The NBA / Where accountability happens

Mark Cuban is not afraid to talk about the block­buster trade that wasn't

[Don­nie Nel­son, Avery John­son and I] went back and forth about whether or not we should trade Devin [Har­ris]. We knew he was a good point guard, with the poten­tial to be amaz­ing. What we didn't know was how long that would take. On one hand, we didn't have enough con­fi­dence in him to let him call his own plays, but on the oth­er, he is a one man fast break, his shoot­ing was improv­ing by the minute, he is a good defend­er and his poten­tial was unde­ni­able. In Jason Kidd, we felt we would get a play­er that would make it eas­i­er for Dirk, Josh, Jet to get open shots. That Avery would no longer have to scream to push the ball, that JK was the best in the busi­ness at push­ing the ball in the open court. Plus, our rebound­ing had suf­fered this year vs last, JKidd is a great rebound­er and the press­es that had caused us prob­lems, would no longer be a problem.

I buy that. For all of Devin Harris's virtues, he's still one of those guys who has very obvi­ous lim­i­ta­tions — nev­er going to be a good rebound­er, effec­tive at get­ting in pass­ing lanes but nev­er going to be a great defend­er, only going to get slow­er, didn't seem to be pro­gress­ing in a bas­ket­ball smarts sense (i.e., need­ing to con­stant­ly be remind­ed to push the ball upcourt). I didn't think it was a bad trade, real­ly, but I love that Cuban goes on to talk through his ratio­nale in what appears to be an open and hon­est way …

It wasn't an easy call. Between AJ, Don­nie and I, we would change our minds by the minute. I don't think there is any doubt that the pres­sure and close­ness of the West­ern Con­fer­ence race had some­thing to do with our deci­sion mak­ing process. In my mind, this sea­son was becom­ing anal­o­gous to the most ago­niz­ing sea­son I had been through, the 04–05 sea­son. We were hav­ing the same home vs road record delta, mul­ti­ple play­ers ask­ing to be trad­ed and even more inter­nal ten­sion about our lack of con­sis­tent per­for­mance than we had in 04–05.

Speak­ing of that "inter­nal ten­sion," Cuban goes on to dis­cuss anoth­er ele­phant in the Mavs' room …

I also know what I learned from Nash leav­ing. As great an offen­sive coach as Nel­lie is, Nash wasn't play­ing at MVP lev­els with us. A change of scenery and coach­es and sys­tem, some pay­back moti­va­tion and he became a very, very deserv­ing 2 time MVP.

Aside from the implied (or inad­ver­tent?) dig at Nellie's "fail­ure" to get the best out of Nash, this approach makes a lot of sense to me. There are obvi­ous pre­cur­sors to it, in addi­tion to Nash's renais­sance in Phoenix — Web­ber to Sacra­men­to (much younger than Kidd, of course), Shaq to Mia­mi (a lit­tle younger than Kidd), maybe Barkley to the Suns and Wal­ton to the Celtics (dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, but sim­i­lar­ly pos­i­tive effects). Any­way, whether any of this is accu­rate, true, or what­ev­er, I appre­ci­ate that Mark Cuban is say­ing it. He clear­ly feels account­able to the fans, and he's leav­ing it all on the court in a PR sense.