The Dallas Mavericks slogged through a 24-win season in 2017-2018 and, as a result, the team was able to pull off a draft day deal with the Atlanta Hawks to secure Luka Doncic. With the off-the-charts expectations for the Slovenian prospect coupled with the addition of high-priced center DeAndre Jordan, many expect the Mavericks to bounce back in a significant way for the 2018-2019 campaign.
Dallas will have to do so under less than optimal circumstances in the early going, though, as head coach Rick Carlisle noted on Thursday that leading scorer Harrison Barnes will be out “for a while” after suffering a hamstring injury.
At this juncture, the severity of the ailment is unknown but the Mavericks began practice earlier than most teams in advance of a preseason trip to China. Given the nod to a potentially lengthy absence, it appears as if Barnes will be missing that journey and, in short, the Mavericks have little incentive to push the 26-year-old forward back on the floor before he is 100 percent.
The Mavericks will be integrating a lot of new pieces, headlined by Doncic and Jordan, this season and Barnes was one of the few “sure things” (joining with Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews and others) on the roster. Though he has been statistically productive since arriving in Dallas, Barnes does have his detractors but, on the flip side, he does soak up considerable usage and has two-way ability that isn’t easily replaced at either forward spot.
If Barnes can return for the start of the regular season, this blow won’t be as significant as it may seem but, if his absence drags on, Carlisle doesn’t have ideal options to turn to on a team with some legitimate concerns on the depth chart.