By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The right move...is no move.
The current nucleus deserves one more shot. Last year's first-round freak-out notwithstanding, the Mavs dominated the league last regular season and were six minutes from a 3-0 lead in the '06 Finals. Comforting it was then to hear Johnson and Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson all crow in unison last week:
"We like our team."
Kidd, Dallas' first draft pick in '94, would admittedly energize a lethargic fan base with an injection of right here, right now. The human triple-double has more playoff experience than Nowitzki, Howard and Terry combined, and surely his defensive tenacity would've slowed down Baron Davis last spring. But Kidd and Harris are headed in opposite directions.
In two years Kidd may be a 37-year-old Hall of Famer. In two years Harris should be a 27-year-old Tony Parker.
Despite a wiry frame that mandates limited durability, Harris is Dallas' one-man fast break, a blur that ad-libs open layups when defenses constrict the half-court jump shooters. The Mavs believe in him to the tune of last summer's five-year, $43 million contract extension.
In the end, Avery's legacy—similar to Jason Garrett's nurturing of Tony Romo and Ron Washington's development of Hank Blalock—may be hitched to Harris. The ol' point guard is charged with making a superstar out of the young point guard, who came equipped with all the bells and whistles as the fifth overall pick in the '04 draft.
Fail, and Avery will be fired and the Mavs will be blown up. Succeed, and Dallas will make legitimate title runs this decade and next.