Right after the NBA All-Star Break, I wrote a piece about how the Dallas Mavericks had to be considered darkhorse title contenders. And the second half of the season proved they were. From February 17 until the end of the regular season, the Mavs were 23-6, and finally had some swagger that Dallas had long been without. But what happened? After getting bounced by the Spurs, that makes it three out of the last four years that the Mavs have lost in the first round. So where do they go from here?
Last week, Austin Burton wrote a piece about how Dirk Nowitzki could opt out this summer and test the free agent market. While I don’t see that happening, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have to be up all night trying to figure out their next move. Of course it all starts with re-signing Dirk, but what else? On paper, they made all the right moves this year. They traded Josh Howard for two starters in Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, brought in a character bench guy like Eduardo Najera and drafted rookie Rodrigue Beaubois who began to show how good he can really become late in the season. Apparently that wasn’t enough.
But according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle believes that Cuban and Nelson can make a splash this summer.
“Mark and Donnie would love to add another star to this roster to play with Dirk and Jason [Kidd],” Carlisle said Saturday. “Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? A lot of people would bet against us. But I wouldn’t advise it.
“They’re the best I’ve been around at finding opportunities. And they’ve been able to do things in a very expeditious manner.”
As Nelson added: “You’re never finished in this league. It’s one constant state of upgrade.”
And upgrade is exactly what they need to do. If Dallas hopes to make a big splash in free agency, and Cuban is willing to finance it, then the Mavs will have to get creative. They return almost all of their players from this year’s team except Haywood and Tim Thomas, and their biggest bargaining chip might just be Erick Dampier‘s $13 million expiring contract. Realistically, it will tough for them make a move without throwing in some of their own talent and/or paying top-dollar on the luxury tax.
What do you think? Where should the Mavs go from here?
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