In the Cheap Seats

Sometimes, being right is not any fun

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 19, 2008 - Sometimes I hate being right.

Less than two weeks ago, I wrote the Mavericks off as being a serious challenger for the Western Conference title. They are too old, too slow, too over-coached and don't have the stomach it takes to grit out tough games, I summarized.

Sometimes I hate being right.

If you need more proof of the Mavericks' inability, you didn't watch the debacle against the Lakers last night.

Oh, the Mavericks tried to climb out of a 25-point hole and got to within one point late in the fourth quarter, but as Jerry Stackhouse so eloquently said, it was "fool's gold."

The Mavericks had won five games in a row, but they were all against CBA-caliber teams. Last night started a gut-check week that includes home games against Los Angeles, Boston and San Antonio.

The Lakers came to town without their second and third-best players, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who were injured. The Mavericks were at home and rested.

The result - a 25-point hole midway through the fourth quarter.

It was a must-win game against a team ahead of them in the standings, and as usual, the Mavericks must-lost.

Avery Johnson and Donnie Nelson put together a franchise-changing trade to bring in Jason Kidd, and he produced ... one point. I sat on the couch and had just one less point. His double-clutch 3-point attempt from the corner with 14 seconds left was an abysmal decision.

The Mavericks brought Kidd in to close out games, in the words of Johnson. So far, the Mavericks are 0-6 against Western Conference playoff teams with Kidd in the line-up. They have beaten one team with a winning record in the last 44 days.

Last night, they were uninspired, unemotional and unwatchable. Some people are saying you can't blame Johnson because as professionals, the players should get themselves mentally prepared. So why do you need a coach? It's Johnson's onus to get the team ready to play.

The Mavericks will need a major shake-up in the offseason - it's probably too late to do it now, though if they lose to Boston and San Antonio this week, it'll be time to fire the coach.

The Mavericks are in a no-win situation after this season. They are the second-oldest team in the NBA, they will have no first-round draft pick in two of the next three years and don't have a young player who is positioned to rise to the next level.

The Mavericks wasted last year's first-round draft pick when they took Nick Fazekas, then cut him instead of Juwan Howard to make room on the roster for the Kidd trade. The Clippers have signed Fazekas while Howard collects NBA checks and AARP advantage miles.

Bad personnel decisions are the bane of any business, especially a sports franchise. It gets worse when those in charge won't cut their losses before the damage becomes irreversible.

Sometimes, it takes a complete shake-up to get things on the right track. Now it looks like as good of time as any.

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