Talk to people in Dallas and the object of their ire is the same man that brought back basketball to their town. When two summers ago, Mark Cuban let Tyson Chandler walk to New York, he broke up a squad that had won the crown just a year before and would have challenged for it again in successive seasons. But his reasons were not of the penny-pinching ilk that has led so many other owners to part ways with top tier talent. While he knew he was crippling his team in the now, he thought even the chance at assembling a potential dynasty in the future was too good to forego.
As we know, those plans did not come to pass. Deron Williams is a Net and it is not probable that Dwight Howard will leave next summer to the Big D. The Mavs are in shambles with no clear future and to thrust salt upon the wound, Dirk is not happy. But while it did not work out, Cuban’s was a rational choice, a calculated risk. He saw possibility for the dream ideal so he turned away the bird in hand.
Earlier this week, I asked whether the Rockets could afford to be picky. They have assets and they’ll have cap room this summer. But if they sit until 2014, they can dream about Lebron or Kevin Love. In James Harden, they now have the carrot they never had in their previous pursuits.
For such an assessment, opportunity cost and expectation are essential. The Mavs passed up maybe two or three years of contention–and the dignity of defending their title–for a shot at riches for a decade. They also thought they could get by without Chandler. An argument can be made for either side of the coin in their decision.
How about the Rockets? If they sign Josh Smith this summer, or maybe trade for someone like Paul Millsap, given where they currently are, you could see them likely vault upwards in the rankings.
What if they decide to hold on? They can then make smaller moves and rent out their current cap space in return for draft picks. They could see if their current 4′s (they have four of them under age 24) have room to grow. The team is already knocking on the door for homecourt positioning – you’d expect them to climb just with experience. It’s debatable, but I’m not sure someone like Smith or Millsap could make this team that much better than it can already become through organic growth.
I think that given this surprising start–if it holds up–you’ll see Houston exercise patience on the market. They’ll look for hidden gems, as they always do, but I don’t think you’ll see them swing for the fences unless a grand slam is in sight.