Mark Cuban has egg on his face.
He was too smart by half, putting all of his eggs in one basket. He took a "rumor" to heart that Deron Williams wanted to play in Dallas and that Dwight Howard might come with him as justification to implode a team that likely could have been a multiple title winner.
He gambled away a title team on a loser who imploded Utah as an annual playoff caliber team.
There is no way to sugar coat it.
And it isn't the first Time Cuban has screwed Dirk Nowitzki out of playing on a title contending caliber team.
Fans who refer to Cuban as the "league's best owner" really need to think about all the times moves with Cuban fingerprints on them backfired on Dallas. I can think of 4 off the top of my head.
1) Cuban low balls Milwaukee free agent guard Michael Redd, giving Redd 1/2 the Mid-level exemption rather the full mid-level exemption. Milwaukee was very hesitant to go into the luxury tax territory to re-sign Redd.
Cuban had his own cap issues with the signing of Shawn Bradley and so he went cheap on an emerging all-star. Milwaukee matched, preventing Dallas from being able to throw out a starting lineup of Nash, Redd, Finley, Dirk and Bradley. I guarantee you the Nelsons were not pushing for a 1/2 mid-level offer.
2) Cuban letting the teams second best player Steve Nash walk because he had already grossly overpaid the teams's third-best player, Michael Finley, in a fan moment. If the NBA hadn't passed rules to allow teams to slip a bad contract that could have haunted Dallas for a long, long time.
3) Cuban overpays to acquire a declining Jason Kidd at all costs. Remember Dallas' GM Donnie Nelson went after Kidd, made his best offer, and NJ said no. Cuban had to have his man crush and so he stepped in and offered the kitchen sink for Kidd, totally imploding the Mavs as a contender.
Kidd may have been a hall of fame player in his prime, but Cuban traded a hell of a lot of pieces that fit well with Dirk to land a guy who was no more than an an average starting PG here. If Donnie Nelson doesn't find that Washington deal to erase Cuban's fan moment, Dirk's title days are over.
4) Shedding young legs Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez prior to a shortened season in a salary dump. Brewer proved he could have an impact in a playoff series. You don't dump those guys in their prime for no reason. Both could have helped this team last year.
Cuban is far from being the worst owner in the league, but fans enamored with his wealth do not look at the negatives. Cuban will screw up a perfectly good plan for financial reasons.
Thank God we have one Nelson left to clean up Cuban's mistakes.
The idea that great players want to play for Cuban just isn't supported in any way. And sadly that appears to be what this was about. Deron Williams was an acid test for Cuban's ability to draw top level players to Dallas. Once more, Cuban and the Mavs failed spectacularly in that effort.
Today also brings news that Oklahoma City has agreed to terms with Hasheem Thabeet. (It may seem a total shot in the dark, but elite shot blocking is valuable. As a backup 4/5, Thabeet may very well prove a competent rotation player.)
So LA and OKC got better.
As a Dallas Fan, I have to ask..."Are you kidding me, Mark Cuban?"
Jason Kidd? Again? That is your top priority now?
Who is he going to guard? Who is he going to get a step against on offense? He couldn't do it last year and you think he's gotten a year younger?
I hate this because it suggests Kidd will be the starting point because Cuban doesn't want to "gamble" "big money" on Jeremy Lin as the team's starter. Let's totally ignore the most that can be offered to Lin is four years at $40 Million. Hardly big money in NBA terms and not crippling by any stretch of the imagination if he doesn't work out.
Combine that with the reports that Dallas is interested in signing Brandon Roy, a player who had to retire because his knees were bone on bone and I can't read that as anything else but Dallas being too smart by half.
You guys don't want to make the right moves, you want to prove your evaluations are better than every other teams.
As a Mavs fan, I don't deserve to eat your hubris and I can tell you Dirk sure as hell doesn't.
A recipe for a title caliber team
This team need a defensive stopper at the 5 (or two), a better starting PG than Jason Kidd, another elite end of game shooter, and 1-2 better backups to compete for a title next year.
The point guard component
It's pretty simple at this point with Nash and Goran Dragic off the board. (Dragic has agreed to terms with Phoenix.)
1) Jeremy Lin
2) Chauncey Billups (and old player off a torn Achilles)
5) Delonte West (a very solid, tough minded backup for a title-level team)
12) Patty Mills (top athleticism in a backup with both a playmaking and shotmaking knack)
15) Jason Freaking Kidd (on a one year deal to back up)
You let Jason Terry, one of the elite playoff closers in the game, walk. I agree with doing that because Terry was really struggling the last two years in fourth quarters and you have to find out if one or 2 of Jared Cunningham, Dominique Jones and Roddy Beaubois can be a solution at the 2 spot. But if you think you don't have to replace Terry's crunch shooting with a similar big-shot maker, you are deluding yourselves.
Without someone besides Dirk who can hit a playoff game winning shot, this team isn't going anywhere.
Lin is by far the best player and safest pick on this list. Lin has proven he is a closer.
If Dallas offered Lin a back-loaded four-year, $40 Million deal he would sign and it would offer huge flexibility to Dallas financially. Dallas's key players are jump shooters or can get their shot off quickly, so the Dallas offense can easily be adjusted to maximize Lin on the offensive end, unlike New York's offense.
Billups is a hell of a winner and big shot maker. With the age and the injury he is a big gamble though.
West is tough and mature. He is everything a real contender could want in a backup point.
Mills would be a great guy to roll the dice on. I think he has Lin-like potential to breakout.
The Center component
I am keeping the list limited to proven defensive centers who can rebound and who aren't flakes or guys who have proven to be top 6-7 centers. Basically guys who can help Dallas win a title, not fools gold like Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier. You need a player with no drama who shows up every night.
Even though I like a guy like Spencer Hawes, I think he doesn't absolutely improve Dallas's title hopes—he is more of the gamble center Dallas has signed in the past.
1) Roy Hibbert
2) Brook Lopez
3) Marcus Camby
4) Joel Pryzbilla
Hibbert is more competent than dominant offensively. He also doesn't show offensively every night. He still does what we need (rebound and defend) consistently. He is also a little slow up and down the court, but really in a league where most centers are out of position power forwards, true centers will be. A sign-and-trade with Indiana may still be possible for Hibbert.
Can Dallas pull away Lopez? I really don't know, but it would very much be worth trying. Ignore last year's injury-driven numbers. Lopez is or will soon be a top five center. He is a very good scorer inside and everything else about him is still developing. Lopez was a very clutch scorer in college.
Camby is nearing the end but would totally work on a two-year deal as Dallas's starting center. He can bring everything Tyson Chandler brought to the table.
Pryzbilla would be the most physical center in Dallas in ages, possibly ever. He may be limited, but he would bring what we need.
I would also champion an end of the bench gamble on Greg Oden. That is a guy to sic Dallas's highly regarded training staff on.
There are a lot of guys out there in free agency who could help Dallas a little if the two above needs are adequately addressed. If title contention now is still a serious goal, the list of players is not that long.
1) Eric Gordon
2) OJ Mayo
3) Ray Allen
4) Jason Thompson
5) Jordan Hill
6) Ryan Anderson
7) Mickeal Pietrus
A sign-and-trade with New Orleans for Gordon is very possible.
I hate the idea of paying a SG max money as frankly they are rarely worth the money. I don't think Gordon is worth four years at $58 Million, but with Dirk on the roster and cap space, you have the flexibility to overpay a bit. As a trade asset, Gordon should weather the contract fairly well. Gordon has a reputation as reliable shooter.
Mayo appears to lack Dallas-level character, but he is a very good player who might be had at a reasonable price.
Ray Allen is a guy I don't think much of on the court anymore, but I can look at his assets and see him fitting in here.
Thompson is an active 4-5 with great height and solid athleticism. I think he could really help in Dallas.
Hill can score inside and rebound. That is always useful in Dallas.
Anderson can shoot and spot Dirk at the four. He may not be possible to sign.
Pietrus may be tough to convince to leave Boston, but he'd help in Dallas.
Don't do it for us...Do it for Dirk.
Dirk took less money to resign in order to give you the flexibility to build contending teams around him. He deserves a lot better than an cooked Jason Kidd and a hobbled Brandon Roy.
Don't hold on to your space for another year either.
Dirk really has only about three years left in his title window.
Don't screw Dirk.
If Kidd and Roy is your plan, you should let Dirk broker a deal out of Dallas, because you aren't going to be able to guard anyone and you won't win a title anytime in the rest of his career.