DALLAS — Sometimes, schemes are judged on their merits by the outcomes they produce. Other times good plans can remain so regardless of their results. Often, success or failure is determined by execution. So, as Plans A and B – featuring clever usage of the CBA to pursue first Deron Williams then Steve Nash have flopped — how should we judge the Dallas Mavericks’s grand experiment to acquire a second superstar to pair with Dirk?
DallasBasketball.com first learned (at 3:08 p.m. Dallas time on Wednesday) the Mavs were in negotiations with both Steve Nash and his soon-to-be ex-employer the Suns. The Knicks were trying to engineer a sign-and-trade for Nash (maybe worth $27 mil over three). The Raptors already sold the farm in their three-year, $32 mil bid.
The Mavs wanted in. Their offer? We are told it is the $8.9 million TE they received in the Odom dump. But it’s the other end of the Odom stick that whacks them: Nash is going to the hated Lakers, with a packet of picks going to Phoenix.
Remember that the decision wasn’t up to the Suns, but rather up to Nash. Maybe Phoenix liked Dallas’ TE. But it’s what Nash wants … and word is LA helps him be close to Phoenix-based ex-wife and their children.
Dallas’ years and money may have driven part of his decision, too. But shy of every detail, this we know: It’s another decision that goes against Dallas … like the Deron Williams decision the day before, the DFW hometown kid spurning the Mavs and opting to re-up with the Brooklyn Nets.
To answer that question of how to judge Dallas, we must first recall the radical change in philosophy that was adopted prior to setting the superstar acquisition goal. Their efforts bore the fruit of perennial playoff contention and were recently affirmed by a championship trophy.
However, with the ratification of the new CBA, this approach was deemed unsustainable, and a radical shift in philosophy took place. Dallas adopted a new plan based on fiscal responsibility and cap flexibility in pursuit of a superstar talent, namely some combination of Dwight Howard, Deron Williams or Chris Paul. The latter two ultimately opted in for one more season with their current and thus, the quest became solely focused on Deron.
To make such an acquisition, Dallas needed to begin ridding itself of its salary commitments and would be unable to meet market rates for its free agents from the championship team. Thus, Tyson Chandler, the consensus best center in team history and heart of 2011’s squad, was allowed to walk.
Dopey move on TY? It is destined to be a Mavs Immortal Debate.
Perhaps Mark Cuban’s absence from the Deron pitch meeting did not affect the outcome, or perhaps it did surrender a chance Dallas had to demonstrate a key advantage: involved ownership. Mikhail Prokhorov and Cuban, functionally, are the same NBA owner in terms of war chests. To the eye of perception (if not the eye of reality) Dallas’s strategic advantage was squandered when Cuban opted to remain in LA to film “Shark Tank”/be closer to AgentLand.
The easiest move would’ve been to keep Tyson. What fan would’ve complained about that? What reporter would’ve dissed it, or bothered to cite CBA reasons against it?
So yeah, Dallas went with the not-easy move.
It doesn’t matter what the truth of the situation was, it’s perception that’s key, especially in sales. The perception that emerged in the last few days, at least publically, was of a distant Cuban and Nowitzki … Dirk in England for Wimbledon … while the Mavs’ were getting strawberry-and-creamed in negotiations.
Here’s a thought why maybe all Mavs hands should’ve been on deck: Is somebody going to tell us that Dirk in the room wouldn’t have influenced Nashie?
Further, Brooklyn was busy making a string of acquisitions to impress Deron. Yes, the Nets have painted themselves into a corner with the acquisitions of Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic, and Reggie Evans. Furthermore, there was the sexy breaking of fake-news that the Nets were still involved in Dwight Howard talks.
It’s easy to put Brooklyn in the rear-view. But Nash to the Lakers? LA is ever-present in a frame above the Mavs’ Fireplace of Hate.
So was Dallas’ approach the wrong one? Was their plan wrong all along? It’s easy to let your heart yell that but hard to get your head to prove.
Dallas thinks financial flexibility is no less important today than it was on December 25th when last season began. For now, though … cap space cannot score 20 points a night and lock down the paint on defense.
Roster flexibility cannot help ease Dirk’s burden and take over for him when he retires. Dallas is not crippled being stuck in bad contracts owed to a declining roster. However, currently, they seem quite impotent with only cap space as their biggest means of talent acquisition.
The powder is still dry, for what that is worth. A handsome use of the Mavs’ $8.9 million TE is still in play. Patience is a virtue … or at least that’s what Mavs management tells us and tells itself.