The game of basketball has turned into the business of basketball. Players are still slowly learning that fact. Fans should understand that now. The 2010-11 Mavs are a great example of how business could get in the way of a good thing.
Dallas won the title that year and decided that it wasn’t a safe risk to “bring the band back” for another run at the title. Giving the core a chance to defend their title would have been enjoyable, but there was clear and reasonable logic behind the move the front office made. Mark Cuban has gotten a lot of heat for that decision, but the results of the playoffs this year suggest he was right for letting everyone go. As the Conference Finals are in motion, the Indiana Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi is the lone former Mav from the championship roster who still is playing.
Let’s look at what the Mavs would have theoretically had to do to bring most of the band back. Remember, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are out of the league now. That leaves J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry. One guy to remember but won’t exactly be figured into this equation – Corey Brewer. He signed a three-year, $9,177,000 deal. He is now a free agent.
- Caron Butler signed a three-year, $24 million contract after the title. He still has one year left on the deal at $8 million.
- J.J. Barea signed a four-year, $18 million contract after the title. He still has $9,206,500 left on the deal over the next two years.
- Tyson Chandler departed via sign-and-trade to a four-year, $47,098,100 contract with an $8,311,350 signing bonus. He still has $28,697,426 left on the deal over the next two years.
- Jason Kidd signed a three-year, $9.27 million contract after the title. He still has $6,180,000 left on the deal over the next two years.
- Ian Mahinmi departed via sign-and-trade to a four-year, $16 million contract. He still has $12 million left on the deal over the next three years.
- DeShawn Stevenson signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract after the title. He was eventually part of a sign-and-trade that led to him getting a three-year, $6,721,350 contract in 2012. He still has $4,480,900 left on the deal over the next two years, but the two years are unguaranteed.
- Jason Terry signed a three-year, $15,675,000 million contract with a 7.5 percent trade kicker after the title. He still has $10,675,000 left on the deal over the next two years.
Just taking Butler, Barea, Chandler, Kidd, Mahinmi and Terry have a combined $74,758,926 left on their deals. As a comparison, that total would rank as the fifth highest payroll for the 2012-13 season. If you just want to look at next season, the group would have totaled out at $39,102,538. That’s not even taking into account Dirk Nowitzki or Shawn Marion. For next year, that group with Dirk and Marion balloons over the $70 million mark. The numbers would have gone up even more with the luxury tax implications.
Cuban has cited a team like the Boston Celtics, a team that has won a title and has kept their collective core together. Some would wonder if they kept their core together too long and are forced to restrictive moves based on their cap situation. You don’t hear about many teams getting ahead of the curve, like the Mavs did, but you do hear about teams like Boston who might have held on for too long.
With Memphis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Golden State still strong and relatively young in some areas, would Dallas be primed to compete against those squads by bringing the band back together?
It’s a harsh reality some have to face, but the business of basketball forced the hand of the Mavs. They made a decision to go with flexibility for the future. They look better today by seeing how the departed champs ultimately did with their new teams. Another fact is that Dallas is still in a rough spot, but they have room to improve.
You can make all the right moves as you move through the minefields and still come out as a loser. That’s just life. The thing is, they’re able to see if they can continue to make the right moves on their terms, not the terms that would be thrust onto them due to salary restrictions.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.