The Dallas Mavericks are coming off their worst season in over a decade. At a mediocre 41-41, the Mavs missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Changes needed to be made again, causing the revolving door of players to continue this offseason.
Important pickups like OJ Mayo, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Darren Collison are gone, along with all but six players. The six returning players include Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Vince Carter and both draft picks from 2012 Bernard James and Jae Crowder. Nowitzki and Marion will be centerpieces this season as long as they can both stay healthy. Brandan Wright returns to the Mavs after playing great down the stretch and starts at center by the end of the year. Vince Carter will continue to be a spark off the bench for the Mavs. Jae Crowder looks to build on his rookie season where he started strong but finished very weak. Bernard James will be a rotational player at center.
The Mavericks were unable to pick up the most important pieces to the rebuilding puzzle in Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. Free agency hasn’t been kind to the Mavs. They haven’t been able to land a legitimate superstar in years and continue to settle for second tier players.
This offseason was no different as they signed shooting guard Monta Ellis who is coming off a terrible season in Milwaukee. They also signed Jose Calderon to replace Darren Collison. Unfortunately, Calderon is 32 and not a long-term fix. Similar to Calderon, Samuel Dalembert at age 32 was signed to fix the center problem, which hasn’t been fixed since Tyson Chandler. A number of other role players were also signed to fill in the holes on the roster.
Although free agency failed to land a star, the 2013 draft went great for the Mavs as they drafted two guards in Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo. Head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters he believes that Shane Larkin has similar play to JJ Barea, and could be a spark plug off the bench.
The year could be rough, seeing as they improved little and the Southwest Division improved a lot. The division might be the toughest in the NBA as they return three solid playoff teams. The Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs will be returning with the majority of the roster and will look to make another trip to the finals. The Memphis Grizzlies and their incredible front-court duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will look to return to the playoffs. The Houston Rockets added Dwight Howard to go along with star shooting guard James Harden. The New Orleans Pelicans are a young and solid team that added guards Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday to their backcourt this offseason.
The season might not be much better than last year seeing as even the last place team in the division could be better than the Mavs. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only two remaining players from the championship team. They are both older and will soon be retiring but still have a few years left. The team will look to improve on the defensive where last season they ranked towards the bottom of the league. Chris Kaman failed to stop anyone at the basket last season and Samuel Dalembert will hopefully be much better than Kaman. The offense hopes to keep up their solid play from last season and that should happen with the additions in free agency and the draft.
Mark Cuban might be looking at the worst season since he took over the Mavs. A rough year on the horizon could spell a quick retirement for Dirk and a team that is far removed from the glory years in the 2000’s. Overall, the Mavs may only have one last chance this season to make the playoffs before Dirk starts to fade into retirement. Their chances maybe bleak, but nonetheless, they did make the 2011 Finals with a team no one thought would make it that far.