Dallas Mavericks: Donnie Nelson
They can move forward with the plan that has failed so far. Or they can panic.
They'll keep the bait ready for the big fish. After Deron Williams failed to bite, believing the future was brighter in Brooklyn than Dallas, that means the Mavs will maintain their financial flexibility while poking for bargains in the trade market and prepare to go back in the deep seas next summer.
"Keeping the powder dry is a term that you’re going to hear a lot with a lot of teams in the NBA since the landscape is drastically changing and the future of the league is really changing before our very eyes on a daily basis," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told us on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM Monday morning. "Our position is we want to be players when it comes to getting star-quality talent."
This isn't a difficult decision for the Dallas decision-makers, although "Keeping Powder Dry" isn't exactly a slogan fit for a marketing campaign. Mark Cuban and his basketball brain trust made their choice to chase superstars when they didn't offer Tyson Chandler a multi-year deal in December.
Nelson insists the Mavs have no regrets about choosing that path, even after whiffing on Williams and watching the majority of the title team's rotation leave Dallas. He's adamant that it takes superstars – plural – to win championships in this league.
The 2010-11 Mavs, a lone-star bunch featuring Dirk Nowitzki and a since-stripped-down supporting cast, were an exception to that rule. Folks in Dallas will debate for generations whether it was foolish to break up that aging squad instead of trying to conquer the multi-star super teams by keeping it intact.
The minority faction that supports the front office decisions won't have much ammo if all the Mavs just keep swinging and missing through next summer, when Chris Paul is expected to headline the free agency pool. (Of course, Paul and Dwight Howard – whose availability next summer depends on where the Magic deal him – were expected to be part of this year's free agency pool when the Mavs chose a fishing expedition over Chandler and Co.)
Frankly, it's hard to muster much optimism about the Mavs convincing Paul or Howard or James Harden or Andrew Bynum to come to Dallas to team with a 35-year-old Nowitzki next summer.
However, there's more hope in that happening than the Mavs piecing together a title contender with free agency scraps this summer. Therefore, it'd be a panic move for the Mavs to make multi-year commitments to anyone this summer after failing to hook Williams or Steve Nash.
The Mavs feared locking themselves into mediocrity with Chandler, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, etc. They won't do it with Chris Kaman, Randy Foye, Ramon Sessions, etc.
"Mark has proven over the years that he's more than willing to spend to get a championship here," Nelson said. "It's just that spending smart and spending stupid are two different things."
The smart money says the Mavs' title window with Nowitzki has closed. But it'd be really dumb to make panic moves that forfeit the possibility to prove that theory wrong.
It might not have been politically correct for Donnie Nelson to say it in the wake of the Mavs’ winless postseason sprint, but he had a point.
The Mavericks weren’t going to beat this season’s Thunder no matter how many members of last season’s title team stayed in Dallas.
The Western Conference finals provide proof. The Spurs were the toast of the basketball world, having reeled off 20 wins in a row while putting on clinics in team basketball, before the Thunder’s young talent took over the series. Now, Kevin Durant and the rest of OKC’s kids are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance – and it will be the first of many.
Therein lies the challenge for the Mavs’ front office. Building a team as good as last year’s champions won’t be good enough. They have to build a team that can compete with a Thunder squad that has developed championship chops since being schooled by the Mavs a year ago, yet still has so much room to grow.
That’s why, as bitter as the Mavs’ mediocrity this season might have been, letting Chandler and the other free agent champs walk wasn’t a colossal mistake by Mark Cuban and Nelson. The Thunder learned too much from the Mavs’ clutch clinic in last season’s West finals. The bar in the West has been raised.
The Mavs have to hit a couple of home runs for that to happen, starting with convincing Deron Williams to come home this summer. Honestly, it will probably take OKC slipping a little bit – a possibility if they can’t keep James Harden or Serge Ibaka after next season – for the door to be cracked for Dallas again.
The reality is that the championship parade in Dallas last summer was probably a one-and-done deal. There should be several over the next decade north of the Red River.
The good news: The Mavs made their title run just in time.
|Mavs GM Donnie Nelson comments on why the Mavs didn't make a move at the trade deadline, how much the team misses Delonte West and more. |
Nelson didn’t dare name names, not wanting to deal David Stern’s consequences for tampering, but there’s only one really big fish expected to be in the free-agent market after Dwight Howard committed to stay in Orlando one more season. That’s perennial All-Star point guard Deron Williams, the native of nearby The Colony whose interest in playing for his hometown team is one of the NBA’s worst-kept secrets.
Nelson danced around a question about Howard’s decision to waive the option to become a free agent this season, offering a politically correct answer.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s a good thing for basketball,” Nelson said. “As a general manager, I think continuity is good for teams.”
Sure, continuity is good for teams unless they have a chance to land a superstar in his prime. That’s the Mavs’ preference this summer.
Lin was playing for the Dallas Mavericks, whose president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson was the only NBA executive to offer the impressive guard from Harvard a chance to show what he's got in the annual five-game summer showcase in the desert.
|Mavs GM Donnie Nelson talks about Jeremy Lin blowing up in New York, how he discovered the point guard from Harvard and how good it feels to see him have success. |
Lin turned it into two years from his hometown Golden State Warriors.
"When we offered him the one-year guarantee we felt like he was ours, but there's no place like home," Nelson said Thursday during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin Show. "I’m just always attracted to smart point guards. Jason Kidd and Stevie Nash and J.J. [Barea], they’ve all got their individual slants; J.J. is a little bit more of a scoring point guard, obviously a guy like Jason is a once-in-a-lifetime-type Hall of Famer, but with Jeremy I really, really liked the way he saw the game. He was kind of a stock that really hadn’t been exposed very much at Harvard."
Golden State wasn't long for Lin after he played mostly on their D-League team. The Warriors waived him on Dec. 11 and the Houston Rockets signed him three days later. Two weeks later he was a member of the New York Knicks, a team desperate for a competent point guard and one coached by Mike D'Antoni, an offensive mind who had done some pretty good work with a particular two-time MVP point guard in Phoenix.
Lin finally got his shot with the Knicks and he's been an instant smash with "Linsanity" just one slogan born from his remarkable three-game run in which he's averaged 25.3 points and 8.3 assists while leading New York to only its second three-game win streak of the season -- and with Carmelo Anthony injured and out of the lineup.
The Mavs' plan for Lin was to sign him and let him develop with their D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, in Frisco. Dallas, of course, had Jason Kidd and Beaubois coming off an impressive rookie season.
"I’m just really, really happy to see him do well," Nelson said. "Because he’s a great kid, he’s got a great family and a really good future."
More additional background on Lin's rise at the Vegas Summer League, click here.
Now comes a similar story in newly signed center/power forward Sean Williams.
The former 17th pick in the 2007 draft was a star at nearby Mansfield High School and then he took his talents to Boston College. His pro career has been a self-inflicted train wreck. Now 25 and his NBA days dangling by a thread, Williams has a chance to resuscitate his career the way Shawne Williams has managed to work his way back first with the New York Knicks before recently signing a free-agent deal with the New Jersey Nets.
Sean Williams is coming because the Mavs need help at center behind starter Brendan Haywood. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Williams will be given the opportunity to push energetic, but still developing French center Ian Mahinmi for backup minutes. Williams is considered a big-time shot-blocker and solid defender and rebounder.
"I saw him play some in the D-League last year with Frisco," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s a skilled, athletic, multi-positional big guy and has experience, so we’re going to take a look at him."
Williams, who was playing in Israel and was been released from his contract to return to the NBA, is expected to join the Mavs on Wednesday. He won't have the benefit of a playing in either preseason game and will have just a couple of practices under his belt by Sunday's season-opener.
Williams' problems have revolved around dalliances with marijuana and some poor, off-court behavior and immature decision-making. He played just 53 games combined in his last two seasons after a rather successful rookie campaign in 2007-08 when he played in 72 games and averaged 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17.5 minutes.
The Mavs got a look at him last season as a player for the Donnie Nelson-owned Texas Legends. If Williams can take advantage of his fresh NBA start back home, he can certainly become a contributor for a team that lost its best interior defender and rebounder in Tyson Chandler.
If he doesn't, the Mavs won't be shy about giving this Sean Williams the Shawne Williams treatment.
Learn about heart, sweat and guts. Learn how to deal with adversity in the no-mercy NBA. Learn how to overcome. Learn how to be a winner.
Why else do you think the Minnesota Timberwolves outbid the New York Knicks and everybody else and signed the 5-foot-10 world champion to a four-year, $19 million contract on Wednesday?
From a young spark plug on the veteran-laden Dallas Mavericks, Barea, 27, is now an elder statesman of sorts and a mentor in every way to the Timberwolves' Spanish-speaking and once-reluctant No. 5 pick.
"I think that was one of things. I also think what helps me is I came from a great team, great system in Dallas, and I was a big part of the championship team," Barea said after a long day of meeting his new teammates and coaches and beginning the process of settling into his new home of Minneapolis. "I’m going to help him as much as I can. He’s a good kid and I know, I went through it, how hard it is the first couple of years, the ups and downs of the NBA. So, I’m going try to keep him positive and help him out as much as I can."
Hard to believe that Barea, a native of Puerto Rico who had a brilliant, if not a mostly anonymous career at Northeastern, is a five-year NBA veteran, his last three seasons spent as a 20-minute-a-night backup to Jason Kidd, while at times also playing alongside the future Hall of Famer, which could become a similar situation with the slick playmaker from Spain.
"He’s a great kid, talented, but he’s a rookie," Barea said. "He’s young. It’s going to be his first year in the NBA; it’s never easy so I’m going to help him as much as I can with whatever I know."
At the same time as Barea begins a brave new world in the snowy midwest, it remains difficult for him to let go of his ties to Dallas and what might have been if owner Mark Cuban hadn't of slammed on the brakes on the old way of doing business and made a B-line toward salary cap space in this new collective bargaining agreement era.
Cuban bid farewell to free agents Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and Peja Stojakovic. Barea, who desperately wanted to return and chase back-to-back titles, said discussions with Cuban never reached a dollar figure because the owner wasn't budging from a one-year deal that Barea would never accept.
"It’s never going to be personal against Mark or [president of basketball operations Donnie [Nelson] or whoever," Barea said. "But, it’s still disappointing after you win a title and that’s all you fight for and then to break up a team like that it’s always going to be disappointing. But, that’s the direction they wanted to go and that’s what they’re doing."
Barea will participate in his first full practice today with the Timberwolves, a team so often a doormat, but this season is at least intriguing. Rick Adelman takes over as head coach. Rubio, 21, is the point guard. Derrick Williams is the 20-year-old rookie. Kevin Love, 23, is the double-double machine. There's erratic and talented and still immature 22-year-old Michael Beasley, 22-year-old Anthony Randolph, 24-year-old Wesley Johnson, 26-year-old Anthony Tolliver and just 26-year-old Darko Milicic.
In other words, the T'pups are the anti-Mavs.
"It’s weird. It’s weird, but it’s something new for me and another experience I’m going to have," Barea said. "It was great five years in Dallas. Everything about my first five years in Dallas was awesome. This is a nice, little roster. It’s young, really young, but it’s going to be fun."
Especially if Barea can help the hopeful face of the franchise find his way in his own brave new world.
Before the Mavs scooped up Lamar Odom Saturday night from the smoldering ashes of the collapsed Lakers-Hornets-Rockets deal involving Chris Paul, Dallas was looking to use the trade exception acquired from the New York Knicks to get Sacramento Kings free agent center Samuel Dalembert.
The Mavs have assets that can potentially be moved. The wing positions are loaded: Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Shawn Marion, Odom and Corey Brewer.
That's more than half the roster.
Less than a week into teams being able to talk to player-agents, yet just four days from when players can sign contracts (as long as the CBA is ratified by the league's owners and players Thursday as planned), there is considerable doubt as Dallas Mavericks free agent center Tyson Chandler is seriously shopping his talents, as is rugged small forward Caron Butler.
As Brendan Haywood told the Washington Post's Michael Lee after a workout in D.C. with some former Wizards teammates, "I would love for everybody to come back, but it’s a business and you know that can’t always happen."
Chandler stunned Mavs fans last week when he told ESPN.com that he thinks he won't be back. And, it certainly isn't looking as though Butler will be wearing a Mavs uniform when training camp opens Friday. Butler is looking for a multiyear deal while the Mavs want to go with a one-year contract.
"I’m very concerned," Haywood told Lee. “Free agency is such a short period of time now, things are going to happen quick. Before, it might have taken a guy two weeks to get signed, now it’ll probably be two days, so I’m very concerned. We have a lot of guys that we need back. Tyson played well for us last year, J.J. Barea, so we have a lot of different guys we need to come back. Caron Butler as well. He was playing great for our team before his injury and I’m sure they want him back."
Starting at 9 a.m. (CT), team executives can begin meeting face-to-face with players. Chandler will begin a wooing process that includes visiting three teams. Butler will visit at least four this week, including a Tuesday date in San Antonio.
The Mavs are mulling their future under the new CBA. Owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson are wrestling with the idea of re-signing Chandler, knowing that it will prevent Dallas from getting under the salary cap next summer for the first time in the Cuban era and all but remove it from contention for 2012 free agents. If they allow Chandler to walk, it will initially deflate the club and fan base, and leave a significant void for the title defense.
If Chandler departs, do the Mavs decide to then keep this season's roster (currently at $64.8 million to 10 players) to as many one-year deals as possible knowing the payroll drops to about $44 million (to six players) for the 2012-13 season? Such a plan might mean that Butler, Barea and DeShawn Stevenson also leave town.
Of course, the Mavs can ramp up their pursuit of Chandler this week, get him re-signed and look to bring the band, or most of it, back. But even Barea, on record as wanting to be back while being courted by the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, couldn't be certain as of three days ago that he will be, saying, "I want to know where I'm going to be at."
By Friday, the Mavs' 2011-12 roster will come into much clearer focus.
The NBA's free agency period is officially on the starting grid. The NBA has eased lockout restrictions and starting Wednesday morning teams can contact agents and begin contract talks. Top priority for the Dallas Mavericks' president of basketball operations is making sure that the 7-foot-1 Chandler is in a Mavs uniform on Christmas Day.
While talks can take place, no agreements, oral or written, can be made.
Chandler is considered one of the top three free agents along with Denver Nuggets center Nene and New Orleans Hornets power forward David West.
The Mavs have five other free agents: J.J. Barea, Caron Butler DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic.
Players can return to their teams' practice facilities on Thursday. They will be allowed to workout under the supervision of team strength and conditioning coaches, but the coaching staff and front office personnel will still not be allowed to be present.
The labor deal that was tentatively agreed to by the league and the players on Saturday still must be completed and ratified by both sides before the lockout will be fully lifted. That is also when teams will be allowed to sign free agents and make trades. Dec. 9 is the target date.
If the Dallas Mavericks are putting on yet another Fantasy Camp, it must mean the NBA lockout remains in full swing.
The latest Fantasy Camp on the floor of the American Airlines Center practice court will take place Nov. 18, the night the Mavs were supposed to play host to the Sacramento Kings. The third installment of the Fantasy Camp will allow those participants age 23 and up to receive world-class coaching from the world champion Mavs coaching staff. Coach Rick Carlisle and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson will welcome each camper as you sign a one-day contract.
The only catch is you won't get paid for signing that contract. You do the paying. Cost to the camp is $650, but if you register before Nov. 7, you'll pay only $500. But do it quickly, the Mavs report that 54 campers took part in the first two camps. This time around, 32 spots will be open.
Registration is now available online at mavs.com.
Here's how the camp will work: There will be four teams comprised of eight campers each. In addition to the Mavs alumni assigned to coach each team, they will be assigned a support staff member who will be available for instruction on shooting techniques, defensive skills as well as basketball strategy.
Here's what else each camper will receive:
§ Meet & greet with Mavs coaches, legends, training staff and President of Basketball Operations, Donnie Nelson
§ Sign a Mavs-for-a-Day Contract
§ Coached by the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks coaching staff
§ Official adidas Mavs practice gear
§ Photo with the Larry O’Brien trophy
§ Nameplate, which will be placed over a locker in the Mavs Locker Room
§ Opportunity to play on Mavs practice court
§ Breakfast and lunch provided by caterers of the team
That's the day when players and coaches greet the media for the first time since the end of the previous season. They mill around the AAC practice court granting interviews and taking pictures. It's also when they pose for photos for team promotional initiatives and even some national stuff that you'll see on broadcasts throughout the season.
Basically, everyone's happy to be there because it means training camp opens the next day and it's back to basketball.
This day would have been one last chance to revel in what they accomplished that June night in Miami when Dirk Nowitzki ran off the court because winning the title was just too much emotion for him to handle at that moment.
This day ain't happening.
Nowitzki remains in Germany. Jason Kidd is probably on an extended honeymoon with his bride on some tropical island. Shawn Marion is likely jet-setting. Caron Butler is getting ready to suit up for the first time for a star-laden exhibition game in Miami on Saturday night. Tyson Chandler continues to kick with his family in Southern California just waiting to find out which team he's going to play for next.
Such is life during the ongoing NBA lockout that is dangerously close to canceling regular-season games. Owners and players will be back at the negotiating table this week. Is there hope? Not sure. Last week saw multiple meetings that included Mavs owner Mark Cuban, a shouting match between Dwyane Wade and commissioner David Stern and then a marathon meeting of close to eight hours that reportedly ended with a wide gulf still separating the two sides.
What must be driving Cuban and Donnie Nelson nuts is simply the inability to do anything. They have six free agents sitting out there, including Chandler, Butler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and The Custodian, Brian Cardinal.
What would have been finalized in early July has dragged into October and nobody is really sure when it all will come to a head. Until a deal is made the defending champs can't go to work on re-signing their 7-foot-1 defensive anchor and emotional leader in Chandler. Will Butler return? Will Barea be a Mav or maybe a Laker?
The clock is ticking. No reason to go to the AAC today. The lights won't be on.
Now, if you've got $650 burning a hole in your pocket, sign up for two Mavs fantasy camps this week with coach Rick Carlisle and his staff. The lights will be on for that.
Terry is headed into his eighth season with the Mavs and the final year of the six-year extension he signed following the 2006 Finals. The just-turned 34-year-old would like one more to avoid becoming a free agent next summer.
"It’s definitely something that I would love to see happen," Terry said in a phone conversation Tuesday. "Again, it gives me stability, it allows my family to know that next summer we won’t be off moving to somewhere else. So, that would be good for me. Again, the goal is to retire a Maverick. That is the No. 1 priority for me."
The question for Terry is when his agent will be able to start negotiations. All league business ceased when the owners locked out the players on July 1. Terry said he's confident he'll get a deal done that will keep him in Dallas for the remainder of his playing days.
Now, as for that other negotiation on the labor front, Terry expressed dulled optimism that a resolution will be found quickly. The Mavs are scheduled to open training camp in two weeks on Oct. 4, but Terry doesn't expect that to occur.
He'd certainly like a quick resolution for several reasons. First, he wants to get on with defending the title. Second, he'd like to get that extension done. Third, he'd just like to get back to a regular life.
Three of Terry's daughters attend The Hockaday School in Dallas, the same school the daughters of coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban attend. The girls also play on the same soccer team. On top of that, Terry remains business partners with Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. The two are involved in ownership of Which Wich sandwich shops.
The NBA has prohibited all team personnel from speaking with players during the lockout, and that includes in social settings, such as picking up your kids at school or watching their soccer game.
"We’re hiding, we’re doing hand signals, it’s just crazy," Terry said. "We’re at a soccer game last week, my daughter’s playing and Carlisle’s daughter is playing for the first time and he’s at one end, I’m way at the other and I’m just shaking my head. He’s doing the same. But, the feeling, the emotion, just seeing the smile on his face that hasn’t left since we hoisted up that trophy; I just want to give the guy a hug, but you can’t do it, it’s off limits.
"I will tell you this, whenever this thing [the lockout is over], it’s going to be fun for everyone involved."
Fernandez will finish out his rookie contract with the Mavs, assuming the lockout does not wipe out the 2011-12 season. But, after the season, according to the report, Fernandez is prepared to leave the NBA after four seasons. The report says Fernandez will earn about $4.3 million a season in Spain.
In April, Fernandez terminated agent Andy Miller and hired Spanish agent David Carro.
Under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement that expired July 1, Fernandez would earn $2.2 million next season with Dallas and could become a restricted free agent with a $3.2 million qualifying offer for the 2012-13 season.
Fernandez, who will play at the Eurobasket with defending champion Spain starting later this month, averaged 8.6 ppg, 2.5 apg and 1.1 spg mostly in a reserve role with the Portland Trail Blazers last season. The Mavs traded for Fernandez and point guard Petteri Koponen on draft night, giving up first-round pick Jordan Hamilton from Texas and second-round pick Tanguy Ngombo.
The Mavs' front office is prohibited from speaking to or about players during the lockout.
It certainly isn't out of bounds to wonder if Mavs owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson would have been so quick to jettison youth if they weren't confident they would be able to retain Fernandez beyond one season -- a season that appears headed for at least a delayed start.
After winning the franchise's first NBA championship, the veteran-laden Mavs are in win-now mode, so it is possible that they still would have taken the risk to bring in Fernandez if for only next season.
It's been awfully quiet since then as Nelson's half-million-dollar-plus contract offer (Nelson, the president of basketball operations for the Dallas Mavericks is co-owner of the Legends) awaits Pearl's signature. The question is: Does the fired Tennessee coach, who is awaiting punishment from the NCAA while also trying to land a TV analyst gig, want the Legends job?
Well, Pearl seems to be wrangling with the decision. He made a radio appearance on a Nashville radio station Monday and talked about his future.
Asked if he was leaning toward taking the job he said:
"Prior to going down to Dallas for my interview the lean was that I was probably not going to do it. But having been there and met the people the lean now is that it's a possibility. It's a family decision. I'd have to leave my family, I'm a divorced dad, and there'd be some kids that aren't out of school yet and in college yet that are encouraging me that are saying, "Daddy it's only six months, you should go."
Asked if he expects to coach college basketball again, Pearl said:
"Yeah, I would. I certainly would." As soon as I'm allowed it [coaching in college] would be my intention. I've been doing it my entire life and I would like to think that the good outweighs the bad. And the good has very little to do with winning or losing, it has to do with ... six kids graduating this year."
Hiring Nancy Lieberman as the first coach of the Texas Legends was a masterful, groundbreaking stroke by franchise co-owner Donnie Nelson. Lieberman, a Hall of Famer who has remained active in basketball and resides in Dallas, became the first woman to coach an NBA-affiliated team.
She stepped down after the season and will join the front office. Nelson quickly targeted Bruce Pearl, the hyper-energetic and effusively engaging college coach who transformed an irrelevant Tennessee program on a die-hard football campus into a perennial hot ticket and NCAA Tournament team.
However, Pearl's successful six-year run in Knoxville came crashing down when the school decided to fire him after NCAA violations and Pearl's admitted lying to investigators. Pearl is awaiting the NCAA's punishment, which most seem to think will include at least a one-year college coaching ban.
Nelson is not simply offering a guy down on his luck a chance to stay in the game. He is showering Pearl with an unprecedented, one-year package valued at more than $500,000 (D-League coaches typically earn less than $100,000). Nelson on Thursday described the total package as "lucrative and creative" as well as "flexible" when he oddly, and somewhat awkwardly, introduced Pearl as his "A-man" for the job at a pre-scheduled news conference on the Dallas Mavericks practice floor in the basement of the American Airlines Center.
Pearl is back in Knoxville thinking it over. He is also accepting offers for a television analyst gig, and -- while on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" on Wednesday -- he playfully prodded Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser to put in a good word to their bosses. Still, Pearl said Thursday that his heart remains in coaching.
Nelson, the Mavs' president of basketball operations, is pulling out all the stops, including Thursday's media stop, to fawn over Pearl. When asked if he'll accept the job in short order, Pearl said, "Well, it sounds like Donnie wants to wrap it up in short order."
Nelson made no bones that this is a full-court press for visibility for his franchise and the D-League.
So, what exactly does Pearl do for the Legends? He's certainly made a name for himself in college circles -- by winning at mid-majors, by taking Tennessee to the tourney every year and by painting his body orange and joining a jumping student body at a Lady Vols game -- but is he a draw in North Texas? It's not like he's Bob Knight, and you never know what he might say or do next.
The Legends averaged 3,328 fans (6,000 capacity) at 24 home games last season, just shy of the club's stated goal of 3,500 in the Texas Legends Partnership Overview. It would figure that attendance might naturally increase in Year 2 and the potential of NBA games being wiped out could also help ticket sales in Frisco.
But does Pearl necessarily attract more fans than Lieberman would have in a second year? Or, a young developing coach -- as is the mission of the D-League in the first place?
The Legends would have to sell plenty more tickets to justify Nelson's half-million-dollar offer (which includes a base salary and money earned through other avenues such as radio spots, something akin to a college football coach). If the NBA contends its franchises are cash-strapped while locking out players, the D-League certainly is no cash cow.
Pearl would almost certainly be the coach for next season only. He could then join the Mavs in some capacity, perhaps on Carlisle's bench -- there is a current opening with Dwane Casey now the head coach of the Toronto Raptors -- or with another team (not unlike former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson). Or Pearl can return to college if a potential suspension is lifted and a school is willing to hire him. Or perhaps a more lucrative TV deal could beckon.
Yes, it's easy to see why Pearl would see this as a plum deal. Why Nelson desperately wants him -- and feels compelled to knock his socks off to get him -- is a bit more curious.
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