Q&A with Mavs GM on ‘The Week That Wasn’t’

DALLAS — In Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson’s first and so-far only full-length interview after ‘The Week That Wasn’t,’ on 105.3 FM-The Fan, he answers our questions about DeronQuest, Kidd’s flipflop, Nash-to-LA, Dallas’ ‘inactivity,’ ‘The Plan(s), ‘Shark Tank’ and most important, the future of Dirk Nowitzki.
“He’s a Mav For Life,” Donnie says.
The DallasBasketball.com/FOXSportsSouthwest.com Donnie Q&A … on the Mavs’ Top 10 Issues of the Moment:

1: On the subject of seeming “inactivity” …

Donnie: “We’re sluggin’ it out in the bowels of the AAC. There are lots of things on the board. We hope (there are helpful transactions to be made). We’ll have to see how it plays out.”

Our Reaction: The Dallas Mavericks did indeed hunker down in the AAC basement all day Friday and will pretty much do the same thing for the rest of the month. We’d be disappointed at anything less than 100 percent … though that “Shark Tank” controversy does beg for further explanation. Which we get below …

Now, Donnie said the words “bowels” so who among us won’t follow up with snickering “Beavis & Butthead”-like wordplay?

2: On the subject of the failed DeronQuest …

Donnie: “It was tough. We thought we had a good chance. … It was a tough decision (for him) and a close call. I can’t tell you at the end of the day what the main reason was. Maybe it was the excitement of a new city or arena.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Listen, that happens in sports, in business, in life. You’ve got to pick yourself back up and get back at it. Which we immediately started doing.”

Our Reaction: Among the things Dallas was selling that Deron Williams didn’t buy: The supposedly negative aspects of the Nets’ Joe Johnson signing. We can argue that that Deron “got drunk” on the fun of fresh signings of Joe and Gerald Wallace. The Mavs can argue that those signings were not CBA-wise. Dallas’ failure to make Deron see things their way constitutes a Mavs failure.

It’s impossible to discount $77.35 million vs. $98.77 million, though, too.

But yes, that happens in sports, in business, in life. Now comes “The Next.” (For exclusive details on that, check out DB.com’s one-on-one visit with Mark Cuban – “The Seven Deadly Sinners” — here.) But first, one more puzzler …

3: On the subject of Cuban’s absence at The Pitch while he was instead in LA filming “Shark Talk …

Donnie: “(Cuban) couldn’t control the scheduling and he’d made a comment. But more than that, Deron requested a basketball conversation. Mark signs the checks and was all-in on this deal. It was unfortunate that it didn’t work out but it (Cuban’s absence) didn’t make a difference. It was mostly an Xs-and-Os meeting that Rick and I handled because those are the things that Rick and I handle for the Mavericks.”

Our Reaction: The Xs-and-O’s portion of that explanation makes complete sense, and we were told about that angle early in the week. The commitment to “Shark Tank” is so difficult to swallow that we damn sure hope it turns out that Cuban was also in LA doing other “big fish” basketball business.

Yes, the Nets owner wasn’t in the country for their Deron pitch and the Heat owner wasn’t in the country for their Ray Allen agreement and billionaires have many irons in the fire. But for many observers, this “Shark Tank” perception doesn’t sit right and this reality doesn’t sit quite right, either.

4: On the subject of trading Dirk …

Donnie: “No. It’s not in the cards. He’s got a no-trade clause and we would love for him to retire a Maverick. … He’s a Mav for life.”

Our Reaction: This is the biggie. We would like this to kill all such discussion. Dirk is MFFL. There is a hole in the boat. Women and children are getting off. Dirk is a man. He’s grabbing an oar. Nowitzki does not need our pity (he is just 12 months removed from hugging Larry, you know). He is not a sympathy case.

He’s a man. He’s a champion. And all parties involved fully intend on Dirk Nowitzki being a Mav For Life. We really should celebrate and embrace that.

5: On losing out on the Plan B of Steve Nash …

Donnie: “When you make these decisions, a lot goes into it and everyone is different. With Stevie we had a nice presentation but he wanted to be close to his family while making a run for the roses. Three years was something that was important to him and at his age it was a heck of a deal for him.”

Our Reaction: The Mavs never “lost” Steve Nash; he wasn’t theirs to lose. (Well, unless you count eight years ago). Fact is, Nash’s choice of LA over Dallas was driven by a number of factors, including his desire to be close to his children (with his ex-wife now based in Phoenix. But note Donnie’s mention of the “importance of three years.” That suggests that the Mavs offered two years.

That’s CBA discipline. Might turn out to be a winner in Year 3 of that contract when the Lakers are stuck. But it constitutes a loser right now, for Year 1, because in Year 1 of Steve Nash’s LA contract, LA looks capable of absolutely crushing Dallas on the court.

6: On more moves …

Donnie: “We’ve got a lot of lines in the water.”

Our Reaction: This, DallasBasketball.com can confirm. Dwight Howard talks with Orlando occured as recently as Monday, DB.com has reported. The Odom $8.9-milion TE is a valued asset, we and the Mavs believe. Kidd and Jet could be sign-and-traded away for little pieces. And there are other clever ways beyond “Today’s FA List” to be considered. (Though the Sessions, the Cambys and the Randolphs are still in play.) Winning the sealed bid on amnesty’d Sixers big man Elton Brand is among those.

7: On MFFLs “staying onboard” …

Donnie: “It’s never comfortable when you have guys like Kidd and Jet leaving the team, but it’s the reality. We’ve been criticized the last few years for being too old, so maybe it’s time for an injection of youth.”

Our Reaction: We don’t want “youth” if the “youth” doesn’t have “talent.” Even if this is deemed to be a “throw-away year” with a roster full of LIBB’s, we’ve already got a D-League team in town. We don’t need two of ’em.

Unless, that is, you’re planning a full-out Spurs-for-Duncan tank season. Among the problems there: What if “Sammy Superstar” is made available to you in training camp? Or at the trade deadline in February?

8: On the media suggestion that Dirk “advised” Kidd to book for the Knicks …

Donnie:  “Dirk has nothing to do with it. It’s Jason’s decision. The reason we overextended on Kidd (with a three-year offer) was so he’d have the opportunity to end his career where it started. He’s been a special player for us … To have a true point guard is important to any franchise and important to a player like Dirk. We’re appreciative of Jason and what he did, but we’ve got to move on.”

Our Reaction: Simply put, Dirk did not “advise” Kidd to believe. He accepted Kidd’s decision to go elsewhere. He gave Kidd “his blessing” AFTER Kidd’s decision was made, not before.

One more time: Dirk’s not a ship-jumper. He’s an oar-grabber.

9: On the subject of being surprised by Kidd’s flip …

Donnie: “It’s a really personal thing. He went back and forth on this thing. It was really a gutbuster for him. Family certainly has a place. There are a lot of reasons. I don’t feel slighted in any way. We gotta take our hats off, shake his hand, and wish him nothing but the best.

Our Reaction: The Mavs were stunned by Kidd’s agreement to sign with Dallas followed by his phone call to inform them that he would instead head to the Knicks. It is a “betrayal”? Nah. It’s a business, as Donnie says. But it truly might be a referendum on Dallas overrating it’s “culture.” We’ll examine that further in the coming days.

DONUT 10: On the idea of “Just Do SOMETHING!” …

Donnie: “The worst thing we could do is sign players to ruin our flexibility in the future. Doing that would be the real disservice to Dirk. … We’ll be down here (in the AAC basement) for some more hours and days, maybe months, but we’re not gonna rest until we get this thing right.”

Our Reaction: Donnie’s point is that signing Michael Beasley for $8 million or signing Brandon Roy for $5 million aren’t moves that help Dirk win another title … so instead, they actually clog Dirk’s path to one.

It can easily be argued that this last week is about as painful as anything Mavs fans have endured in The Cuban Era. The 2007 collapse against Golden State? The 2006 NBA Finals against the Heat? This week ranks.

But Donnie and the Mavs don’t have time to mope. There is only time to get this thing right.