PRE-DONUT: NO, NOT 12
No, I cannot come up with a dozen things the Dallas Mavericks did well in 2016 Summer Shopping; my glasses are blue-colored (well, and green and silver) but they ain't that blue.
And yes, it would not be too challenging to list all the things that went wrong ... or even all the things that Dallas maybe does wrong in its approach, as my column on Dirk's self-reflective Mavs criticisms dissects here.
But I can don my blue-colored glasses and conjure up 10 ... The Top 10 Things The Mavs Did Right This Summer ...
DONUT 10: THE FAST FLIP ON BARNES
Chandler Parsons is out and Harrison Barnes is in and the most important thing to need to know in evaluating the "swap'' is this: Dallas thought CP superior to Barnes a few weeks before the July 1 opening of free agency ... but a week before Summer Shopping changed its mind.
That's a fact. The rest is guesswork.
Parsons is the more accomplished all-around offensive player and its not even close. He was running pick-and-rolls, ball-handling, perimeter shooting, creating, driving to the rim ... all of it.
But Dallas developed injury concerns about CP as July 1 approached, and given the fact he's participated in 70 games in just two of his five seasons in the league, the concerns are legit.
Barnes, meanwhile, has miles to go to blossom into a true offensive threat, the "go-to guy'' that Dirk Nowitzki says he hopes he can be. But he's a far better defensive player than CP and he has averaged 76 games a season during his four-year career.
So "which player is better'' is an argument that is central to the next four years in Dallas ... but "which player is healthier'' is near that center, too.
For now: owner Mark Cuban's lieutenants steered him to decide Dallas wasn't going to max-out Parsons ... what should the Mavs have done next, following the death of the Double-Pipedream of Mike Conley/Hassan Whiteside, to replace their departing small forward?
They should've signed the next best/equally best small forward available, at the going rate, if necessary.
So they did.
DONUT 9: CULTURAL FRIENDLINESS
Dallas acquired two starters off a big-win Golden State team. That seems "culturally positive.'' Dallas also signed two kids off a Sacramento Kings team that, errrr, didn't win big and seems culturally flawed.
Still, there is a trend in the additions of Andrew Bogut and Barnes, and in the addition of Seth Curry and Quincy Acy, too: Bogut and Barnes are fast friends, and considered part of the glue of the get-along vibe in the Golden State locker room. Curry and Acy are pals, too, as noted on Twitter ...
... and while the Sacramento "culture'' is probably imperfect, if they are also "get-along guys,'' Dallas' judgment on them will be right.
Mark Cuban recently told me that in assembling this year's roster, "Culture matters.'' Making the locker room work in a way that pleases Dirk Nowitzki -- and in a way that reflects this franchise's heyday -- was clearly instrumental in the summer blueprint.
Bogut and Barnes and Curry and Acy ... not just on the floor but off it, in the locker room, on the plane, on the bus ... can make "Culture matters'' a success.
DONUT 8: THE 5-RUN-HOMER SWING
OK, OK, it didn't work. And that's frustrating. The Double-Pipedream of Mike Conley/Hassan Whiteside was made up of two "One-Percent Chances.'' The big fish leaving for another pond happens rarely (though Kevin Durant and Al Horford make that excuse less viable) and still ...
Should Dallas not attempt to sign the Conleys and the Whitesides?
If the Mavs balance their "Plan Powder'' desires with the use of other talent-acquisition avenues while also working to build and be in contention, what's wrong with trying to recruit better players? Why would we want them to do anything less?
"Trying'' doesn't get you any trophies. But "failing to try'' guarantees you won't get any trophies.
DONUT 7: THE D-LEAGUE CONNECTION
It makes such obvious sense: Why not run an NBA franchise's D-League team as if if the big club is the varsity and the little club is the JV? Click here and here to get Texas Legends coach Bob MacKinnon's thoughts on this, as the Mavs and the Legends will once again run from the same playbook ... but will increasingly work together in the true sense of the word "developmental.''
DONUT 6: STRENGTH IN SECOND-ROUND NUMBERS
Mike Bacsik and I discussed this the other day on 105.3 The Fan and we think Dallas has provided a solid answer to the questions about "finding unpolished gems in the draft.'' Now, you only get two picks a year. And this year, the Mavs only had their second-rounder. (See below.) Oh, and one more thing about "unpolished gems'': It's such a dart-throw ...
So why not throw as many darts as possible?
Curry is a "second-round-type dart.'' (Who, by the way, can really shoot it, something this roster was going to need. Check out his Steph-like, Jet-like shooting chart here.) So is Acy. Returnees Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri qualify. On another level down, so does Jonathan Gibson. And Kyle Collinsworth. And Dorian Finney-Smith. And Jameel Warney. And Nicolas Brussino. Each of these guys either were or could've been second-round picks. All of them either have contracts that lock them in as Mavs or partial guarantees that drew them to Mavs training camp and, even if they get cut, incentivize them to stay inside the organization by spurning overseas ball for a season in Frisco.
Again, the most attractive way to build a team is by adding superstars. (Or, at least, the Mavs believe so.) Once that option is unavailable? Throw a bunch of darts. What if, of those eight aforementioned names, Dallas unpolishes three or four "gems''?
DONUT 5: THE DRAFT AS AN ASSET
Maybe Dallas outsmarted itself in previous years, thinking the NBA Draft was such a wild crapshoot that it didn't matter if you passed on The Greek Freak to instead select Shane Larkin, all to save $200,000 that might help lure a big-fish free agent, because ... well, how can the scouting department possibly know that The Greek Freak would really be superior to Larkin?
Except it did.
Cuban has shifted gears here in the last two seasons, overseeing a draft process that has netted Dallas a rotation player in Justin Anderson (first round last year) and a true prospect at center in AJ Hammons (second round this year). There is no way to guarantee that Simba will be a star and no way to guarantee that "Tiger Tank'' Hammons will be a long-term NBA body.
But approaching their draft-day availability as if such things are possible is a positive start.
DONUT 4: D-WILL ON ICE - The Mavs attempt to do this almost every summer ... and almost every summer, the on-ice candidate says "no.'' But this time, finally, a Dallas veteran accepted the Mavs' invitation to keep himself on ice, on hold, in storage ... understanding that the bridesmaid status was not meant as an insult, but as a gesture of honesty.
So the Mavs let Deron Williams know that their top pick at point guard wasn't him, that it was Conley. So, would he please wait, just a day or two, and stay plugged in with Dallas, monitor the situation, and feel confident that he was still "wanted'' and "loved'' ... but in a July 3 way, not in a July 1 way.
And by gosh it worked!
D-Will, I was told from the start, very much wanted to remain in his hometown of DFW (as did his family). So the Mavs caught a hometown break here ... and got a hometown discount, I think, too, with Williams, 31, not breaking the bank with his one-year, $9-mil agreement.
DONUT 3: A YOUTH MOVEMENT
Critics are clinging to their criticisms. You wanted Dallas to get younger? (And Cuban and Dirk did, too?) But now you say, "Well, most of this 'youth' comes in the form of 'scrubs.'''
Sorry, but you can't have it all ways.
Barnes is not a scrub. Curry and Powell are rotation players. Acy might be. Hammons and a few other guys in their early 20's figure to make the final 15. Oh, and Justin Anderson is the leader of this pack, and there aren't too many arguments against him vaulting into a top-of-the-rotation slot. And Anderson embodies something my colleague Ben Rogers talks about regarding the Mavs, that you wish, as a fan, you had some "hope'' for the future.
You have some of that now.
Me? I've often said I'd rather the Mavs be "good'' (or "great'') than "young.'' But the fanbase, the media, the star player and the owner wanted to get young.
It's not fair to complain about it now.
DONUT 2: GOING DOWN UNDER FOR BOGUT
This is a Mavs speciality, and I don't think it's about "scrambling''; I think it's about being really good at closing Tier-2 deals. Here is our original story predicting a BLOAT trade that would bring Bogut to Dallas. Here is Dirk's "fun fit'' thoughts on the deal. And with ESPN's quickie note on Dallas beating out Houston for the honor of trading "nothing'' for a high-quality NBA starting center, you've got a cherry on top with a player who, according to The Eye Test and the numbers, makes your defense substantially better.
DONUT 1: ASSUAGING DIRK
At 38, Dirk Nowitzki wants to play for a winner, wants to be surrounded by the right kind of guys, wants to be paid in a satisfactory (if, we wonder, somewhat "intriguing'' manner, wants to maybe get two more years out of his body, wants to probably not play a lot of 5, wants a true center with defensive skills alongside him and a true point guard outside to feed him ...
And didn't ever, ever want to leave Dallas.
Maybe YOU wanted him to leave, for "his own sake,'' you thought. But did I mention that he's 38, a grown man fully capable of making big-boy decisions for himself and his family, and that if his warm relationships with Cuban and Donnie (and Rick) influenced him into staying ... So what?
And better than "so what'' ... GOOD.
The Mavs aren't going to be better than the Warriors in 2016-17. Can they make the playoffs? Can they win 45? Can they get to the second round? Maybe. But they plan to be good enough, thanks to 10 things done right, to assuage Dirk Nowitzki. And if that's the start of "good enough'' for him, it's the start of "good enough'' for me, too.