Thanks to being in law school and having finals over the past few weeks, I have not had the chance to tackle a few issues that have stuck in my craw since the start of the playoffs. The first of those comes today: Some people (including a certain ESPN personality who has his picture on the front page but will remain nameless) have backed off their criticism of the Jason Kidd/Devin Harris trade because of the Mavs’ success in the playoffs.
To them, I ask one simple question: Why?
The entire criticism of the trade, as made by a multitude of media members as well as lowly bloggers like myself, still holds completely true, if not more than it was at the time of the trade. What the Mavericks did was wound their future chances to improve a team that had no chance of winning a title in the immediate. It would be hard to find people who thought that Harris for Kidd would make the Mavericks worse in the short term, mostly because that makes no sense. As a Bay Area resident nearly my entire life, there are not many people who have worshipped at the Kidd altar as long as yours truly. He is a phenominal player with elite court vision, passing ability, and one of the rare PG’s who can effectively manage the egos on a top team on the floor. That said, there was and is no chance in hell that he makes the Mavs into even a top 2 team in the Western Conference, much less the NBA. Their 6-seed this year provides as good of evidence as any out there, and injuries do not provide a fair excuse considering the multitude of injuries the other top teams (LA, Portland, and Houston, just to name a few) suffered.
As such, we are left with the exact same question that lingered then: Why give up the PG of the future for moving from a 7/8 seed to a 6/5 seed? Devin Harris is unquestionably underpaid and is easily a starting-level PG even if you discount his stats this year with the fact that the Lawrence Frank system inflated them. Furthermore, Dallas gave up two unprotected #1′s- the first of these produced Ryan Anderson, who should be a rotation player for New Jersey, and the 2nd is an unprotected 1st for 2010, and who knows where Dallas will be then. Hell, there’s a chance Dallas is a lottery team next season, particularly if Kidd leaves, which is a possibility though not probable.
The “cap space” argument fails miserably too, since the only way the Mavs will have cap space is if they don’t have a starting PG on roster, since Dirk, Terry, Carroll, and the other guys on roster take up enough cap that even Dampier coming off the books won’t make them a player in the 2010 boom unless Kidd goes elsewhere or they dump Josh Howard. While it is true that bringing Chris Bosh home has a great deal of cachet (even if he is a terrible fit with Dirk), the slight chance of that is not worth giving up on the PG of the future and two first rounders, especially when they did not and do not have a replacement in line.
The Mavericks’ decision to trade Devin Harris and two 1st’s for Jason Kidd was fatally short-sighted then and is now. And anyone who changes their mind on that should explain why they did so.