Deconstructing Mark Cuban

Not long after the Mavs' season ended, Mavs owner Mark Cuban wrote a long blog item on his "Blog Maverick", explaining why he did what he did back in February: trading Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Mo Ager and Keith Van Horn, plus two first round picks, a $3.3 million trade exception and $3 million in cash considerations (whew!) for Jason Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen. Even the trade exception and cash has worked out for the Nets, who turned it into Keyon Dooling.

We figured we would take a look back, now that the Nets and Mavs have played their first games of 2008-09 and see just how it worked out for Mark. Bottom line: not so good and it doesn't look like it's getting better...in spite of what he says.

Here goes:

"Looking at our future cap structure was. In doing a deal for JKidd, we created a situation where Devin, Mo Ager, Hass and what we would have paid Ghana would no longer be on our cap."

(Problem is the Mavs felt they needed to pay Ghana--DeSagana Diop--$31 million over five years, universally seen as the worst free agent signing of the summer. And when was the last time a full MLE worked out for anybody? Make a list. Start with Jerome James. And has JKidd given up on that extension he wanted so badly he went on strike against the Knicks?)

"Which put us in a position for the future that I looked at as follows:

"2008-9 We have a full training camp with a very motivated JKidd, the rest of our starters back, an improving Nasty Bassty (had to get that in there :), plus anyone we can add. We all thought (and still do), we would have a very strong nucleus to build around. We would also have a 1st round pick."

(Brandon Bass is averaging 7.5 ppg and shooting 47% from the floor. We're not talking budding star here. We're talking role player. "Anyone we can add" includes, other than the aforementioned Diop, Wright, who was signed to a two-year, $3.8 million deal and then was consigned to the deep end of the bench; Shawne Williams, who was dispatched from Indiana for consorting with fugitives —and who has done exactly nothing; and Gerald Greene, now with his fourth NBA team in two years and looking like he might work out…might. The Mavs also gave up [away?] two second round picks in 2010 and 2011 to get Williams, leaving them with no picks in 2010. Oh yeah, they signed Devean George to a two-year deal worth $3.2 million.)

"2009-10 Depending on how the previous season went, we would have several last year contracts available, the option of potentially having some cap room, and other options to improve the team. With the much lower potential salaries, not only could we use cap room if we went that direction to enable roster flexibility, we could also buy a pick. (there are almost always teams willing to sell a pick in the 20s for 3mm dollars)"

("Several last year contracts" apparently include those of Dirk Nowitzki, the face of the franchise, age 31, owed $19.8 million; Erick Dampier, age 34, owed $12.1 million; and Jerry Stackhouse, age 35, owed some part of $7.2 million. BUT Nowitzki’s contract is a "last year contract" in name only. Nowitzki has a player option for $21.5 million in 2010-11. Is he going to pass on that? Meanwhile, Jason Terry, age 34, is owed $9.6 million in 2009-10; and Josh Howard, age 29, is owed $11.4 million. Not to mention Diop who will be paid $6 million; Wright who be paid $1.9 million; etc. This is the year the Nets have the Mavs unprotected draft pick. Cuban wanted to buy a first round pick in 2008. How’d that work out? He wound up with Wright, Williams and Greene instead. Ryan Anderson, the player the Nets grabbed with the Mavs' pick in the 2008 draft is averging 7.2 ppg and has been among league leaders in three point shooting. He's younger than all the Mavs' youngsters.)

"2010-11 In this year we only have 2 fully guaranteed contracts and in 2011-12 We dont have any fully guaranteed contracts. So the options are endless in both years. Plus , its in one of these years that the new CBA comes up. With so little committed, depending on how hard a line the owners take, things could get very, very interesting. Having so little contractually committed could be a great place to be when other teams look to dump salaries to avoid the risks of a lockout."

(Again, "fully guaranteed" is a bit of a misnomer. One assumes he is referring to Nowitzki’s player option of $21.5 million and Terry’s $10.4 million in 2010-11. The Mavs have a team option on Howard, who is owed $12.5 million. Of course, since Cuban wrote this, he added Diop, who will be paid $6.5 million. Even without Howard, that’s $38.4 million for Nowitzki, 32; Terry, 35; and Diop. It does give them a lot of cap room for a big name free agent, like Chris Bosh, a Dallas native. BUT unless the Mavs can get rid of one or more of those contracts, the rest of the team would be limited to whoever they can sign for the MLE or veterans minimum’s. Remember, they don’t have a pick in the 2010 draft. Not exactly enticing to a free agent, at least at this point. Re: 2011-12, Cuban says the Mavs don’t have any guaranteed deals. Draft Express says he owes Terry another $11.2 million…and of course, Diop’s $6.9 million now has to be added to the payroll for that year, when he turns 30. We assume he knows better than Draft Express.)

"So with the changes, while we lost a great player in Devin, we felt like we were picking up someone who could spark the team and add energy on the court. At best, we're energized, at worst, it doesn’t help, but we have improved the roster flexibility for the future and improved our opportunity to re-invent ourselves, just as we had after the 04-05 season. And as far as the draft picks, there is no question there is risk there, but in the NBA, there is always the option to buy low first round draft picks, so we weren’t as concerned there."

(Yes, there is a lot of risk. Harris is averaging 24/7/4 and the Mavs have had an up-and-down season, winning and losing seven straight, their longest losing streak since 2000-01. Cuban was forced to write another blog item, this one entitled "I Hate to Lose")

Cuban has praised Harris but said he had no regrets about the trade. "It’s been win-win," Cuban said not long ago. "Jason Kidd’s been our best player, by far."

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