I seem to make a habit of criticizing owner Mark Cuban, GM Donnie Nelson, and the rest of the Maverick front office with my annual helpful strategies, excessive research on team problems, and then putting my ideas/frustrations on paper. And yet Mark and/or Donnie still haven’t gotten back to me. Alas, here we go again.I started doing this a few years back, before Dallas won their sole NBA title.
I’ve taken an in-depth look at how Dallas can get back into the groove of things this off-season. It’s not so much a human factor, but more of a logistical way of thinking about this summer for Dallas. I look forward to a thank you e-mail from the Dallas front office…someday.
First off, Dallas has a list of widespread problems that are well known and still can be easily fixed (even if you remember last season’s repeated failures to land Deron Williams and Dwight Howard). Rest assured, none of them have to do with the coaches or the front office. Despite my critiques of everything, Cuban (and you don’t have to agree with his comments) is still the best owner in the NBA, Nelson is a fabulous GM, and Rick Carlisle is a good defensive mind with a solid rap sheet. So that leaves the players. And we’re off…
Without a doubt, do whatever possible to keep O.J. Mayo. He’s a solid starter that will only progress with time. He has the capability to be a perennial All-Star, if coached to that level (assuming his consistency improves with time). So to start off with a cap of 58.044 million, we say O.J. declines his player option to opt for a bigger contract. I am also a firm believer in back-loaded contracts in order to rebuild a team in order to restore prestige. With that said, all contract offers (with the exception of restructuring Dirk’s contract) made as a GM will be back loaded. In my eyes, O.J. is worth about 9 million dollars per year. If Dallas locks him up to a 45 million dollar, 5 year contract, I see no complaints on either side. 51 million left.
Secondly, if Dirk is any type of team player (and you know he is) #41 needs to restructure for less to help the team. Dirk is set to make a ball-busting 20.9 million, the second biggest contracts in the NBA (behind the Black Mamba). Out of the kindness of his heart; call out Dirk to restructure to a 3 year- 35 million dollar contract. For those of you who flunked math, that’s roughly 11.6 million a year. That’s roughly a 40 percent cut in pay, but like I said…a real team player would do it. 39.4 million left.
As for the restricted agents, based solely on a productive basis, letting Beaubois go and keeping Collison would be the best, all parties considered. Game to game stats for 2012-13 will scare away all arguments disproving this logic. 2.3 million down, 37.1 million in space to go. Vince Carter is set to make 3 million dollars this next year and I would concur if Dallas decided to keep him. His work off the bench and in the locker room has been contagious, and frankly, is vital to a young squad poised for success.
If all agree to the same contract (3 year-8 million dollars), we’re left with 34 million. The only other three unrestricted agents I would sign are Chris Kaman, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, and Elton Brand with Kaman, Brand, and Marion as sign and trades, but we’ll get to that later. Minus Wright’s salary (a reasonable offer would be 25 million over 5 years) dwindles the cap space down to 29 million. I would then release Mike James and Anthony Morrow, with Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Justin Dentmon, and Tu Holliday, rounding out reserve players under contract. Four players are left to split 3.1 million. 26 million.
Free agents suitable for Dallas should be carefully selected. I’m banking on Chris Paul will re-signing, but wouldn’t waste my time with Dwight Howard. Yes, I said it. I pass on the head case. I would go after Josh Smith, and guarantee him a max con tract of 60 million over 5 years, which should be more than worthy for Smith. If Josh was smart, he would take it. 21 million left. It is unlikely that Detroit will sign slumping Charlie Villanueva. back to the Palace. Chuck has definitely seen better days, and is simply not a starter of quality anymore. As a GM, I would offer him a role player spot at 15 million over 3 years. 16 million. Another player I would be quick to snatch up is Jarrett Jack. This CP3 shadow has the combo guard qualities necessary to put the Mayo/Jack backcourt on the map. At his current salary, I would see this as a useful tool and possible steal of the draft. At 15 million over 3years, 5 million per year seems doable. 7 million.
Now here is the log jam of a sign and trade. Marion, Kaman, and Brand would still make good trade bait for a lot of guys on the block. Dallas is in need of a dominant center to still take the place of 2011-departee (and reigning defensive POY) Tyson Chandler. Anyone that has eyes knows that Dallas needs that “X-factor” defensive prowler that will protect the paint. Roy Hibbert is Dallas’ re-do at defensive greatness. With Chandler, Dallas ranked inside the top three defensively, with credit also due to bulldozers Deshawn Stevenson and Shawn Marion. Offering up Kaman, Brand, Marion, and a 2013 2 nd round draft pick could sway the Pacers to give up Hibbert and a filler (possibly Miles Plumlee). I am going to bet on it, in hopes of leading Dallas back to title contention. This would take some finesse as Dallas would dump 30+ million in space for only about 15 million in return. In the interest of saving time and head scratching, let’s say Indiana agrees to part ways with Hibbert in a lengthy, multi-team trade. Dallas trades Kaman, Brand, and Marion and receives Hibbert and Plumlee, leaving one space on the 15 man roster and roughly 21 million dollars left in cap space.
Drafting will be a delicate subject, considering how Dallas has botched virtually every draft day
since the beginning of time. I realize the draft comes before free agency, but I left the draft as one of the last subjects due to its lack of importance to this article. Because I put free agency ahead of my draft priorities, I have put together a blend of win-now mentality type players with a hint of youth to keep the taste of titles in the conversation. Dallas is projected to own the 13 th pick and 43rd pick. Referencing the above trade, I gave up the 43rd pick in the Roy Hibbert trade.
The 13th pick needs to be chosen wisely. Dallas could benefit from a multitude of players, but
ultimately need to decide on a successor to Dirk. The addition of Josh Smith makes an All-Star combo forward player, but Dallas needs a power four and five duo to fit the mold of Rick Carlisle’s defensive mindset. Mason Plumlee, Steven Adams, James McAdoo, and Alex Len would make some good additions to develop a four who is intimidating in the paint. Plumlee or Len would probably make the best choice, and as a GM I would go with Plumlee. The difference between Len and Plumlee (other than one inch in height) is offense. Len is a developing offensive player, but I think Mason’s offensive game is enough to make a solid contribution in the NBA. I would compare him, offensively, to Serge Ibaka. Pairing up the Plumlees again would also draw serious interest to the Maverick fan base from all-weather Duke fans, gaining a public affair plus. Fan expansion is never a bad thing.
So here is what our “Frankenstein” looks like on paper:
Backcourt: PG Darren Collison, SG OJ Mayo
Front Court: SF Josh Smith, PF Dirk Nowitzki, C Roy Hibbert
Bench: Jarrett Jack, Vince Carter, Charlie Villanueva, Brandan Wright, Mason Plumlee, Miles
Plumlee, Jae Crowder with reserve players Jared Cunningham, Justin Dentmon, and Tu Holliday.
All in all, by generating a solid off-season, Dallas has primed themselves for a string of title contending years. You’ve got a delightful blend of scorers (the ENTIRE starting lineup plus some), defense (Hibbert, Smith, Carter, Jack, Wright) passers (Jack, Collison, Mayo, Nowitzki), and not a lot of old farts still standing. Only future Hall of Fame players whom you have chosen to mentor these younger guys into future Hall of Fame players. Dallas also has the opportunity to set themselves up for a potential star with some free-cap space. Eventually, this will leave you with a youthful, in-genius mixture of talent, experience, and development with no black holes like Kobe or Carmelo and no mouths/problem children off the court. This is ultimately what fits the Dallas mojo. Teamwork, talent, and defense. Is this a prediction? No. Is this a premonition? Hardly. This is just a fan arm chairing from the nose-bleeds. And in reality, what can be more American than that? Thank you for listening.
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