Not long ago, I discussed with Dallas Mavericks boss Donnie Nelson the value of relationships with agents.
"Put it this way,'' Donnie said. "We wouldn't have won the 2011 NBA title without the friendships that we have with Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan.''
Wow. And you thought it was all about, oh, guys like Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler!
Well, in a sense, that's exactly what Donnie is referring to. ... because Schwartz was the agent for Kidd and Chandler, helping to guide them to Dallas, helping to keep them happy while they were here.
This angle is important in every single dealing for every single NBA team. Fegan (now suspended for a year) represented, over the years, Nick Calethes, Matt Carroll, Austin Croshere, Erick Dampier, Howard Eisley, Drew Gooden, Antoine Walker, Shawn Marion, Chandler Parsons and Satnam Singh. On that list are champions ... and "favors.'' Friendships.
Schwartz, over the years? Deron Williams, Charlie Villanueva, Tyson Chandler, Devin Harris, Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, Lamar Odom, Jerry Stackhouse, Devin Harris and Harrison Barnes. Relationships. Favors. Champions. Friends.
Look again at the list, Mavs fans, and think back. Think back to the deals made and not made. Why was Singh drafted? Why has Devin not been dealt away again? Why was Odom allowed a spot here? How did Charlie V get a shot no other team would give him?
It's nice to have a relationship with Jeff Schwartz as a Harrison Barnes is looking for a new home.
Maybe Jeff Schwartz will think it's nice to have a relationship with certain NBA teams when it comes time to find a home for Ricky Rubio.
Up until the last couple days, Rubio, the 26-year-old Minnesota point guard, has been repped by Fegan. His unavailability has sent Rubio across the street to Schwartz, and while I'm not at all predicting this makes for some automatic pipeline of Rubio to Dallas, it is worth adding another log to the fire of what the Mavs want to do at point guard here.
The other logs?
*The Timberwolves have been dangling Rubio in trade for 18 months.
*Their Draft Night plans -- draft another point guard in addition to the kid Kris Dunn? -- might put Rubio on the market at an even cheaper price.
*The Mavs have no interest in paying "trade-market value'' for Rubio or for Phoenix point Eric Bledsoe ... though on Draft Night, their price might be at an all-time low because picks are golden right then, moreso than players.
*The Mavericks’ opinion of Ricky Rubio (and of Bledsoe) have long been in a sort of flux. With Bledsoe, it's about his injury history. With Rubio, it's about an in-house debate over his value, analytics-related and otherwise. Analytics, depending on how one plugs numbers into the Big Calculator, don't love non-shooters and non-scorers. But Rubio is the sort of pass-first point guard that coach Rick Carlisle covets in this draft ... so why not take a look at Rubio?
*One reason why not: He's getting paid $14 mil a year for the next two seasons.
*Another reason why not to trade for a vet PG? Other teams will begin the bidding at Dallas' No. 9 pick. Sources tell me everyone in the organization is on the same page here: As tempting as it is to hire another Band-Aid to help the Dirk Nowitzki Era, Dallas doesn't want to sacrifice No. 9 for a Bledsoe or a Rubio. (Their thoughts on doing so for the Lakers' D'Angelo Russell are here.)
But friendships open up lines of communication. And it extends right into this draft. The Mavs do not, sources indicate to me, have college star Malik Monk ranked as high on their Big Board as other teams do, or as high as the public might assume. But when Schwartz gets around to talking up Monk to Dallas, the Mavs will politely listen. Just as they've been cooperative with so many clients here. Again, think back: How did Richard Jefferson get out of his handshake deal? Why was Deron Williams allowed to leave for nothing? Why does the love for Kidd override any grudge toward Kidd? And why should we keep our eyes on Ricky Rubio?
Because that's what friends are for.