Title Defense? Dallas Is Looking At The Bigger Picture

12.15.11 7 years ago 12 Comments
At least we can tell Mark Cuban gets it. He knows how to throw a party. Over the summer, he staged a weeklong extravaganza that must’ve been the greatest postgame party since Dean Cain ate a few weed brownies and dropped some funk in a Harvard alumni shindig. Then recently, Cuban gave his players the chance to design their own championship rings. When asked by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd for between $150,000 and $200,000, per ring, Cuban didn’t even flinch. He knew it was a violation of rules – there goes David Stern again – and figured the plan wasn’t realistic. But I’m guessing if it was up to him, he’d have put together rings so luxurious, they would’ve made every other one from the past look like wedding rings.

Cuban has always been lavishing with his money. He’s turned Dallas into a first-class smorgasbord of entertainment and accommodation. Players sign there – and often for wild amounts – because they know they’ll be treated like kings by Cuban. This is a man who once refused to give Steve Nash more money, but then turned around and threw $60 million at Erick Dampier. Ever since buying into the Mavs just after New Years in 2000, Cuban has gone overboard time and again to try to win a title. When it finally happened last season, we knew he’d have to pull out the checkbook again. Championships pay, especially for players, and Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson (and Brian Cardinal but he doesn’t count) were all going to be unrestricted free agents either looking for one final payday (Chandler, Butler) or searching for the only long-term deal they would ever get (Barea).

No matter how much it took, surely Cubes would bring them back right? Or at least re-up Barea and Chandler? Instead, he said no thanks and waved good-bye as Chandler left for New York and $56 million, and Barea for Minnesota and $19 million.

How did he explain it? In an email to ESPN Dallas, he wrote:

If this were the old CBA rules, we probably would have kept everyone together. But the rules changed.

If we were able to sign everyone to two-year deals, that would have possibly changed things as well, but that wasn’t in the cards either.

What you are missing is that it’s not about the luxury tax. It’s about the ability to improve our team going forward.

The reality is that in the new system, cap room will have far more value than it had in the past. I realize that everyone is all freaked out about how and where free agents and future free agents are going, but it’s not just about getting one guy.

Cuban explained that in the new CBA, taxpaying teams are going to be in a world of trouble. They’ll have a harder time swinging deals or making adjustments. Gone are the days of throwing money around like Stephen Jackson in a strip club and coming up with something. If Chandler and Barea had re-upped for four-plus years in Dallas, then the Mavs were going to be stuck with this current team for better or worse.

So instead of coming back with the same team in an effort to repeat – you know, pretty much what every other organization would’ve done – Cuban signed Vince Carter to a three-year deal at the mini midlevel exception of $3 million (the last two years are only partially guaranteed). He also traded for Lamar Odom, an old rival, who is set to make $8.9 million this year and has only $2.4 million guaranteed of the $8.2 million on his contract for next season. Delonte West has come aboard as well for one season at the veteran minimum.

But Dallas wasn’t finished, and took this new gameplan to the next level. A few days ago, it was reported they sent Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to Denver for nothing but a second-round pick (even though they spent a first rounder just to get Fernandez), saving themselves another $5.2 million. Different? Hell yes. Bad decision? Ehhh…

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