Monday Mavs Donuts: Dissecting Cuban's Blog

You may or may not approve of the Mavs' 'plan' or of the lines of thought Mark Cuban spelled out in his recent blog post. But it's hard not to appreciate the time and effort he put into giving us the answers we all craved to know. Including the much-written-about Dwight cartoon video but not limited to it, a point-by-point dissection of Cuban's column in Donuts:

DONUT 1: Sweating the table …

Perhaps there have been times where his brash confidence or arrogance, his thinly concealed distaste for the doubt spilled from the hands of the comparatively unlearned, his frustration with the media, his often outspoken manner that can seem to demand the eye of the camera for motivations that may appear to be self-gratifying (and sometimes are), for the dismantling of the sole championship team in the history of the Dallas Mavericks , for all or any of these reasons some may have seen their opinion of Mark Cuban sour … or always slant towards the negative.

His personality isn't catered to the tastes of all. He hasn't avoided the abrasive aspects of who he is, or his personal approach to business and the basketball franchise he runs (an approach that has obviously treated him very well), in chase of your love.

For all of what may drive you to roll your eyes, shake your head or simply dislike the man there is no denying his love for the Mavs. Just as there is no doubt in his desire to see them win.

He may not sweat your opinion, but there's no denying the sweat, both figuratively and literally, he's poured into his/your team.

DONUT 2: Gloriously transparent …

Regardless of how you feel about the man or his decisions in shaping the Mavs -- to some feelings formed thanks to the unsuccessful Dwight courtship -- it is easy to be appreciative of in his latest post to his blog (, titled "Lets Talk Mavs #MFFL."


Dare we say it is endearing?

It's straight forward, naked and utterly transparent. It's what we wish so many other avenues of our lives would be: honest, open, and forthright.

We may not like the answers or agree with the conclusions that came from the insights provided, but the thinking is there in bare honesty.

So, let's have a look … with some of the opinions our reading of it inspired.

DONUT 3: Addressing the decision to dismantle …

The new CBA was ratified, a 66-game season was laid out, and, as Cuban states previously in this blog post, that included hindrances that could be more acutely felt by an older core, such as, "… 3 games in 3 nights , but we had a shortened training camp as well. Whatever routines our players had to get ready for the season were going to be thrown out the window."

Cuban goes on to add:

"But what we have not discussed publicly was our concern of bringing back an older team in a shortened season. We basically saw the 2011-12 season as a throw away no matter who we signed. With out the time to prepare and get their bodies ready, throwing a team with with an older starting lineup right into the fire was going to be tough. Young guys can walk into an NBA game any day of the year. Get to your mid 30s, not so much. So to bring the gang back, we would basically be losing a year. When you look at keeping together an older team and the first year after your championship is a lost year, it's hard to justify keeping an older team together. But we were the champs. That meant a lot."

DONUT 4: Cracks in the foundation? …

The logic is clear, but we're forced to note that two of the youngest members of that championship core, that would have seemed most ideally suited to adapt to the challenges of the compacted season – Tyson Chandler (29 going into the 2011-12 season) and JJ Barea (27 going into that season) – were let go, just as we must note that Chandler would win Defensive Player of the Year honors that season.

However, keeping one or both of those players would have altered what the Mavs could do moving forward, as Cuban states:

"It also meant that if we kept everyone together we would have to make do with our existing roster. We would have little room to add new players. In particular we would not be in position to add someone who could come in and be a cornerstone for our future. IMHO we would be stuck with an aging team and not be in a position to make a big impact on our roster."

While this may have been true to a degree, seeing what teams like Golden State and, more aptly, Brooklyn (as well as others) have been able to do under similar constraints after the ratification of the current CBA would seem to show cracks in this line of thinking … particularly when considering that Tyson would clearly have been an asset of value. Of course, hindsight clears up what were much murkier waters.

DONUT 5: And a solid foundation …

Culture is one of the first mothers of winning. Culture is the womb from which chemistry is born, and vice versa.

Cuban wrote:

"Our culture is one of the reasons I won't trade Dirk.

"When you turn your team upside down and try to figure out what the culture of the team is, you take the greatest risk a team can take. Dirk sets the tone for our team. He works as hard, if not harder than anyone."

More than providing a concise response to every member of the "blow-it0up" crowd (though he goes on to further explain this point), this is the ultimate compliment to Dirk Nowitzki. Beyond his excellence on the court, it speaks not only to the "selflessness" and "work ethic" that we, the fans, see and feel, but goes on to portray its profound depth and impact on the fabric of the team as a whole.

DONUT 6: On going for the max-contract free agents …

Cuban also subtly verifies that Chris Paul would have been the team's top target in free agency had he hit the market (as first reported), while also addressing what some may have viewed as questionable "character" fit in Dwight Howard, given the stressing of culture previously in his post.

"So we went for a max free agent this summer. We had hoped that Chris Paul may be available He wasn't. So Dwight Howard was our first target once again.

"Let me address here the inevitable question of Dwight vs Mavs culture. We saw it as somewhat of a risk, but felt like because Dwight by all appearances and checking we did, is a good guy and with our support systems we believed we could make it work. if not, he was obviously a very trade-able asset."

As with every section pulled here, please take advantage of the access Cuban is granting with his blog post to find more depth and explanation to his thinking … as we are obviously only pulling snippets that stood out to us.

Given the expectations of many, it is interesting to see the very complimentary tone Cuban takes in describing Dwight.

If you read a bit between the lines, there is another interesting nugget, though not really a new one: it is clear that Cuban did not view Deron Williams as a worthy max-contract centerpiece and "fit" for the Mavs.

DONUT 7: Speaking of Dwight …

Cuban includes a copy of a two-minute-eight-second video used as a part of the overall pitch that took hours to unfold. We view it as an entertaining video that displays the abundant creativity of the Mavs organization. It's a nice complement to the pitch, not the pitch itself.

It is a piece of the whole, not the entirety of it.

DONUT 8: The Superman Cartoon …

DONUT 9: The crowded roads …

Cuban states that he sees much of the league adhering to the plan of building from the ground up through the draft to create a core (or, that is our interpretation of it), of relying on a period of losing in chase of the highest draft selections, possibly for multiple years … as well as the difficulties and opportunities this can cause:

"What I do know, at least what I think i have learned from my experiences in business is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do. Not easier. Harder. It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path."

Is everyone trying to squeeze through the door at the same time?

Given that the Heat, Grizzlies, Knicks, Nets, Pacers, Houston, Lakers, Clippers and possibly even Golden State (with David Lee, Andrew Bogut, and now Andre Iguodala being added not as young, drafted players nurtured to their peak by the Warriors) were not necessarily built via this method, is it a misinterpretation of facts, the views of a hopeful eye?

If it does prove prevalent, could this mass of similar thinking prove to be a significant assist to the Mavs current approach, especially now that they appear once more willing to accept some degree of prolonged salary in return (or, at least, not insisting on expiring deals as their return)?

There is certainly a sensible logic here, a logic that may be accentuated by the strong crop of prospects that has many drooling over the top spots in the next draft. Could we see a rush to discard second-tier talent, perhaps all-star or near all-star level, as teams give up on aspirations for the 2013-14 season and commit to "Diggin' for Wiggins?"

Can the Mavs capitalize on this?

DONUT 10: The "Fallen Angels" …

Cuban writes:

"We also feel like we have some players that will be far better on our team than they were on previous teams. I like our ability to work with what i call "fallen angels". Players who are traded or left unsigned because everyone in the league thinks that they can only be the player they saw in another organization."

Though this may not have been intended to represent a single player, it's hard not thinking of Monta Ellis when reading this.

Cuban hasn't been shy in expressing the lack he saw from the guard positions a season ago. Given this, it's no surprise the Mavs quickly chased Jose Calderon … though some would question the acquisition of Ellis in this light. The above seems to give a glimpse into the thinking on Ellis, a player that could prove to be a steal or could become the "bust" or poor signing that many national pundits believe he will.

We've written previously on the notion that there may be reason to hope for more than some expect from Ellis, but like the way Cuban expressed it.

Fallen angels … a nice take and a cool "Cubanism."

DONUT 11: A little more on Ellis …

In a recent Ellis article (we hope you think it's a worthy read) we went into a number of statistics. One we didn't focus on was how Ellis performed in the clutch.

In the clutch last season ("clutch" being defined here as the final two minutes of a game within five points), Darren Collison had the third worst turnover ratio (number of turnovers per 100 possessions used) in the league, 20.66. OJ Mayo came in as the ninth worst in the league at 16.73.

Ellis was at the far other end of the spectrum, ranked ninth best in the league with just 3.0 turnovers per 100 possessions used in these circumstances.

(rankings above from players that totaled a minimum of 50 minutes)

Of the players to have totaled 50 of these "clutch" minutes (as defined above) on last year's roster (Vince Carter, Mayo, Collison and Dirk), Ellis would have ranked first in offensive rating, defensive rating, net rating, assist-to-turnover ratio, and effective field-goal percentage.

Perhaps this is merely an example of, "yeah, but look what he's being compared to" … but it is one more area where Ellis could be to be an improvement over what the Mavs had on the court last season.

DONUT 12: Thanks, Studio Movie Grill! ...

A great partner with us in charitable work and a great place to get a movie and a meal ... thanks for the relationship, Studio Movie Grill!

DONUT 13: The Final Word ...

In writing about Mark Cuban's blog post we walk a fine line. It's easy to tear at the edges of a plan knowing the outcome. (For some thoughtful and clever tearing, see Fish's "Jurassic Mavs and Chaos Theory'' piece.) What were the tiniest of fault lines have been pried wide, magnified and discussed ad nauseum. What could once be debated objectively is easily discarded by the hard truths of the result … the proof's in the pudding, right?


At the same time, you want to drive home the point of just how special this was. Mark Cuban didn't have to give this to us. His openness here is a gift … and we're thankful for that.

We also felt obligated to note some of the opinions that popped into our heads when reading, but admit that this is done with the advantage of looking at the past rather than guessing at the future.

You may or may not approve of the "plan," of the lines of thought Mark Cuban spelled out, but it's hard not to appreciate the time and effort he put into giving us the answers we all craved to know.

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