Whitt's End: James Harden Stuffs Coal In Stocking Of Ex Mavs Assistant Silas

Whitt's End: The Grinch-Like James Harden Stuffs Coal Into The Stocking Of Ex Dallas Mavs Assistant Silas, Who Now Has His Hands Full Running The Rockets
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Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 12.25.30 …

*Whatd’ya know, Santa brought you … another Whitt’s End. Hope it fits. #NoRefunds

*I thought good things came to those who wait? Don’t try that fable on former Mavs’ assistant Stephen Silas. He toiled as an assistant in the NBA on seven teams for 20 years – including on Rick Carlisle’s staff 2018-20 – before finally landing his first head coaching job in … the mess that is Houston.

READ MORE: Selfish Harden is a Mavs Secret Weapon

James Harden is fat, unhappy and partying maskless with strippers. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are violating NBA COVID rules by getting haircuts.

And on Thursday, the NBA was forced to remove the Rockets game from the schedule due to their overload of knuckleheads.

When Silas went south, he was giddy about his first gig and about coaching Harden and Russell Westbrook. But as the season starts, the Rockets are one of the most chaotic teams in the league.

The new coach is the son of the legendary Paul Silas. Surely this basketball family has seen it all ... though the NBA has rarely seen something like what James Harden is pulling in Houston.

Good luck, coach.

*I am NOT an advocate of tanking, intentionally trying not to win games in order to improve a draft pick. While the team is mathematically alive for the playoffs, that is.

After that, yes. By all means, tank you very much.

Therefore, the Cowboys – much as it pains some fans – should attempt to beat the Eagles on Sunday. Washington will likely take care of the Panthers and win the NFC East to put us all out of misery. If so, the Cowboys should indeed win by losing their final game. Ben DiNucci, let’s see what you got. Trust me, come April we won’t remember that they drubbed quarterbacks named Brandon Allen (Bengals) and Nick Mullens (49ers). But we will be fixated on how much it would cost to move up a couple spots in the draft.

I saw a tweet this week that proclaimed, “Losing to improve draft position nurtures an organization of losers.” That person has never played checkers, or else he would be familiar with intentionally taking one step back to take two forward.

I covered the NBA in 1996, when the Spurs tanked the season and wound up getting the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft. Fella named Tim Duncan, who wound up winning five championships in San Antonio. “Organization of losers”, my ass.

I was also at Texas Stadium on Dec. 18, 1988, a day when an NFL team lost by winning and set forth the greatest dynasty in DFW sports.

Capping a dismal 3-13 season, the Cowboys-Eagles finale was forgettable. Quarterback Steve Pelluer threw three interceptions, a rookie receiver named Michael Irvin was bottled up and the Cowboys’ lone Pro Bowler – running back Herschel Walker – scored the only touchdown in a fitting 23-7 loss.

Afterward, the media was interviewing somber general manager Tex Schramm. He was distracted, then delirious. Schramm kept interrupting our chat to look up at the TV in the interview room. He was watching the Packers-Cardinals game in Phoenix, which lit a sparkle in his eye. All the 3-12 Packers had to do to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft was lose, on the road, to the 7-8 Cardinals. But when quarterback Don Majkowski hit tight end Clint Didier with a touchdown late in the third quarter, Green Bay took a 26-17 it wouldn’t relinquish.

“Well, lookie here,” Schramm beamed. “This day’s not a total loss.”

Green Bay’s loss handed the top pick to the Cowboys. Four months later a new Cowboys’ regime led by Jerry Jones chose Troy Aikman.

At No. 2, the Packers took Tony Mandarich.

Because the Packers didn’t tank their last game of a lost season, the Cowboys landed a player with an eventual Hall-of-Fame bust. Green Bay merely got a bust.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Sometimes it’s better to tank.

*Lots to like from the Dallas Mavericks’ opener in Phoenix Wednesday night. I know, they lost, 106-102.

But ... Luka Doncic is still Luka Doncic, and he encouragingly made 10 of 12 free throws. Jalen Brunson is back. Josh Richardson’s skills are a perfect fit. Between Dwight Powell, James Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein, they emote a tougher texture. The defense, shredded by the Suns to the tune of 117 and 128 points in last Summer’s bubble, kept the game competitive.

It was, however, an upstream swim all opening night.

Down 7-0 early and 12 in the fourth quarter, the Mavs clawed back to tie it at 100 with 1:56 remaining Wednesday at Phoenix. But then they settled. For bad shots. And, ultimately, for a loss.

On consecutive crunch-time possessions, Maxi Kleber took a 3-pointer with 10 seconds on the shot clock and Luka launched a step-back triple with nine seconds remaining in the possession. Since Kleber had missed four of his six long jumpers and Luka – who got in the paint at will all night – was 0 of 5, not surprising both clanged off the rim. Throw in an offensive rebound by the Suns on a missed free throw and, voila, a disappointing loss that was winnable.

I get it, the Suns are a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. They went 8-0 in the bubble and added veteran Chris Paul. But with an improved defense, the Mavs are going to play lower-scoring games. That means fewer possessions, and a premium on late-game decision-making and execution.

They were 10-19 last season in games that were tied in the last three minutes. Wednesday night was ominous. If they are to win a playoff series for the first time in a decade, Luka needs to drive to the rim. Finish. Make free throws. Or create wide-open jumpers for teammates against a defense forced to scramble.

READ MORE: Luka Admits, 'My Bad'

READ MORE: Doncic Pinpoints The Mavs 'Thing' That Must Be Fixed

Settling for 3-pointers is lazy, and it’s losing. With a MVP candidate and shrewd offseason moves, progress and potential are no longer enough. Hope won’t cut it. It’s time for the Mavs to mature and to arrive, lest they become a cult’s “End of Days” and a bar’s “Free Beer Tomorrow.”

*And then, LESS to like at the Lakers as the Mavs get drubbed while registering complaints about lacking "toughness.''

READ MORE: 'We Gotta Get Tougher': Doncic''s Mavs Fall to LeBron's Lakers 138-115 on Christmas

I thought that's what those "Dawg'' offseason acquisitions were all about?

*Let’s be honest, this weird, warped college football season doesn’t warrant a Heisman Trophy winner, bowl games or even a college football playoff.

My idea: Clemson vs. Alabama for the title and everyone else stay home and stay safe.

They are clearly the best two teams. Notre Dame lost by 24 to Clemson; Texas A&M by 28 to Alabama. Ohio State has played only six friggin’ games. And the bowls? A 4-5 North Texas team surrendered 300 rushing yards and 56 points. Louisiana Tech lost 38-3. Some players have COVID. Others are opting out to stay healthy for the draft, or just healthy. No fans. Nothing on the line. Of the first five bowls, none were closer than 11 points.

College football is putting lives at risk for a money grab. Shame.

*Have yourself, a Merry little Christmask.

*Story that has been curiously downplayed: This week it was revealed that in 2009 the Washington Football Team paid a female former employee $1.6 million to settle her accusations of sexual misconduct against owner Dan Snyder.

READ MORE: 'Thanks a Lot, Dan. Thanks a Lot, Dwayne.'

Now imagine if it was the Cowboys and Jerry Jones paying. Something tells me it would be not "old news,'' but "breaking news.''

*My favorite Christmas gift? In 1971, Santa brought me a Bob Hayes jersey and a red, white and blue ABA basketball. Can never be topped.

*With the Mavs’ losses and the Clippers looming, an 0-3 road start is realistic if not likely. Their last true road win: March 1.

*Toldja a month ago the Cowboys – breaking a 30-year streak – would not/should not have any Pro Bowl players.

*Tennis buddy from New Zealand jokes that the new $600 stimulus payments will help Americans make car payments – for June. Not funny, because he's not wrong. Says his brother who still lives there received $585 per week for eight months and last week attended a 10,000-person music festival because COVID is gone. Color me jealous.

*Hot.

*Not.

*Happy to see Dez Bryant back in the end zone, even if it’s with the Ravens and even if I still don’t understand his “Throw Up the X!” celebration.

READ MORE: Dez Scores, And Throws Up X 'Love For Ravens'

Is he saying he’s the x-factor? Being a first-round draft pick and primary target, that doesn’t compute. Is he a fan of the X-Men movies? Is he making the first move in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe? Is he wishing he was named Dex?

His gesture always seemed a better fit for the WWE rather than NFL.

*Monday was the 2020 Winter Solstice, better known as the shortest day of the longest year.

*One nauseating casualty of college basketball’s “one-and-done” era: Rivalries. As in, they’re gone.

The coaches might look familiar, but the star faces won’t. Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski still coach North Carolina and Duke, but don’t believe the hype when announcers crow that “these teams don’t like each other.” Nonsense. The best players don’t stick around long enough to even know their rivals, much less develop a distaste for them.

*Cowboys’ curse, anyone? NBC’s Sunday Night Football wound up flexing out of the Cowboys-49ers highest-scoring NFL game of the week, featuring a Hail Mary and onside-kick return for touchdowns, four scores in the last 2:27 and 16 points in the final 40 seconds, and into a 20-6 Browns-Giants yawner in which one team never touched the end zone.

*The Cowboys had Staubach and Aikman. The Mavs are working on Dirk to Luka. But has there ever been a stronger, longer succession of power than KXAS-NBC 5 weather?

David Finfrock celebrated his 45th anniversary at the station this week. Before him, the late, great Harold Taft was NBC’s chief meteorologist for 41 years. Since 1949, DFW NBC viewers have had their weather delivered primarily by two men. Dynasty, indeed.

*Reason to be joyful? Drama Queen and head-to-toe fraud Shelley Luther lost her election bid to become a Texas state senator. You do remember the woe-is-me Luther – and her pet Wallaby – right?

*Speaking of former DFW assistants struggling at their ensuing stop, the target of Cowboys’ angst for a couple years fared no better in Baton Rouge. Scott Linehan, replaced by Kellen Moore as the Cowboys’ play-caller in 2019, has been fired by LSU as its passing game coordinator after just one season. In other words, our criticisms are validated.

*While the Mavs won’t initially host fans at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars apparently will. CEO Brad Alberts says about 5,000 can be in the house when hockey drops pucks in mid-January. Since I know you’re having trouble keeping track, the NBA season is scheduled to be 72 games; the NHL 56.

*“Home for holidays”? Um, yeah, I’ve been home since March. Some Americans, however, aren’t staying put and heeding the advice of medical experts. More than a million people per day are passing through U.S. airport security checkpoints. That’s why, before the COVID pandemic gets better, it’s gonna get worse.

*Before he made his foray into the lane this season, Luka already garnered an impressive endorsement for MVP. From a President who actually knows a thing or two about hoops.

*I do lot of joking and poking in this here space, but this is a sincere thanks to you guys for helping me – and each other – through an unpredictable, unnerving 2020. Whether I inform or irritate or both, I appreciate you reading while I vent. There were times I didn’t think we, much less sports, would make it to Christmas. But here we are. Cheers!

*This Weekend? Sunday is Picture-in-Picture Heaven: Mavs at 2:30; Cowboys at 3:25. As always, don’t be a stranger.