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Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Mark Cuban's Maverick State of the Union


When I saw that Mark Cuban had written a long blog post about the Mavericks, before I read it, I paused, and asked myself: What am I hoping for here? What could he say that would fill me with confidence about a brighter future in Dallas? For whatever reason, I thought it would be nice to have just a little talk about lessons learned. Some acknowledgement of a mistake or two. Some taking responsibility, and explaining how the hard knocks of this season will pay off in the future.

There's really not any of that.

There's also really not any discussion of Avery Johnson's departure. (There's a weird schedule thing, whereby this post has a date from May 2, but didn't appear that I'm aware -- nor get any comments -- until today. I suspect most of this was written before Johnson was fired.)

The most interesting part of the post, however, was Cuban's behind-the-scenes discussion of the Jason Kidd trade. He goes into some nice detail about the things happening on the basketball court that led to the decision, and the things happening with the salary cap after the deal.

One missed opportunity for a mea culpa: Cuban says the trade left Dallas with an improved financial picture. That assessment would hinge on there being some value in getting rid of Devin Harris's contract. What Cuban doesn't acknowledge is that the Harris contract was ripe for ditching only because of the five-year contract extension Cuban gave him just last September.

If you give a player a contract that is then great to get rid of -- even though you acknowledge the player is excellent -- don't you have to admit that you made a bad deal? (When his five-year extension was announced last summer, even a blogger who loves Devin Harris was a little worried about the length.)

In recent days, fired coach Avery Johnson has given the impression that he was opposed to trading his "son" Devin Harris for Jason Kidd -- a trade that in retrospect looks not to have achieved its goals.

Cuban says in this blog post that Cuban, Donn Nelson, and Avery Johnson each had veto power over the trade for Jason Kidd, and every trade.

The most interesting part of Cuban's post is a look at the process of actually making trades. Cuban descibes that at some length, and in so doing takes a little shot as practically every GM in the NBA:

GMs get on the phone and talk and talk and talk. But rarely is the GM actually empowered to make a trade. So they play the game of "having to go back to their owners."

I would tell Donnie all the time, "You have the authority to say yes, when they get to the point of commitment." When we thought things would get close, we would get the "Now I have to get my owners permission." It's almost comical how unable some GMs are to pull the trigger in the NBA. It's a game they all agree to play. They pretend they have authority, until it's go time.

I have never seen so much time wasted in my life. I feel sorry for Donnie having to deal with all that nonsense.