Dallas Mavericks: Much Pain, No Gain; the Other Ones Who Got Away
The rise and fall of the Dallas Mavericks has been fairly well documented. I myself have written extensively post-mortem about what went wrong from the onset following the NBA Championship in 2011 and ideas about how to right the ship.
Unfortunately, it's late in the summer free-agent game and nearly all the top candidates have committed to other teams. I have argued that despite all the attention on chasing Deron Williams and other point guards, the most serious need is for help in the low post.
However, since the Mavs lost out on not only Williams, but Steve Nash, Goran Dragic, Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd, and don't seem to be in the hunt for Jeremy Lin, there's a pretty big hole at point guard that also needs to be filled.
There are clearly teams who have won championships without an elite playmaker and the Mavs can evolve as well, but so far we don't have a clue as to who might be driving.
While little effort has been made visibly to replace the departed Tyson Chandler, the failure to land D-Will or another point guard seems to be an indication that Plans A, B, C and possibly beyond had all come up empty.
This type of situation is largely created when a team doesn't have existing personnel remaining, whether to take over on the court or serve as a trading chip to bring in replacements. At this point, the Mavs have lost most of the major components of the championship team besides Dirk and have little left in-house to bargain with.
The loss of Steve Nash in 2004, after which he became a two-time MVP stings to this day and the departures of four key free agents from the title team (Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Deshawn Stevenson and Caron Butler) has been oft-discussed.
However, along with the retirement of Peja Stojakovic, there is a handful of few players who left the Mavs quietly who might have been valuable parts of a retooling if the Mavs hadn't let them get away with little to nothing to show for it.
No. 4: Steve Novak
After riding the pine in Dallas, Steve Novak was waived in 2010 and after a short stint with the Spurs, he went on to join Tyson Chandler and the Knicks. Novak blossomed in 2011-2012 with career highs in minutes, points and rebounds.
He also led the entire NBA in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 47 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Novak is also an excellent free-throw shooter and has proven to be a valuable contributor even on a team with numerous offensive weapons.
In 2011, the Mavs had three of the top three-point shooters in the history of the NBA in Jason Kidd, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry, along with several other players who could hit from downtown. Steve Novak would definitely be an asset in Dallas now with most of the others gone.
No. 3: Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass was a solid bench contributor for two seasons with Dallas, contributing over eight points and four rebounds a night with nearly 50 percent shooting for a relatively modest $1.59 million.
Leaving for Orlando as a free agent, he spent two seasons there, posting career highs in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage his second year. Traded to Boston in December of 2011, Bass stepped it up another notch and had his best season ever with 12.5 points and over six rebounds per game.
He was considered a primary reason for the Celtics' success in the 2012 playoffs when they came very close to defeating the Miami Heat and returning to the NBA Finals.
Bass' scoring and rebounding would be a definite asset in a rotation that includes Shawn Marion and Dirk.
No. 2: Kris Humphries
While one Mr. Kardashian floundered in Dallas, the departed Kris Humphries' game seemed uneffected by his highly publicized wedding bell blues.
In, January 2010 Humprhies was traded along with Shawne Williams to the Nets in order to re-acquire Eduardo Nájera. Upon arriving in New Jersey his minutes and productivity immediately improved.
Assuming a starting role the following year, Humphries has become one of the premier blue-collar power forwards in the league, improving on career highs each year and averaging a solid double-double while contributing intangibles every coach loves.
His inside scoring and rebounding would surely be appreciated back in Big D, especially for a team that was severely weakened in the post after losing Tyson Chandler.
No. 1: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has surprised a lot of folks, but the source of perhaps the greatest feel-good story of 2012 showed he had game while he was still in Dallas.
Although never officially a member of the Mavericks, Lin played for Dallas in the summer league and was impressive, apparently more so than Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominque Jones, who are still with the Mavs.
With the intent of developing him for a season with their D-League affiliate Texas Legends, Dallas offered him a one-year guaranteed contract, but upon receiving a two-year offer from Golden State, the Bay Area native returned home and did play in the NBA for the Warriors the next season.
Eventually waived by Golden State and then picked up and waived again by the Houston Rockets before the end of the following preseason, Lin eventually ended up a New York Knick where things started out very much the same.
Lin spent time with the Erie BayHawks and was worried about being waived again, but after a strong performance he was instead recalled and got an opportunity to play significant minutes for the Knicks due to injuries.
Such was the beginning of the Linsanity phenomenon. With the departures of J.J. Barea and Jason Kidd from Dallas, having Lin on the roster would have eased parting's sweet sorrow.
This summer Jeremy is making the rounds on the free-agent market and of course will be hauling in a much bigger paycheck. Surprisingly, the Mavericks have shown no interest thus far. He has received an offer from the Houston Rockets, which will likely be met by the Knicks.
With only two partial seasons under his belt, barring some sort of strange regression, Lin is likely to be one of the top up-and-coming young point guards and a popular international sports figure.
As much as the exodus of free agents in 2011 hurt, they were not the only ones who left without the Mavericks getting much in return. There is never any shortage of "shoulda woulda coulda" in professional sports but right now for the Mavericks, there would seem to be a large surplus.
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