NBA, sports, Utah Jazz

Why The Mavericks Have Become Also-Rans: Another Mostly Non-Jazz NBA Post

I doubt we’ll see a more unlikely buzzer beater than this one anytime soon:

 

Several things to note here:

  1. The Dallas Mavericks traded Devin Harris for Jason Kidd a little over a year ago (February 19, to be exact). At the time Kidd was 34 years old, Harris 24. 
  2. The Mavs went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, in five games to the New Orleans Hornets. Chris Paul ate Jason Kidd alive. 24.6 ppg/12 apg vs. 8.6 ppg/6.8 apg. This isn’t to say Devin Harris would have fared much better. But he couldn’t have fared much worse. 
  3. Harris is averaging 21.9 points and 6.6 assists per game this season. Kidd is averaging 9.0 and 8.4.
  4. Dallas is 33-23 while New Jersey is 25-32. It may be significant to add that both teams have about equal odds of making (or not making) the playoffs. Dallas would be the eight seed in the West while the Nets are two games out in the East. (No comment here as to the ludicrousness that the six, seven and eight seeds in the East would have losing records.)
  5. It may also be significant to note that Dallas still has Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry while the Nets have Vince Carter, Brooke Lopez, and three cadavers wearing Keyon Dooling, Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons jerseys. Would Kidd have better individual stats if he was still in Jersey? Absolutely. But has Kidd accomplished anything that Mark Cuban hoped for when he traded for him? And is there any reason to expect that’ll change with time? No sports great besides Oddibe McDowell has yet defied the cruel diminishment of skill that comes with age.*

 

So why would Cuban claim he would do the Kidd-Harris trade over again? Maybe because he’s insane.

Now, had David Stern not declared from on high that Dwayne Wade needed to be anointed the next Jordan and Miami won a brutally refereed Finals in 2006, Cuban could probably have refrained from self-destructing his team. Avery Johnson would probably still have his job, Dirk Nowitzki would be considered one of the game’s elite, and Devin Harris would still be running one of the most potent offensives around instead of leading a 3-on-2 break with Jarvis Hayes and Trenton Hassell. 

Or you could forgive Stern and blame Don Nelson for returning from the dead just in time to rip his former team’s heart out during round one of the 2007 Playoffs. And no, Devin Harris didn’t have a great series against Baron Davis. But the key difference there is that Harris was in his third NBA season. Could Harris one day dominate the game the way Kidd did in his prime and be the leader on a team that makes back-to-back Finals? Almost surely not. But would that stop you from making that trade if you were in Rod Thorn’s shoes? 

Finally, there is the question of who you want taking a half court shot at the buzzer with Andre Iguodala draped all over him. I think Harris clearly gets the nod. 

This isn’t to say that the Mavs would be the team to beat in the West had they simply kept Harris. He wasn’t a great fit, and Avery Johnson was close to Harris’s personal Kryptonite. But the trade was symbolic of Cuban’s obsessive need to fiddle and tweak to the point it becomes detrimental. He favors the bold, gutsy shake-up rather than the subtle adjustment. The opposite of this — though I hate to say anything remotely complimentary of them — is the San Antonio Spurs, who have had some luck when it comes to winning championships in the past decade. 

Meanwhile, in other non-Jazz NBA news, the Knicks reached a buyout agreement with Stephon Marbury, paving the way for him to join Boston. Why would the Celtics sign a headcase? Because with Tony Allen out the rest of the regular season, Doc Rivers is turning to Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine and (gulp!) Gabe Pruitt to spell Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. 

There are eight thousand reasons why Boston shouldn’t sign Marbury, but I think it will because of two big ones:

  1. The Celtics are afraid.
  2. LeBron James.

The Celtics got swept by the Lakers and destroyed by James and Cleveland the last go-round. Now KG’s gimpy for at least the short term and no one is quite as fearful of Boston as they were a year ago, or even two months ago. If you’re Danny Ainge, you don’t sit on your hands. You take a page out of Cuban’s playbook and be a man of action, even though that action will almost certainly be disastrous. If the Celtics won last year primarily because of great chemistry, why would you throw a grenade into your own bunker by signing Marbury? So bloggers everywhere can have a field day when Marbury totally self-destructs and takes the reigning champs down with him because he thinks he’s still the man in crunch time? Can KG really survive another tour of duty with Marbury? If they end up on the same team again, one of the them kills the other. Write it down.

Besides, the Celtics already picked up Mikki Moore. What else do they need? (The link is worth clicking on if only to appreciate Moore’s agent Mark Bartelstein making it sound as though every playoff contender thought Moore was the missing puzzle piece. You can usually spot these Missing Puzzle Pieces by this tell-tale phrase: “Waived by the Sacramento Kings.”)

Another almost completely non-Jazz NBA post! Don’t look now, but Utah has won eight of nine, including wins over L.A. and Boston. And Boozer’s back! But I’m not getting too excited until he scores more than 2 points in 21 minutes.

 

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* = This statement is patently false but I could not resist working Oddibe McDowell into an NBA post, even at great cost to my integrity as an NBA commentator.

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8 thoughts on “Why The Mavericks Have Become Also-Rans: Another Mostly Non-Jazz NBA Post

  1. Way to work in Oddibe, he was a significant contributor to two of the worst Braves teams in my lifetime. And of course the year after they got rid of him (and Dale Murphy) they went to the World Series.

    If the Celtics pick up Marbury, they won’t have to worry about LeBron taking them out. Marbury will wreck that ship well before the conference finals.

  2. I was assuming you didn’t want to jinx the current streak your Jazz is on by simply mentioning it, but now you’ve gone and done it. Watch D-Ron break his leg tonight. Good job.

  3. I still feel bad about that. But don’t take that admission as an apology. I’m not sorry, because I still feel you were in the wrong. How dare you. How. Dare. You. Sir.

  4. What you said was a gentle tongue bath from Scooter Thomas compared to what Tad Smith has been saying about UK ahead of tonight’s game against South Carolina. And you can’t say anything disparaging to him today because it’s his birthday.

  5. Ok that’s it. You finally got me. I’ve been skulking around here for weeks reading your little comments and gazing at your once luxurious head of hair, but the fiasco (that some may call a basketball game) that occured this evening NEEDS NOT BE SPOKEN OF EVER AGAIN. I know you were just baiting Leathers with that one, but honestly that stings. Why you doing this man? Aren’t you supposed to be my friend?

  6. Aha! Mike has been pulled in. I knew this day was coming, as like my namesake on Lost, I’m always eight steps ahead of you, my friend.

    Also, I might strangle you with an electrical cord if you’re not careful.

  7. Yeah, how did that happen? Quite manipulative of you.

    Seriously, it was under a Utah Jazz Post. That’s: A. Utah. Jazz. Post.

    I just wondered who on earth had comments for this post (don’t encourage him). Ok, I’m going to read your Lost post now. Yet another solid episode last night…

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