Judge Rangers, Mavs on level field
If Josh Hamilton bolts, it should get same criticism as Tyson Chandler's departure
There is a pretty good chance we'll find out how many hypocrites there are around these parts this winter.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went from parade leader to piņata when he made the post-lockout decision to let Tyson Chandler leave, essentially committing to remodeling the 2010-11 NBA champions' core on the fly.
It doesn't matter how many powder-preserving, financially savvy additions the Mavs make while restructuring Dirk Nowitzki's supporting cast. The Mavs' plan can't be considered a success until -- or unless -- they land a legitimate superstar to pair with Nowitzki for his prime's twilight before taking the torch as the face of the franchise.
Fair or not, after the Mavs were swept in the playoffs and whiffed on Deron Williams, the popular opinion is that the CBA-conscious approach by Cuban and Donnie Nelson is an epic failure.
Doubt it. For whatever reason, the Rangers and Mavs aren't judged in the same light by locals.
Maybe it's because the Metroplex hasn't been spoiled by a long stretch of success by the Rangers, who had never won a postseason series until they miraculously morphed from a bankrupt franchise to a World Series team in a matter of months in 2010 and made a return trip to the Fall Classic the next year.
Maybe it's because Ryan's status as a record-setting legendary pitcher earns him extraordinary respect. All due respect to Cuban for getting his butt kicked at WWE events, but a generation of fans didn't grow up in awe of his athletic prowess.
However, if you're fighting mad about the Mavs not paying up for Chandler, you should be equally irate if the Rangers don't match any offer that Hamilton gets.
OK, so it's not a perfect comparison.
Heck, Hamilton is a perennial All-Star who might win his second MVP in a three-season span this year. Chandler's next All-Star appearance will be his first.
Hamilton has spent almost all of his major league career in Texas, serving as a centerpiece of by far the most successful stretch in Rangers history. Chandler was a one-year rental for the Mavs, a final piece in a puzzle that was coming off 10 consecutive 50-win campaigns.
With no salary cap in baseball, the Rangers' spending is restricted only by the budget set by an ownership group fronted by Ryan and backed by a pair of billionaires.
The filthy rich Cuban's decision went down after he combed over the new collective bargaining agreement, which will make luxury-tax teams pay much more than before while handcuffing their ability to upgrade the roster.
Perhaps it would be prudent for the Rangers to just wish ol' Hambino good luck with his goal of helping a hurting world if some free-spending team steps up with an offer in excess of five years and/or $150 million, market value for an MVP candidate. After all, it's tough to rely so heavily on a player who tends to miss games by the bunch.
Then again, Chandler missed more than 40 percent of his teams' games the two seasons before the Mavs traded for him, which is why the Charlotte Bobcats were willing to dump him for the easily disposable Erick Dampier contract. That didn't stop the New York Knicks from signing him for near-max money (four years, $58 million), while the Mavs were only willing to pay big on a one-year-at-a-time basis.
Hey, Ryan and Daniels have earned the benefit of the doubt. They rescued a floundering franchise, turning the Rangers into a team that has been to the World Series the last two seasons and is widely expected to win it all this fall.
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All Cuban and Nelson have done is turn the NBA's laughingstock of the 1990s into one of four teams in league history with a decade-plus 50-win streak, capped by a parade through downtown Dallas.
Not that the championship banner hanging in the American Airlines Center means the Mavs should get a pass. At this point, a perfectly rational argument can be made that the Mavs' best chance to win another one was to bring Chandler back to man the middle for a hopeful repeat run.
If you pick that side, that's cool. Just stick with it, and save some of that wrath for the Rangers' brass.