Was a bit disturbed the other day to hear Mark Cuban offer this statement to our friends over at the Two Man Game (and Bryan Gutierrez in particular) in response to a question about whether the Mavs failure to go after guys like Goran Dragic last summer is something they might try to redress this summer:
""We don't try to win the summer. We don't try to say okay, we're going to give a guy a lot of money. He's got to be worth the money. There are guys that are team difference-makers and none of these guys that you've mentioned (like Goran Dragic) went to a team, that signed as a free agent, and turned them around. What kind of impact would he have on your team? End of story. That's it. How many games can he win me, if at all?"
The problem with that is that---and Cubes is known for his hyperbole, and probably didn't mean this-Dragic would have wn the Mavs a few more games for sure. I mean, for sure. This is a guy who in most respects compared favorably to OJ Mayo, scoring 14.7 to his 15.3, dishing 7.4 assists to his 4.4, and losing only 2.8 TOs a game as a primary ballhandler to Mayo's 2.4 as a 2-guard. May shot 45% from the floor and 41% from three, Dragic 44% and 32%. Dragic's PER was 17.5, while Mayo's was a depressing 14.
And it's presumably worth noting that Dragic got better as the season wore on, while the opposite happened to Mayo. But it's MOST worth noting that Dragic could have locked down a position of need for several years at a pretty cheap 7.5 million dollars a year.
You get the sense the Mavs don't want to pay anyone 7.5 million a year. They want to pay 15 million to a couple guys and 4 to the rest.
Like most Mavericks positions, it's actually a very reasonable stance and a very good strategy. As last year's OKC-Heat Finals showed anyone who still needed convincing, having three really great players and a bunch of scrubs is considerably superior to having one or two and some good players.
However, it's a reasonable stance based on the idea that there are enough great players to go around. It's not that it's a bad idea for the Mavs to wait for their guy-some of the writers around here think it's exactly what they should do. If it does work out, it would be the best possible solution
It's just that 30 teams are trying to get that guy every year, 30 franchises are trying to win the championship every year. There's one LeBron, one Durant, one CP3. One Dirk Nowitzki.
Even the very best strategies have to look into their hearts, calculate probabilities and timelines and decide whether a worse strategy might be the hero Gotham needs, if not the one it deserves.It took the Mavs 17 years to land Dirk and not for lack of trying. How long will it be before they land the next one?
None of this, by the way, should be read as me attacking OJ, or blowing up Goran Dragic. Both are nice players with some drawbacks and no certain future, and I happen to still have a lot of hope for OJAM, much more than is justified.
Plus I don't exactly thing Cuban is sharing his innermost thoughts with any of us, plus, I think Cuban and you and I both like to project the idea that he's the GM but technically he isn't and I bet he and Donnie are both happier having him be the front man to the media about this stuff whatever the internal dynamics. So all these thoughts aren't worth all that much.
I just keep hearing the wallet is open, I keep hearing that Dirk needs them to make something happen, that Donnie and Cuban and Carlisle consider this year unacceptable. But I keep thinking the smart money is more than against signing Dwight and Chris Paul, and if they don't, and they don't like a Dragic at 7.5 mil for 2 more years and a player option, who would they sign?
Oh me of little faith, but I don't feel like lowballing guys because they SHOULDN'T take up as much cap as they're going to for somebody is going to get it done.
It is VERY likely that the new CBA will squeeze the NBA's middle class, will result in a world of 15 millions and 4 millions to a certain degree. Until it happens, the front office is going to keep having Mike Jameses instead of Goran Dragix, for better or for worse. I mean, I think.