Imagine a stock market. You can’t, because no one knows what a stock market actually looks like. Google informs me that a bunch of people yelling, wearing suits, is either the stock market or congress. Pass on.
In this particular stock market, though, you get one bid for one of thirty items. There’s no rhyme or reason to when you get to pick, and what you get to pick isn’t the same. This is a stock market for "team centerpieces".
If you get "Dirk", "Kobe", "LeBron", "Dwight" or "Durant and Westbrook" your teams are contenders, until they get too old. If you get "Chris Paul", "Deron", "Rubio and Kevin Love" your teams just need a couple of other pieces.
If you get "Joe Johnson", you’re in trouble. If you can’t do that well, you’re the Washington Wizards.
The point is, everybody knows what you do if you’re a stockbroker with a crappy commodity, which is that you sell.
In the NBA, you’re either winning or you’re selling. The Mavs are winning. Don’t get confused about that.
But they’re also selling.
Mavs fans wouldn’t be people if they didn’t feel a little vertigo this year. That doesn’t mean Cuban’s wrong about this team being better than last year’s. Consider Saturday’s gutty win over the Hornets. It shouldn’t have had to b ea gutty win over the Hornets, the NBA equivalent of a grown man’s gutty win over a small child suffering from a painful disease, but there it is.
The fact of the matter is, in other parallel universes, that game was a lot worse. Consider:
The two high-scorers, with 16 points each, were Lamar Odom and Delonte West. Brandan Wright chipped in 6.
In other words, of the Mavs 83 points, 38 points came from new Mavs. 6 more came from Mahimni, who didn’t play basically at all last year. 14 came from Marion, the only old Mav currently playing well.
In Universe 2, where the old guard Mavs minus Chandler played the Hornets and you were waiting for the old guard Mavs---the Jasons for example—to make their impact in that game, they did, but mostly in terms of paint fragments chipped from the side of the rim.
The Jasons were 3-22. It wasn’t fun.
That’s how the Mavs are built to win now, with new Lamar Odoms and Delonte Wests and evolved Ian Mahimnis and Roddy Beaubois’. That wasn’t DEFINITELY going to happen, in any universe. Turns out it would be just as easy, in fact easier, to have salary cap space next year and have no Wests or Odoms at all. I’m not saying. I’m just saying the Mavs apparently lost to the Hornets 81-51 in that Universe. Apparently.
And even if you added a current Dirk Nowitzki to the mix, current Dirk Nowitzki looks like Lurch from the Addams Family, and you’d still lose 81-68.
So yeah, in that sense, the Mavs are better this year than last year.
On the other hand, in the Universe in which the 2013 Mavs played the Hornets on Saturday, things got a little nutty. Since the only Mavs signed through 2013 are Beaubois, Haywood, Marion, Dom Jones and Dirk, the Mavs lost that game 81 to 13, since contributions by players yet to be signed are deemed relativistically ineligible.
Which means that the Mavs next year could be literally anything.
(No word on what happened in the Universe where the Hornets had to try to kill a mammoth with spears made of a stone tied to wood).
That’s the thing that strikes me, at this moment. The 2013 Mavs are likely to be more different from the 2012 Mavs than the 2012 version is from 2011. Which is something to think about.
This may be the last year you see Jason Terry in a Mavs uniform. This may be the last year you see Jason Kidd in a Mavs uniform, though it’s relatively likely that Kidd would be willing to sign a 1-year veteran minimum contract to stay here. This may be the last year you see Shawn Marion in a Mavs uniform, since his contract would have to go to get big fish and he’s obviously not the Mavs’ future.
For all his ups and downs, the Jet will be the hardest one for me.
Think about it, that’s all. This Wednesday, when you see your Mavs receive their rings, and we all miss Tyson Chandler, DeSteve, and see Barea get his in a Wolves jersey, know that there is much more of this in your future than your past. That it all still seems so new, but someday, maybe, you’ll look back on the Delonte-Odom Mavs the same way you do the Chandler-Mavs.
And in all the thought of present and future, appreciate what is now, because we’ll miss it, too, pretty soon.
Enjoy these shadows on the wall, as they go. The future may be brighter, but it will be different.