In Defense of Youth
Hello, Mavs Nation. Are you Rowdy Loud and Proud?
Or are you concerned about this offseason? Do you think, so far, it has lacked the big splash needed to get this team that just missed the championship over the top? Are you lamenting that Cuban and the General missed out on Mike James?
You probably remember Cuban's ABC reality show. What was it called? It was a big hit. Why can't I remember the name? I remember everyone was so intrigued to know who won they had to condense the final two episodes into one just to appease the viewers.
If you saw the show, you remember Mark Cuban's catchphrase: "Bad mother f#@$ing call, Ref?"
Oh wait, I mean, "No balls, no babies!"
You're wondering if he's living up to this slogan or if he is playing it safe giving the rest of the Western Conference a chance to pass the Mavs.
Well, rest easy, Debbie Downers of the world. Cuban, The General, and Donnie Nelson have a plan with a high probability of success.
They began the summer by assuring the core of the team would be together. Jason Terry signs a six-year contract. Dirk Nowitzki agrees to an extension he will officially sign before camp begins. Josh Howard is likely to do the same.
They planned to follow that by adding a scorer. They had their sights on Mike James coming off a year in which he averaged 20 points. Nevertheless, he signed with Minnesota. Mavs fans all over groaned that the Mavs wouldn't beat the Timberwolves' deal to get James here and get the team over the hump.
Well, let's put that in perspective. James had a career year in a contract year. Remember how ballyhooed Erick Dampier was as a free agent out of Golden State after the 2003-2004 season. Now, he's a role player with an ugly contract. And James had a chance to play for something in Dallas or with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming in his hometown, yet he chose the going nowehere Timberwolves for more years and more money. Tells me all I need to know about Mike James.
Then the Mavs shifted gears quickly and closed deals for players that upgrade roster spots while making the 8- to 10-man rotation younger and better. A sneak peek:
Keith Van Horn is replaced by Austin Croshere who brings the same perimeter skills but is tougher in the paint and on the boards.
Adrian Griffin is supplanted by Greg Buckner. Buckner is a true defensive stopper that can harass players at four positions and is a better scorer than Griffin
Marquis Daniels is uprooted by Maurice Ager. Daniels was a personal favorite and there's more uncertainty with a rookie. But Dick Vitale basically said this kid is like Michael Finley except he plays defense.
Darrell Armstrong is replaced by Anthony Johnson. Armstrong is so old he could be playing in the wheelchair league soon. Johnson gives the Mavs a bigger point guard who can dish the dime and play great perimeter defense. Having started 89 games the last two seasons, he also provides a safety net if Devin Harris is still not ready to take the reins on a regular basis.
So quit your crying! The Mavs missed out on a guy in a shallow free agent class who is very likely not to duplicate his career year. When they didn't get extra offense, they upgraded their defensive abilities at four spots on the roster, all while getting a little younger.
Remember, last year their biggest moves were signing Doug "Alpha Male" Christie and DeSagana Diop. And yet the team went to its first ever NBA Finals.
Have some faith. Be Rowdy, Loud, and Proud.