Any, every, all observers agree that the Mavericks are a long shot to get Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. Whatever else is true about the Mavericks' larger strategy, time has just not been their friend. Had Deron Williams been a free agent right after the Mavericks' championship, he probably would have been a Mav. If they had the Houston Rocket's salary cap situation this offseason instead of next offseason, they might have a shot. As is, things don't look good.
But as everybody knows, if you can't afford to shop at Nordstrom's, there's plenty of good knockoff stuff in plenty of other places. And so I present to you the hidden superstar: the case for Andrew Bynum.
Now, there are all kinds of reasons not to want Andrew Bynum. Mavs fans will remember what he did to JJ Barea in the 2011 playoffs. Dwight Howard might be obnoxious but he wants to win and wants people to like him. Andrew Bynum doesn't necessarily want either of those things.
But that's why the Mavs could get him. I've been talking with the MMB team, and we've come up with two big reasons why Andrew Bynum is the Mavericks' most likely option this offseason. Here they are:
1) Philly might let him walk, and even if not will almost certainly not offer him a full max deal
Okay, you're Philly. Last year, you made the first huge move in Philly basketball in some time, and ended up with a guy who could be a difference maker. But you never got to see if he was and now you have two choices. You can re-sign him to a long deal, crippling your cap space, and hope he'll be the piece you thought he'd be when you brought him in sight unseen. Or you can let him walk, take the cap space and the draft picks which come with being bad and keep rebuilding.
Unlike the Mavericks, Philly is a young team. A couple more years of picks to place around Jrue wouldn't hurt anybody. I think it's probably unlikely Philly offers Bynum nothing, he's too good an asset to just completely let go, but I can certainly see them pulling a Mavs-to-Chandler, one year, two year, let's see what you got, let's keep our options open.
Either way, they forfeit their home field advantage. The #1 reason Dwight and CP3 aren't going to be Mavericks is money, the extra year and cash a team can offer their own free agents. If Philly isn't offering that-and Philly isn't offering that-the Mavs can match any offer out there.
2) Andrew Bynum doesn't care about winning.
As Jonathan Tjarks pointed out in our email thread on this subject, "There are banks in every city" is one of the better quotes out there. This is the thing about bargain shopping, unfortunately-there's often a reason things are bargains. If money is the first reason the Mavs won't get Dwight or Cp3, winning is the second.
I don't necessarily think those two guys are right about that. I expect Dirk to have a big bounceback year this year. It may be naïve, but he hasn't had an offseason in two years and he was very sharp by the end of last season. And he's not too old. Look at what Duncan's doing right now, look at Kobe winning first-team All-NBA.
But with big name free-agents, perception IS reality. Deron Williams thought he'd have a better chance to win with Joe Johnson. He was not correct. But that doesn't make him a Maverick, now.
Bynum does not care. And that means he'll listen to the Mavs as well as he'll listen to anybody.
Now, do I think the Mavs will make Bynum a respectable offer? Not really. And I'm not sure they'd be wrong. Can you imagine Bynum blowing off Rick Carlisle in the huddle? Can you imagine, after a decade of the class and dignity of Dirk Nowitzki, having to root for a team built around a guy who has more than once dumped a smaller guy on the ground just for fun, once breaking Gerald Wallace's ribs.
But you want a superstar, I give you Andrew Bynum. The most gettable superstar out there, by far. It's not going to be a two year deal, he's not going to take a discount and someone is going to offer him a lot of money. That's the NBA.
He's not quite as good as Dwight Howard. While Dwight Howard finished third in the league in defensive rating last season, Bynum didn't even make the list (Elton Brand did, by the way 6th. Way to go, Elton!). Bynum finished a very respectable 5th in defensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage, but Dwight Howard aced both categories.
But this a guy who averaged 19-12 and 2 playing with Kobe Bryant. 3+ O-boards a game. And he's two years younger than Dwight.
Go big or go home.