Lil' Nellie All Growed Up

You might not know this, but Donn Nelson was a pretty good college ball player too.

Last week, Tom Hicks re-signed wonderboy Jon Daniels to run the Ranger’s sinking (though surprisingly more buoyant of late) ship through 2009, even though the team has one of the worst records in baseball and Daniels hasn’t made one move that’s made sense since he became the GM, other than bringing back Sammy Sosa, which was just dumb luck. We could go on, but Richie Whitt does a much better job deconstructing Hick’s bizarre re-signing of Daniels in this week’s column, which hits newsstands later this morning.

Maybe Daniels could learn something from Mavs GM Donnie Nelson, who has ranked as the second-best personnel man in the NBA, right behind R.C. Buford in San Antonio, and ain’t that a kick in the nuts, Mavs fan?

Says’s Kelly Dwyer: “Whether working side-by-side with his father -- former Mavericks coach Don Nelson -- or setting up the defensive-minded, new-age Mavs for Avery Johnson, the younger Nellie has refused to let conventional wisdom taint his personnel decisions.”

Sure, letting Nash go may have been a mistake, but at the time, Nash was coming off a lousy playoff performance against the Kings in ’04, and pretty much anybody (not named Isiah Thomas) would have blanched “at the idea of handing the then 30-year-old Nash a six-year, $63 million deal.” And it ain’t been all bad since. As Dwyer notes, “the Mavs have won an average of 62 games in each of the three seasons since his defection.”

So what’s it all mean? “A minor tweak or three should have the Mavs right back in the finals,” writes Dwyer. “And who better to make those changes than Nelson, who appears to boast the perfect mix of adaptive qualities and fearlessness.”

Jon Daniels he ain’t. --Jesse Hyde

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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