same character judgement that jumpstarted this enterprise by bringing Nowitzki – arguably the most selfless superstar the league has seen – and Steve Nash to Dallas back in 1998.

Dallas fans should be hoping that Cuban’s iPod shuffles to those famous opening lyrics from the King of Pop:

“I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right …”

Next: An Open Letter to DeAndre Jordan

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