Some of you are so tired of talking about this, you may want to mail me letters made from words cut out of newspapers for bringing it up again, but I hope that instead, you'll just not read this column and enjoy some of the other great coverage MMB has to offer.
Others of you, like me, can't let this go and want to talk about it forever and all the time.
But really, this column is because there were a couple of discussions going on in the comments thread on part I of this series that really interested me--and that I want to hear from you about, because it has a huge, huge bearing on where the Mavericks go from here.
Very, very, very simply: there are two possible explanations for what has happened over the last two years, and the the Mavericks should make choices based on which of those explanations is correct. In short, one of these two things happened.
The Mavericks plan hasn't worked so far because events went in a direction that could not be predicted and in which it was not likely that they would go. Namely, there should have been a lot of star players (Dwight Howard, Chris Paul), who were free agents at the same time and because of the new CBA the Mavs would be in a privileged position to capitalize. In this scenario, the Mavs can't be held accountable for Howard's bizarre behavior, the risk-reward ration for the plan was good enough to bet on, and it's a good plan that didn't work out. Plan and simple, the plan hasn't worked because of surprising occurrences.
Or, there is the explanation I favor, which is:
The Mavericks plan hasn't worked because it was flawed from the beginning, and because of things that 100% should have been expected. In this scenario it wasn't that the expected crop of big name free agents didn't materialize as they should as it was the fact that the cost of what the Mavericks had to do to TRY to capitalize on this expected crop was too great for them to expect to be able to. That is, yes, in a vacuum a team clearing cap space to make a run at guys who would reinvent the franchise rather than paying a lot of older players a lot of money is the smart choice, for the Mavericks, given how much they are paying Dirk and Marion, the cost of getting down to the necessary level was always going to be too much talent for too little money to achieve their aims.
They couldn't know what would go on in Dwight Howard's head, but they absolutely could know that in order to have enough to offer slightly less than one max contract they would have to get rid of all young talent, the only good draft pick they'd had in years (till this year), and all but two members of the core of a championship team. This inevitably would, and in this scenario, did leave them in a position where, whether Deron Williams didn't choose them because they didn't have enough non-Dirk talent or because they couldn't offer him enough money, either was an entirely predictable results of what they knew they'd have to do if they wanted to go after Deron Williams in the first place. In this scenario, the risk-reward ratio swings dramatically towards risk and it was a poor choice.
In this scenario, the Mavericks' plan failed because of entirely foreseeable consequences of executing the plan, and it was a poor decision---not because no team should try it, but because of how poorly set up the Mavericks, with 30 million dollars devoted to Marion and Dirk, were to be that team.
Why This Matters
If the Mavericks were right about what should have happened, they should stay the course. There will be a time when a non-crazy-Dwight free agent is indeed on the market and the Mavs will be in an advantageous position to sway them with some sweet talk and a fat check. As Alan is saying good process can have a bad result but remains a good process.
If on the other hand the Mavericks were wrong to think they'd be able to swing for the free agent fences while they're paying Dirk this kind of cash, they need to recalibrate. They could wait till next summer when Dirk's contract is up to try to have their cake and eat it too but Dirk will also be 36 at that point. It is more likely a good time to just go back to basics. They need to stop buying players on discounts, first of all--although getting Lamar Odom for nothing, Darren Collison for Ian Mahimni and OJ Mayo for way less than he's probably worth, all three players have certainly shown the reasons they were available at these prices. Nothing wrong with making those kinds of moves, but a lot wrong with those being your big offseason moves.
They'd need to stop worrying about Dwight Howard and start worrying about getting a starting C. Stop worrying about Chris Paul and get a competent PG. Then, with whatever money they had left they'd have to try to get somebody like Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon or even old Mavs target Marcin Gortat--somebody with some flaws, but who would get them back to winning some games. If the fun and fancy way of getting FAs hasn't worked, they'll have to do it the old fashioned way: spending money wisely, yes, but winning games and rebuilding a reputation for being a place where titles are possible.
What do y'all think?