Mavs Vs. Rockets: Ready For 'Shots Fired!'
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Sports are love.
Then again, sports are also hate. As fans we love our team. Yet whenever things are really going well we tend to hate another team. It comes with success. It comes with increased expectations. It comes with jealousy. It comes with opposing bragging rights colliding into each other.
But more often than not, it’s just fun for fans to hate a specific team.
I don’t know why. It doesn’t say a lot of positive things about the human nature of sports fans. It’s an extremely counterproductive mindset in just about any other area of society. In sports, though, it just feels right.
We don’t call it hate though. We call it “rivalry.”
The past three years the Mavericks have not been title contenders. Coincidentally there hasn’t been much of a rivalry going. Don’t get me wrong, Mavs fans can generate a passionate distaste for the San Antonio Spurs, but I think the “hatred” had died down a little bit, mainly because they are so damn good. The respect is mutual. There have been so many battles. Any kind of real trash talk between either side is likely to expose a little bit of basketball ignorance by the perpetrator.
Not to mention, a confrontation between Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan would be far from intense. They would probably bond over post moves and boring fashion sense. A Rick Carlisle and Greg Popovich conversation would likely be full of “…Sorry, no you go first…” as they cut each other off with compliments.
…Now we have the Rockets. Guys, I think we might have a rivalry.
Fish noted this in Monday's Mavs Donuts, with the focus on Chandler Parsons. Let's expand those thoughts ...
People like to downplay rivalries by claiming the players don’t care about them as if that actually matters if the fans care enough. That being said, I think it’s safe to say the players on the Rockets and Mavericks are not completely in love with each other.
It started in the front office. Daryl Morey, Houston’s general manager, is heralded as one of the best and most innovative analytical minds in basketball. Perhaps Morey is getting credit for strategies and formulas that Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been using for quite some time, but even so, there is no denying Morey’s merit as decision maker.
Morey is in the business of what DB.com has long refered to as "Asset Management." He piled up enough assets to pull off the James Harden trade and the next year leveraged that into the signing of Dwight Howard and he almost nabbed a third superstar this summer.
But he didn’t.
He missed out on that third superstar and indirectly disrespected a man already on their roster. Chandler Parsons, a 25 year-old small forward who averaged 16 points per game and had yet to make over a million dollars in any of his first three seasons, believed he had the potential to develop into an All-Star caliber player.
So when the Mavericks offered him that role he was happy to jump on board and sign a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with Dallas. He did so with Mark Cuban in a Florida nightclub with music blasting and what I would imagine were alcoholic beverages being consumed. How do we know this? Because the club-offer sheet signing was video taped and put on Youtube (and since removed).
But an offer sheet and a contract are not the same thing. As a restricted free agent, the Rockets had 72 hours to match the offer and retain him. The plan was to sign free agent Chris Bosh and retain Parsons, making them a possible title favorite. Bosh eventually turned down their offer and Houston had a tough decision. A decision that they took nearly all of 72 hours to make while the Mavericks had to wait, handcuffed by a potential deal that might not even happen. In that time, Vince Carter signed with the Grizzlies and nearly every marquee small forward was signed. Waiting out the 72 hours was understandable gamesmanship; make Dallas sweat it out.
As you already know, the Rockets decided not to match the offer sheet and Chandler Parsons is a Maverick. Morey’s reasoning was that the Parsons contract was one of the most “untradeable contracts” he’d ever seen. This could be sour grapes, but what if .. it’s also a fundamental difference between he and Cuban? What if guys think Morey looks at players as tradable assets, even extremely talented players?
On the surface this might seem logical, but the glaring flaw in this approach is that players don't like being treated like assets. This seems lost on Morey, as evidenced by the fact that the Rockets photo shopped a picture of Carmelo Anthony during his recruiting visit in Jeremy Lin’s No. 7 jersey while Lin was still on the team.
Parsons claimed he felt “offended” by the way the Rockets treated him during free agency. The Rockets may have felt they were fair in their handling, but once again they saw Parsons as an asset to be manipulated, not as a huge contributor to the team’s success the past three years.
Then again, I don’t think everyone on the Rockets’ roster feels like an asset. It sounds like they know who to keep happy. Howard claimed losing Parsons “won’t affect us at all,” a comment that Parsons claimed is “ridiculous.” (It should be noted that Parsons still considers Howard a good friend).
Harden followed that comment up by claiming “Dwight and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets. The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team.” Considering, Harden has been widely ridiculed for his atrocious playoff defense the past postseason, it seems unwise to downplay the importance of his teammates.
So suffice it to say, Chandler Parsons, who hopes to be the face of the Mavericks upon Nowitzki’s eventual retirement, will want to do a lot of proving wrong and will be a strong presence in keeping this rivalry going.
That’s not all, however. Marc Stein originally reported that the Rockets attempted to offer Nowitzki a max contract likely joining a team with Howard, Harden and Parsons and probably entering the season as the favorites to win the NBA championship.
The lesson I'd like to visualize as learned? Don’t try to take Dirk from Dallas.
DB.com reported Nowitzki refused to open up negotiations with the Rockets, and then as we all know he signed a deal with the Mavericks for much, much less (three years, $25 million).
We can find smaller storylines as well if we look hard enough.
-Dwight Howard chose the Rockets over the Mavericks in 2013 after the Mavericks put their all into a recruiting pitch for Howard.
-Howard reportedly reached out to free agent Jameer Nelson, his teammate of eight years, to join the Rockets. Nelson instead opted for the Mavericks.
-Trevor Ariza, who the Rockets signed in replace of Parsons and the Mavericks were strongly considering, will likely want to prove that he, not Parsons or anyone else, was the best second-tier small forward on the market.
Rockets fans can’t be crazy about the Mavericks either. Watching one of their fan favorites party with Cuban in the club probably wasn’t fun. ... and now Chandler is also partying with Team USA and partying with Team Kardashian (not that we support the latter, which hasn't helped previous Mavs forwards Kris Humphries and Lamar Odom.)
So get on board with this rivalry, Rockets fans. Um ... It’s too humid in Houston. Shots fired!
Ask San Antonio. A rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks only makes you better.