It all began on July 23rd. That's when Art Garcia published this article stating that Avery Johnson was looking for a contract extension. Nothing in the article struck me as surprising or threatening, but it set off a firestorm locally. I mean, why wouldn't Avery Johnson want a contract extension? But if you listened to the radio or read the paper on July 24th, you would have thought that Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson were bitter enemies and that Avery Johnson had already resigned as coach of the Mavericks. Garcias' coworker Jennifer Floyd-Engel won the hyperbole award.
He's not. He can't be.
I wasn't surprised, but I was ecstatic. Avery Johnson is a really good coach. You have to be to make it to the NBA Finals. And while I've heard some people say he was horribly out-coached against Miami, those people usually fail to mention that it was his first season as a head coach at any level or that he out-coached Gregg Popovich in the fake Western Conference Finals. Whatever happened in Miami, and I still haven't figured out what it was, I have no doubt that Avery Johnson will learn from it and be even better in his second year than he was in his first. Tim Cowlishaw put it well:
By the time those two deals expire, if those two haven't combined to bring an NBA title to Dallas, something has gone wrong.
"Disappointed would be a better word," he said. "The other one I'd use would be a cuss word."
The two players are similar, although it can be argued that Howard is more valuable to the Mavericks.
"The first number that came out [from the Mavs] wasn't anywhere near what Tayshaun makes," Howard said. "It was for five years, but it was $20 million less."