The Dallas Mavericks find themselves in the middle of a miserable slump. To make matters worse, many of their former players are finding success with the New York Knicks—a team that has a roster the Mavericks should be boasting these days.
After winning the championship in 2011, owner Mark Cuban and the gang decided to clean house. Gone were friendly faces Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler. Arriving were faces like Delonte West (gone), Lamar Odom (gone) and Vince Carter.
This past offseason, the push for Deron Williams cost Dallas its top two guards, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. Both decided to chase championships in their waning years with Eastern Conference teams, and Kidd just so happened to join his old center Chandler in the Big Apple.
The flurry of movement along the roster hasn't been all bad. Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo have both had stretches of brilliance. Darren Collison has been wildly inconsistent, but has shown the potential to form a backcourt tandem with Mayo that has room for growth and improvement.
Despite a 12-17 start, this Dallas team has played just two games with Dirk Nowitzki in uniform. As a result, Nowitzki has not been afforded the time to gain cohesiveness and chemistry with his new teammates, though there is still plenty of time to turn these early-season blues around.
However, looking at the success of the Knicks, it is hard not to sit back and second guess the Mavericks' moves after New York's newfound success with a roster based around guys that used to wear blue and white in Dallas.
One of the biggest turnarounds in New York over the past two seasons begins with Chandler, the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year. His toughness has energized the defense, while teammate Jason Kidd brings something entirely different to the table—basketball IQ.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Mavs beat writer Dwain Price noted as much in one of his latest tweets.
If Dirk Nowitzki said the #Mavs' basketball IQ obviously went down with the loss of Jason Kidd, obviously the Knicks' basketball IQ went up.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) December 25, 2012
The pivotal move from the past two offseasons is not re-signing Chandler, the man in the middle responsible for the defensive turnaround during the Mavericks' title season. If Dallas had brought him back into the fold, the roster would likely have a very different makeup than it does right now.
Just for fun, we'll take a stab at what Dallas could be throwing out each night with that move in its back pocket.
Let's look at what the team could look like with some of the players Dallas missed out on since 2009:
|Current Rotation||Rotation with Tyson Chandler|
|C- Chris Kaman||C- Tyson Chandler|
|PF- Dirk Nowitzki||PF- Dirk Nowitzki|
|SF - Shawn Marion||SF- Shawn Marion|
|SG- O.J. Mayo||SG- O.J. Mayo|
|PG- Darren Collison||PG-Jason Kidd|
|Bench- Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Dominique Jones, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Dahntay Jones ||Bench-Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson, Brandan Wright, Derek Fisher, Jae Crowder, Bernard James|
Of course, all this is pure speculation and something that's merely interesting to ponder late at night. As it is, though, the Knicks have the makeup of a Dallas-type roster—the kind of roster that put together a 2011 championship run.
At guard, they have Kidd and Raymond Felton, a bigger and better version of Barea. At forward, Carmelo Anthony takes over the Nowitzki scoring role at an MVP-type level, and J.R. Smith has been JET-deadly off the bench this year.
Throw in Steve Novak as Peja Stojakovic, Amar'e Stoudemire as the wild-card/injured Butler and Ronnie Brewer as the rugged Stevenson type, and you've got yourself an accurate comparison right down to the letter.
It remains to be seen if the 21-8 Knicks can continue at their torrid pace. Trends would suggest no, but trends didn't favor the 2011 Mavericks, either.
As for Dallas, Cuban and Co. are now resigned to picking up the pieces of what could have been multiple titles. In many ways, they crippled the team's future and severely ruined the chance of having immediate success after that core aged.
At 12-17, it's sure starting to look like Cuban and Donnie Nelson might have made a mistake.
Watching the Knicks just puts salt in the wound.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.