Mark Cuban's claim - you know, the no-Deron-equals-Mavs-supremacy one - has us pondering the power of potential, the problem with potential, and the value of Cuban himself creating a barroom-brawlin' reason for our beloved Mavs to exist at all in the late-August headlines. We ponder in Donuts:
DONUT 1: Cuban’s Problematic Claim ...
I applaud Mark Cuban’s ability to get us back talking about basketball in late August; the pull from elsewhere is strong enough that Fish every once in awhile drops a Cowboys tidbit into Donuts (and we won't have it!). But we aren't just "talking'' about the Mavs right now ... Cuban has us debating questions like, "Are the Mavs better off without Deron Williams?''
Fish gave us 12 very logical points outlining the thoughts inside Mavs HQ ... the sort of presentation you simply cannot get anywhere else but at DB.com. Included there: why Mavs fans can be excited about the way the cards were dealt. Me? I can’t say I disagree with any of Fish’s points, but I won’t go as far to say I agree with Cuban’s claim.
DONUT 2: Let’s not pretend Williams is simply average ...
While I disagree with Williams’ choice to commit the prime of his career to a Brooklyn team that is tied to a roster full of somewhat flawed players, I respect Williams as a player and I believe Cuban’s comment downplays his immense talent.
If Williams were to have signed with the Mavericks, he would not have been brought in as a sidekick, but as the Mavericks’ eventual best player. Williams is that good -- and the Mavs' courting of him establishes that, in the the end, they thought it, too -- and he would have made Nowitzki’s life considerably easier.
I truly believe Williams to be the best all-around point guard in the NBA. When you combine shooting, driving ability and passing Williams is more balanced than Rondo, Rose, Paul or Nash. Perhaps Cuban disagrees, but Williams statistics and resume speak for themselves.
DONUT 3: Young Talent Needs Time ...
I encourage anyone to get behind the youth movement in Dallas, specifically the prospects of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. But putting hope in young players is like planting seeds and hoping to grow an enormous beanstalk. If the Mavericks get incredibly lucky with the development of their young players then one of them might emerge to be as talented as Deron Williams.
As someone who has covered the Indiana Pacers as a blog-beat guy, there are few people that have bought into the potential of Darren Collison more than I have. I would agree with the Fish/Mavs HQ that Collison was stiffened by the minutes he split with George Hill, as well as the leash that was put on him in the Pacers offense. However, I am not under the impression that without that leash Collison would be as effective as Deron Williams.
Surely, in their hoops heart-of-hearts, the Mavs don't think that, either.
DONUT 4: Four or five quarters versus a dollar bill ...
Obviously, the Mavericks were able to use the $75 million that would have been spent on Williams to sign a number of players. One might argue that if you can trade a dollar for five quarters you should do it every time. But sometimes a dollar bill just gets the job done and makes everyone’s life a little bit simpler.
I’ll admit that a well-balanced attack is something I love to see from a good NBA team. However, I ask Mavs fans this: three years ago would you have swapped Dirk Nowitzki for Rodney Stuckey, Antawn Jamison, Marcus Camby and Nick Young?
I assume you would not have. That type of production coming in (two capable big-man vets and two promising guards) is similar to what the Mavs filled their roster with instead of Williams (Kaman, Brand, Collison and O.J. Mayo).
I know it's dangerous to compare Deron to Dirk. But if we can agree that Deron is a superstar/star ... If a superstar is involved sometimes less is more.
DONUT 5: What does "flexible'' mean? ...
Without signing Williams to a contract the Mavs are more “flexible.” But is that always a good thing?
Are the Miami Heat flexible? Won’t trade James. Won’t trade Wade. Won’t trade Bosh. No one wants anyone else on the team. Doesn’t sound flexible.
I'm not in the camp that pokes fun at "Plan Powder.'' Indeed, at the risk of stepping on some media toes (I'm new here!) I might suggest that very, very few of us share an understanding of the cap, the CBA and the rules of a David Lord ... and should try to combine some education with our smart-aleck remarks.
But I think I might rather be "really good'' than be "flexible.''
DONUT 6: Dirk-Deron Pick-and-pop ...
I can’t stop thinking about it. Williams comes off the screen and hits the jumper. Next time he takes it to the hole. Now, Dirk’s 18-footer is open all day. Add a cutting Shawn Marion and you have beautiful offense.
I promise to rid my mind of such dreams. Someday ... maybe as soon as Mayo and Collison are accomplishing some of those things ...
DONUT 7: Aren’t you going to try this again? ...
One of the biggest problems I have with taking the mentality of “Wow, we really dodged a bullet by not tying so much money into that Deron Williams guy” is that Plan Powder implies that the Mavericks will attempt the exact same thing if given the chance.
If the Mavericks are “better off without Williams” then shouldn't that mean that it would be ill-advised to attempt to sign Chris Paul to a long term deal if the opportunity arises? Is Paul that much better than Williams?
Fish uses the phrase "organic management'' when it comes to Cuban's style. I take that to mean, "things change.'' But I feel I can safety predict that if Dallas gets the chance to lose some "flex'' to gain some CP3, the Mavs will be all-in all over again.
DONUT 8: Follow Fish and Jonathan and the Mavs on Twitter ...
DONUT 9: Optimism doesn’t require denial ...
I would easily claim that if Deron Williams were on the Mavericks they would be a very formidable team. I would go as far as to say they would be a title contender. I can’t make that claim quite as easily for the current roster, though I have a hunch they will be pretty good.
My belief that the Mavericks will surprise a lot of people this year does not give me the urge to claim that they are “better off without” Williams. But then again, I’m not the one being pestered 24/7 about missing out on DeronQuest.
I personally would have claimed “there are reasons to be optimistic about these Mavs,” or perhaps, “The way things develop with our roster, missing out on Williams could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.” But Cuban is not one to hover around neutral and considering I’ve always respected him for that, I cannot be too upset with his claim.
DONUT 10: We can, however, argue about it ...
And I think that is part of Tony Cubes' point, part of the fun he has in going from being the guy who argues from a barstool to being the guy who still does that ... but is now ALSO the guy who is argued ABOUT by others on the barstools.
And argue we do on DB.com Boards, where Mavs fans just like you and me congregate to barroom-brawl this topic!
DONUT 11: Want more Mavs? ...
the best and deepest coverage of the Mavs available anywhere ... take our free seven-day trial and then get your Mavs gold for pennies! Go Mavs and Go Premium!
By the way, we take that same focus that we provide on the Mavs here on DB.com and apply it to the Mavs and the Cowboys on 105.3 The Fan. Listen live here for some Fish on Football and for breaking Mavs stuff, too ...
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
In Cuban’s defense, the Mavericks could end up “better off” in the long run. But that might be because there are a lot of dominoes in the NBA and no one really knows how they will fall. They key is to have an intelligent and prepared staff, which the Dallas Mavericks have. Sometimes you just have to put yourself in a position to get lucky.
In 2003 Joe Dumars of the Pistons selected Darko Milicic with the second overall pick instead of Carmelo Anthony. It was a terrible evaluation of talent and Anthony reminded Piston fans of it every day.
That same year the Pistons won the NBA championship. Had they drafted Anthony they likely would not have traded for Rasheed Wallace that year nor would Tayshaun Prince have gotten the minutes he needed to provide crucial defense. In other words, the Pistons likely would not have won the championship had they drafted the right player.
But I’ve never heard Dumars claim that the Pistons “were better off without Anthony” ... even though the end results says they probably were.
It's the difference between "promise'' and "results.'' Here's hoping Cuban's Mavs have plenty of both.