Raef Lafrentz. Josh Howard. Antoine Walker. Antawn Jamison. Keith Van Horn. What do these names have in common?
They won us a title. Let me try to explain.
See, we can all agree on one thing: The go-all-in-on-a-big-fish plan didn't work. What people are disagreeing on now, though, is that Dallas has no shot for several years. You hear terms like treadmill of mediocrity, basketball purgatory, low-lottery hell.
After whiffing on two superstar free agents, Plan Powder didn't work. Now, it's time for something different. I get the sense most folks in the Metroplex don't like this new direction, but look closer: Cuban is doing what he does best. Let me try to explain.
When you think about it, there are three main ways to get players on a team. You can draft 'em, you can sign 'em in free agency, or you can trade for them. Dallas has historically really only been good at one of those, and while that may be disheartening, let's get one thing straight: You've only got to be really good at one of them to win a title. Dallas won in 2011 because the front office were brilliant at turning assets into other assets, not because they found steals in the draft or signed marquee free agents. Miami has won two because they're excellent on the free agent market. OKC is a good team because they've been excellent on draft night. No one way is necessarily the right way, and different ways work for different teams.
So when I see names like Monta Ellis, like Calderon, like Dalembert and Gal Mekel and Devin Harris and Shane Larkin, I'm not thinking we're going to have a four-guard lineup and Dirk is going to play center and we're going to win twenty games and the basketball sky is falling. I'm thinking that Cuban is giving himself some ammunition to use what's historically been his greatest basketball weapon: Trading players for better players. Josh Howard was awesome for a time here, but flipping him and some other pieces for DeShawn Stevenson's three-point buzzsawing of the Lakers and Brendan Haywood's crucial backup minutes in the post and Caron's ability to galvanize and motivate the locker room was much more awesome. Devin Harris was a pretty damn good young point guard, but flipping him for the savvy and floor leadership Jason Kidd brought was worth it.
After these past two summers, I don't necessarily trust Dallas to reel in LeBron James next summer, and I don't feel confident we're going to find us a Lance Stephenson or Tiago Splitter in the draft anytime soon. But I have no doubts that when it comes to flipping assets for other, better assets, there may not be anyone better in the league than the guys in Victory Park. And, lucky for us, it appears that's exactly what they're doing.
Want to talk about it? You can find me on twitter @garrettkingsays