Editors note: Welcome to “How I’d fix the Mavericks,” a semi-weekly column in which Mavs Moneyball staffers share their big ideas about how to make the Mavericks contenders again. These ideas will sometimes be serious and other times humorous. Let us know what you think in the comments!
The Dallas Mavericks have one of the worst records in the league. They have the worst clutch-time record (1-13) in the NBA, and three out of the four worst two-man lineups in the NBA are core Mavericks players. The team is also on pace to have their worst record since 1994 when they won 13 games. And worst of all, they’re putting their own fans to sleep.
Despite drafting Dennis Smith Jr., this season has started out as bad as last season and the Mavericks need some help. Recently, after an exceptionally bad loss, I was watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver who just so happened to be running a story on corporate consolidation. And sure, it sounds terrifying in real life, but it gave me an idea that I think could get the Dallas Mavericks back on the right track.
Hear me out on this one:
The ownership situation in Memphis is shaky. Mike Conley is out, and they just fired a guy everyone thinks is a great coach. As the losses mount, what if the fans respond to all of this “organic tanking” with a boycott, launching a powerful online movement that unites the once loyal grit-and-grind fan base and brings ticket sales to a halt?
Memphis is already the one of the smallest media markets in the NBA, so (in this hypothetical scenario) the boycott completely derails the business side of the Memphis Grizzlies. With the Grizzlies owner going through a bit of situation himself, he’s unable to devote any attention or financial resources to his NBA franchise.
All of the sudden, the Grizzlies become a toxic organization. Employees stop receiving checks, the players stop showing up in protest, and games start getting cancelled. After a month or so, the Grizzlies are hemorrhaging a historic amount of money and accruing more debt than the average student loan, which is already enough to keep me up at night. In this (again, completely hypothetical) scenario, the Grizzlies’ financial situation is now so dire that the owners call an emergency meeting.
Adam Silver stands in front of the 30 majority owners and explains that not even revenue sharing can save the Grizzlies. The franchise has accrued so much debt that it needs a bailout, the team can’t just transfer to a new city, and if one of the owners would take on this franchise, there would be extensive perks for that team.
The owners are left in complete silence. With franchise valuations in the billions, who could possibly fit a bill this steep? Who would attempt such a risky investment?
Cue *SHARK TANK THEME*. Mark Cuban hears his music and, after shushing Steve Balmer, rises to his feet triumphantly.
In exchange for bailing out the team financially, Cuban and the Mavericks are allowed to absorb the Grizzlies. In exchange for being shushed by Mark Cuban, Balmer proposes a Seattle expansion team and sells the Clippers (at only a slight loss) to revive the Seattle Supersonics in his hometown.
As part of the deal, the Mavericks are allowed to decide which players from the Dallas and Memphis rosters they want to retain; the others may be amnestied. The only stipulations are that they cannot have more than 15 players and cannot become the highest paid roster in the NBA.
Now the Mavericks have to decide which players they’re going to keep from each team. Here’s what they have to work with (all dollar amounts are in millions):
Mavs & Grizzlies Players
|James Ennis III||$3.02|
|Dennis Smith Jr.||$3.21|
There are six players who should obviously not survive this transition: Chandler Parsons, Dwight Powell, Josh McRoberts, Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, and Jeff Withey. The random bench players from the former Grizzlies are also pretty easy cuts, so we’ll say farewell to James Ennis III, Jarrell Martin, Mario Chalmers, Wayne Selden, Andrew Harrison, Deyonta Davis, and Ivan Rabb.
This leaves the new Mavericks with a roster that at least looks like a Western Conference playoff contender:
New Depth Chart
|G||Mike Conley||Dennis Smith Jr.||J.J. Barea|
|G||Wes Matthews||Seth Curry||Yogi Ferrell||Dillon Brooks|
|W||Harrison Barnes||Tyreke Evans||Devin Harris|
|B||Dirk Nowitzki||Jamychal Green||Maxi Kleber|
|B||Marc Gasol||Salah Mejri|
The New Mavericks are also only the fourth highest payroll in the NBA behind the Cleveland Cavaliers ($137.08 million), Golden State Warriors ($136.54 million), and Oklahoma City Thunder ($133.85 million).
New Mavs Cap Sheet
|Dennis Smith Jr.||$3.21|
If Marc Gasol and Rick Carlisle see eye to eye, Gasol could easily return to All-NBA form. Now under the care of the excellent Mavericks training staff, Mike Conley recovers from his Achilles injury better than ever. The Mavericks now have two All-Star level players to pair with Barnes, Matthews, and Nowitzki in the starting unit.
The bench unit becomes super fun with Dennis Smith Jr., Seth Curry, Tyreke Evans, Salah Mejri, and JaMychal Green, among others. The addition of Green also allows Dirk to limit his minutes starting the game, and one of the best lineups in the league remains as the third unit with Maxi Kleber replacing Dwight Powell.
It’ll never happen, but if Mark Cuban really wants to help the Mavericks return to the playoffs, he might just have to get creative on the business side.