The Dallas Mavericks have a well-earned reputation for pulling off transaction magic. But with even their own free agent Jason Kidd seemingly on the verge of returning before Thursday’s stunning decision to instead jump to the Knicks, the cleverness has yet to reveal itself.
In truth, the Mavs keep trying to pull a rabbit out of their hat and instead end up with a handful of rabbit droppings.
Earlier in the day, league sources indicated the future Hall-of-Famer and Mavs stalwart would return to Big D under the terms of a three-year, $9-million deal that may have included some money-saving wrinkles and a chance to eventually move into the Mavs’ front office. Indeed, earlier in the week, as the NBA free agency window was opening on July 1, Kidd says Dallas “has first dibs’’ on him.
But Kidd – on record as saying he desired to “go to war with’’ Dirk, a partner in Dallas’ 2011 NBA title -- changed his mind. He’s apparently accepted a similar deal to play with the Knicks, to mentor Jeremy Lin, to be a part of a squad that at this moment seems to have a roster much more competitive that what Dallas has.
It’s become standard operating procedure this week for Mavs fans to overreact, and pointing out how bare the cupboard is right now is overreaction. There are other moves to make, and they all don’t even have to do with free agency.
The Mavs’ $8.9-million TE is a tool, and can be used in a way that doesn’t violate the club’s much-criticized approach to building a team under the restrictive new CBA.
The 39-year-old Kidd (just 6.2 points and 5.5 assists last year) is second on the NBA’s all-time list in assists and steals and his leadership skills are as legendary as his basketball skills. The original plan was to recruit him to recruit Deron to Dallas, where the two of them would pair. That plan drove Dallas’ trade-down decision in the draft (which hasn’t really worked). It preceeded Dallas’ plan to get Odom to move his contract deadline. (That didn’t work, either.) Then Deron made Dallas his bridesmaid when he choose to stay in Brooklyn. Second choice Nash passed on a second tour of duty with the Mavs when he instead chose the Lakers.
The Mavs have more bodies to chase and more ideas to execute as they patiently attempt to prove that “Plan Keep Your Powder Dry’’ is a wise option following the Plan A and B that Deron and Nash represented.
Rabbits to pull out of Dallas’ hat? We’ll see. But so far, the Mavs keep simply sticking their hands into muck.