HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The next time Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says he doesn’t want or need your sympathy, you might want to take him at his word.
Nothing will change the fact that Deron Williams spurned his hometown team for the Brooklyn Nets and Steve Nash decided to take his talents to Hollywood and join the Los Angeles Lakers. Free agent veterans Jason Kidd and Jason Terry are gone, taking their championship memories to New York and Boston, respectively.
There are certain risks involved in free agency that you have to be willing to stomach and move on from if you’re a team like the Mavericks, a team trying to reconstitute itself on the fly without the benefit of a sure thing move that can solidify your process. All they had was a chance to get Williams, the top prize on their summer to-do-list. But only a chance, and nothing more.
Unlike some franchises that would have gone into panic mode and started acting out of character to save face and try to salvage the summer, the Mavericks did what championship franchises do, they settled in and went about the task of trying to repair whatever damage was done with one shrewd move after another.
First up was stealing Darren Collison from the Pacers in a trade for a backup center. Then you sign Chris Kaman to a one-year deal, claiming Elton Brand off waivers and now comes the agreement with O.J. Mayo on a reported two-year deal, with a player option for the second year.
This isn’t exactly rebuilding for the long-term future, since all of these guys that have been acquired are joining the fold on expiring or basically one-year deals (all of which allows the Mavericks to fight another day in free agency, as early as next summer).
So it is indeed a reconstitution more than an actual rebuild, with an extension of the franchise’s 12-year playoff run in mind, as well as it is recognition of the fact that the great Dirk Nowitzki only has a limited number of years remaining to carry a group without a serious upgrade in help.
The Mavericks will have to rely on youngsters like Dominique Jones and rookies for significant contributions for the first time in years, something that hasn’t been the case in quite some time. But with just Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remaining as regular contributors from their championship team from two years ago, what choice do they have?
After listening to Carlisle talk from the announcing table in Las Vegas about the Mavericks trying to change up and play a completely different style lets you know that change, as it always has been and always will be for any team trying to stay relevant in the championship discussion, is simply a part of the process.
That’s why the additions of both Kaman and Brand could make this team a different animal this season.
“I don’t think the Mavericks have ever had, or at least in recent years, a center that can step out and shoot the ball at 18 feet,” Carlisle said. “Something like that helps Dirk a lot with space on the inside. When you crowd it up with guys that are dunkers and in the paint type guys, it makes it harder and harder. We feel like the ability to shoot mid-range for bigs is critical, and any time you can get guys to stretch it out to the [3-point line] like Dirk can, it’s a real advantage for you.”
An even bigger advantage for the Mavericks would have been cashing on Williams or even Nash.
But in the absence of those home run moves happening, the Mavericks have done the next best thing. They’ve remade themselves on the fly and done so in a manner that allows them to correct any mistakes that might have been made sooner rather than later.