Saturday , Jan , 31 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Re-tool not rebuild: Why Dallas should follow Los Angeles and Boston’s model for success

After all, Dallas is in NBA purgatory -they are strong enough to qualify for the post-season, but not strong enough to contend. And conventional thinking says that teams have to hit rock bottom, collect new assets, and start over before becoming great, right? Not necessarily. Re-tooling is also a viable option. Instead of destroying a team that came within a quarter of holding a 3-0 series lead in the NBA Finals, the Mavericks could keep Nowitzki and re-work the players around him …


Re-tool not rebuild: Why Dallas should follow Los Angeles and Boston's model for successShould Dallas rebuild or re-tool? 

While nothing is definite, many expect Team Cuban to blow things and start over by trading Dirk Nowitzki for a collection of expiring contracts, draft picks, and young prospects.

After all, Dallas is in NBA purgatory -they are strong enough to qualify for the post-season, but not strong enough to contend. And conventional thinking says that teams have to hit rock bottom, collect new assets, and start over before becoming great, right?

Not necessarily.

Re-tooling is also a viable option. Instead of destroying a team that came within a quarter of holding a 3-0 series lead in the NBA Finals, the Mavericks could keep Nowitzki and re-work the players around him.

Rebuilding doesn’t guarantee success because it hinges on having a rare, game-changing player. No blue-chip talent, no improvement. And then a culture of losing sets in. For example, the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies are always rebuilding. The post-Garnett Timberwolves with good but not great Al Jefferson are years from the playoffs.

Garnett’s new team, the Boston Celtics, are the best example of how re-tooling can work. Rewind to the summer of 2007. Instead of rebuilding by moving Paul Pierce, GM Danny Ainge re-tooled through exchanging young assets for veterans Ray Allen and Garnett. One year later, the green-and-white raised their seventeenth banner to the ceiling.

The Celtics’ archrival, the Lakers, have also re-tooled. Not long ago, the purple-and-gold was a dysfunctional soap opera –Kobe Bryant wanted out, the Buss family were squabbling, and coach Phil Jackson had lost some Zen.

Give GM Mitch Kupchak credit. He avoided auctioning off ‘Black Mamba’ and decided to improve his superstar’s supporting cast. Derek Fisher was brought back and Pau Gasol was stolen from Memphis. Today, because of re-tooling, Bryant is happy and Los Angeles is back as an elite team.

How can Dallas re-tool?    

They could have the cap space to chase free agents in July of 2010. First, they must convince Nowitzki to sign long-term for less than his current twenty million dollar salary. Second, they must decline the team option on underachieving Josh Howard. The Mavs would then have just thirty-five million dollars in committed salary and could offer up a ‘max’ contract.

New coach Rick Carlisle has to continue preaching defense. Years ago, under Avery Johnson, the Mavericks were known for getting stops. That identity has disappeared. Boston, Los Angeles, and San Antonio have proven that caring of your own end ensures success.

Cuban has to again make Dallas a destination. The renegade owner once did the little things that convinced top players to sign for less money. For many reasons, the former reality television star has lost his enthusiasm for the NBA, which has taken some shine off his franchise.

Rebuild or re-tool? Even after their choke job in the NBA Finals and first round loss to Golden State, it isn’t an easy choice for Dallas.

Should the Mavericks start over by trading Nowitzki or keep the former MVP and re-tool? Let us know in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of GuitarBrother.