Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How A Shark Makes Investments

Last week Mark Cuban took to his blog to write a long defense of his roster-building strategies over the past two years. He discusses his decision to let Tyson Chandler sign with the Knicks during the December 2011 free-agency period following the lockout, arguing that the compressed 2011-12 schedule would've made success impossible for the aging Mavs team. He also mentions his failure to persuade Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to join the Mavs during the July 2013 free-agency period. Yet, curiously, not once does he mention Deron Williams, a Texas native whom many thought would join Dallas during the July 2012 signing period. Even Williams's close friend and former Olympic teammate Jason Kidd thought D-Will would join Dallas! As we know, Cuban chose to attend a taping of his TV show (which I enjoy a great deal, incidentally) rather than attend the pitch meeting with Williams and his agents. Not surprisingly, Williams chose to re-sign with the Nets after his putative new boss couldn't be bothered to meet him.

Additionally, Cuban's suggestion that retaining the 2011 championship roster would've been too onerous in light of salary-cap rules was a bit of a strawman. In the event, Cuban brought back most of 2011's key players for the 2011-12 season, including Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion, Terry, Haywood, Mahinmi, and Cardinal (yes, Brian Cardinal, who made a couple timely passes and screens in the 2011 Finals). While Cuban did allow Deshawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, and Caron Butler to leave as free agents, they were replaceable; Butler did not even play in the Finals. Cuban also acquired Vince Carter that offseason using the mini-mid-level exception. The only missing step to bringing back the band was to recruit their defensive anchor, Chandler, to re-join the team.   Had they brought back Chandler, it's easy to see the team scaring Oklahoma City in 2012's first round; the Thunder won their four games by an average of just six points (2.5 points if you exclude Game 3) and lived on forays to the hoop by their three perimeter stars.  Had the Mavs squeaked by OKC, they would've next seen the Lakers, whom they thumped the previous spring, the old Spurs, and the Heat, whose number they had decidedly nabbed in 2011.

Cuban could have easily inked Chandler, who went on to be the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year, to a multi-year deal and still had salary-cap space (with some creative roster moves, e.g. an amnesty of Haywood, a trade of Shawn Marion and Mahinmi to teams with salary-cap space, and a decision to let Kidd and Terry leave after their contracts expired on 6/30/2012) to sign Williams for the 2012-13 season. Why he didn't do this (as well as why Oklahoma City passed on a chance to acquire Chandler way back in 2009) is beyond me.

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