Gee Mark, if I’d wanted to ride a ROLLER COASTER I would have taken a trip to SIX FLAGS…
Nevertheless, the emotionally-exhausted Maverick fan base must be cautiously optimistic that Cuban & Co. seem to once again be in the kitchen making chicken salad, even if the original ingredient was a poultry compost of their own creation.
I haven’t been shy about my feelings regarding the dissolution of the 2011 NBA Champions, much of which was only loosely about just basketball. Ironically, at least one more famous like-minded individual is now drawing more attention to the original decision thanks to the recent festivities on Twitter.
Regardless, you can’t change the past and I don’t think anyone anticipated how bad things would get. Once everyone swallowed the huge pill that there was no chance whatsoever of defending the title, the arrival of Lamar Odom and Vince Carter provided hope for a decent stop-gap year while waiting for the Dwight Howard/Deron Williams sweepstakes. When Delonte West came in and played well, and Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Wright seemed to be finally hitting their strides, there was hope.
Then things started to unravel again. Odom had perhaps the biggest inexplicable check-out in NBA history, other Mavericks struggled with injuries and started to show their age, D12 decided to hang around in Orlando for another year and the Mavericks ended up with a mediocre record and a quick exit from the playoffs.
The off-season didn’t start out much better. After losing out on DWill and Steve Nash, the Mavs sat by while many of the most desirable free agents went elsewhere, including Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
Then came the calls for trading Dirk. Expectations are that the next several years will be in the lottery.
I wasn’t happy with the way things had been going either but I did retain enough optimism to envision scenarios in which the Mavericks could not only be competitive but set particular priorities to return to the NBA Finals right away.
After all, teams assembling a trio of stars these days usually get there in a hurry. More importantly, the 2011 Champs not only did NOT have a such a “Big 3” but the majority of key contributors were only in their first or second year with the team.
The right mix of players with not only talent but chemistry, along with good coaching, isn’t always easy to predict. The Mavericks’ championship team is a testament to that.
When Dallas finally started making personnel moves this season, the talent of the front office started to shine once again. No, you can’t change the past but you can be successful starting almost from scratch.
I believe it is a foregone conclusion that Dallas should continue to be a playoff team but is there a possibility that they could surprise everyone and be a legitimate contender?
Earlier this summer I made a short list of priorities that the Mavericks needed to address in order to get back on track. Let’s look at which of those have been addressed as well as new holes that needed to be plugged once free agency began. Using the 2011 Champions rather than last year as a measuring stick, here's an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the new lineup in comparison.