Mark Cuban made a gamble — he stripped down his championship roster to go after a big time free agent, to restock a roster while Dirk Nowitizki’s championship window is still open.
It didn’t work this summer — Deron Williams stayed in Brooklyn. It’s not likely to work next summer because people close to the players don’t expect Chris Paul or Dwight Howard to leave their Los Angeles teams.
So Cuban is doing the smart thing — if he can get a big name with a trade, or even seriously upgrade the roster, he will do it. That’s what he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.
“We’re letting everybody know that the Bank of Cuban is open,” the billionaire owner announced Monday night before his Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for a third consecutive victory to climb to 16-23. “If it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money. But we’re not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It’s got to be worthwhile.”
Cuban’s declaration came two nights after he said there is a “100 percent chance” that the Mavs will aggressively pursue trades — either as a main trade partner or as a facilitator in a multi-team scenario — as the weeks and days count down to the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
This isn’t about making the playoffs this season (Dallas is currently the 12 seed in the West, five games back of the 8 seed Trail Blazers, it will take a heck of a run to make it).
This is about the long term — Cuban has bet that with the increasingly stiff luxury tax fines looming in future years, teams are going to maneuver to dump good players. Cuban wants to be there to scoop them up. We’ve seen this a little already in the case of Rudy Gay being on the block, although I’m not convinced he particularly is a player the Mavericks want.
Plus, this is a nice bit of public relations for the Mavericks — they are not a good team this season and Cuban wants to keep a large fan base used to winning happy (remember Dallas has made the playoffs 12 straight years). You have to sell championships or hope in the NBA, and Dallas isn’t selling anybody a title this year. But he can sell hope for the future, and this kind of public announcement helps that.
In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.
Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.
Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea.com.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?
In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.
I’m a fan of the Pistons’ alternate uniforms in general — their “Motor City” ones may be may favorite alternates around the league.
Now they have a new one — Detroit Chrome.
The Pistons will break these out for seven home games this season. From the official release:
The inspiration for the Detroit Chrome jerseys came about as a way to honor our coolest cars from the past and the cars of the future. Detroit is universally known as the auto capital of the world, where chrome leaves an indelible mark on the cars we create. The uniforms feature a matte chrome base color with clean simple lines inspired by the classic muscle cars that have roared up and down Woodward Avenue for decades. The navy trim and Detroit emblazoned across the chest represent the blue collar work ethic that the auto industry and region was built on.
Clean, simple, cool — I like it.
That would look good in the first round of the playoffs, too. (I’m predicting they get the eight seed.)