Words by Phlip
One year ago, ALL the Dallas Mavericks had to do was to keep the troops assembled and they would have had a pretty easy path to repeating on their title…
In shooting back at Ross Perot’s lawsuit that he was being too loose with money and in such damning the value of the team, Mark Cuban hilariously fired back with the very accurate assessment that few things enhance the value of a sports franchise than a championship. He did this the week following the finals and I do not recall hearing a single word of the suit since.
Well, using Cuban’s own line of thinking, it would only make sense that he keep it together and go back at the finals for another go-round.
Flawed thinking, at that…
Instead, they went for the OTHER means of making a team profitable – with star power. They neglected to re-sign Tyson Chandler or JJ Barrea, then exploited a Lakers organization for reigning 6th Man of the Year in Lamar Odom, just in time for him to be made depressed. Well, after one assignment to the D-League to get it together and eventually being asked to leave the team in wait to be released at season’s end, we all know how that chapter ended.
It was ill planned in a plot to bring Deron Williams home to Dallas where he played High School ball and Dwight Howard from Orlando. When, as I previously discussed, Howard (along with an agent he needs to fire over this fiasco) made himself more and more undesirable which caused Brooklyn to make other moves, which included building a team that will be just as fine without him as it would have been with him. As that included Deron Williams re-signing THERE instead of in Dallas, the Mavericks were stuck standing with their pants around their ankles while their hopes of even MAKING the playoffs were fleeting fast as Jason Terry signed with Boston and Jason Kidd with the Knicks.
Their response, however, was commendable. They amnestied Brendan Haywood, then added Elton Brand, Darren Collison, OJ
Da Juiceman Mayo and Chris Kaman to the lineup. All of a sudden, an F- offseason was saved to C+, maybe B- level. B- teams do make the playoffs, but do not compete well when they get there. All of a sudden, this team again looks a lot like the Mavericks teams we’re used to, that win 50-55 games in a season and make the playoffs but are never taken seriously when they get there.
With all of the previously mention taken into consideration; a 50-55 win season is not a bad run for a team who is actively rebuilding around an aging superstar without jettisoning them. The problem comes when we stop to remember that the team that was “rebuilding” immediately after a championship and were still built to win and instead of making minor changes and maintaining the nucleus they gambled on remaining dominant on the chance of teaming up some megastars and lost, nearly missing the playoffs for their troubles. Remembering this, anything RESEMBLING what the Dallas Mavericks just came out of or are headed into is an embarrassment.
I really do try and find positives in these. The positives are that the Mavericks are no longer saddled by Haywood’s contract, but that is easily offset by the fact that it COULD have been done a year earlier and that it still hasn’t saved this season for them, what with all the new pieces and an infinitely diminishingly effective Vince Carter still employed there.
It used to be that a playoffs qualifying season could not be classified as “disappointing,” but being so soon removed from hoisting the trophy, anything less than being in contention for it is a disappointment.