The other day I'm driving around DFW running errands and flipping radio channels and I hear the two Mavs-connected voices Mike Fisher on 105.3 The Fan and Tim MacMahon on ESPNDallas -- use slightly different words to describe the same factoid:
Dirk Nowitzki is a influential decision-maker in the Mavs personnel department.
Fish's comment was an overview of sorts reflecting Dirk's organizational power.
"Dirk is one of the Four Pillars here, with Cuban, Donnie and Carlisle," Fish stated. "They're in this together. They do this together."
And then came a button-push and MacMahon's specific example of Dirk's power as a Pillar.
He said, off-handedly, that the Rondo trade happened solely due to the desire of Dirk. MacMahon asserted that Carlisle didn't want Rondo and that the other pillars didn't, either ... but Dirk envisioned it as workable, so they bowed to his request.
We can nitpick at Fish and at Tim here. Surely Fish isn't saying all four Pillars are equal; DallasBasketball.com has often referred to owner Mark Cuban as the de facto GM and that makes his Pillar higher and stronger. And we can't be sure Dirk was alone in the Rondo camp as DallasBasketball.com reported two years before the culmination of the Ill-fated November 2014 trade that Donnie and Celtics boss Danny Ainge had touched base on the idea of such a swap.
But nitpicking aside, Fish/MacMahon stir up a fascinating pot chock-full of some odd dynamics in the decision-making chain.
I had heard the Pillars thing before but I had never heard this Rondo/Dirk angle before, not even a vague hint. Yet again, it's all credible enough, and it leads to a collection of angles that merit our examination as those Four Mav Pillars do their examination of Chandler "Monster Max'' Parsons and Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside and Evan Fournier and of course Dirk himself.
I have asked aloud before whether or not the Mavs actually have the complete mastery of the salary cap and a complete mastery of negotiating tactics (as they clearly believe they do) - because, as I often say, they have to be elite at both evaluating and negotiating, or hire help that is, if they want the team to be elite in this GM-dominated league. I most recentlyaddressed this in our exclusive analysis of a Dirk "MIN/MAX" contract -- although, while I trust they have perused this, since my buddy Fish has shoved it down everyone's throat, cap tricks have to be complemented with the other skills to be the best these days.
To those examinations by those Four Mav Pillars:
*Is there a "Whatever Dirk Wants?" angle that we've all been missing over recent years? Is he not just a guy to get vague acquiescence from, but a real bottom-line decision-changer, in the Mavs' planning?
*Is he involved in the Parsons shift-away, and maybe even more than we know?
*If the Mavs came around very quickly a month ago on Conley (as Fish first reported on May 26) is that because Dirk came around on him?
*Fish was also the first to connect Dallas with Whiteside (on June 13) but Fish carefully presented it as "Warming to Whiteside" concept ... But now it's a full-blown outbreak of Wanting Whiteside! Is that because Dirk did the "warming"?
We suspect that OKC made its recent moves with the approval of Kevin Durant, and with the hopes of pleasing him enough to retain him. We joke about LeBron James being the assistant GM/assistant head coach of the Cavaliers.
If we think it is okay for Durant and James to have power in their organizations, are we just as okayfor Dirk to have power in his?
With it seeming like Chandler Parsons isn't around to recruit, maybe other players will have to assert themselves in that department. Donnie noted last week that team exec Michael Finley has begun to greatly assert himself in personnel matters. Fish writes here that the pursuit of Mike Conley (complete with our report of an officially secured meeting) will feature as its point man Rick Carlisle. And then as we approach July 1, traditionally, Cuban goes on the road as the face of the franchise and Donny is stationed in Dallas at free-agent control central.
But maybe we've missed another hand on the Mavericks steering wheel - could it be Dirk is possessive of a louder voicebehind the scenes than any of us ever knew? And if so, what does that mean?
If it's a player playing GM, flying from the seat of his pants, is that dysfunctional? Does it mean they're "run" by an amateur? Or does it add hard-won insight into players from a legend who has always outworked everyone else to become great?
If somehow Dallas hits on this year's "Double Pipedream" or some variation of it, maybe one day we'll learn that Dirk Nowitzki was actually the architect of the operation.