The Mavs As 'The Smartest Guys In The Room'

There is a problem with being 'The Smartest Guy In The Room.' Being the first to understand something is a tribute to due diligence and intelligence but can also prove to be a disadvantage as others adapt. A round earth? They scoffed at Pythagoras, Columbus and Magellan then. A new way to build an NBA team? They scoff at the Mavs now.



Being the first to understand something is a tribute to due diligence and intelligence but can also prove to be a disadvantage as the rest to the world is yet to adapt. If you find the laws governing your world to be redefined, work to understand this shift in regulatory constrictions and adapt to their new guidelines while the rest of the world – NBA front offices representing the "world" in this case – continue to adhere to an obsolete construct and obey outdated rules ... you could find yourself held at a momentary disadvantage.

To put this thought another way, the Dallas Mavericks may be among those at the forefront of understanding the true ramifications of the new CBA and it seems reasonable to wonder if this very understanding may be working against them in the present … even if it is proven the correct and wise path down the line.
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Fit this into the extremely finite timeframe of what remains of Dirk Nowitzki's career and doing things the "right" way could be viewed to be wrong.

If the Mavs are able to sign Deron Williams and then within another year add another star … well, everything has come up roses and any fears will be assuaged, any blink of struggles will suddenly be deemed more than acceptable.

They will be "The Smartest Guys in The Room'' (a play on words that, by the way, only coincidentally is the name of the award-winning 2005 Enron documentary with which Cuban film company Magnolia is associated.)

However, should Deron not come to Dallas, should attracting one of the league's elite to a depleted roster featuring a star nearing the end of his burn prove to be more difficult than hoped, what may technically be "right" could prove to be anything but … at least in the sense of Dirk's career.

Waiting for the market to "define itself" is a term we've heard from Mark Cuban in respect to how the Mavs will approach free agency in the still evolving landscape of the new CBA. When considering the long-term health of the franchise, it is a prudent prism to peer through. In contrast, the fear that it may leave Dirk to wallow in the mud of mediocrity for the closing years of his brilliant career cannot be overlooked.

It may have been smart not to sign Tyson Chandler for the money New York gave him. Caron Butler earned his new deal, but it's hard to argue the Mavs would have been wise to match the level of commitment the Clippers presented. JJ Barea was a solid backup that played a pivotal role in bringing a championship to Dallas, but to contend the Mavs should have matched what Minnesota offered is an invitation to severe future roster limitations and very likely an impediment to the direct path towards improvement almost immediately.

These are all players Dallas viewed as not worth their current contracts. Their actions speak to this fact. And, because of this reasoning the Mavs weren't nearly as good as they could have been in the 2011-12 season. Maybe they would have lost in the first round either way, but it's hard to deny the team would have been exponentially better and that the deep bonds of a championship crew would have remained whole and intact, leaving us a residue of chemistry this year's team could never attain.
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With free agency less than two months away, this vantage point will likely remove further options from the Mavs final considerations. Players like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Kirk Hinrich, Chris Kaman, (Jason Terry?) and others may be solid players, and we won't say there is no chance any of them find their way here, but the odds would seem to say that there will be at least one team out there willing to overpay to get them, one team failing to bow to the laws of the new CBA, one team not understanding or caring about the new boundaries in place. Should they be lured by money or long-term security, it's not hard to imagine that some hoped-for players would follow financial incentives to an address outside of the Dallas area.

Their market has yet to be defined, and the Mavs have made it clear that they do not intend to overpay for talent only to be forced to eventually kneel before the will of the new CBA and succumb to the punishment it yields. Again, long term health placed before short term gains.

Prudency abstains where impatience or eagerness grows fat.

Unfortunately, what's wise for the franchise may prove to be the death rattle for Dirk's further title hopes as the ambitions of these two motives do not necessarily run parallel.

Yet, they do share an approach in one regard: max players.

This is why we don't believe Mark Cuban when he says "Plan A" has not been defined. Maybe the entirety of the web has not been knitted, but the primary focus must have been settled upon. There is only one area where the market is set, and that is for the Deron Williamses of the league, the max-deal players. And, there is only one of these max-players available as a free agent this summer. Pursuing Williams does not act counter intuitively to the stance of allowing the market time to define itself.
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Aggressiveness in this area does not contradict judiciousness elsewhere. Unless the MBT (Mavs Brain Trust) does not believe Williams is worthy of a max deal, there is no conflict of interest. We may not yet know what a defensive force with a nice offensive fit is truly worth per year, but we do know what the Dirks and Derons of the league are worth. In this course, the desires of the Mavs front office and any hope to see Dirk go out on top are one.

Being one of the first to understand something may grant a momentary disadvantage, but eventually all become bound by the newly defined logic. Those who were quick to comprehend heighten their own odds of finding blessings on the backs of far less severe, less enduring, punishments, than those who were slow to adapt. In this, perhaps there is a breath of comfort to be found … we only hope the Mavs lessons aren't learned over the sacrifice of what remains of Dirk's career.


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