Mavs' Paul Pitch: A Dirk/Kidd History Lesson
There are otherwise worthy things the Dallas Mavericks will not say in The Chris Paul Pitch.
An example? The often-written-about differences between Dallas boss Mark Cuban and Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling.
No need to trash Sterling
Cuban epitomizes the phrase "player's owner.'' Sterling? Google him. He is constantly being accused of slum-lording, sexism, racism ... you name it. It's not just on the street; it's all in court documents. And the accusations don't just come from "haters''; they come from his own top employees.
Now, there's a hitch here. Ask any good salesman; he doesn't denigrate the competition because he's too busy selling the excellence of his own product.
Certainly someone will be assigned to remind the Paul camp of Sterling's crimes. (His celebration of "Black History Month'' in March is ... fascinating.) But it would be insulting to Paul to spend face-to-face time with him on a subject he absolutely already knows everything about.
Indeed, he probably knows more about Sterling than Dallas' sales team; Paul lives it.
UPDATE: Paul is reportedly upset with the Clippers organization because the firing of coach Vinny Del Negro as coach is being blamed on him. A potential rift between the free-agent-to-be and his LAC owner, Donald T. Sterling?
Good. Very good.
"Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you've gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you,'' ESPN's Chris Broussard quotes a source as saying. "He's very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny's firing. He had nothing to do with it."
See? The Mavs don't need to make a point of this. It'd be almost insulting to think Paul needs to be reminded of it.
No use trying to play 'money magic'
Then there is the issue of money. And trying to convince Paul that the $27.6 million difference between the allowed four-year bid from the Mavs and the allowed five-year bid from the Clippers is insignificant will be a failed bit.
We learned this last summer in the case of Deron Williams. Five guaranteed years trumps four. State income tax issues aren't persuasive enough. Cost of living? Deron knew it better than most, given the fact that he purchased a home for his mother in The Colony for about $242,000 -- one-tenth the cost of the same home in New York.
It didn't matter.
Dwelling on math tricks to close the gap between $79.7 mil and $107.3 mil won't serve to swoon Chris Paul.
Once again, there is a place in some conversation at some point that notes that the four-year differences in the two contracts can in a sense amount to just about $150,000 per season. And the opt-out possibilities serve as a way for a player like Paul to maximize his earning potential over the span of two contracts.
But big round numbers talk. Always have.
So what will be central to The Chris Paul Pitch?
Dirk Nowitzki's talent NOW.
Kidd's legacy FOREVER.
And a Mavs history lesson that can become THE FUTURE.
Chris Paul is an admirer of Kidd's. (Pretty much every point guard in the NBA is). The mention of Kidd -- and a history lesson as to how he was utilized in Dallas -- is imperative.
The Mavs must remind Paul that early in 2008, Dallas was in possession of a point guard they believed to have an All-Star future. Devin Harris was young and talented and dynamic. This organization loved him (and by the way, still thinks of him as "family.'')
And yet the Mavs unplugged from Devin. Why? To obtain a player who was a decade older, who was clearly on the downside?
Dallas swapped Devin Harris -- a high-lotto draftee, a key member of an NBA Finals team and a future All-Star -- for Jason Kidd.
Remember the Sports Illustrated cover commemorating the event? "Go For It!'' it said, suggesting that the move was designed as what many saw it as: A short-term fix. "Go for it'' NOW ... and we'll worry about later, later.
But look at how it actually played out: Kidd's relationship with Dirk was special. His relationship with Cuban was special. His relationship with Carlisle was special. And instead of simply milking a "Go For It'' year or two out of the about-to-turn-35 Kidd, Dallas received five seasons of the future Hall-of-Famer.
Five years of "Go For It.''
Kidd was the floor leader. The difference-maker. The steadying influence. Selected to the NBA All-Star game in 2010, he was of course a big part of the Mavs' first title in 2011.
Meanwhile, how did Devin fare?
Harris had a flashy start in New Jersey (selected to the 2009 All-Star game) ... flashy enough that it caused many fans to immediately regret his departure. But he was never missed by Dallas on the floor, and the only year since the trade that Harris started more games or provided more minutes to his team than Kidd did for Dallas was the lockout-shortened one.
So here is the question for Chris Paul that must be posed, and it has nothing to do with insulting the Clippers or with money magic, but rather with a franchise's present talent base and its potential to reload:
Are you looking for which team might be better in five years -- as, Chris, you'll actually be on your next contract -- when Dirk might be retired and when Blake Griffin might be in full bloom? Or do you want to be on the court with a difference-maker NOW, for this contract ... and then involved with an organization that unlike the Clippers (with just two back-to-back playoff seasons in 30 years) has a track record of success, of reloading, and of more success?
And when it comes to reloading as early as the Summer of 2014: Imagine Dallas being led into free agency with another chapter of "Plan Powder,'' plus Discounted Dirk, plus Chris Paul as the lead recruiter? (And while you are letting your imagination run wild -- as Dallas hopes Chris' will -- imagine putting all of that into a presentation for potential 2014 free agent LeBron James?)
In Dallas, the Mavs must tell Chris Paul, he can follow Jason Kidd's footsteps while walking alongside Dirk and into a history that can repeat itself.
In Dallas, Chris Paul can "Go For It'' now. And continue to be "Going For It'' five years from now.
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