Just when you were ready to congratulate Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson for their fine work this summer...
And, just when you didn't feel scared of the rest of the West anymore...
So, Orlando matched the offer. They will keep Marcin Gortat and pay him crazy money to sit the bench in Orlando, while paying the luxury tax to boot. Or, did one of the Mavs rivals (Houston?) find a way to stick it to Dallas and get a young, talented center out from right under their noses? We won't know that answer until December 15th when the Magic are allowed to trade him to any team in the NBA not named the Dallas Mavericks.
John Hollinger said it best last night on the ESPN Insider ...
By making Dallas believe that they wouldn't match the offer for Gortat, they were able to throw the Mavs off the scent of Bass. At the time, the Mavs were thinking letting Bass go to the Magic would eliminate any chance of losing Gortat. Here's what The Dallas Morning News reported at the time: "The Mavericks stepped aside in negotiations for Bass, allowing him to sign with the Magic. His presence with the Magic virtually guarantees that Marcin Gortat will be a Maverick. He signed an offer sheet … and Orlando has until next week to match the offer … The Mavericks are no longer worried about that possibility."
Psych! This is Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown, folks. Orlando created the impression that it was going to let Gortat leave, the Mavs fell for it hook, line and sinker, and as a result the Magic got to sign the player they coveted at power forward (Bass), in addition to keeping Gortat like they always knew they would.
It is ok for you and I to believe the Gortat move was done and dusted. It might even be ok for Eddie Sefko to fall for it (although I suspect he will reconsider his sources). But, the consequences for falling for this trick if you are Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban appear to be quite substantial.
First, you lose Gortat. Then, you lose Bass. In both cases, the optimist could easily suggest that the Mavs were saved from themselves in both of these deals. You can make the case (although I would disagree) that Gortat is this year's Diop, a signing they would regret by Thanksgiving. With Bass, it appeared the Mavs were happy to let him leave (but, that was when they were sure they had a better option already in the fold).
I cannot imagine that Orlando is prepared to take on all of this money and pay a guy who has almost no role behind Dwight Howard that much money for that long. They must have a deal worked out. They get something back for him in a trade, and if I had to bet....
But, what the Magic do does not concern me. I am far more worried about the Mavs plans NOW.
They clearly were ready to put the feet up for a bit. Vacations might have been planned. Golf might have been scheduled. You can imagine about 3pm on Monday, all of that changed for the Mavericks "brain-trust" - a name that surely will elicit comic relief amongst some readers. Surely, all hands were ordered to report for duty ASAP and figure out how to sort this thing out now.
So what do they do in the post? Right now, it is Erick Dampier and maybeRyan Hollins. Be still, my beating heart.
Well, options are not ideal.
David Lord wrote about this last night at Dallas Basketball.com:
At C, there are some credible big men who should be available for far less than the MLE, like Joe Smith, Leon Powe, Sean Marks, Chris Wilcox, Francisco Oberto, and others. (I don't put Drew Gooden high on that list.) In a trade, if the Mavs offer a financial relief package, what about Tyson Chandler, Carlos Boozer, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, and Eddy Curry (reportedly 30 pounds lighter now) as players on teams who would probably welcome a deal cutting their payroll? Or Kurt Thomas in a simple smaller deal from Milwaukee? Is there some angle to bring both David Lee and Curry from NY in a deal that ends up clearing extra cap room for NY in 2010, and if so would that be a net plus or a minus considering the hefty contractual cost?
How does that list grab you?
Tyson Chandler would salvage this summer and his owner wants to move money badly. Is Chandler healthy? Can you make the deal happen with the salary restrictions? It would seem creativity would be required, but that would have been my first option long before Gortat was on the board anyway. But, would he be traded at all, and would he be traded within the division?
Emeka Okafor? Are the Bobcats even going to move him? If so, how can you match salary without it hurting your team? Would this one require Josh Howard? And if so, is that worth it?
David Lee will cost a ton of money, and at 6'9, would he be yet another Power Forward in a jammed up PF roster?
Carlos Boozer? Please see what I wrote about David Lee.
Lamar Odom? Please see above, but, apparently the Mavs have made contact with Odom's camp . OK, but, how does that make sense on the floor?
Chris Kaman? Never understood the fascination some people have with him, but we are down to stems and seeds.
Beyond those names, Dampier remains as good an option as any of the others(Joe Smith or Sean Marks??? Might as well call Shawn Bradley).
Make no mistake: this is a very bad development. It caught the entire Mavericks world off guard. But, before we go into a complete panic, let's see what they are going to do about it.
They still have some time to work with, but they have plenty to do.