Handing the figurative keys to the castle to a player has always been a skeptical kind of move, in my opinion. For the Mavs, that’s one of the things with the pursuit of Dwight Howard that was kind of perplexing to me. There was one line of thinking that was suggesting that part of the pitch to Dwight Howard would be that Dwight would be able to help select the pieces to the 2014-2015 roster, once the Mavs would have much more cap space to work with in the summer of 2014.
Part of Mark Cuban’s two-year plan in regards to a superstar would be that they would have to make due with a roster with someone like Dwight in the mix and build towards 2014-2015 when the contracts of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter come off the books.
“We obviously went after Dwight. We were disappointed. That was our primary goal. I mean, we failed in that. It was unfortunate, but that’s the way it turned out,” Cuban said on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM last week. “And so we had a Plan B, and the Plan B was to put together the best possible team that not only gives us a chance to compete this season but creates a foundation for future seasons, knowing that we still have max cap room and financial flexibility to improve our team going forward.
“… We wouldn’t have gone for Dwight Howard if we didn’t think that was the best approach for us. But, once we didn’t get him, we knew that we could fill more roster spots and I think we did a great job of it.”
One of the major parts of Cuban’s assessment of the great job they did was the acquisition of Monta Ellis. The deal is worth a total of $25.08 million over three years. Ellis will be paid $8 million in 2013-14, $8.36 million in 2014-15 and has the option of being paid $8.72 million in 2015-16.
“We never thought we’d be able to get Monta,” Cuban said.
Personally, I haven’t a fan of Ellis’ game. If he was a point guard, he wasn’t your traditional point guard and wasn’t necessarily the best facilitator for his teammates. If he was a shooting guard, he had nice passing abilities, but wasn’t a very efficient shooter. That said, if the money is in the same general ballpark, and it was for the most part, I would rather have Ellis over O.J. Mayo.
While there are faults to Ellis’ game, he has the ability to be a true second scoring option to go alongside Nowitzki. The new father now has someone who should be able to provide scoring support. Prior to the NBA draft, Nowitzki noted that Ellis was actually an option as a second-tier acquisition if they were unable to land Howard.
“I think there’s a bunch of guys out there that can play,” Nowitzki said on draft night. “I don’t know who you consider to be a second-tier or third-tier, but there are some good players. If you look at guys like [Andre] Iguodala, [Al] Jefferson, [Brandon] Jennings or [Monta] Ellis, there’s a lot of players that are good that are maybe not quite superstar level but if you have enough good players like the Denver concept they showed the last couple of years.”
That shows a general level of respect by Nowitzki towards Ellis. Then, if you couple that with Cuban’s comments from last week on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, it sounds like it makes the face of the franchise happy.
“Dirk is fired up,” Cuban said on ESPN Radio. “Yeah, he would have liked to have gotten Dwight, but we sat down and we told him what Plan B was and the types of guys we’re going after.
“Monta was a guy that Dirk loves. If you ask him about him, he’d say can we get him? Can we get him? Can we get him?”
That’s an eye-opening comment by Cuban about Nowitzki. This goes back to the original concern: can players truly be sound evaluators of other players? One of the things that would calm a concern is the fact that Nowitzki is a basketball lifer and is truly a student of the game. He’s likely going off the strong performances he’s seen in the moment when Ellis has gone up against the Mavs, but the fact that he loves the game so much allows him to watch as much basketball as possible to help gather more information to make an assessment on a player such as Ellis.
Monta Ellis is a polarizing player and it will be intriguing to see how he adapts within the culture and system the Mavs have created. If he is good enough for Dirk Nowitzki, is he good enough for you?
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.