A year ago, the best team in the NBA was the Dallas Mavericks. Then, owner Mark Cuban dis-missed several of the most crucial players on his championship team.
Mark Cuban believes he can chisel another championship caliber team from borrowed parts and broken pieces. He is living on the edge of hallucination.
Now, one player after another is dis-missing Mark Cuban and dis-missing Mark Cuban has become more popular than Katie Perry.
Yesterday, in a conversation that Mike Fisher of Scout.com had with the owner, Cuban said, “We don’t try to win the summer. We want to win championships.” Cuban has used this exact same phrase before. I guess the adage — 90% of games are won before the game is played — doesn’t register with Cuban.
What’s happened to the Dallas Mavericks in the past 12 months is nothing short of franchise Armageddon.
When the Dallas Mavericks won the championship by beating the Miami Heat, it was one for the ages. It probably rates in the top ten, ever. Then, Mr. Cuban decided to walk away from that roster and play a game of wait and see with the likes of Deron Williams and to a lesser degree Dwight Howard.
He sits in Dallas empty handed. So, how did it come to this?
Last summer, defensive wizard Tyson Chandler was allowed to sponsor his own walk-a-thon and signed with the N.Y. Knicks. Dallas also let a number of other notable players go: spark-plug Jose Barea, defensive stopper DeShawn Stevenson and rehabbing Caron Butler. Peja Stojakovic retired.
Over the years, teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs have built their winning traditions by keeping their championship core together. Dallas may not have been able to keep all of their players but, Cuban didn’t even try.
He had something else in mind — and it didn’t work.
The past week has not been the Mavericks best week:
1. A Drafty Draft- They vacated and traded down. Assumably to keep the payroll even lower in preparation of signing Deron Williams. A not so wise move. If you compare what Dallas has done in the draft in the past five years to the Spurs you would call their haul a complete failure to launch.
2. Moving the Odom-less Pit- yes, Lamar Odom was better off elsewhere, like L.A., but, the Mavs didn’t max the amount they could have gotten for him had they been able to move his contract release date back even just a couple of weeks, until the free agency rush played out. Any which way you look at the “Lamar Odom-in-Dallas” reality — it was a made-for-reality-TV nightmare — without the TV.
3. Erasin’ Jason- Jason Terry may have been the Mavericks Mr. 6th man off the bench but, he has been one of their best players for years. More important than being a major cog during the season, he was indispensable in their championship run over the Heat in 2011. How do you let him go? He signed with the Boston Celtics.
4. The Monster Nash- Steve Nash signing with the L.A. Lakers, when some had suspected he may return to Dallas to play with his old buddy Dirk, turned into a Western Conference shift in the balance of power. No, Kobe and Nash won’t be able to take over games the way they used to but, they’re on the same team now and with all the other pieces the Lakers have, they should find themselves in the Western Conference finals in 2013.
5. Just Kiddn’- With Jason Kidd signing with the N.Y. Knicks, the Mavericks will be featuring Dirk jumping for the ball at the beginning of games, Dirk bringing the ball up, Dirk passing to Dirk in the post, and Dirk — you get the idea. Even with Kidd fading a bit, he was still one of the top ten in the league and his 3-point shot will be missed. He’s still the best in the league at providing a coach on the floor. No mas.
6. Deron and Done- the linchpin of the Mavericks off-season was when the they couldn’t sign Williams, who opted for bouncing balls in Brooklyn for 100 mil. The Mavs could only offer approximately 75% of that amount. Shame on you Deron, for taking all that extra money.
7. Empty House- now players are staying away from the Mavericks in droves. Who wants to play with an empty roster? Can you blame them? It looks like Cuban will be building from the ground up.
For now, the Mavericks starting line-up would be
PG Rodrigue Beaubois
SG Vince Carter
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Brendan Haywood
Add Carter’s and Marion’s and Nowitzki’s ages together and you get 103 years. I’m not sure how many more minutes are left in any of their sneakers.
The following players are now gone from the Mavericks 2011 championship team: Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, Jose Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic.
The Mavericks will certainly be hunting and gathering more ballers but, they won’t likely be top tier players unless they can orchestrate a trade. Although Dirk Nowitzki would be the only trade piece who could bring in some younger talent, Dirk isn’t going anywhere. Or so it would seem.
Where does this leave the Dallas Mavericks? For the first time in a decade — out of the playoffs and without 50 or more wins — next season.
The Dallas Mavericks are officially re-building. I wonder if Mark Cuban knows it? He’d probably dis-miss the idea. That’s the real crisis.