Word out of Dallas is that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will not include MVP Dirk Nowitzki in a trade for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
I think the Lakers brass are approaching this the wrong way. The person they need to convince isn't Cuban—it's Dirk.
Let's pretend you're Dirk Nowitzki. Wouldn't you rather play in a frontcourt with Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and Co.?
What's more, Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss give the Lakers an edge in attracting high-profile free agents. The Mavs have never been able to pair Nowitzki with a quality big man.
Odom and Dirk would be an unstoppable tandem—they'd complement each other perfectly in a small-ball lineup, and would present huge matchup problems for opposing big men.
You could also go big with Bynum down low and Dirk on the wing—where he could help Bynum be a great post presence the same way Robert Horry helped Shaq.
Horry's ability to hit threes spread the defense and opened up the middle—both for the big men and the guards. Dirk is Horry times ten.
Then there's the situation in Dallas.
Beyond Dirk, the Mavs' frontcourt—Erick Dampier, DeSagana Diop, et. al.—provides no offense and only slightly more defense.
Avery Johnson is a novice coach compared to Jackson, and Mark Cuban spends more time dancing with the stars and annoying referees that he does holding onto winners like Steve Nash and Don Nelson.
If Dirk weren't so loyal, the trade to Los Angeles would be a no-brainer.
In Dallas, he's flanked by inefficient scoring guards who can't shoot from the perimeter—and thus don't attract the attention of opposing defenders. In LA, the Lakers' depth and versatility in the frontcourt would help Dirk thrive.
Even better, a trade would save Dirk from being an undeserving whipping boy in Dallas. As it stands, Dirk takes all the blame for the Mavs' problems and gets little praise for their success. Cuban, on the other hand, gets no blame for the failures and all the credit for the success.
Imagine how different that equation would look if Kobe came to Dallas.
The real irony in all this is that most critics claim Dirk lacks the killer instinct of an American-born star. The American thing to do here, of course, would be to demand a trade to the Lakers.
It's time for Dirk to earn his US stripes by finally looking out for No. 1...er, No. 41.
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