"The Ringer" is a national media power trying to do some of the quality work that "Grantland'' did before it, but no matter that talent collected on its staff, it struggles to cover a "local" story accurately due to a painfully obvious reason:
"National" isn't "local."
We see this in play in "The Ringer's" piece connecting the Dallas Mavericks with free-agent point guard Kyle Lowry.
"By now," the story reads, "we know how this goes: The Mavericks enter free agency with their eyes and their wallets on the big name. Mark Cuban ... goes after said player ... Come June I’m sure we’ll see headlines like, 'Cuban is going hard after Blake Griffin. No emoji necessary,' or even, 'Cuban wants to sell Steph Curry on the idea of playing with his brother in Dallas.'
"In free agency, nothing will stop Cuban from thinking anything is possible. ... But ... Dallas ... will probably strike out on the biggest free agents. It’s what the Mavs do. And so Cuban will throw a max contract at Kyle Lowry. … Come July, don’t be surprised if we see a picture of Cuban and Lowry holding a contract in a dark Toronto nightclub …’’
With articles like this I can never tell when the author is trying to be funny (and remember, the audience is always who determines if a joke is funny.) But in any event, let’s dissect:
*Is the mention of Steph supposed to be funny? I guess so. But trust me, if you actually follow the Mavs’ Curry dealings, you spend more time trying to figure out how to pay Seth (or even whether you should trade him) than you do daydreaming about Steph.
*Will “Cuban Go Hard After Blake Griffin’’? If Cuban says he’s doing so, I will write that he’s doing so. But beyond a regional tie, there’s little logic here, because of the money involved.
*Which takes us to Kyle Lowry. The Ringer is not trying to be funny here; the writer is truly making a connection and predicting a signing.
But forget whether Dallas would be wise to hitch its big-money train to Lowry’s 31-year-old wagon. Forget whether Dallas should scrap its post-Dirk future for one more run toward an 8 seed. Forget that “The Ringer’’ originally wrote that Lowry would be a nice addition because he could help mentor “young gun Devin Harris.’’ (Devin is three years older than Lowry.)
The reason I’m not predicting that we will “see a picture of Cuban and Lowry holding a contract in a dark Toronto nightclub’’ (another "joke'' harkening back to Chandler Parsons a few years ago) is because it’s not financially feasible to envision Dallas giving a max contract to Lowry … because Dallas doesn’t readily have max money to give.
Now, there are ways.
Don’t worry about bringing back Nerlens Noel.
Find takers for Wesley Matthews and Dwight Powell.
In that first scenario, you spin your wheels by losing a guy in restricted free-agent Noel who should ultimately be viewed as this summer’s “big fish.’’ In the second scenario, you need multiple dance partners, lessening the likelihood of being granted multiple lucky wishes.
But what we keep trying to preach about the Mavs’ cap is this: Short of magically machinations, Dallas can find ways to spend about $18 million on newcomers — which is about half the salary that Kyle Lowry figures to command.
So there’s no legit “connection’’ here at this time, despite “The Ringer’’ telling us that Lowry might want to do it because “it might also be a nice change of scenery.’’
Yeah, that’s really not how free agency works.
“The Ringer’’ also nails Dallas because it annually strikes out on free agents (not exactly true, as Harrison Barnes can testify) and suggests that Cuban is foolish to in “thinking anything is possible.’’
The truth about the Mavs’ present approach to free agency, as we noted last year and as I believe we’ll see in play this summer: Dallas will “run out all the grounders,’’ as Cuban likes to say. In other words, the Mavs will hustle on everybody just in case. But there is maybe more humility than there once was and there is no self-delusion here. Last year, it was on June 24 — a week before the opening of free agency — when DB.com revealed that the Mavs weren’t thinking of Conley/Whiteside as “Plan A,’’ but rather as a recognized pipe dream to be explored. We also reported that the coming contact with Kevin Durant would be a “courtesy call,’’ not some exercise in a warped reality.
That’ll be the case this summer, too. Dallas needs to “think anything is possible’’ as long as it actually is. In our opinion, the Mavs also need to make sure their "Art Of The Deal'' skills are on-point, because money-whipping isn't the premium way here and recruiting charm isn't enough here. (We've got a follow-up to the concept of Cuban's Mavs and "The Art Of The Deal'' coming up this week.) There’s no real harm in that "anything-is-possible'' mindset, as long as it doesn’t clog the legitimate pursuits. No, the harm is in making goofy predictions grounded in a lack of understanding of the goals, the rules and the limitations.
And for now, as it relates to Kyle Lowry and other names tossed around by casual Mavs observers … well, there are lots of goals, even more rules, and one gigantic limitation.