Mavericks Should be like the Spurs – NOT the Heat Part 2


The Dallas Mavericks are rebuilding. And like any team that rebuilds the follow a plan or a model. Earlier today we discussed the San Antonio Spurs Model for greatness. Now we will look at the Heat.

Miami Heat

Feb 1 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) sits next to guard Dwayne Wade (3) on the bench during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 102-89. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat started out like the San Antonio Spurs and many other NBA teams. They acquired a highly touted superstar after a very down season (i.e. Dwayne Wade). From the start they were hell-bent on building through free agency. They didn’t completely shun the draft as the Dallas Mavericks seem to do, but they placed majority of focus on trades and free agency. Shaquille O’Neal (via trade), LeBron James, Chris Bosh are the obvious examples of players they lured to Miami. These are all players who can lead a team on their own if asked to. Countless other players have joined through free agency but they’ve been closer to role players than cornerstones. Miami also prefers veterans on the downslope rather than San Antonio who prefers youth on the rise (Exceptions exist of course).

The result?

Pretty hard to argue with the success Miami has seen. They have won 2 championships (one with Shaq and one with LeBron) and been to the Finals four times. Looking down the road, there is no reason to expect their success to end anytime soon. Their players are in their prime and the team can already be considered favorites to win it all next year (despite what happens Thursday)

So instead of the San Antonio Model illustrated earlier, the Mavericks opted to follow the Miami Heat model instead.

Q: Why am I so critical and disapproving of the Heat Model if it seems to be working just as well?

A: I hate the Miami model simply because I see it as the exception and not the rule. Teams rarely can build contenders/winners/dynasties through free agency alone. Yet the Mavericks are trying to do it. They are placing all their eggs in a Superstar basket.

Q: If it worked for Miami, why not for Dallas?

A: A few reasons but mostly because as nice as D/FW is – it ain’t no South Beach!

Jan. 25, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; A general view of the skyline of Miami before a game between the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take San Antonio as an example again. San Antonio knows they can’t compete for Free Agents the way Miami does.  On the master list of desirable (NBA) cities, San Antonio ranks at the bottom. It’s fine for people who live there but it’s an awful place if you’re a young rich athlete searching for extra fame, fun, and fortune. It’s a small media market with little endorsement dollars, little national exposure, and a limited nightlife. I’m not bagging on San Antonio for the heck of it, I’m just saying it doesn’t offer what many of these young athletes are looking for.

The San Antonio Spurs are well aware of this too. They know they can’t compete for these kids based on the city and location. They need to be great in other ways. San Antonio has chosen to build a solid structure in management and coaching. They have shown they can develop young talent and will always have a competitive team as a result. They even have multiple star players on the roster. All of these things make the Spurs more attractive than they would otherwise be.

The question at hand is, is the city of Dallas more like San Antonio or South Beach?

Most happen to feel Dallas is a very desirable city. Not just to everyday “joes” like you and me, but to the rich and famous (other athletes) also. DFW has a large media market, endorsements and nightlife…but at the end of the day, they are still no South Beach.

Miami, LA, New York, and even Chicago for that matter, will always be higher on the list of desirable cities to majority of the young and rich.  If they love money, fun, and extra attention (and they all do)– then all the more reason.

Apr 10, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban watches his team as they take on the Phoenix Suns at the American Airlines Center. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas has been fooling themselves into thinking a great owner, great coach and great player (Dirk) are enough. But without Dirk the roster is garbage. The team has shown no ability to draft young talent or even lure other relevant free-agents. While the Spurs constantly tweak and upgrade their roster, the Mavericks just tread water.

If Dallas cannot sign Dwight Howard or Chris Paul (and they won’t), they need to change direction. They need to acquire real players and not aging former-stars or one year rentals. They need to focus on youth, the draft, and general talent acquisition. The best moves the Mavericks have ever made was by acquiring tradable assets and upgrading via trade. If Donnie can’t do it he needs to be replaced. Dallas needs to follow the San Antonio Model because the Miami Model just won’t work for them.

San Antonio knows who they are. Dallas doesn’t seem to have a clue.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson