Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mavs (and Blazers) Will Rue The Day ...

Jason Kidd has been traded to the Mavericks, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Or, as I believe it will eventually be remembered, Devin Harris has been traded to the Nets.

Look, there is no denying the fact that I'm probably the biggest Devin Harris believer on the World Wide Web. This became clear several weeks back when those three-team trade rumors were flying around and I jumped out of my skin in excitement over the prospect of Portland acquiring Harris in the deal. You can read all about it here and here. (And if you really want to go crazy, you can read my first ever column about Devin Harris here.

My problem with Dallas' dealings here is comprised of two issues: 1) Kidd is being overvalued and 2) Harris is being undervalued. I'll dispense with the first issue by simply pointing you to John Hollinger's column and letting you soak up the gory details for yourself - the 36.7% shooting, the booming turnover stats, the miniscule scoring numbers, and all the rest. Just know that triple-doubles don't equate to wins, as Hollinger accurately points out.

The Harris thing is what really confuses me. Despite torching the Suns in the 2006 playoffs and evolving into a legit top-10 point guard this year at the age of 24, Harris can't seem to get any respect whatsoever from pundits or fans alike. If you watch games consistently, you will observe that Harris is unbelievably quick, has tremendous reach, can get to the rim at will, plays great defense, and has an ever-improving jump shot. Before being sidelined with an ankle injury, Harris was destroying people and prompting Avery Johnson to say that Harris will be an All-Star in the near future. Seriously, folks, people have a very difficult time guarding this man. And if you don't trust your eyes, just take a look at the numbers. As Hollinger pointed out today, Harris' value becomes clear when you start looking at +/- numbers and Dallas' record when he doesn't play.

I think Dallas is going to really regret making this trade and I think Portland is going to rue the fact that they didn't take advantage of the Mavericks' panic in order to secure a franchise point guard. That said, none of this really surprises me. It doesn't surprise me that the Blazers are overvaluing their own players (after the last two weeks does anyone still think that Travis Outlaw is better than Harris?) and it certainly doesn't surprise me that Dallas has responded in this fashion. After all, this is the same team that rolled out a small ball lineup in last year's playoffs in order to counter the roster of an eighth seeded Warriors team - this, after winning 67 regular season games. So it hardly comes as a shock that they would freak out after the Lakers made their move for Gasol. Nevermind that Dallas is the team that went to the Finals in '06 and had the best record in the league last year. Nevermind that the Mavs looked every bit like a title contender when Harris and Stackhouse were healthy. No, it is better to let a team beneath you in the standings dictate your decisions. Unwise, in my opinion.

Of course, I'm on record already predicting Dallas-Boston in the Finals, so I'm kind of covered either way. If Kidd turns the Mavs into NBA champs, I'll just point to my picks. If he runs them into the ground while breaking all their backboards (with jumpers, not dunks), then I'll show you this post instead. Genius!

No comments: