What a bizarre offseason the Dallas Mavericks had.
They appeared to make a huge splash in free agency, coming to terms with center DeAndre Jordan, only to watch Jordan ultimately decide to back out of the verbal agreement with the team and return to the Los Angeles Clippers.
That led to one of the quotes of the year, courtesy of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
"When you have a situation like DeAndre, makeup sex is always the best sex, but after the makeup sex is over, you stare at that same face and realize the problems are the same," Cuban told The Herd with Colin Cowherd in July, per ESPN. "It's hard for free agents to get past that sometimes."
Cuban, of course, has never been one to mince words.
But all was not lost for the Mavericks this offseason, as the team underwent a transformation of sorts. Gone are Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo, the latter a departure that many in Dallas are likely relieved to see after his tumultuous spell with the Mavs. In their place are new acquisitions Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Zaza Pachulia, Justin Anderson and Jeremy Evans.
The starting five of Williams, Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Pachulia looks nice on paper, but there are questions in Dallas. Can the team stay healthy? Do they have enough depth if they don't? Will they play a bit more defense this year (they gave up 102.3 points per game last year, sixth-worst in the league)? Are they sturdy enough on the block with Chandler gone and Jordan remaining in Los Angeles? And can this unit win 50 games again and reach the postseason in a very tough Western Conference?
That last question is the biggest one of all. The West is stacked, and the Mavs weren't able to make the big splash to pair Nowitzki with another star that many people believed was necessary this year. Departures like Ellis (he led the team in scoring last year) and Chandler (he gave the team a true post presence) will be felt.
Still, the Mavs are an experienced, well-coached team. It remains to be seen, however, if that will be enough to get them into the postseason this year.
For the full schedule, be sure to check out Mavs.com.
Analyzing Marquee Matchups
The Southwest Conference: Houston Rockets (Nov. 14, Dec. 4, Jan. 24, April 6) Memphis Grizzlies (Nov. 24, Dec. 18, Feb. 6, April 8), San Antonio Spurs (Nov. 25, Jan. 17, Feb. 5, April 13) and New Orleans Pelicans (Nov. 7, Nov. 10, Jan. 2, Jan. 6)
Every single team in the Southwest last season made the Western Conference playoffs, making it easily the league's toughest division and meaning the Mavericks are going to have another brutal stretch of games this season.
The Rockets won the division last year, knocked the Mavs out of the playoffs in the first round and have the deadly one-two punch of James Harden and Dwight Howard. Marc Gasol returned to Memphis and the Grizzlies continue to be one of the league's toughest, most defensively sound teams. The Spurs are always dangerous, and this offseason they became even deadlier, adding power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. And Anthony Davis is the league's next marquee superstar and leads a young, talented Pelicans team.
This is an absolutely brutal division, and it wouldn't be shocking if any of these teams win it, though of course San Antonio is now the favorite with Aldridge in the fold (and adding David West was a nice, quiet move too).
The Mavs don't have the star power of Houston, the size and muscle down low of Memphis, the overall depth and talent of San Antonio or the transformational young talent the Pelicans have in Davis. It's going to be tough for Dallas to keep up in this division.
A healthy Oklahoma City Thunder team is going to return to the postseason this year, meaning at least one of last year's playoff teams is likely to be on the outside looking in. Dallas is certainly one of the contenders to be left behind.
This is a still a good team, of course, but is it 50 wins good? Probably not. Rick Carlisle, Nowitzki and his supporting class are good enough to keep the Mavs relevant in the West, but reaching the playoffs again this year is going to be a battle. Look for this team to finish 47-35 and really fight until the last day of the season for the final playoff berth in the West.