(Sports Network) - It wasn't that long ago when the Dallas Mavericks finally
won an NBA title.
In fact, it was just two seasons ago, but it feels like it has been years and
years. The roster barely resembles the team that knocked off the Miami Heat
for the world championship.
Getting this current roster to look like that wasn't the prettiest adventure
in the history of offseasons.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to make a splash and clear cap space to sign
hometown guy Deron Williams. Then, Cuban didn't show up to the pitch meeting
and Williams is still a member of the Nets.
"I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and
my agent have for him that really didn't get answered that day pertaining to
the future," Williams told reporters. "And I think if he was there he would
have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. It maybe would
have helped me."
Cuban was off filming a reality show called "Shark Tank," but responded a few
days later while the Mavericks were in Spain to lose a preseason game to FC
"I'm a big D-Will fan, but I'm kind of surprised that he would throw his front
office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference,"
Cuban said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "I would have expected him
to say. like I'd expect one of our guys to say. 'Hey I'm so thrilled with the
front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn't have mattered
what he did.'"
Sniping aside, Williams is not the Mavericks point guard. Neither is Jason
Kidd. That job now belongs to Darren Collison, who the team acquired from the
Indiana Pacers in July.
O.J. Mayo came from Memphis to be Collison's running mate and Elton Brand and
Chris Kaman were brought in to sure up the frontcourt.
All these moves were made to stay competitive during the twilight of Dirk
Nowitzki's career. The future Hall of Famer is 34 and will be out of action
for almost the first month of the season following knee surgery. It was a last
resort for the Mavericks and their star player after Nowitzki's knee swelled
Nowitzki missed four games last season and his 21.6 points per game were the
lowest of his career since his second campaign. He is still a supremely
effective offensive player, but the end is nearing.
2011-12 Results: 36-30, third in Southwest; Lost in West Quarterfinals to
ADDITIONS: G Darren Collison, G O.J. Mayo, C Chris Kaman, F Elton Brand, F
Dahntay Jones, F Jae Crowder.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Darren Collison
SG- O.J. Mayo
SF- Shawn Marion
PF- Dirk Nowitzki
C- Chris Kaman
KEY RESERVES: G/F Vince Carter, F Elton Brand, G Rodrigue Beaubois, G Delonte
West, F Brandan Wright, F Dahntay Jones, F Jae Crowder.
FRONTCOURT: Nowitzki may be on the decline, but he's still a force. A 7-
footer, Nowitzki is still the best long-distance shooter in the game. He's
always been a defensive liability and the knee surgery two weeks before the
start of the season is a humongous pause for concern. But anyone who can shoot
like Nowitzki, at his size, is still going to be impossible to defend.
Shawn Marion's scoring numbers dipped last year to his lowest since his rookie
season. His rebounding and assists both went up and on a team never known for
its defense, Marion might have been the only guy in the locker room to care
more about defending than offense.
Chris Kaman was a spectacular signing for Dallas. He's only three seasons
removed from being an All-Star and has averaged double figures every season
since the 2004-05 campaign. Health is always an issue with this big man. Kaman
played a full season once in his career and he's missed 10 or more games five
times in nine seasons. When he's healthy and on the floor, Kaman is a really
helpful asset. He is far and away the best center Nowitzki has played with as
BACKCOURT: With Kidd in New York, Collison takes over the point. He had a
decent stint in Indianapolis last season, but lost his starting job when he
returned from injury. He didn't average 5.0 assists as a point guard, which is
troubling, but he doesn't turn it over a lot either. Collison is on the cusp
of being a reliable starting guard in the league, but improvement is required.
Speaking of improvement, here's Mayo. Since his rookie year, his scoring
numbers and assist numbers are both down. Granted, Mayo came off the bench his
last two years, but he still has to define himself as a legit starting "2." He
shoots a respectable 37 percent from the 3-point line. Mayo is at a potential
turning point in his career. With only a two-year contract from the Mavs,
(the second year is a player option) Mayo can try to make everyone believe the
hype that was around him before he was drafted. The alternative is to float
around the league as a scorer off the bench and that's not a horrible way to
make a living.
BENCH: The bench used to be a strength for head coach Rick Carlisle, but now
it's a crap shoot. And how can a team expect to replace the best bench player
of the last 10 years in the NBA, Jason Terry?
There is talent on the pine for Carlisle. Guys like Brand and Vince Carter can
still provide scoring although both looked pretty close to shot last year.
Delonte West and Rodrigue Beaubois are serviceable to slightly above-average
backup guards, but when does Beaubois actually step up and become the guy the
Mavericks think they have? And West, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has
already been suspended in the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team.
Brandan Wright looks like a nice player, finally. He was the eighth pick in
the 2007 NBA Draft and found a home in Dallas. He can finish at the rim, but
is not great defensively. Carlisle found himself playing Wright in the fourth
quarter of meaningful games.
Dahntay Jones became a throw-in in the Collison trade, but he can still shoot
a little and defend. The less put on him the better.
Jae Crowder is going to play some in his rookie year, book it. His tenacious
defense and enthusiasm will force Carlisle to throw him out there for 10
minutes of havoc.
COACHING: Carlisle is a good coach. He runs this team professionally and has a
nice mix of veterans and people no one seems to really want on his side.
Carlisle spins that to his advantage.
"We won the championship as kind of, what football and baseball would view as
a wild card. We were on the radar, but not prominently on the radar," said
Carlisle. "People know what we're about as an organization. You're playing for
a title, regardless of what people may, or may not think about your roster. We
don't care about that."
OUTLOOK: Dallas has exactly enough talent to make the playoffs and not nearly
enough to win a round. They are closer to missing the playoffs than making a
And with Nowitzki on the shelf for a period of time, Dallas is seriously
staring in the face of missing the postseason for the first time since the
The veteran additions won't let the Mavericks fall too far, though. These
are all high-character guys and who knows, maybe they all feel like they have
one run left in them.
Before the Nowitzki surgery, the Mavericks were a fringe playoff team. Without
him for a while, I'm liking the Jazz or Warriors to take their spot in the
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