Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is two weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next few weeks. This week is the Southwest Division. Today is the Dallas Mavericks.
2011-12 Record: 36-30, lost first round
Key Losses: Jason Terry (signed with Boston), Jason Kidd (signed with New York), Ian Mahimni (traded to Indiana)
Key Acquisitions: O.J. Mayo (signed from Memphis), Darren Collison (traded from Indiana), Elton Brand (signed from Philadelphia),
Dallas wanted Deron Williams. Dallas wanted to make a run at Dwight Howard. Maybe those big-name players are still on the horizon. Even with the acquisition of Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo, the Mavericks maintained some semblance of cap flexibility to send Dirk Nowitzki and the older Mavericks players to a very nice sunset.
Dallas has $44.5 million committed to the 2014 season and then only $7.8 million (with options) committed for 2015. If Mark Cuban wants to remake his team, he will be able to do it the way he wants. In the meantime, he brought in some solid veteran players to fill in as stop gaps for the moment.
The prize though is O.J. Mayo. The young guard acquired from Memphis is a very capable scorer and should make the transition from sixth man to starter. Dirk Nowitzki will rely on him to carry some more of the offense and be that second scorer to bring the Mavericks back from the edge of the playoffs to actually contending for a title again.
There are not many players on this roster that you could not see contributing.
Nowitzki will do his thing. Mayo should blossom. Then you have Vince Carter who wants to fill in the Jason Terry role and is still capable of recapturing some of the old magic. Elton Brand and Shawn Marion and Chris Kaman also still have plenty to contribute.
Dallas is kind of old. Mayo is the only player that seems to have a bright future ahead of him. Otherwise, Nowitzki is on the downside of his career and will miss the early part of the season after getting arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
Chris Kaman is on the downside of his career and looking to reclaim the solid play he displayed with the Clippers a few years ago. Elton Brand still seems to be working his way back fromt he devastating injury that derailed his career. Carter is not getting any younger and neither is Shawn Marion.
All these players are good players. They can still contribute. The question is whether they can continue to do so consistently and at a high level against the NBA's best competition. That is the question for Dallas.
This is a franchise that is used to competing for championships during the last decade. It appears Dallas is taking a step back though before rearing for a big free agent run.
But that free agent game is risky. You never know what free agents will do (see: Howard, Dwight) and so that is a risky proposition. The Mavericks seem to be playing on a year-to-year plan trying to save money down the road to strike it rich.
No doubt Dallas can do it because of Mark Cuban's presence. But it has to be frustrating for fans to see Dallas take such a drastic step back for a promise that is not clearly in front of them.
The Mavericks' championship team has almost completely been deconstructed. Tyson Chandler was let go in the name of saving money. Jason Terry was let go in the name of saving money. Who could be next? And will Cuban spend his money smartly? These are serious questions for the Mavericks to consider.
For this season, Dallas will be fine. The Mavericks should be somewhere between the bottom of the Playoffs and the middle, maybe looking elite for stretches. But it is not clear what kind of team this is. And whether they can survive an entire season together.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Mavericks? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by using the hashtag #MavsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Mavericks throughout the day.