Thursday, June 27, 2013

If they want a shot at another title, the Dallas Mavericks should keep their 2013 first round pick & Shawn Marion --- not trade them.

Is Mark Cuban is selling out Dirk Nowitzki?

The Mavericks' superstar had about a 3-4 year window to win another title after Dirk single-handedly dragged his team to the title in 2011 finals.  Cuban opted to blow up that team for the chance to build a team of stars through free agency.

Half of Dirk's likely window is gone now, sacrificed to Cuban's long term franchise goals.

Cuban doesn't want to be a mediocre team long term, so he is prepared to risk being a bad team in the short term.

The short term is Dirk's title window.

Which raises the question, why is Cuban not more loyal to Dirk?  Dirk has been a good soldier.  He took less money to help Cuban try to land a free agent "superstar".  For the most part, Dirk has bit his lip through Cuban's fruitless efforts to lure free agents to Dallas.

It seems that DFW is not seen as that great of a city by most NBA players. 

Additionally, the lure of playing for "the ultimate player's owner" has proven time and time again to be resistible.

It's fine to take a shot at Dwight Howard, but that can be done without dumping this year's first.

If rumors can be believed, the Mavs are talking about tipping Cleveland to take Shawn Marion's salary off their cap (in a move that seems to be a precursor to trying to land the Los Angeles Laker's Dwight Howard and the LA Clipppers's PG Chris Paul).  The tip?  Dallas will send their #13 pick to Cleveland for the Cav's number #19 pick.

The #13 pick should be high enough to land a solid or better, minute eating starter.  A couple prospects come to mind.

Dallas is rumored to be interested in Michael Carter-Williams, PG out of Syracuse, if they do chose to keep the pick.  Although Donnie Nelson has a good track record with finding skilled guards,  I am not all that enthused about MCW as a Mavs player. Syracuse point guards tend to fail in the NBA and MCW sounds very much like a project --- not what a team who's superstar may only have 2 quality years left needs.

MCW is projected to be a strong defender and passer in the NBA, but it is a big projection.  He didn't play much man in college.  There is no track record to show how disciplined he would be in doing so for much of a game.  If he loses focus on defense, Coach Rick Carlisle will not play him.  Carlisle's finickiness should be a huge consideration in the Mav's draft considerations.   Carlisle doesn't play most young players unless they are defensive grinders.  There is no point in drafting a player who your "elite" coach won't play.

While MCW has good vision, he turns the ball over a lot.  Dallas's biggest problem this year was they lacked anyone who could reliably run the offense at crunch time in close games.  This guy may not be an improvement in that area.

Finally, he is a poor shooter and scorer.

To me that is too much to overcome.

I think Dallas would do better to take a second look at German PG Dennis Schroeder if they want a project point guard.   Schroeder has a lot of skills that would fit nicely in Dallas and Dirk and Schroeder playing together could inspire both players.

I think the best option may be 23 year old Louisville Center Gorgui Dieng.  I think he is being strongly underrated.   Older centers with a fair bit of college experience and good coaching tend to do well in the NBA ---and quickly.   Especially defensive minded centers.

He is a good, active defender, a good rebounder, and fairly athletic.  While his offensive game is primitive, he seems to understand the game well.  He has solid hands, can catch and dunk, and even shows some ability as a passer, all of which would fit in well in Dallas.  He has been an MVP and has been a big part of an NCAA championship team.  All of that bodes well for NBA success --- especially in the playoffs.

Dieng playing 35 minutes backed by last year's second round pick Bernard James picking up the remaining minutes could be acceptable to Carlisle and could be very effective in finally replacing much of the loss of Tyson Chandler.

If Dwight Howard should opt to sign with Dallas, the Mavs could trade one of their young centers.

Bringing in a solid veteran PG like Jose Calderon would do much to fill the crunch time point guard hole. he doles a lot of the things Jason Kidd did for the title team.   Likewise reacquiring a versatile player like Corey Brewer from the smoldering wreck that is the Nuggets would help a lot to rebuild the bench.

Life in the west today means being opportunistic when OKC has an injury or loses focus.  SA gets that.  Hopefully Dallas does as well.

Fill the Center and PG gaps competently and it will become very apparent what a smart move it would be to hold on to a good defensive player like Shawn Marion.


Monday, June 24, 2013

The new USFL --- why it will likely fail despite lots of good ideas and good people

I read a very interesting article on the latest effort to start a second incarnation of the very popular United States Football League.

The original USFL lasted for 3 years but boasted a number of players who went on to be Hall of Fame NFL players.  Guys like Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Keith Millard, Steve Young and others were USFL stars long before they played a down in the NFL.

The rights to the USFL brand and those of it's member teams were apparently acquired by a gentleman named Michael Dwyer.  From 2009 to 2011, Dwyer had a site up trumpeting a imminent return of the USFL.  He had allegedly recruited a number of former USFL players as advisers.

Over that 3 year period, a number of USFL fans called Dwyer a charlatan and a liar.  This may have been grossly unfair.  It is entirely possible that the existence of the UFL thwarted a legitimate effort by Dwyer to attract the minimum number of owners needed in order to get his USFL off the ground.

It appears that over the last year a group of investors have convinced Dwyer to convey the rights to the USFL brand to them.  (This cabal apparently did not see a need to acquire the right to the team names from Dwyer as well.)

The Boston article linked above is based off an interview with Jaime Cuadra, the president and CEO of this 3rd incarnation of the USFL.  One cannot help but admire the passion of Cuadra, but success may very well elude him --- with what we know of his plan.

This new USFL sounds much more like the recently defunct UFL than the old USFL.  That's a big problem.

At the start they want this to be a nationwide, small lineup, minor league.  They want to be the XFL or UFL. That is going to be nearly impossible to market and very tough to grow.

The main difference between Cuadra's plan and that of the UFL is that this USFL will be playing in the spring.  That will give a bump in attendance numbers, but I suspect it won't make fans care enough about a UFL v.2 for the league to make it.

And the article seems filled with fishy or off putting concepts.

The article states the new USFL has real estate interests associated with them who plan to build 25,000 seat stadiums at costs up to $500 Million in order to create lucrative communities around the stadiums.  That seems a little crazy to me.

Why not build a 40,000 seat stadium for $100 million at each target site?  That would still make for fantastic, revenue generating stadiums at a much smaller price.

But $500 Million stadiums for teams that cost $1 Million?  The numbers just seem way out of whack.

Now this kind of buildup around sporting arenas and stadia has become fairly common, but you are talking about a capacity that is kind of small and would likely only be filled to near capacity 7-10 times a year.  Now maybe if the stadium could host a USFL and a Major League Soccer team, OK.  But for now, I'll believe it when I see this particular element of the plan move past the planning stages.

The markets mentioned --- Connecticut (Hartford), Southern California (one would think probably LA), Texas (probably Austin and /or San Antonio), Louisiana (probably New Orleans or Baton Rouge), Alabama (probably Birmingham or Mobile) and Ohio (probably Columbus) --- do not seem to paint the picture of a media relevant league. Memphis, Omaha, and OKC are other candidates cities mentioned in the article who also would not appeal to broadcasters.

In this way the new USFL falls far short of the original. And to my thinking that is a real problem.

Finally, as I mentioned above, the USFL is charging $1M per franchise.... With a requirement that USFL owners prove they have access to $6.5 Million in ready cash to run the team for a year.  That seems like wrong thinking to me.  Getting in with minimal outlays seems to be courting trouble. 

My suspicion is that the UFL hangover in ownership circles has steered the league to take this path in order to entice people in. 

I think it is wrong thinking.  The WFL failed in large part because teams were under capitalized and their owners paid their bills out of available cash rather that properly budgeting.  The USFL v.1 required the opposite (with the exception of Clinton Manges's San Antonio Gunslingers).  Manges's team was one of the least financially stable teams in the league.

We will see how many of this new USFL's owners decline to spend that $6.5 Million when the time comes.


I was equally unoptimistic of the UFL's odds at a similar point in their launch.  This plan, like that one, hits me as a lot of good people lighting a ton of their money on fire. 

I think it would shock most NFL fans, but to me, the NFL is actually extremely vulnerable to competition today to a competing league with a good plan.  This incarnation of the USFL does not want to compete... And I personally do not think much of their plan. 

I want to see another pro league.  Wealthy people who are passionate enough to put their money up to build a football league are the required building blocks for such a league.  That is a limited pool of investors.  Every failed league shrinks that pool even more.

Should fans of the idea of a competitive league cheer for the arrival of USFL v.3 ...or hope it never materializes?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I disagree

Why The Sports Minority Report?

Phillip K. Dick wrote "The Minority Report" - a story based in a society that uses 3 precognitives to predict crimes in the future.  (It was made into a decent movie in 2002.)

Their predictions are compared and when one of the trio's visions does not agree a majority report and a minority report are created.

I decided to start this report because I disagree with a lot of decisions made in the business of sports. 

I feel frustrated because smart, successful business people make some sports decisions that seem crazy to me.  I feel like a large chunk of my sports writings are minority reports.

Like everyone else, sometimes I am wrong, but I have a pretty solid track record.

I used to post in forums and write articles for some of the internet news pages, but I am getting to the point where I'd just prefer to write my thoughts into my own blog. 

I can write at a site like BleacherReport and get exposure to a very large audience of people. Unfortunately most of those readers are general sports fans.  Articles on my preferred subject matter --- sub-NFL level pro football leagues and college football realignment --- are not well received there to start,  contrary opinions are especially unwelcome.  (I am also a Dallas Cowboys fan. Those articles also are troublesome.)

Writing a good editorial takes time.  Writing ones that makes a newsworthy, counter-intuitive point  --- while preemptively countering most ill-conceived conventional wisdom based arguments so my ideas can be considered at their merit  --- have taken me 72 hours or more to construct. 

I am a Dad.  I just don't have that kind of time anymore.

Today, I just want to get my thoughts on the business of sports out quickly.

Some will reject my opinions here and that is fine. That comes with nay-saying.

But here I know anyone who reads these articles will have come here with a somewhat open mind, ready to hear a different opinion.