I took a few classes you see in a typical MBA program and found their parallels for running a basketball team. Each is explained below, but the bottom line is this: Dallas isn’t a title contender, but they did get better for this year and the future. The biggest question is whether or not their rivals improved even more. Let’s dive into our offseason review.
Organizational Behavior (Personnel): B+
Review only players who played or are likely to play impactful minutes for the Mavericks last season or this season, and you will find only a couple free agents retained, while many left (note: does not include players who were already under contract, this is new deals only). Their first-round pick was sent to Boston, so only AJ Hammons joins the team from the draft. Compared to the past few offseasons, this was a big success for the Mavericks. They finally have some continuity with Anderson, Matthews, and others still under contract and the returns of Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, and Dwight Powell in free agency.
Rather than pay Chandler Parsons the big-star money he wanted in spite of widespread concern about is knees, Dallas took advantage of the Kevin Durant move and signed Harrison Barnes to their largest ever free agent deal (4 years, $94 million). They also managed to swap centers in a roundabout way as Golden State needed to dump Bogut’s salary and Dallas had seen enough of Pachulia’s high effort but low impact game by the time February rolled around last season.
New additions Seth Curry and Quincy Acy have many excited: especially Curry, who really improved throughout his time in Sacramento and shocked many when he was not retained by the Kings. He’ll have to take over Felton’s role as part of the cast of guards behind Deron Williams, and needs to show that he can keep the offense humming and put the ball in the basket.
Economics and Negotiation (Creating Value): B
Dallas now has the 7th highest payroll in the league. For this roster, that’s a bit of a black mark. They aren’t likely to reach the 7th most wins, and at this point in time, they don’t have many bargains on the roster. That said, they handed out good deals this offseason, and though Dirk Nowitzki may be overpaid in a vacuum, $25 million a year buys a lot of goodwill with the face of the franchise and may be something the team can point to with future players.
Harrison Barnes was always going to get a max deal this offseason. Dallas basically gave up nothing to obtain Bogut’s services, and Deron Williams is a rare bargain at only $9 million for the year instead of the $12 million or so he likely could have commanded from a number of teams.
Seth Curry at just under $3 million a year for two years is a great deal if the guard can grow into a bigger role. Dwight Powell made a lot of money for a few short flashes over his time in the league, and is the other spot where money may have been better spent elsewhere. At the same time, as a RFA in the richest market ever, Powell very well could have had more money elsewhere and wielded a lot of power in his negotiations with the team.
Overall, Dallas avoided any major free agency mistakes. They found a couple small bargains, and they retained their key pieces without making any outlandish deals or damaging their future cap flexibility. If Harrison Barnes lives up to his deal, this grade is probably low. If Barnes busts, it’s clearly too high. A lot is riding on him this year, for many people in Dallas.
Strategic Leadership (Championship Outlook): B-
Dallas is closer to a transition, and a championship, this year than they were last year at the same time. A theory for the next title-contending Mavericks team is starting to emerge, and the front office looks poised to avoid a Laker-like drop-off as Dirk Nowitzki’s career creeps closer to an end. That theory is an array of multi-positional threats on the wings that can switch, create, post, and run. With Barnes, Matthews, and Anderson locked up long-term and few remaining future draft obligations, Dallas looks ready to reload around Dirk for a couple more years while the vanguard of the future develops.
Overall GPA: 3.0
Nearly straight B grades for a team that improved this offseason, but maybe not as much as their competitors across the top tiers of the Western Conference. They have improved across the board, they have made a smart bet on Harrison Barnes, they have restocked with another strong, temporary center solution and made a few moves on young players inside and outside. The youngest Dallas team we’ve seen for some time is poised to make a run at the playoffs yet again in Dirk’s twilight years, and their athleticism and shooting potential could make this a very fun team to watch on both ends.