Familiarity is good, but in the case of the Dallas Mavericks, it means being stuck in a rut. Dirk Nowitzki is still here, waiting for better teammates, knowing Mark Cuban won’t land him any, which means the Mavericks won’t go very far in the playoffs, again.
Five years after an NBA championship and Cuban sending away the players he deemed too expensive, the Mavericks remain perplexed about their low appeal in free agency. As Nowitzki himself talked about, one keeps wondering why is it. Do players don’t want to play for him? Is it Rick Carlisle that’s the problem? Mark Cuban? The city itself? In any case, it’s another summer of the Mavericks dreaming of the big players, but none of them taking them into consideration.
Things aren’t that bad. This isn’t a bad team, just not a very attractive one when thinking about the best in the league. The backcourt is Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Justin Anderson as a hybrid 2-3. Dwight Powell, Harrison Barnes, Quincy Acy and Dirk Nowitzki as the forwards, and Andrew Bogut as the team’s next in line as the center revolving door continues to spin, with Salah Mejri and A.J. Hammons backing him up.
If it wasn’t for the Warriors signing Kevin Durant, the Mavericks might have been in big trouble. It allowed them to trade for Andrew Bogut while giving up nothing, and signing Harrison Barnes to a max contract no one would give him. But it gives the Mavericks hope of a young player that might develop into a leading man, or something close to it, as the team is running on borrowed time. At some point, Nowitzki is either going to be tired of playing, or break down, being an old man in NBA terms.
Acquisitions: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, A.J. Hammons (draft), Quincy Acy, Nicolas Brussino, Kyle Collinsworth, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jonathan Gibson.
Departures: Raymond Felton, David Lee, JaVale McGee, Chandler Parsons.
Best Case Scenario
Frankly? It’s less about how far they go, and more about how good Barnes will be. Obviously, the Mavericks would love to finally win a playoff series, something that hasn’t happened to them since 2011, but if Barens establishes himself as a co-offensive leader in a system that gives him a lot more touches and responsibility, the Mavericks will be happy. Other things they’d be quite happy about are Justin Anderson developing some sort of offensive repertoire (he’s a great defender), while players like Powell and Acy actually make a difference. Matthews suddenly regaining his shooting touch, and Williams simply not falling apart and being productive most of the time would be great. Beyond the conference semifinals seems impossible. Making the final 8 would b a great success.
Worst Case Scenario
Barnes remaining a player who can’t do much for himself, and doesn’t make the most of the opportunity. More than anything, even Nowitzki injured and missing a lot of the season, Barnes unable to show some improvement and steps towards stardom will mean the Warriors knew very well what they were doing. Bogut not staying too healthy wouldn’t be great, but Barnes failing means the Mavericks need a rebuild and now, but have a lot of money attached to the wrong players for more than just one season.