It wasn’t long ago the Dallas Mavericks were one of the model franchises in the NBA. Aside from the San Antonio Spurs, nobody in the West consistently made the playoffs like Dallas did. As long as Dirk Nowitzki was upright and head coach Rick Carlisle was doing his mad scientist thing, Dallas was a tough out.
As Dirk has faded, so have the Mavericks. They’ve transitioned into rebuilding mode on the court, finishing with a 24-58 record this past season. Their off-court reputation has rightfully taken a hit due to the mistreatment of women in the organization. In other words, life has come at them rather quickly.
This summer is about righting the ship. As Dirk Nowitzki prepares for his final run, the Mavericks must improve their young core and prepare for life without the future Hall-of-Famer. Dallas has a nice lottery pick and are one of the handful of teams with enough cap space to make a splash this summer.
10. What is it like rooting for the Mavericks these days?
It’s not the same as it was. I became a fan because my mom brought me home a t-shirt when I was five or six, I stayed a fan because Steve Nash was Canadian and Dirk Nowitzki became my all-time favourite player. The more I got into the NBA on a whole, the less I cared to cheer for one team. The pinnacle of my fandom was the 2006 Finals, (2007 hurt worse though). In a weird way, the 2011 championship released me from my days as a die-hard. Now, I quietly pull for them to get back on track but fall short of wearing team colours on the regular.
9. How excited are you for one last Dirk season?
Not at all. If this is it, it’s been one hell of a ride. I hope this isn’t it, can it never end? When he and Vince Carter hang it up, the NBA I came into is officially finished, or at least that’s how I view it. I’ve still never seen him play live and I will have to correct that this year. PLEASE. For the love of all that is holy, do not let him rest when I get to a game this year.
8. How much more of the rebuild can Rick Carlisle take?
I’m guessing Rick is getting close. You heard some whispers this year he was unhappy, that’d he’d shown interest in other jobs. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. I honestly don’t blame him. He and Nowitzki can do no wrong in my eyes.
7. What do you like most about Dennis Smith Jr. right now? Where does he need to grow?
I’m optimistic DSJ develops but his rookie season was far from a home run. He was a volume scorer on a bad team. He’s not a great shooter, he’s overly reliant on athleticism, and he might’ve been handed too much too fast. Which has never really been how Dallas handled young players and yet, when you look at the talent, you see why that’s was how it went. He just needs to get some more experience with what works and what doesn’t, I think playing meaningful basketball early would be huge. You need him to see what works in close games and what doesn’t and you can’t do that as a basement dweller.
6. How do you feel about Harrison Barnes at this point? Would you like to see him dealt?
No, I think Harrison Barnes is still part of the Mavericks future. He quietly closed this season with some very nice play (20.3 points, 43/37/83 shooting split after the All-Star break) and his ability to play the three or four at both ends is a blessing. Even if he never becomes an All-Star, a long and versatile wing is not someone I’d give up easy.
5. Dallas has been linked to a few guys at No. 5, but most of the noise surrounds Mo Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. If you were the GM, which one would you take?
This is tough, I really like both. Seriously, there’s a timeline where these two are the best two players from the draft. Bamba feels like the best modern fit of the bigs in this draft if he hits his ceiling but his floor is a tad scary. Porter Jr. has the injury concerns and gave us nothing to evaluate last year but again, long two-way wings with range are in HIGH demand. I think I’d take Porter Jr. if I believed in his long-term health.
4. Dallas also has a pair of second rounders (33, 54). Who would you like to see them target?
Being primarily an NBA guy, I can’t say I know with any certainty who is a steal at the back end. That said, the Mavericks are devoid of talent, it shouldn’t matter what position or how far away the prospects are. I’d like the Mavericks to target the highest ceiling guys on their board and trust Rick’s staff to take the wheel from there.
3. How would you feel about Dallas going after DeMarcus Cousins fresh off an Achilles injury?
It’d be very Mark Cuban to roll the dice on DeMarcus Cousins and I don’t think Dallas is competing any time soon, so I wouldn’t hate them taking a chance. If they could get him on a three-year max rather than a five year, that’d be ideal. I’m really skeptical Cousins is someone you can build a contender around, even if he comes back at 100 percent, but I think DSJ, Barnes, and Cousins is a far more entertaining product than what they ran out this last year.
2. How hilarious would another DeAndre Jordan pursuit be?
You need to take me hostage if Cuban and Donnie go that route.
1. Who are some other players you’d like to see Dallas go after?
I’d love for the Mavericks to throw a contending offer out there for Aaron Gordon. I think Gordon’s defensive versatility and overall skill-set has been undersold. I also see a trend with former Magic players finding their stride elsewhere in a new situation. Speaking of which, sell me a few Mario Hezonja stocks in whatever colours he wears next. Some other guys I’d love to see them take a run at this year when there aren’t a lot of teams bidding: Clint Capela, Rodney Hood, Thaddeus Young, and Dante Exum.
More Surfing The Blogosphere Team Offseason Previews:
Brooklyn Nets | Toronto Raptors | Philadelphia 76ers | Minnesota Timberwolves | Miami Heat | Washington Wizards | New York Knicks | Indiana Pacers | Dallas Mavericks