For the first time since he tore apart his title-winning team, Mark Cuban successfully executed his summer vacation plans by signing legit free agents rather than the leftovers. It has been awhile since this town celebrated an off-season championship, so pop the Shiner and par-tay.
Adding Wesley Matthews and Hyland DeAndre Jordan Jr. (that’s his real name) in free agency will certainly keep the Mavs as playoff contenders, but the only way they are more than that is if Parsons is more than he has ever been before in his NBA career.
This team still needs a new Dirk.
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As we all watched in the playoffs, Dirk’s days as this franchise’s primary offensive threat are over. He is 37, and his legs simply will no longer allow him to be what he once was. Happens to everybody.
Oh, sure, every now and then he will pop for 25 or 30, and it will be fun to reminisce about this man’s greatness (BTW — If you have not seen the new documentary about Dirk — The Perfect Shot, do. It’s fantastic).
Despite a starting five that will have Dirk, Parsons, Jordan and Matthews, this team needs a creator, someone who can command a double team to create space. Dirk used to command a double team, but that’s done.
Unless Rick Carlisle can turn Jordan into a low-post offensive threat, he will be a dynamic athletic, defensive, rebounding freak who can dunk from half court. He can’t shoot. He can’t post up. He’s never had to pass out of a double team in his life because he’s never seen one. And his free-throw shooting is so “good” that Hack-A-Jordan will be a problem for Carlisle.
Maybe Jordan can do some of these things, only we never saw it because the Los Angeles Clippers never gave him the chance.
Matthews is a nice perimeter shooter who, assuming he returns from his torn Achilles’ injury suffered in March, can actually guard the 3-point line.
What the Mavs still need is The Man, someone who can score when no one else can. Someone who can create his own shot or an open look for a buddy.
Either that player is not on this roster or the Mavs think it’s Parsons. Perhaps he has convinced them that he can do it.
Parsons’ fingerprints are all over this team since he signed a three-year deal last off-season worth $46 million. He is obviously smart enough to figure out that it really can be quite lucrative for this team’s owner to like you; this is often called “relationship skills,” or “managing up.”
Parsons reportedly was instrumental in the team’s ability to persuade Matthews and Jordan to take less money to sign with the Mavs. And it’s no secret that Cuban is a big fan of Parsons’.
He is a good, tall player who can play two positions. Whether he can carry a team in the final minutes of an NBA game, however, is a risk. He’s never done it. Parsons has averaged 14.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in four seasons. That’s pretty good, but it’s not Dirk.
Had the Mavs failed to land these two free agents, Cuban admitted in an interview with KTCK “The Ticket” that the team would have deliberately “taken a step back,” i.e. tanked.
The Mavs won’t stink. The Mavs are a nice team that will compete and fight for a playoff spot in the NBA’s monstrously difficult Western Conference.
Cuban is convinced that in the era of the NBA’s short-term contracts, he can buy a title contender. This is what Houston is doing, and the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals last season. This, basically, is what the Detroit Pistons did to win the title in 2004.
But in the modern era of the NBA, the surest way to win a title is to develop your own Man. Cuban is eschewing that and has created a decent roster that still needs help. It needs a point guard, and it needs a Man.
From the looks of it, the top and — only candidate — to be the new Dirk is Chandler Parsons.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog