The Dallas Mavericks have had one of the most turbulent offseasons in team history, as head coach Rick Carlisle and GM Donnie Nelson departed following the team’s first round exit to the Clippers, but the dust is seemingly beginning to settle as new coach Jason Kidd and GM/President of Basketball Operations Nico Harrison officially settle into their new roles today.
When news first broke weeks ago about the Jason Kidd hire, Mavericks fans were sharply divided. While many were fond of the 2011 champion returning to the team that first drafted him, others voiced their concerns about his stops in Brooklyn and Milwaukee being abject failures, and that’s before we even touch the domestic violence issue. Although advocates for Kidd were quick to point to his success on the Lakers staff, with Lebron James singing his praises upon learning of his departure, a lot of Mavericks fans and beat writers still can’t get over why the team would even consider Kidd, especially given the team’s own internal issues with sexual harassment and abuse.
Fortunately, today’s press conference was mostly about basketball, and while the new staff members didn’t go into a lot of detail about the team going forward, the few things they did say reveal quite a bit about the direction the Mavs are headed.
KP Isn’t Going Anywhere
Jason Kidd said point blank that Kristaps Porzingis is the “perfect fit” to be Luka Doncic’s running mate, which should be a good indicator that the 7’3″ Latvian with the $30 million contract isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Mark Cuban even added that Porzingis’ drop in the playoffs could largely be attributed to the role he was asked to play.
Kidd also notes this is the first time KP will have a full, healthy offseason to work on his game. Coming off of a year in which he shot the best percentages of his career during the regular season, Mavs fans have a reason to be optimistic that the man they once called “The Unicorn” could come back and be even more effective, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Sure, a lot of people think the KP-Luka experiment will never work, and some are convinced the two hate each other because they aren’t hugging all the time, but the question that must be asked is who can you get that’s as good or better? Kristaps is a 25 year old 7-footer with range who has had a difficult time staying healthy. In the last three seasons he’s played a total of 110 games, including playoffs. He hasn’t had a chance to improve his game in summers past because he’s been too busy rehabbing his glass body. If he can show up next season with a little more lateral quickness, there’s every reason to believe he could be an All-Star again.
Bringing Back The Old Gang
During the press conference, Mark Cuban said that former players from the 2011 championship roster Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea would be attending the Mavs’ summer league to see if they’d be a good fit for a position with the team. There was no guarantee as to what position either of them would fill, as Cuban said they could be anything from an assistant coach to a scout, but there is genuine interest in bringing back some of Kidd’s former teammates.
Kidd Will Make Luka Better
During his press conference, Kidd said that he loved “everything” about Luka’s game, and that he can’t wait to “look under the hood” to see what makes the Slovenian Superstar go. Even though many see Rick Carlisle’s parting words about the similarities between Kidd and Luka as a shot against his former assistant Jahmal Mosely, you can draw a lot of comparisons between the two floor generals. As superstars who see the game four moves ahead of most, there will likely be an understanding between the two in terms of on-floor action that didn’t exist with the previous regime (Mosely included).
What could be better for a future hall of fame player’s development than to spend every work day with a hall of fame player of the same position? Jason Kidd is one of the greatest point guards of all time. He knows the position better than almost anyone on the planet, and he’s widely respected by the best players in the game today. Kidd even said he’s interested in having legends like John Stockton and Gary Payton come in and work with Luka, which says a lot about what the game’s best think of him. As good as Luka is now, Kidd is going to give him everything he could ask for to continue developing his game.
Nico Is GM & President of Basketball Ops
There have been a lot of questions about what role Nico Harrison would fill, and team CEO Cynt Marshall put those to rest when she introduced him as both the General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. Although many are curious as to what role Michael Finley will play moving forward, it’s worth noting that Cuban has never been a fan of titles (especially because he’s typically the one making the final call anyway on most decisions).
Cuban even noted that it was his “brain trust” of Finley, Dirk, and others that ultimately led to the move of hiring both Kidd and Harrison, so it can be assumed that Finley is still very much an integral part of the organization.
Cuban also dodged a question about whether or not sports bettor Bob Voulgaris is still part of the team, leading most reasonable people to assume that the guy is definitely still on the pay roll, and will be back next season.