Friday, October 19, 2007

Kobe to the Mavs?

If you follow the NBA, the only way you won't know about the situation with Kobe Bryant out in LA is if you've been living in a hole in the ground, and a particularly deep one at that. The short of it is, Kobe wants out. So far all the rumors have Dallas and Chicago as potential destinations, though the juiciest of rumors say that Dallas is Kobe's preferred stop. Mark Cuban, interviewed after his latest performance as Dancing with the Stars' straw man impersonator, said that as of Tuesday, nobody from the Mavs had talked to the Lakers about a deal yet. Jean-Jacque Taylor at the DMN says that's "irresponsible" and I think I agree; Cuban's stubbornness is legendary and he seems to have made up his mind that he's going to win with the tandem of players the Mavs have had for two seasons now, but a good owner should always be thinking about ways to better his team, even if they're improbable or unlikely. Marc Stein at ESPN points out that even if the Mavs go into the season having made no major roster changes, they're still working on tweaking the things they failed to do well the last two seasons. Which brings me to a point about putting things in perspective.

The popular belief is that the Mavs lost to Golden States in the first round because they collapsed mentally. That's not true. The Mavs ran into a team that had the right combination of players, the right coach, and the right attitude to defeat the Mavs. Put simply, the Mavs were outplayed by the better team. But Golden State was only the better team in that series, as they demonstrated by losing to Utah in five. So given that fact, I'm not hankering to have the Mavs retooled because I think they need players with more mental toughness (although that would help as well on tough nights.) What I'm worried about is that the Mavs run into teams again in the post-season that have them figured out. Tweaking may solve that, a view that Avery Johnson makes the case for in the Marc Stein article. But in truth bringing Kobe to town would put teams that have to play the Mavs in a very difficult position of having to figure out how to play a team with two incredible offensive players, a change that no amount of tweaking can produce.

If it can't happen, then so bet it (unless it doesn't happen because of Cuban's bone-headedness, in which case he should prepare for a rough off-season unless the Mavs win the finals.) I'm prepared to live with the very uncertain prospect of hoping the Mavs don't get figured out by the teams they'll meet in the post-season (assuming they don't try to trump their prior collapses by missing the playoffs or something.) But I'd rather see the Mavs roll the dice and see what they can do when they combine the stout Dirk with the wily Kobe. Finals or no, it would make for one hell of a season.

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