The Curious Case Of The Dallas Mavericks

Sports are panic-stricken and fickle and impetuous, and resistance to this present-slated culture is success. Except Oklahoma City, Miami and Los Angeles flipped the script, proving that impatience does work. Building for the future used to be a nod-inducing intelligence barometer. “He has a PLAN.” And plans are good, if only because they can only be evaluated in principle. We’re going to build through the draft, we’re going to grow young players.

But now that’s not good enough. Going young is a three-year hiatus, and nothing more. Going young is, “we can’t win right now, so we’ll win almost right now.” A few weeks ago, I lauded Mark Cuban for hoping to hammer a fastball down the middle 500 feet. So he swung and missed, but that’s strike one. Next year he’ll make a run at Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, and he’ll swing again.

Except now he’s backtracking into childish petulance – a non-buyer’s remorse, of sorts. Deron Williams nixed Cuban’s hometown pitch for Brooklyn’s greener (basketball-wise) pastures, and now Cuban is claiming that it was all for the better. His reasoning is sound, in theory:


“The conversation we had going back and forth — and obviously the decision was to go for him — 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. And it’s not just your squad for this year. It’s your squad for next year other than the $3.3 million mini midlevel.

‘So that was a challenge that we had because we want to win, and everybody talks about Dirk’s window. Well, not only would it have been difficult to add players, then it also would have been difficult to 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?””

Dallas dismantled a champion for future championships – a courageous but ultimately necessary move, as the Mavs championship window was seemingly closed once it opened. But now Cuban’s preaching patience and fiscal responsibility and the future with his about face turn. But wait! He turned once again, saying this, via ESPN:

“I’m not going to trade [Dirk],’ Cuban said Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Ben and Skin Show. Of course, Cuban wouldn’t want to deal Dirk. And the Mavs couldn’t pull the trigger on a trade involving Nowitzki without his permission anyway, considering that his contract includes one of the two no-trade clauses in the NBA. But what if Nowitzki requested to be moved to a contender for the twilight of his prime? ‘Maybe I’d have the conversation,’ Cuban said. ‘But I know Dirk; he wouldn’t.'”

Well, then. Cuban’s playing all sides and no sides. Preserve cap space and stay competitive in the long run, but keep Dirk. You just can’t have it both ways. If Cuban wants to save face and not endorse his current crop of misfits and castoffs as plan B, fine. But to purport it as some sort of greater purposed plan is disingenuous. O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Dahntay Jones and Darren Collison are all throw away parts. Contractually, anyway. They are for the most part on one-year deals, which, surprisingly, puts them right back in the free agent mix in the 2013 offseason.

Cuban’s original plan, one that involved Deron Williams or Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, was the right one. It’s the one leads to championship contention. We’ve never seen Cuban give in to peer pressure before, or apologize for his brash management style. There’s no need to start now.

What do you think?

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