The Mavs are on an expectations see-saw, which has influenced how we've felt about Mark Cuban and his moves. At first, the expectations were sky-high, with a possible Deron Williams and Dwight Howard combo beckoning. Losing Tyson Chandler did not seem like such a large price to pay for the prospect, even if he was their second best player on a title team.
Then, Dwight Howard got caught up in the Orlando mess and his bizarrely chosen one year extension. All sights were set on Deron Williams, with Steve Nash as a possible backup. Cuban's roster was a little thin, but the prospect of a Williams-Nowitzki high pick and roll was enough to stave off most concerns.
You likely know the rest. Deron Williams broke Mavs fan hearts by tweeting out his decision to re-sign with Brooklyn. Dwight Howard remains in limbo, but it does not appear that Dallas has the bead on signing him.
This was a crushing defeat for a front office that had been selling their fans on the future. Many were dismayed by pairing down of that 2011 title team, and anticipated that the sacrifice would result in something better.
Meanwhile, Mark Cuban's been telling everyone who would listen that the old CBA isn't feasible for Mark Cuban as we knew him. In a Larry Coon ESPN.com article on the CBA, Cuban was quoted as saying:
"You can't just use the same approach that you used in the past," he said. "In the past I could fix any mistake just by spending more money. Now, it's not just spending more money -- it's spending a lot more money. But not only that, there are also restrictions on how you can add players."
While this reads--to my eyes--like a perfectly reasonable explanation, it seemed to some like the excusing of a cheaper, shorter-sighted era. Or perhaps, the justification for a repeat of letting the next Steve Nash go, as the Mavs had done in 2004.
Meanwhile, players not quite of Nash's caliber were fleeing for the exits. Jason Terry signed on with Boston to be Ray Allen's replacement. Jason Kidd wheeled his hoverround to Madison Square Garden. The edifice of that 2011 championship team had suddenly crumbled into Dirk Nowitzki and not much else.
The Mavericks bounced back, though, ever so slightly. For reasons that aren't clear from Indiana's end, Dallas secured Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones from the Indiana Pacers. Suddenly, the Mavericks had a young, promising point guard when the spot had been previously vacated. Then they replaced Brendan Haywood by signing Chris Kaman to a cheap $8 million one-year contract.
Recently, they added what loks to be a final flourish, nabbing Elton Brand off the amnesty waiver wire (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!). Brand will likely not be Tyson Chandler, but it wasn't so long ago that we thought of Chandler much like we thought of Elton Brand. Elton is still a good player--his value was just clouded by a decline that turned his contact into a stigma.
So the Mavericks have been crafty in recovery, making small moves to stay flexible. On the balance, their offseason was still a disappointment. It's rough to go from Dwight Howard or Deron Williams to role player filler. But it could have been much worse. While Mavs fans might not want to hear, "Wait till next year," the current team is competitive, and has the financial room to get better in the future.