An era of success may have come to end.
This offseason of Dallas Mavericks in many ways reminds me of their last year's offseason. That is why I believe they will have a disastrous year and disrupt their 12 year playoff appearance stretch.
Let's rewind a bit and take a look at their 2010/2011 roster:
Won a championship as a crown of their long stretch of monster seasons and constantly being one of the top teams in the league. Definitely a deserved one, I was very happy for them.
After that, they are taking a path of stepping back for a year, with hopes of a bright future. They give up on Tyson Chandler, a pillar of their championship campaign. He blossoms and becomes arguably the best center(the most valuable center) in the league(due to his elite defense and Howard injury, Bynum off court issues and maturity etc.)
They also give up on some important role players, who individually didn't seem to be that influential, but again, they won a championship. Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, JJBarea.
Temporary patches they made actually looked good on paper, their fans could even hope for a repeat. But when the season got under way:
Lamar Odom: What a disaster. After being a key cog in the Lakers machine, he completely lost himself, even managed to get himself demoted to D-League. He gave away impression of a strong personality, I could never guess he would be dominated by a Kardashian.
Vince Carter: Did they really think he can be a decent patch to keep their team running?
Delonte West: A young player to refresh their aging team? Along with some injury problems, he just wasn't that good.
Final result: They thought they are taking a small stepback, in order to keep flexibility for the future. Wrong, it was a massive stepback. They barely got into playoffs, and got swept in the first round.
So, we're coming to this year. Gave up on some more cornerstones of their team, due to them aging, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
They believe they patched the holes rather well, while keeping the flexibility for the future.
Chris Kaman: A washed up center, he has had his last good season back in 09/10. Likely to be injured, or just plain bad. Definitely not worth 8mil.
OJ Mayo: He has a lot of talent, but he's a chucker. He wasn't good enough for Memphis to keep him, not even for petty 4mil per year. Don't you think Memphis would trade him during the season, if he had any value? They didn't even manage to SnT him. There was a word Boston was interested, but they went after Courtney Lee instead. This is because Courtney Lee is a way better player overall. OJ Mayo is a good fit for a losing team like Charlotte, to score 20+ ppg. But he will only hurt a team that wants to win games. Again, he may be talented as hell, but in no way he can replace Terry's experience, winning mentality and overall contribution to the team.
Darren Collison: Like Delonte West, he's simply not good enough for Dallas' ambitions. After showing some potential in New Orleans rookie season, Indiana tried him as their PG of the future. The experiment failed. Again, there is no way Collison can replace Kidd's knowledge, experience and overall contribution to the team.
Elton Brand: He may end up as a best Mavs' acquisition. Absolutely a steal at 2mil. He was a big reason Philly got a reputation of an elite defensive team. He'll probably end up being a starting center. A bit aged, but still has some gas in the tank.
Some of the second round picks may prove to be useful, like Crowder or Dahntay Jones, but not a playoff material.
This year team:
Conclusion: The scenario I predict here is, just like last year, they think they patched the holes nicely, but in reality, they take another massive stepback, and fall out of the playoffs. If West wasn't stacked as it is, Dirk may have been able to push them, but with so many teams on the rise, it will be a tough challenge.
Regarding the future flexibility they nurture, I'm starting to doubt they can actually sign a star in free agency. Deron Williams had a choice this year, and he chose the Nets over Mavericks. Even after he knew there won't be Dwight Howard. I mean, Nets over Mavs? So what can Mavs hope for in the future? Dwight never really mentioned them as his preferred destination.
And let's not forget it's not that easy to sign a star by free agency anymore. Teams will trade their stars before the contract expires. Cleveland risked on LeBron and it backfired on them, same might happen to Orlando, and New Orleans didn't let it happen to them.
And with Dirk aging, and their reputation declining, how much time do they have?
To end my story, I will say that people love being witnesses of great things. And as much they enjoy the rise of the OKC from nothingness to the roofs of the basketball world, they will equally enjoy the fall of a giant like Dallas Mavericks.