Memo to Dallas Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson: What Gives?

Jeff Little@@JeffLittle32Senior Writer IFebruary 29, 2008

The Dallas Mavericks took a while, but they finally decided to get in the game and make a late season trade for their former point guard Jason Kidd. The trade didn’t make the Mavericks better or put them on the same plane as the elite teams out West. It only made them older. Apparently, the Mavericks front office felt that the older, All-Star Jason Kidd would be a better leader, make better decisions, and run the team better than Devin Harris.

This may be true, but Devin Harris is a talented young player who is still developing. The much reported trade was obviously a reactionary move to remain competitive with the other fierce Western Conference contenders who made deals at the deadline. Five games into the trade, the Mavs are playing for their playoff lives in the Western Conference where every game is important. A two or three game losing streak could mean the difference between having home court advantage and not making the playoffs at all.

Then a strange thing happened in a big game on the road against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night.


A game that definitely had a “playoff” feel to it because it was close and coming down to the wire. The strange part was that Avery Johnson had Jason Kidd on the bench at crunch time of this crucial game?


Was he trying to prove a point to Jason Kidd? Was his ego involved?


Everyone watching wanted to ask Coach Johnson the same question, what gives? In less than two weeks, Coach Johnson has us all wondering why exactly he pushed for the Jason Kidd trade? Could Coach Johnson be a control freak and want to micromanage as opposed to relinquishing control to a veteran point guard? The questions I had in my mind stopped when I saw Kidd on the bench for the final two possessions of the game.

Keep in mind that this is the same Coach Johnson who said and I quote, “This team after the playoff collapses against Miami & Golden State needed Jason Kidd; a guy who knows how to finish games”.

Five games in and it appears that Avery Johnson forgot the new game plan or the company line. Down by a basket and coming out of two timeouts Coach Johnson called two plays that he felt would work better without Jason Kidd’s involvement. Both calls appeared to be isolation plays designed to have Dirk Nowitzki attack the Spurs defense from the middle of the floor. I’m also not buying the excuse that Coach Johnson was selling after the game stating that he wanted to make sure that Dirk was surrounded by shooters to avoid being double teamed by the Spurs. The Spurs are a solid defensive team and we all know the double team was coming.

A couple of things are troublesome about this situation. First, it makes no sense to state that you got Kidd to be your closer and at the end of an important game when you’re worried about his shooting? Second, Johnson called the last 20+ games of the season an on-the-fly training camp and if that’s the case why not have Jason Kidd involved in crunch time, especially at the end of a game with your number one rival.

This doesn’t bode well for the Dallas Mavericks and sadly this ordeal has proven to me that even though the year has changed, nothing has changed with the Dallas Mavericks. This season will end with a resounding thud just as loud as last season did for this team. When it ends miserably Avery Johnson will be shown the door.

A disappointing ending will also have every one questioning the future of the franchise, as most of it was traded to New Jersey for Jason Kidd. I love J. Kidd and think he is one of the best point guards in the NBA. Win, lose, or draw if he’s on my team he’s on the floor for me when the outcome is to be decided.

As a basketball fan I wanted to see more out of the Mavericks and gauge if the new look Mavericks were playoff ready—after Jason Terry’s shot to tie the game was slapped into the middle of next week, I had my answer. On paper Dallas should be an elite team, but  this recent loss was reminiscent of someone pulling the plug on the respirator of the Mavericks 2008 season.