DALLAS - Lamar Odom said one thing you want to know, and one thing you need to know.
What you want to know is that Odom plans to keep his reality TV gig, meaning theKardashians will be coming to Mavericks games.
"That's what I do," Odom said Tuesday morning at the team's media day.
What you need to know: "If [the Mavs] thought winning a championship was hard, defending it is tougher," he said. "It's tough. If any team can do it, this one can."
We care about these things.
We should also care about how much longer Dirk has. How many more prime years does the greatest player in the history of the franchise have remaining?
"I don't know that question is that important to anybody but you," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle chided me. "You are talking about something that is in the future."
Coach, Dirk is 33. Don't worry about the future when your Hall of Fame forward turns 34 in June. You just go with the now.
The hyper-compressed NBA season is near, and we should all plan on the Mavs again being "around it" as one of the few teams with a legit chance at the title because of Dirk. But to expect them to win it again is a bit much because their actions were about the future rather than today.
"Dallas let the goods get away," NBA analyst Chris Webber said Tuesday during a conference call. "Tyson Chandler is the reason they won the championship. He was a game changer.... First of all, they proved me wrong; they won a championship last year. Why would you change that? In my opinion, Tyson Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year. He made the most impact
"For all the years we watched Dirk, he's always been great, so I don't want to say he didn't get better last year. The difference last year was not Jason Terry; it was Tyson Chandler."
Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and Prime Minister Mark Cuban earned a few years' worth of appreciation and latitude from this town and the basketball world for putting together the title team. They did it, and it was nothing but fun. Most NBA cities would kill for a run like that.
Their decisions to bring in Odom, Vince Carter, Brandan Wright and Delonte West may offset the departures of guys like Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson. This roster is deep, versatile, capable and will win a lot of games. There may even be some upgrades in those moves. These are go-for-it-now decisions that suggest they know their future is today.
The decision to let Chandler go does not.
Athletic, active 7-foot men are not plentiful on this earth; so, when you get one that can actually play, you keep him. He was the best center in franchise history. There was a reason the Mavs traded for Chandler only a few weeks after locking up Brendan Haywood two summers ago and then he became the starter - Chandler is better.
How can the Mavs possibly replace what he did? As presently constructed, they can't. Haywood is a big body who can guard the interior reasonably well, but Chandler covered more ground than anyone on the team, and altered what the other teams could do.
The Mavs can only duplicate his defensive presence if they land Dwight Howard, who according to an ESPN report, is willing to be traded only to the Mavs, Nets, Magic or Lakers. Don't hold your breath Superman will actually come here. Ever notice that big-time free agents always love the Mavs except when it comes time to sign with the team? (That's another column.)
Letting Chandler go made the most financial sense as the team tries to be cap-responsible in two years when the new NBA rules really become punitive for the franchises that exceed the limit.
The rub is that Dirk is 33. To do anything but keep Chandler is to not give Dirk the very best chance at winning another title. Modern-era NBA history says there is only one guy to be The Man for his title-winning team after this age, Michael Jordan. This includes Magic and Bird.
Dirk may be able to hit 20-footers well into his 80s, and he may be in wonderful condition, but he will be this age for not too much longer. When he gets old, and he will, that's it. Assume when he's done we won't see his replacement for another decade.
But that is the future, and Carlisle and the Mavs aren't worried about that.
Except when they are, which is why Chandler isn't here, which is why asking the Mavs to defend their title may be tougher than even Odom thinks.
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