The Dallas Mavericks a year ago tried to flex their philosophical muscle in two ways, with one flex.
One, as they are always "opportunistic'' - a pet phrase of both owner Mark Cuban and the now-departed GM Donnie Nelson - they traded for Josh Richardson.
And, two, because they decided that the most explosively efficient offense in NBA history wasn't good enough, they traded Seth Curry to get him.
Now along comes new coach Jason Kidd ... and a not-unfamiliar philosophy. Or two.
“I will take what I’ve learned from Frank (Lakers coach Vogel) and apply it here,'' said Kidd upon his arrival in Dallas after having been an assistant in L.A., "because I think when you look at Frank’s defense it’s been No. 1 in the last two years.
"So here in Dallas we’re going to play a little defense, because we know that we can score the ball.''
Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with emulating what LeBron James and Anthony Davis do for the Lakers ... except that, for all of their talents, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are not LeBron and A.D. - especially on defense.
Maybe the Mavs should be what they are?
The Mavs trading Richardson to the Boston Celtics for Moses Brown this year represents an "addition-by-subtraction'' move, as Richardson just never fit in the way they had hoped he would. Maybe the 7-2 Brown can help on defense.
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Or, maybe Brown is destined to be swapped to Toronto for Goran Dragic.
That trade needs to be analyzed in more depth that what was done a year ago, as in hindsight, trading Seth Curry to the Sixers for Richardson and a second-round pick that turned into Tyler Bey was a disaster. There were times where it was obvious that Richardson shouldn't have been starting, and honestly, maybe not even playing at all, yet Carlisle kept trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by starting him in 56 of the 59 games he played last season.
Dallas made other moves this offseason, essentially replacing Richardson with Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown (as opposed to Moses Brown) was a subtle shift that could end up making a big difference for the Mavs this season. Bullock shot 41% from three last season on 6.1 attempts per game, and Brown shot 42% on 4.2 attempts per game.
For context, the Mavs best two three-point shooters last season, percentage-wise, were Maxi Kleber, who shot 41% on 4.2 attempts per game, and Jalen Brunson, who shot 40.5% on 2.9 attempts per game.
Getting rid of a non-fitting piece in Richardson and replacing him with two versatile players like Bullock and Brown could have more of an impact than most people realize.
And that impact might be mostly on offense, the result of Dallas' moving and shaking of this roster, in mostly subtle ways.
The Mavs, by reputation, "score the ball.'' And make subtle moves. A blockbuster trade would be nice and a No. 1 defense would be nice, too. But maybe the Mavs should flex the muscles they're good at flexing. Be "opportunistic'' in the front office, yes. But on the court? Run. Score. Win?
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