NBA Offseason: 5 Changes the Mavericks Need to Make to Contend for Title
While this is not the type of title defense they were likely envisioning at the start of the season, it should have been expected after Mark Cuban sacrificed much of the roster to clear maximum cap space for this offseason.
Dirk Nowitzki is still in Dallas and playing at a high level, and the Mavericks have money to spend this off-season to retool for another deep playoff run.
Here are five things they need to do to contend for the title next season.
Amnesty Brendan Haywood
Brendan Haywood was supposed to be the replacement for Tyson Chandler as the Mavericks' defensive presence in the middle.
While he did not do a horrible job of replacing Chandler, he did not have the same impact on defense nor protect the rim nearly as well.
He is overpaid and underperforming, and it's time for Dallas to let him go.
When he was acquired from Washington in the Josh Howard trade a couple of seasons ago, he was heralded as the missing piece to the Mavericks' championship equation. He was supposed to provide them with the big, shot-blocking presence in the paint, but he has failed to live up to these expectations.
Amnestying Haywood would clear up additional cap space for Dallas as well as allow Ian Mahinmi to step in and take over as the starting center after a solid postseason.
Let Jason Terry Walk
Jason Terry has been a key part of the Mavericks team for the past several seasons. He has provided them with instant offense off the bench the past few seasons and was a vital part of their championship run last season.
However, the time has come to let Terry walk.
Terry expressed interest in leaving at the beginning of this season, and it would be in the Mavericks' best interest to grant him this wish.
Terry is still a productive player off the bench, but he is getting up there in age. It's time for Dallas to see what they have in Rodrigue Beaubois who has been underused for the majority of his career.
His speed would provide a boost off the bench similar to what Terry provided and increased playing time would help him continue to improve his game. He showed flashes of his potential in the 2009 game against the Golden State Warriors where he scored a career-high 40 points shooting 9-of-11 from the three-point line.
Additionally, not bringing back Terry would clear more cap space for the Mavs to spend to retool this offseason.
Sign Chris Kaman
After amnestying Brendan Haywood, the Mavericks would be wise to add some size to their bench.
Chris Kaman likely will be available as he will be looking to sign with a contender rather than staying with the rebuilding Hornets.
Kaman is a starting-caliber center who can score in the post, shoot the midrange jumper and play solid defense. He was selected to the Western Conference All-Star team in 2010.
Kaman would provide the Mavericks with an excellent big man off the bench or as a starter if they elect to keep bringing Mahinmi off the bench. He also would come relatively inexpensively. Kaman would be a less expensive upgrade from Haywood and would solidify the Mavericks down low.
A front-court duo of Kaman and Nowitzki would be extremely difficult to defend because of both players' shooting ability and Kaman's ability to post up and score.
Sign Either CJ Miles or Ray Allen
Allen is the best three-point shooter in the NBA. That gives any team good reason to add him to their team, and the Mavericks would be smart to make a run at getting him.
Despite being 36 years old, Allen has remained surprisingly productive and would provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Mavericks. Obviously, he can shoot the three, but he can also occasionally attack the basket and play solid defense.
CJ Miles is a talented, young swingman who is solid on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
He's still young which means he will continue to improve, but he was a solid player off the bench for the Jazz this season. He would provide scoring off the bench as well—something the Mavericks rely on to succeed.
Either of these player would help fill the scoring vacancy left by the departure of Terry from the Mavericks and give Dallas yet another deep bench to give rest to the starters.
Sign Deron Williams
The final step in the reconstruction of the Mavericks is signing Deron Williams.
Williams is an elite point guard who is an excellent floor general as well as a very good three-point shooter. He has the size to overpower smaller guards and the quickness to blow by bigger ones.
Dallas has a strong chance of landing the prized free agent because Dallas is his hometown, they recently won a championship and have a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki. A tandem of Nowitzki and Williams would be lethal on offense and extremely difficult to defend.
Williams would also provide the Mavericks with the young, athletic point guard they need to compete with other top teams in the Western Conference. Dirk was able to perform at a very high level with an aging Jason Kidd as his point guard.
Imagine what he would be able to do with defenses having to account for Williams on offense as well. Acquiring Williams is the key move the Mavericks need to make if they hope to compete for the title next year.