Monday, April 18, 2011

If I were GM of...The Dallas Mavericks

Britney Spears has a new song out. It's like stupid people. It's everywhere and you can't avoid it. It's called "Til the End of the World". It's your basic 2011 pop tune - a frantic, electro-pop song that sounds like it comes out of the hottest club in Bratislava. But the musical layering is actually complex; there's about 7 different synthesizers, including Britney's voice which is messed with a dozen different vocal filters to the point where she sounds like an electronic instrument.

Say what you want about the song - It'll make money, it will get people excited, and then in a few months, maybe even a few weeks, it'll be gone. But at the core of the song, beneath all the synthesizers and effects, there is one core tenant - the bitch can't sing. She just does not have a good voice. The foundation of the song is awful. And in my opinion, it's one of the reasons why she can't be taken seriously and it will go away. Cosmetic changes over something fundamentally awful will show in the long term. And this is the way that I feel about the Dallas Mavericks.

Now was this a good analogy? Was this just an attempt at an intriguing hook? Was this my inner gay trying come out in the guise of sports talk? Do I use too many rhetorical questions as literary pivots in my writing? To all those questions, maybe yes, maybe no, but I think it has legs.

For years, the Mavericks have kept on piling on and on superficial and cosmetic changes to their team, all surrounding Dirk Nowitzki. Now, I'm not saying that Dirk is fundamentally flawed - far from it. He's one of the greatest players of all-time, certainly the greatest non-American player of all-time (I don't count Tim Duncan as foreign because he's from a place called the U.S. Virgin Islands - please study that name closely and stop being stupid). The problem is that he alone is the core they are trying to surround with players. He just isn't enough. Year after year, they get players like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Caron Butler, Erick Dampier, Keith Van Horn, a 34-year old Jason Kidd, Antoine Walker, the list goes on and on. But NONE of these players have ever made a 1st or 2nd All-NBA team (save Kidd, of course), and none have made the 1st, 2nd or 3rd All-NBA team while a Maverick.

The Lakers tried this for a couple years and surrounded him with guys like Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Kwame Brown, and a 17-year old Andrew Bynum. Again, no one that has ever made a 1st, 2nd or 3rd All-NBA Team. And that didn't get them anywhere. There really only progressed when they high-jacked/traded for Pau Gasol from Memphis and won two titles. Dirk is on a time table. He IS the Dallas Mavericks and his window as an elite player is closing, so I think that Cuban has to mortgage the farm to try to win NOW. With all this in mind, finding another core player to surround Dirk with would be the basic tenant I would take if I were the GM of the Dallas Mavericks.

(Next season, the Mavs have 30 million dollars coming off the books, but will still be 4 million over the cap. They won't be able to sign any major free agents, so all their acquisitions will have to come through trades and a midlevel exception signing of 5 million)

1). Trade Roddy Beaubois now.
Well....that ship might have already sailed. Word is that Roddy would have been key to trades to Denver, Utah, et al in regards to getting another key guy to play with Dirk. Would the combo of Roddy, Caron's expiring, a couple of draft picks, Mahinmi and Tyson Chandler have gotten it done for Deron Williams and Kirilenko? Yes, this would might have deep-sixed the Mavs' title chances this year, but with an extension to Deron, they could have maximized Dirk's 3 to 4 year window he has left. Could this same package have worked for Melo as well? Could Senor Cuban used his business guile to convince him to sign an extension? That's all in the past now - the key here is trying to get someone good for Beaubois, and a combination of Jason Terry's expiring, Ian Mahinmi and some draft picks. Targets include Chris Paul, Monta Ellis, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard (maybe he asks out of Orlando if they get bounced in the first this year and they get off to a slow start next year).

2). Let Tyson Chandler walk
This is actually just to minimize the damage after the Mavs foolishly signed a guy that Shaquille once refused to call "Brendan" and instead "Brenda" Haywood. I know Haywood is ridiculously overpaid, but the damage is done. There is no reason to compound their situation by signing a somewhat redundant player like Chandler to the same contract while he plays the same position. I know that Chandler is the defensive anchor of a good defensive Dallas team, but Haywood is still a pretty good center who puts up more than serviceable per 36 minute numbers.

3). Turn a soon to be 35 year-old Jason Terry into someone else big or a cheaper version of Jason Terry.
Basically, they need to turn Jason Terry into front court depth or a cheaper version of what Terry does. Terry has an $11 mil expiring contract and Dirk's backup is the Immortal Brian Cardinal. As I detailed months ago, the Immortal Brian Cardinal looks like someone who should be in my dad's rec league, not on an NBA team.

4) Use the midlevel exception to find a cheaper shooter or backup power forward
Whichever trading Jason Terry doesn't accomplish, use the midlevel to sign a guy like Fat Glen Davis, Kris Humphries or crazy JR Smith.

5) Don't sign Andrei Kirilenko for $25 million dollars
I just feel like this is a terrible signing the Mavs would do. See Marion, Shawn.

Note: Many of these predictions are dependent on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement - so maybe we're just flapping our digital gums and throwing out strategies that will not apply in a year. But for now, this is what we have to go with. And it's our blog. Get out of here.

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