Howard Doesn’t Want L.A.; He Wants Texas

27 06 2013

 

Jalen Says Dwight Howard Will Be a Houston Rocket | Jalen Rose Report

One of these images will be a reality by next year’s NBA season.

Dwight Howard does not plan to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer and will meet with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks once teams are allowed to meet with free agents on July 1, according to sources close to the situation.

The Lakers, being his previous team, are allowed to sign him for one extra year and for more money. By signing with a different team than the Lakers, Howard is leaving an extra year of $30 million on the table. However, it should be noted that Howard is only 27 and will most likely sign another huge deal when his four-year, $88 million contract would come to an end. I think he’ll be okay financially.

Unlike the team that shares their arena, the Lakers would not make changes to the makeup of their team just to appease their young superstar. The Los Angeles Clippers fired Vinny Del Negro and hired supercoach Doc Rivers in an attempt to keep their team’s future on the roster. Chris Paul urged them to make this change and will now most likely go back to the Clips.

The Lakers are sticking with Mike D’Antoni. They won’t be a placemat for their superstars. Well, Howard’s biggest reason he doesn’t want to go back to Lakertown is D’Antoni’s coaching system. His “let’s have some fun!” attitude toward the game compared to Kobe Bryant‘s “no horseplay” attitude is also sure to be a problem for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Either way, L.A.’s about to lose a huge part of their future and could already be looking toward the 2014 NBA Draft.

(Can we also all agree it is kind of ironic and amusing that the day after L.A. saw this billboard that Howard expresses his interest in anywhere but L.A.? #PoorHollywood….)

Among these three teams, Atlanta is at the biggest disadvantage due to the fact that it’s D12’s hometown. Being a kid that never wants pressure or scrutiny, Dwight might experience some of that by going back to where he was born. Most say he doesn’t have much desire to go to Atlanta.

So, that puts us in a battle between teams of the Lone Star State.

Dallas v. Houston. Dirk v. Harden. No. 1 option v. No. 2 option.

The biggest reason he goes to Houston is because he gets to win now. Coming off an impressive playoff season, the Rockets look to be moving up the Western Conference ladder for the next few years. They have a young star in James Harden that is the future. The Mavs missed the 2013 playoffs and would need more pieces alongside Dirk and Howard to seriously compete, so there’s not as much certainty with that roster. As I said earlier, I think Houston is Howard’s best fit.

However, just as Howard didn’t like D’Antoni’s system, he worries about coach Kevin McHale‘s system, sources say. That team likes to shoot three-pointers all game long and more…that doesn’t really play into Howard’s post-game. Will he get touches? That’s what Howard wants to know.

In terms of why he would go to the other Texas team, well, that’s the news of the day. Howard now has shown clear interest in Dallas and what the future holds for him in the Big D. It’s always been assumed he’d be the No. 1 option and future franchise face if he went to the Mavs, letting Dirk Nowitzki gracefully become the No. 2 option that he has been ready and willing to become. And with the pay cut Dirk will be taking in 2014, Mark Cuban will have cap space to land a big player during a 2014 free agency filled with “big fish.”

Check out how ESPN’s Chris Broussard put it Thursday morning.

 

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 11.49.29 AM

 

Before anybody reading this gets their hopes up, remember who we are talking about. Mr. Howard is one of, if not the most immature and indecisive players in the entire NBA. Very few have been able to figure out what exactly goes on in his head. Even though these reports could be 100 percent accurate, who knows what their accuracy will be once July 1 comes.

The Dwight Howard roller coaster is upon us yet again. Take a seat and endure the ride.

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2013-2014 Mavs Contract Commitments: What’s Next?

25 06 2013

 

 

 

# - free agent for summer 2013
! - restricted free agent for summer 2013
() - amount free agent counts against the 2013-2014 cap until 
he is re-signed, renounced, or signs with another team

  Dirk Nowitzki       $22,720,000
  Shawn Marion         $9,320,000
  Brendan Haywood      $9,070,000  [amnestied, doesn't count 
                                    against cap]
  Vince Carter         $3,180,000  (if team picks up option)
  O.J. Mayo            $4,200,000  (if Mayo does not opt-out)
  Jared Cunningham     $1,243,080
  Jae Crowder            $789,000
 !Darren Collison     ($3,342,175  qualifying offer)
 !Rodrigue Beaubois   ($3,256,361  qualifying offer)
 #Chris Kaman       
 #Anthony Morrow     
 #Elton Brand    
 #Brandan Wright
 #Mike James
 #Bernard James
 #Josh Akognon     

 

 

As you can see from the contract commitments above, other than Dirk, Marion, Cunningham and Crowder (and the team is currently looking to trade Marion and get rid of that contract), the Dallas Mavericks could potentially look completely different from last year…something that has become the norm since they won the championship in 2011.

Once July 1 arrives and free agency has officially begun, Mark Cuban is going to first go after Dwight Howard and then go after Dwight Howard and finally go after Dwight Howard. (Chris Paul is going to re-sign with the Clippers…just forget about the possibility.) If things go as I expect them to, Howard will either give Lakertown another chance or, more likely, go to Houston in order to play with a rising James Harden rather than a declining Dirk.

After that happens, Cuban and General Manager Donnie Nelson MUST move forward with “PLAN B” and not “Plan Powder Dry” as they have done the past two summers. It’s time for Dirk to get another chance in the playoffs. No more one-year deals for deteriorating veterans and players that haven’t lived up to their potential. This team needs a spark—an actual NBA player that other teams would like to have on their team.

So, I see Monta Ellis and Andrew Bynum as “PLAN B.” With the market not being too interested in Ellis because of his inability to impact the game in more than one way (scoring), Mavs could snag him for three years at an affordable price. He could become a valuable scoring punch off the bench and serve a specific and necessary role. Dallas could also get Bynum on a one-year deal since every single person in the league is worried about a 7-footer coming off surgery on BOTH of his knees. Well, and his attitude is obviously a part of the gamble. But it’s a risk the Mavs can and need to take. He is potentially an 18pts-10rbs kind of guy—with healthy knees and healthy brains cells. At the right price, he’s the right move…even if J.J. Barea wouldn’t agree with me. Signing these two stars (not superstars) would allow Dallas to have the money, with the promised pay-cut from Dirk, in the summer of 2014 to sign one of the many elite players that will be available.

Andre Iguodala is also an intriguing player since he just exercised his early termination option with the Nuggets and will be an unrestricted free agent. Instead of Ellis, the Mavs could pair Iggy with Bynum for next year’s squad. Iguodala can be clumped with Shawn Marion in the group of wing players that don’t get enough credit for the impact they have on all aspects of the game. However, I see him taking less money to go play for a contender, which is something Dallas isn’t. Weird, right?

And then moving down the ladder, “PLAN C” consists of some almost-stars. The Mavs could go after Jose Calderon, Tony Allen, Brandon Jennings (restricted free agent), Nikola Pekovic, Greg Oden (stop laughing), Al Jefferson, Tyreke Evans (RFA) or Jarrett Jack. It just depends on the price and if the team picks up someone from a plan higher in the alphabet.

In the end, though, I have no idea what Cuban is going to do. During his time in the Big D, he has been known to have ideas up his sleeves no one—including the team’s beat writers and the NBA “breaking news” journalists—saw coming. He finds ways to convince players to come to town and owners to make moves that other teams’ managements wouldn’t dream of attempting.

So, let’s sit back uneasily yet again and watch this 2013 summer of free agency unfold. And hopefully, Cuban can fold up his sleeves with something big to show.

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Elevating Their Game

23 11 2012

 

 

O.J. Mayo – Dallas Mavericks

2011-2012 Season: 12.6 PPG, 40.8 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 77.3 FT%

2012-2013 Season (13 games): 22.2 PPG, 50.3 FG%, 56.8 3P%, 86.2 FT%

 

 

Nicolas Batum – Portland Trail Blazers

2011-2012 Season: 13.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG

2012-2013 Season (11 games): 20.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 SPG

 

 

James Harden – Houston Rockets

2011-2012 Season: 16.8 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 31.4 MPG

2012-2013 Season (12 games): 24.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 38.3 MPG

 

 

Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats

2011-2012 Season: 12.1 PPG, 4.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 36.6 FG%

2012-2013 Season (10 games): 18.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.4 SPG, 44.0 FG%

 

 

 

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Picture This Bearded Rocket

28 10 2012

 

 

 

Are you ready for this image? Because it will be coming to an association near you within the week.

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Harden in Houston

27 10 2012

And just like that, the seemingly unbreakable core of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been shattered.

As noted in this tweet, Marc Stein has reported that James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward be traded to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder will receive Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft picks, according to YahooSports.

Harden and the Thunder have been laboring over a contract agreement this offseason since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are already under max contracts while Serge Ibaka has a budget-stretching contract to add to that. The bearded man’s contract will end after this season.

With the new CBA soon in place that will penalize teams when it comes to sign-and-trades, it was inevitable that this move would occur. The purpose of this new agreeement is to force teams to make choices regarding their elite players. The Thunder made the tough decision. It was just that no one wanted to admit that the hottest, most exciting story in the NBA would soon go to a new chapter.

Martin is a scorer. That’s it. Bringing in Martin makes this Thunder team worse as Durant and Westbrook are already in charge of the majority of the scoring load. Harden’s role was to come in off the bench, act as a distributor and change the flow of the game. Martin can’t do any of these things. If you think the Los Angeles Lakers – who should now be considered the favorites to come out of the West – are about to go through some struggles as they develop their chemistry, flip the channel over to this OKC team as they try to fit Martin into their system.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they have now brought themselves right back to the mediocrity they have been stuck in for three straight years as they have finished ninth in the West three straight years. This year could have been the first step toward reconstruction for this franchise, but now Harden will give them just enough talent to be competitive, but not elite. Ninth place, here the Rockets come once again.

This is a lose-lose situation for these two teams. The Thunder needed to get rid of Harden’s looming max contract that they couldn’t provide him after this season and the Rockets were tired of their one-dimensional scorer. Now the Thunder and Rockets get to deal with a new problem.

Good luck.

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The Short-Term Dallas Replacements

14 07 2012

The Dallas Mavericks went into this offseason with a distinct Plan A-Z: sign Deron Williams. I know… this story is getting redundant. However, it must be established that anything short of bringing the All-Star point guard to town should be considered a disappointment for the 2011 NBA Champions that look nothing the same in their defense of the title. And that’s the reality that must sink in.

So, they went to plan AA. Instead of trading for the next closest upper tier player and committing to someone they didn’t want or wouldn’t fit into Carlisle’s sysem, Plan “Powder Dry” went into motion as Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson loves to explain.

“Keeping the powder dry is a term that you’re going to hear a lot with a lot of teams in the NBA since the landscape is drastically changing and the future of the league is really changing before our very eyes on a daily basis,” Nelson told ESPN Dallas Radio. “Our position is we want to be players when it comes to getting star-quality talent.”

To put it simply, the Mavs will now have an offseason very similar to the last. Let Mavs that have been key contributors but are somewhat expensive walk. Hand out short-term commitments that can be dropped easily. Construct a bridge year until the 2013 free agency period comes with more superstars (the top three are Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and James Harden while Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson could also make it on to their list).

The Mavs have let four walk out the door and let four walk in. One point guard, one shooting guard and two centers exited. One point guard, one shooting guard and two centers entered. Let’s compare each ex-Mav to his new successor.

 

 

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Jason Kidd  (3-year, $9 million contract with Knicks) — 2011-2012 stats: 6.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.1 RPG

Darren Collision (1-year, $2.3 million left on contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.1 RPG

Sentimentally, this will be a tough transition for Mavs nation. Kidd came in at a time when the Mavs were reeling in the early playoff exits after back-to-back dreadful playoff experiences in 2006 and 2007. In his first full season with the team, Rick Carlisle joined his side and those two quickly established themselves into the system. The veteran leadership he brought on and off the court will be missed; however, this old group has enough of that for multiple seasons to go around. Moving forward for the minimum of one season with Darren Collision will be a solid step in the right direction that will inevitably improve the team’s quickness and offensive pace that had been lacking the previous season. Even though Collison regressed once he was traded to Indiana and ended up losing his starting position to George Hill, don’t forget the brilliance this kid had right off the bat in his 2009-2010 rookie season. When Chris Paul was forced to sit out for two months due to left knee surgery, Collison exploded onto the scene. The former UCLA Bruin went from averaging 5.4 points prior to the injury to 19.4 once he took on the starting role, including a 35-point performance against Dallas on February 28. He might not having the passing skills of J-Kidd, but he has a huge advantage in the speed and scoring category. Yes, bringing back the 39-year-old veteran would have made many – including Dirk – feel nice and nostalgic inside, but this changeover is for the best.

 

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Jason Terry (3-year, $15 million contract with Celtics) — 2011-2012 stats: 15.1 PPG, 88.3 FT%, 138 3-pointers made

Dahntay Jones (1-year, $2.9 million left on contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 5.3 PPG, 83.8 FT%, 42.9 3P%

Even though Jones was brought in to play more of DeShawn Stevenson’s role than JET’s, until the Mavs find the sharpshooter they want, this is Terry’s replacement. And a worse basketball player at that. Terry wanted to stay in Dallas and hoped the team that will eventually raise his number to the rafters would match the Celtics offer, but he doesn’t fit into Nelson and Cuban’s plan. If the team had decided to match the Celtics offer, throwing Terry that much money for that long would hinder their chances of landing a big fish during next year’s free agency when the bridge will finally be connected to Dallas’s future. The Mavs now have a huge void where many huge jumpers were taken when Dirk couldn’t get his shot off or was having an off night. Discounting the odd ins and outs of last season, Terry has been as reliable as Dirk throughout his time in DFW, which is saying a lot. There’s a reason this marksman has made the fourth most 3-pointers in NBA history. Once the Mavs have some close games with game-winning possessions, people will soon realize this team just lost a crucial 4th-quarter scorer that stretched the floor. Jones won’t bring much of this to the table but will be able to bring a certain toughness that Carlisle always welcomes to the squads he coaches. He has an attitude that Shawn Marion possesses and Tyson Chandler forced upon all of the Mavericks – every time on defense is a chance to make a play and not a time to relax. When the Mavericks lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2009 playoffs, Jones played a major role on the defensive end of the court and retained this tenacity against Kobe Bryant in the next round. His confidence is under control but at a level even greater than his actual basketball skills as he enforces his will while on the court, no matter how long that may be. He may not have the clutch gene that Terry possesses, but he surely will make it into the rotation, if not the starting lineup, very soon.

 

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Brendan Haywood – hasn’t been claimed yet — 2011-2012 stats: 5.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.0 BPG

Elton Brand (1-year, $2.1 million contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 11.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG

No question – almost any other center that has the capability to be somewhat productive is an automatic improvement from the disappointing story known as Haywood. From complaining about playing time during a championship run to being unable to have a single offensive move other than dunking right under the basket with no one around, Haywood has been anything short of a detriment to this team. When you think back to the time he came into town coming off an almost double-double season in Washington, his bar has incessantly been lowered. And lowered. And lowered. Now, the Mavs have a player that can play either the 4 or 5 while bringing the intangibles a winning team needs to be successful. He might not be the All-Star he used to be after many injuries have slowed him down, which is another problem in itself, but he certainly hasn’t lost his toughness so many NBA gurus crave. There is no doubt that his defense will be top notch, and when he spots up to take a short-range jumper, a miss is highly unlikely. On top of this, they got the 13-year veteran for an absolute steal. After making it clear to the league that they would go hard after Brand during the bidding process, Dallas claimed the former Blue Devil off waivers for a small enough contract that they still have about $4 million left over to spend for any additional moves (most likely to add a 3-point specialist to the roster). Even though Brand will most likely backup both Dirk and Kaman, he is more comparable to Haywood than Kaman. And he unquestionably offers his new team better attitude, better offense and defense, and a better contract.

 

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Chris Kaman Chris Kaman #35 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Brandon Bass #30 of the Boston Celtics at New Orleans Arena on December 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Ian Mahinmi (4-year, $16 million contract with Pacers) — 2011-2012 stats: 5.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 54.6 FG%

Chris Kaman (1-year, $8 million contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 13.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG

Kaman has the statistical edge while Mahinmi has the potential edge. The Mavs know what they are getting in Kaman: an injury-prone veteran that is an efficient mid-to-close range scorer that unspectacularly grabs many rebounds, such as his German teammate has been known to do. The budding Frenchman still has not grown into his full NBA shell. Throughout his two years in Dallas, he showed sporadic (key word – sporadic) signs that with significant playing time, he could develop into a player worth having as a building block for the future. Since the Mavs are riding their entire future on an eventual free agent superstar signing, they let this piece go, but received much in return in Collison and Jones. Kaman might have the wear and tear that the Mavs simply don’t need with the overabundance of age already on the team, but he certainly fits in almost perfectly with his other two big men. Dirk and Kaman have played many years together on the German national basketball team while Brand and Kaman joined forces with the Los Angeles Clippers for five seasons, which included a playoff run in 2006. Just as Collison will help the offense punch in the frontcourt, Kaman will improve Dirk’s backcourt scoring like never before – and yes, that’s even considered what Tyson Chandler brought. As they have done against many teams in European play, Kaman will be able to feed off Dirk by getting the ball on the block and using his exceptional footwork to put the ball in the basket with hook-shots and short jumpers. The Mavericks actually have a center that can shoot the ball and score on his own… this is revolutionary. Yet again, the low price makes this big-man pickup absolutely worth it. He might not be Dwight Howard, but he is certainly no Ian Mahinmi or Brendan Haywood.

 

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Mavs Playing Possum

8 07 2012

Remember this team? Remember Jason Kidd playing quarterback for the team that drafted him and having the foresight to make unexpected passes and lobs? Remember J.J. Barea and his ability to dribble through defenses as if he was weaving on a semi-circle loom?  Remember Jason Terry coming in off the bench only to look like a starter who is ready to dribble to his right and pull up to make a 3-pointer when the ball arrives in his hand? Remember the emotion and defensive presence of Tyson Chandler who provided the last key piece that this team needed in order to truly become elite? Remember Dirk Nowitzki putting together one of the best playoff runs ever seen on a basketball court? Remember that feeling when a team built around winning for 11 straight years finally achieved greatness when they became world champions?

Yes?

That is all gone.

After making it to the top, owner Mark Cuban had a tough decision to make: should he commit to many of his champions by signing them to long-term contracts or should he roll the dice by letting them go and creating salary cap space? Obviously, if you watched this team play last season, it was apparent which direction he went in.

So, they got through the 2011-2012 season, barely squeezing into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed with the hopes of another championship run.

But something was missing. What was missing were pieces that championship teams possess. Simple as that. Instead of attempting to find the right guys that fit into Rick Carlisle’s successful system – or bring back the players that proved their worth and wanted to stay in Dallas – Mavericks management went out and found (old) players that would accept short-term contracts, proving their insignificant worth to the team. The only thing that mattered was cap space for the upcoming summer.

All of this led to a 36-30 season in which they were eventually swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

This is all that needs to be said about last season. Why? It was a bridge year. It was a season that didn’t matter to anyone apart of the Mavericks organization. The entire city of DFW was waiting patiently and faithfully to see Mark Cuban reel in the big fish he promised Dirk when No. 41 took a pay-cut in his contract. Dirk put his absolute trust in Cuban to make use of the cash he was simply giving him to use for the team.

Deron Williams Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets smiles on the bench after scoring a game-high 29 points against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Nets defeated the Bulls 97-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.Part of that money was supposed to be given to Deron Williams to come back home. With the insertion of Williams, the Mavericks would shoot right back up to the upper tier of the West as other pieces would consequently fall their way. They would be the next big thing to discuss in the sports media world as Cuban would only bolster his reputability as a connoisseur in the world of business and sports management.

Since D-Will narrowed his choices down to either the Mavs or the Brooklyn Nets, the pressure was on these two teams. The two organizations shared the same basket which couldn’t hold all of both of their eggs. His decision would alter the direction each team would be headed for the next year of basketball and beyond.

Well, he chose Brooklyn. He valued the extra year and $25 million more that the Nets could offer along with playing alongside All-Star guard Joe Johnson. In fact, Williams was actually close to choosing Dallas before Johnson trade swayed him in the other direction. (Just don’t think too much about this Mavs nation. It’s over.) This duo will soon become the most dynamic starting backcourt in the league – ahead of even Russell Westbrook and practically starting two-guard James Harden. Complimenting each other is vital in becoming a quality backcourt combo, and spot-up shooting Johnson will finally not feel obligated to be the orchestrator of his offense as D-Will will happily accept this role.

There is no point in discussing how Cuban was filming his television show “Shark Tank” and Dirk was at Wimbledon watching some tennis instead of attending the team’s sit-down meeting with Williams. That doesn’t matter. The two meetings on Monday was more of a formality than anything since the ever-so-talked-about point guard knew what each franchise could offer him; he understood his options.

So, now we are at the point where every Mavs fans goes out of their way to tweet at Mark Cuban or complain to their friends about how he shouldn’t have gambled with what worked. He shouldn’t have played with cap space. He should have made the smart decision.

Even sports journalist Israel Gutierrez seems to agree.

As Gutierrez pointed out on “The Sports Reporters,” the “safer” approach to the 2011 offseason would have been to “bring back the family.” Yet, has Cuban ever been about the “safe” way? He has become who he is today by making dicey decisions and bold moves, eventually turning himself into a multi-millionaire. Deciding to risk everything he had built in Dallas by aiming for a splash this summer was a distinct choice by Cuban that went along with every other step he had taken up to this point in his profession. But finally, Cuban’s way caught up to him.

Instead of making a splash, he is sinking. Fast.

Not only did the Mavs miss out on D-Will, they have now said goodbye to their two Jasons as they both sting for their own reasons.

After having one of his most inefficient seasons, many suspected the Mavs would let JET go. His time in town was appreciated and he would most likely have his number lifted up to the rafters later on but his time was up, according to management’s supposed intentions. To put it simply, “business is business.”  The Boston Celtics jumped on the opportunity to bring in this sharpshooter, and with Ray Allen’s departure from Boston to South Beach, Terry will now become Allen’s comparable replacement.

Even though this exit might have been more expected than the other, this isn’t good for Dirk. These two established a system in the Big D where they played off each other’s strengths and ran the pick-and-pop two-man game in countless waning moments of close games. Again. And again. Before Terry was with the Mavs, Dirk had an even craftier guard running this exact scheme with him night in and night out. It’s a part of Dirk’s gameplay, and he hasn’t played a season without it.

They have also been in business together for eight years while creating countless hardships and triumphs. To put it simply – they are best friends. Having that partner in crime has helped Dirk up to this point in his career since Terry took on this role right after Nash – the man formerly known as his best friend – skipped town. There is more that will be missed than what he brought off the bench.

J-Kidd might be 39 but he sure holds a special place with the Mavs. Coming back to Dallas in his elder basketball years, he instilled a valuable demeanor unlike any other. Similar to Terry, it would be good for Dirk to have a familar face to go to war with him yet again. These two have similar humble personalities and as a result, have grown close in the 4 1/2 years they have played together.

It came down to two teams for Kidd: The Mavs or the New York Knicks. They each offered him practically the same contract. All reports were leaning toward Kidd coming back to finish his career with the team that he wants to stay with once he retires.

How does this look?

Then, out of nowhere, he decided to go to the Big Apple instead of staying in the Big D. After coming extremely close to signing with the Mavs (isn’t that becoming a prevalent theme), he did some deep contemplating while working on his golf swing. In the end, it came down to the fact that Kidd felt he had a better chance of doing big things in the latter part of his career with the Knicks than with his now former team. He looked at the rosters and simply gave the Mavs a slap to the cheek (though a polite one) in saying that they weren’t good enough for his last few years in the NBA.

Dirk even understands the Mavs dire situation.

“When we talked, [Dirk] said to go to New York,” Kidd said.

Even though this proves yet again Dirk’s genuine nature and care for his teammates even if that means losing them, this is a slap to the Mavs other cheek. Dirk couldn’t even muster up enough confidence in the only team he has ever played for to try and sway Kidd back to Dallas. When this devoted man’s faith has gone away, it is evident that Dallas has gone to a grave state.

Oh yeah, the Mavs also were going to try and convince Steve Nash to come back and play some basketball with his pal Dirk… that failed. He will be evolving Andrew Bynum into an even better center and taking a lot of pressure off Kobe Bryant’s shoulders. There’s no point in harping on the Mavs’ backup plan since it was quickly dashed before they could even consider it a viable option.

Now the Mavs must attempt to salvage their dignity and attempt to put together a respectable team for the next NBA season. They want to be successful – right?

It appears that would be partially incorrect. With the apparent players that have caught their interest (Ummm, yeah, Ramon Sessions and Anthony Randolph are clearly high-quality pieces…) and the length they want to offer them, the Mavs are about to expand and enlarge their bridge. Bridge season version 2.0 will soon be coming to an NBA season near you. They are going to have another year in which they will simply await for that big-time free agent to walk into town. Next season, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the three main names that stand out from the rest of the free agents, and Cuban has his eyes set on signing one of these All-Stars to a lucrative contract for years to come.

However, why would these three players want to come to Dallas? If the Mavs end up with an even worse season than this last one and end their streak of 12 consecutive playoff appearances, what becomes the enticing part of playing for the Mavericks? (Having no state income tax can only go so far.) The biggest ploy for Williams to come home was the fact that he would have been coming home to a winning franchise from the past decade in its entirety. Since Cuban has taken this risky route and won’t give in until a major – and I mean major – player commits to his team, he is hurting the Mavs chances of being successful until (or simply if) this happens.

And here’s where it gets personal: this is unfair to Dirk. Using Tyson Chandler’s words, “I feel sorry for Dirk.” He has given everything to this organization. Literally. He came over to America from Germany to play for the Mavericks and has devoted his entire life to playing the absolute best possible basketball so his team can be their absolute best. He never has put himself before the team and even put the Mavs before a major paycheck during an era of professional sports when most negotiations are solely about the big payday. This level of commitment from a superstar is a foreign concept to most fan bases and only a dream to many franchises’ owners.

As Dirk begins to head down the latter part of his career, he doesn’t want to go through many struggling seasons. He even said himself that he’s too old to rebuild. He’s right. (Also, he has been spoiled with only being a part of winning teams every year he has been in the NBA, so he knows no other way.) Cuban now will throw yet another wasted year at Dirk as the owner becomes irrationally hopeful that they can ultimately land something special even though he has something special right in front of him that will be gone before he knows it.

So here we are. It has only been 13 months since the Mavericks reached the top of the NBA world and became the reigning champs for 12 months. What about now? Their future has become the unknown. Their identify has become the undetectable. The plans for next season are in uncharted territory as free agent after free agent takes their talents to anywhere but Dallas. So far, the players that are somewhat tempted to play for the Mavs only show interest because they know they can get significant minutes with the team’s depleted roster. That is the sign of a struggling NBA franchise.

The Mavs now will play possum. They will play possum as the the rest of the top teams in the West continue to improve their squads. They will play possum in hopes of yet another breakthrough summer of free agency. They will play possum as Dirk wonders where all his teammates went once training camp beings. They will play possum as the thought of Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea providing the ideal spark can only be that – a thought.

When will the possum wake up from this grueling state of nature? Once Mark Cuban realizes Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are not going to be joining his team.

Remember that.

Ignite the Site!