It's Groundhog Day for Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks.
Just as Bill Murray had to play the day over and over again until he got it right in the movie, Cuban and the Mavs needed to keep working the trade over until it was acceptable to the NBA powers. So here we go again.
Pending league approval, the deal works something like this:
Dallas gets Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, and Antoine Wright.
New Jersey gets Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Desagana Diop, Maurice Ager, and Keith Van Horn. The Nets would also receive two first round picks in 2008 and 2010, and Mark Cuban would write a check to the Nets for $3,000,000.
The original trade included Devean George and Jerry Stackhouse. But when George said, “Hell no, I won’t go!” the Dallas fans let out a collective “Whaaat!” like Moe Sizlack of The Simpsons fame. The trade was stopped dead in its tracks.
Further complicating matters, it was learned that Jerry "Big Mouth" Stackhouse said there was a backdoor deal of sorts; New Jersey would release him, then after 30 days, he would triumphantly return to the Mavs.
Although back door, under the table deals, are actually a long standing trade tradition in the NBA, Stackhouse forgot about the don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t open your big fat mouth policy and completely ruined the deal.
The Mavericks were discombobulated and in limbo. As Dirk Nowitzki mentioned at the All-Star Game, “its been a strange week.”
Dallas’s season and playoff hopes looked very bright with Jason Kidd at the helm and piloting the Mavs’ ship. After the deal looked doubtful, it looked as if Dallas had lost its captain and rudder, taking on water and sinking badly in the wildly competitive Western Conference.
Mark Cubans’ Mavericks were now ‘Lost’ on the island in the Bermuda Triangle of its own making—trapped in never-ending episodes of what could’ve been.
If Cuban created this mess, then Mark could surely fix it. Right?
Old Mark would’ve run on to the court at the All-Star Game during introductions, grabbed the microphone, and protested the Mavs were being cheated by the evil and conspiring Commish, David Stern.
He'd then go on to pay the largest fine in NBA history. In fact, it’s rumored Stern has several blank checks, already signed by Cuban, for the very purpose of paying fines.
The new Mark has learned that no crisis is so big and so large, that it can’t be solved by a simple signature on a check. And that’s exactly what Mark Cuban did.
No George, no Stackhouse, no Problem!
First he replaced George and Stackhouse with Trenton Hassell. Then in an unusual move, Cuban signed Keith Van Horn who had been out of basketball for two years, and paid him $4,000,000 to go play for the Nets. Wow, I wonder how long it took Keith to say yes to that?
Amazingly, the math works, if you're a billionaire.
Dallas' current team salary of $93 million will go to $97 million and beyond. That is close to $30 million dollars in luxury tax fines, putting the adjusted team, total salary near $130 million. But as Cuban says, "it's only money, who cares?"
But is it worth it? Will Mark Cuban get his money’s worth?
Let’s first look at the objective analysis.
New Jersey gets some expiring contracts and a budding star in Devin Harris.
Dallas gets a $20 million a year, wilting, aging star, Jason Kidd.
The Cleveland Cavaliers get nothing. King James can't be happy.
Next, let’s examine how the fan’s analyze the deal.
Dallas fans who have been jealous of the Lakers and Suns trades, now have their own swap to revel in. I have not looked at the Dallas forums yet, but I can predict some are saying "Oh no!" While the rest are busy singing, "happy days are here again."
Kidd can still play as he nicely showed at the FIBA Americas Tournament in Las Vegas last summer. He just can't shoot anymore. But does he really have to shoot when the Mavericks have Dirk, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, and Jason Terry? Getting them the ball at the right place, and the right time is Kidd's specialty. Kidd is still exceptional at moving the ball up the court in transition. Jason Kidd will help these Mavericks.
And finally, the real reason why the trade went down.
I know some are wondering if this is a deal in response to the Lakers and Suns recent big trades? Just a move to keep up with the Joneses? My take is no. Cuban would've done it anyway.
To get by the Spurs, Suns, Lakers, Jazz, Rockets, Nuggets and Hornets, Dallas needed more experience. Kidd brings that old school-type of play the Mavs need to advance.
But the real reason for the trade, is the fear of facing what Mavs’ fans call the "Nemesis". The Spoilers, sarcastically voiced, ‘That Team by the Bay’, coached by the clown, Don Nelson: the Golden State Warriors.
It was the horror picture show of a first round playoff series that scared all Dallas fans last year. It kept them under the covers, peeking out only on occasion, to be horrified by the score.
Avery Johnson can't even speak about the playoff loss. He only shakes and mumbles as he points to the west and says "Them."
Now the Mavericks have hope. An older weapon for sure, but cagey. Not as quick, but smart, very smart. A weapon that can possibly smote down those Nellies, as they run wild and flood the Oracle Arena with those silly up and down the court, non-basketball antics.
Will it work? Can Jason Kidd keep up with B.D., Monta, and Captain Action Jackson? Can he fully restore Dirk's mojo, seemingly lost in the playoffs, and only now starting to return? And can Jason and the New Argonauts lead the Mavs past the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland Warriors?
Stay tuned, it may yet be safe again, for those Mavs fans to come out from under the covers.
Don't fret, the deal had to be made. Punxsutawney Mark had come out of his hole and this time was afraid of his own shadow. Dallas as they sat, wasn’t going anywhere in the Wild West of the NBA playoffs.
It will cost Mark Cuban money—a lot of money. But as Mark says, "It's only money. Who cares?"
Author’s comment: Following the mulligan rule of writing, this is my second take on the alleged Jason Kidd trade to Dallas.