Found July 05, 2012 on Fox Sports Southwest:
In case you missed it, the Dallas Mavericks are finally close to signing their point guard of the future. Now, for the bad news: His name is Jason Kidd. With all due respect to the future Hall of Famer, this doesn't exactly seem like the "big fish" that Donnie Nelson talked about shortly after dismantling an NBA championship team. One of my pals in the media - let's call him Tim Cowlishaw - said Thursday in an otherwise excellent column that he doesn't believe allowing to Tyson Chandler to walk in free agency constituted blowing up a title team. Well, it sure felt that way to me while watching Russell Westbrook and James Harden knife through the lane while sweeping the Mavs in the first round of the playoffs. And surely the man with an Abraham Lincoln tattoo on his neck, DeShawn Stephenson could've at least made the Thunder work for some of those points. Oh, and there's that young Puerto Rican named J.J. Barea that emerged as a consistent scoring threat during the run to the title. Unfortunately, we'll never know what that team could've accomplished had it been kept intact. Mavs owner Mark Cuban sold his fans a bill of goods about the joys of "financial flexibility" in the aftermath of the NBA's new collective-bargaining agreement. There's something almost unseemly about a billionaire owner preaching the values of fiscal restraint especially one who used to laugh in the face of hefty fines for criticizing NBA officials. Whenever he chooses to address the Mavs' epic failure in free agency (is there any other way to phrase it?), Cuban will try to say that he never told any reporters that his goal was to land All-Star point guard Deron Williams. And we'll all know how disingenuous that is based on the Mavs' actions in the aftermath of the lockout. The fact that Nelson is on the record saying the organization was going after a star player will undermine Cuban's explanation. That is, if he can tear himself away from the filming of his TV show, "Shark Tank" in Los Angeles. Even his most ardent defenders were caught offguard by his decision not to be present for the sales pitch to Williams in New York. He basically sent Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and wait for it Michael Finley to slaughter during their visit with Williams. Since he hasn't commented on his decision to focus on his TV work at such a crucial time, I can only surmise that he wanted to remain above the fray. He didn't want to be part of a sales pitch that had little hope of succeeding. But rest assured, the man who obliterated ESPN's Skip Bayless on live television will have some sort of high-minded excuse ready to roll soon. Meanwhile, the Mavs' aging superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, is left to wonder what will become of the rest of his career. He's always wanted to finish his career in Dallas, but he probably envisioned a more competitive team than the Mavs will likely put on the floor next season. Perhaps Nelson will pull a rabbit out of his hat and make a trade we never saw coming, but this is not a team with a lot of valuable assets at the moment. It's still laughable to me that so many folks thought the Mavs had such a home-court advantage because of Williams' local ties. If Williams was so hellbent on coming home, it seems like he might spend some time here in the offseason. Instead, he's set up shop in San Diego, which makes total sense when you consider it's about 25 degrees cooler per day. A lot of athletes have talked about how many distractions come with playing in their hometowns, what with all the ticket requests and folks showing up at the house unannounced. The best hope for the Mavs was that Williams would jump at the opportunity to play with a superstar such as Nowitzki and an organization that has a much better track record than the Nets. The biggest obstacle was always the Nets' ability to guarantee Williams an extra season worth roughly 25 million. And by the way, it's not like the Mavs realized this component of Williams' recruitment earlier this week. This has always been the case, and that makes Cuban's cry of "financial flexibility" all the more baffling. He's basically used up all his championship goodwill with two curious offseasons. On Thursday, some of Cuban's apologists banged the drum about how the title team would've never been able to win another one. Well, I for one sure would've enjoyed finding out for myself. Nelson and Carlisle may be on the record saying the Mavs caught "lightning in a bottle" for one playoff run, but then what else are they supposed to say? They couldn't even afford to go "off-the-record" with a contrary opinion because it might cause Cuban to go on a witch-hunt. But in the interest of bi-partisanship during this election year, could we all agree that Cuban's plan has failed spectacularly to this point? I sincerely hope something happens soon that will vindicate the Mavs' steadfast belief in "financial flexibility." But unless you believe signing 39-year-old Kidd to a multiyear deal is a sign of progress, it's hard to have a lot of optimism.
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