We want so badly for there to be shadows around corners, “Deep Throats’’ in the parking lots, “sources’’ instead of “on-the-record’’ and “obvious.’'
We are doing this now in the case of Harrison Barnes’ arrival in Dallas and we are doing it in the case of Chandler Parsons’ departure from Dallas.
Consider first the ESPN “The Undefeated'' headline on Barnes’ leaving Golden State for the Mavs in free agency:
HARRISON BARNES SAYS DECISION TO LEAVE THE WARRIORS ‘WAS MORE SO MADE FOR ME’
"The decision was more so made for me," Barnes tells the website. "I was not necessarily walking away from the situation. I wasn't saying, 'I don't want to be here. I want to go there.’''
But … despite ESPN’s all-caps headline and the links to the story at FOX Sports and elsewhere … what is the revelation? What is the scoop? Where is the story?
Of course it wasn't his decision, as Golden State had matching rights and full control of Barnes, as per CBA rules. All along, Barnes was going to end up in Golden State, if that’s what the Warriors wanted … and elsewhere if that’s what they wanted. And they first indicated they intended to keep Barnes and match any offers, before understandably changing course to get Kevin Durant.
Barnes couldn’t have said/acted upon “I don’t want this’’ or “I do want that.’’ CBA-wise, he simply hadn’t earned that right … until the Warriors essentially granted him some latitude, at which point he and the Mavs chose each other.
So, as Barnes says realistically, "The decision was more so made for me.”
And that’s not a mystery or a scoop. That’s simply how restricted free agency works.
In the case of the guy he’s replacing, there seems to be more “hush-hush’’ about how it all went down but when you think logically about it — and skip the “Deep Throat’’ games — it becomes pretty apparent.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has now multiple times called the parting with Parsons driven by something other than “basketball reasons.’’
What could this be? Look-at-me selfishness? Hollywood-style modeling? A sudden unworthiness of max money even though the Mavs viewed CP as very much worthy up until a couple of weeks before July 1? Why the flip-flop … and why the reserved remarks about it?
We can paint this as a picture featuring Barnes being more “serious’’ about the game than Parsons, but that’s probably not entirely fair. Nor is it fair to say Barnes is “better’’ than Parsons and therefore more worthy of $21-mil-to-start max money. (We HOPE this is one of "The 10 Things Dallas Did Right This Offseason.'' But it's just hope.) It’s also unfair to pin the decision on a single individual, as Parsons has done by “blaming’’ Cuban and as others have done by assuming Dirk (the assistant personnel director) drove the decision.
There were multiple voices in the room who were offering their assessment of risk/reward in relation to CP, and whether a max deal would be worth the risk. But while I’m the guy who wrote about Dirk’s power in these matters, he was not really a major voice in this process, as I understand it.
Because the health issues, which were ongoing assessments, superseded everything. This was not a snapshot issue or a snap decision. Every day as July 1 approached, Parsons’ knee recovery offered a chance to get an update, and revise a prior evaluation and prognosis to some degree, and that information — fed to Cuban by his lieutenants (and absorbed by Dirk, of course, too) — steered the decision.
Those medical evaluations were certainly overlaid with and compared to the on-court and financial considerations as well.
Those latter issues may not have changed, but their value in relation to the medicals did, in terms of the risk/reward balance.
It is my belief and understanding that the alteration in approach regarding CP wasn’t an immediate consensus in one plan ("go ahead and take a chance and pay the max'') to a consensus in another ("offer less than the max or a shorter deal, to lessen the weight of the medical risk, just in case''). Instead, there was a rift in thinking initially - but they were going to pay the max.
And then came a fateful Wednesday night, when Fish talked to Mavs sources about what would be their final decision on Parsons, and how they wanted him to take less than the max, and how if he declined they’d already figured out how to pursue the Double-Pipedream of Conley and Whiteside.
It all happened so fast that night … but it was weeks in the rift, in the evaluation and in the final, difficult decision.
So why don’t the Mavs just come out and say that the medicals were too foreboding and eventually persuaded those in favor of keeping Parsons "at any cost” to back down? Why don’t they just say that it was a medical risk/reward thing, an assessment of likelihoods and downsides, and they eventually decided that the risks were just too big? Why does Cuban tell the media, “I can’t go into details’’ about his Parsons reasoning?
Medical information has very strict privacy laws, legally, and even if Cuban wanted to say the Mavs were skittish about Parsons' knee and the possibility of future injury, legally he can't go there because he would be putting his own neck as well as the Mavs into a legal noose with fairly significant penalties.
So with the moving of Chandler Parsons to Memphis, he hints at the logical and expect us to get it. And we do.
And with the moving of Harrison Barnes to Dallas, the logical is also “get-able’’ … and we do.
No mystery necessary.