With the exception of a few moves, this has been a strangely quiet first week of free agency.
No matter what the rumor say, I think LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will all end up back in Miami. The three of them, particularly LeBron, seem to be waiting on how Miami will improve their supporting cast.
But not even they have done anything yet because everyone is still waiting for the first domino to fall: Carmelo Anthony.
By now, Anthony has visited all of the teams that made his short list including Dallas Mavericks. Anthony met with the Bulls all day on Tuesday and met with the Rockets for six hours on Wednesday morning and into the afternoon. He then made his way to Dallas on Wednesday evening for a meeting that lasted about two hours. Not even half of the meeting with Houston.
Now, maybe this doesn’t mean anything. Maybe we’re all just overreacting like we’re known to do in this town. After all, the Mavs didn’t put Melo on a billboard like the Rockets and Bulls did. The meeting was reportedly all about business and basketball. Fine, maybe that approach by the Mavs has a chance at working. But even if Melo was impressed by the Dallas pitch, they are still underdogs to land him, making him the third superstar in a row to turn Dallas down. If that ends up happening, then it’s probably time to scrap this plan to land the “big fish” and accept the fact that these big time superstar players don’t want to sign in Dallas.
If the Mavs have cap space and with the track record they have of winning and sustaining success, then a free agent superstar like Anthony should definitely take the opportunity to listen to what Dallas has to say. It’d be idiotic not to.
But even still, Deron Williams re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2012 and Dwight Howard opted to sign with the Rockets last year. With Melo, it looks like it’s going to be the same song and same dance.
It turns out it’s good that the Mavs ended up not landing Williams because of all of the injuries he’s sustained over the last few years, but he was getting more money in Brooklyn and had a chance to be the face of a franchise going from New Jersey to Brooklyn. But, the whole part of this plan for the Mavericks has been to make Dirk Nowitzki their second best player and, in essence, find a new face for the franchise to take the reigns from an aging Dirk. But Williams opted to take more money to stay in Brooklyn to be the face of a more talented roster at the time.
But Howard? If it was about money for him he would still be a Los Angeles Laker. But he signed with Houston to play with James Harden. But why not Dallas? Rick Carlisle is a better head coach than Kevin McHale, the front office is more proven, and, once again, Dirk was willing to hand over the keys to the franchise. But Howard opted for a younger roster in Houston.
The roster now features Dirk, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler, which is a better core than when Dallas was going after Williams and Howard. If Melo stays in New York, then we know that it’s about the money which you really can’t fault him for. But if he signs anywhere else, then it’s time for Dallas to seriously consider that they might not be as attractive a destination as they think they are. On paper, Ellis, Chandler and Nowitzki seems like a great core to play with, so why wouldn’t Melo come here?
Dallas is a great city and it’s a wonderful area to raise a family. Plus, it’s a phenomenal sports market. But it doesn’t carry the appeal of one of the more glamorous cities such as Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. I’m sure players like Dallas and like the city, but they like other cities such as Miami more. Perhaps Dwight Howard chose Houston because he liked the younger roster there and had nothing to do with the city. But maybe part of Williams’ decision was being in Brooklyn. We all know that Melo likes the spotlight and the glamour. Plus, he’s got a celebrity wife that will surely have an impact in his decision. Personally, I think Melo will wind up in Chicago or back in New York.
But Dallas will once again get in on the superstar chase next summer when Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge will be on the market. But to me, the Mavericks are more like the San Antonio Spurs in that they probably won’t ever be able to get a superstar join up during free agency. They have to find that kind of talent in the draft and build around him that way, which is what both teams have basically done with Tim Duncan and Dirk.
But the Spurs drafted their other stars to put around Duncan, while the Mavs have always surrounded Dirk with good players, but hardly ever through the draft. Keep in mind that most of the Mavs big splashes always come through trades that come out of no where, and rarely through a big free agency signing. That’s probably because for most of the Dirk-era, the Mavs have never had cap space, but it’s still worth noting. I’m not saying the Mavs should never go after a big name free agent again, all saying is that it just seems like Dallas isn’t going to be able to do something like what Miami did four years ago, or what Houston did last year in bringing in Howard. Maybe one day they’ll get lucky, but it doesn’t seem likely.
It doesn’t look like likely that Melo will end up as a Dallas Maverick, which means the Mavs will go through the second tier of free agents and try and field a competitive and fun team around Dirk. But it’s time to accept that the “Big Fish” plan is a complete failure if Melo spurns Dallas, and maybe time to figure out why that is.