The Lakers remain the unquestioned best team in the Western
Conference and right now, it’s not even close.
That’s the most pressing issue for the Mavericks to
deal with. But one that they don’t have to worry about is whether Dirk
Nowitzki is the best player in history from the European continent.
He is. And that debate is not even close – just like
Laker superiority can’t be argued – despite what Pau Gasol did in
the playoffs and the fact that he has two rings now.
The Spaniard is good. No doubts there. Anybody who had him
in a playoff fantasy league knows that he had a better overall point production
(points, rebounds, assists subtracting missed shots and missed free throws)
than Kobe Bryant.
But does that mean he’s the best player the Lakers
have? Of course not. And he’s not better than Dirk.
For those without any sense of history, consider what Gasol
did when he was the lead dog in Memphis. Not only did he never win a playoff
series, he never won a playoff game. Went 0-for-12 in three swept-out seasons.
The bottom line is this: If Dirk were the No. 2 option on
his team, that team would be heavy favorites to win a championship, just like
the Lakers are with Gasol as the No. 2 option behind Kobe. And if Dirk were
with Kobe? Let’s just guess that there would be at least as many rings on
Nowitzki’s fingers as there are on Gasol’s now.
Which brings us to free agency. It’s a rare
opportunity to add a No. 1 option…or at least create a 1-A and 1-B set of
options with Dirk being one or the other.
The Mavericks continue to work through possible scenarios
that might land them one of this summer’s A-list free agents. It’s
all legwork at this stage. They certainly wouldn’t risk tampering (again)
by making any contact with anybody. But come July 1, it’s going to be an
absolute free-for-all and I keep hearing that the Mavericks will be squarely in
the middle of it, even though that guarantees them absolutely nothing.