Wednesday was like a bad dream, but it was one where you kept waking up and thinking it wasn't real. It was about as close to a scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street that you'll ever see in the NBA.
The Dallas Mavericks had DeAndre Jordan for five glorious days and the future was perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but certainly brighter than two weeks ago. Now, he's back with the Los Angeles Clippers and will probably be the most hated man in Dallas for a long time. No doubt, a dark cloud is looming over the American Airlines Center and the Mavericks organization today. It may never go away.
But we are a nation of hope. On this gloomy day, the lone bright spot is the man who decided to stay with the Mavericks in the first place: Wesley Matthews.
The plan was simple: Matthews' arrival in Dallas was, more than likely, contingent on Jordan coming to the Mavs. And it was all good just a week ago. Dallas had two meetings with the 26-year-old center, Jordan reportedly loved everything Dallas was selling and he bought into the idea that him, Matthews and Chandler Parsons could be a Big Three for the next few years, catapulting the Mavericks towards the top tier of the Western Conference.
Yet despite all the chaos and ridiculousness, between emoji wars and chairs propped up against doors, a report went overlooked on Wednesday. No matter what Jordan's decision was, Matthews was going to be a Dallas Maverick no matter what.
That's loyalty. That's commitment. And now without Jordan in the mix, that's ballsy.
Matthews isn't a superstar. He's a dynamic player who can do a lot of good things on both sides of the floor, when not cursed by the dreaded Achilles rehab. He's not a guy that will lead a team nor be Option 1A with the game on the line. He makes threes, plays good defense and is a very smart basketball player. That's what the Mavericks wanted, and that's who they got.
Who knows if he's even going to play this year? Hell, with all this talk about tanking, maybe Matthews sits out a year and comes back in 2016. But this is the Mavericks we're talking about, and tanking doesn't seem like a fathomable possibility, even with Mark Cuban saying Dallas would tank if it didn't get Jordan. The Mavericks could take the whole "we're just being cautious" approach with Matthews and have him sit out the whole year. That means more Raymond Felton at shooting guard, so that's entertainment right there.
I can't see the Mavericks tanking next season, even if they wanted to. And I'll bet my non-existent mortgage that Matthews didn't come to Dallas to tank. This roster now has a Big Three of Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Matthews. It's not a star-studded affair, but it's something to play with for the next couple of years.
Above all else, Matthews could've decommitted from Dallas if he wanted to, and no one would've been mad at him. Even Cuban made that very clear in the CyberDust message he sent out Thursday, but unlike certain players, Wes is a man of his word. That's something to be commended for.
Mark Cuban's CyberDust message to Mavs fans (he says there is more to come): pic.twitter.com/bTq1Jqz2qa— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 9, 2015
Even if Matthews doesn't play next season, at least it's a start. Dallas got one-half of the plan correct, but couldn't close the deal. Maybe this is a change of things to come within the Mavericks' braintrust (i.e. actually make the draft a priority). They didn't get the guy they wanted, but they got a guy they wanted. And the fact that he wants to still be in Dallas, no matter what, says a lot about the kind of player and man he is.
To Dallas, that probably means more right now than anything, especially with the Jordan drama. For at least today, that's a good thing.