Mavs face summer of heavy lifting


VIDEO: Mavericks react to series loss to Rockets

It was less than two weeks ago when the Mavericks entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed, but a trendy pick in the bottom half of the Western Conference bracket.

Now after being whipped 4-1 by the Rockets and eliminated in the first round for third time — and one playoff miss entirely — since winning their championship in 2011, the Mavs are definitely on the spot.

Team owner Mark Cuban has stated often that his goal is to get Dallas back into title contention before the retirement of franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki, who’ll turn 37 in June.

None of the big moves the Mavericks made for the 2014-15 season got Dallas an inch closer. The signing of free agent Chandler Parsons ended in the pain and disappointment of a knee injury that shut him down after one game of the playoffs and now will require surgery. The December trade for point guard Rajon Rondo simply blew up in the Mavs’ faces. First Rondo had an on-court argument with coach Rick Carlisle in February and then threw another petulant snit in Game 2 of the playoff series, prompting his bench and then claims of a back injury.

“There was a lot of ups and downs,” said center Tyson Chandler, who returned to Dallas after having been sent away after the 2011 title. “I can’t say there weren’t a lot of distractions.

“When you start training camp, your goal is to always win a championship. You always want to fight and give yourself a chance.

“So any time you’re less than, it’s always disappointing and you’ve got to do what it takes in the offseason to continue to pursue.”

Now those pursuits by Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson will have to be bold and bigger this summer if Dallas is to return next season in a Western Conference that is only getting stronger with the emergence of the Pelicans and what should be the return of the Thunder with a new coach.

“We’ve got to get healthy,”Carlisle said.

But then he also noted that as many as 11 Mavericks could be free agents this summer. Nowitzki has two seasons left on his contract.

At 32, Chandler will be one of those free agents and will have to decide if he wants to commit to the franchise that wouldn’t commit to him in defense of the championship. He’s healthy, engaged and surely will draw interest from teams that could put him much closer to the top of the standings.

Rondo finished the regular season as the starting point guard, but Carlisle made it clear he won’t be back.

“We traded a lot of pieces for a point guard that’s not with us right now,” Chandler said.

Guard Monta Ellis could opt out of his contract and most seem to think he will in order to pursue a long-term deal.

If Ellis ($8.7 million) , Al-Farouq Aminu ($1.1 million) and Raymond Felton ($4 million) all opt in for next season, that would cut down on the money available to lure big-time free agent help. Dallas will surely make a run at forward LaMarcus Aldridge. But if the Trail Blazers star does want a return to his native Texas, options in San Antonio and Houston would get him closer immediately to playing for rings than in Dallas.

The NBA Draft will bring just the No. 21 and 52 picks.

“We’ll see what happens this summer,” Nowitzki said. “I know we’ve got a bunch of free agents again. We’ll just see what happens. Mark and Donnie, as always, are going to look to make this franchise better.”

The clock is already ticking on what will have to be a busy summer in Dallas.

10 Comments

  1. Kal says:

    early this season Mavs looked better than last year with the upgrade of Parsons over Marion and the return of Chandler, Harris and Barea. and the Crowder-Rondo trade may have been worth the gamble even if they lost… losing Vince Carter who was so key to the 2014 epic with SA hurt, too.

    i just think their time is up. … is all it is. other teams got better. it happens to every franchise at some point. they had a legendary run with Nowitzki that was a decade and a half long going back to 2001… it was impressive how they were able to make the playoffs still this late in his career the last two years… but it may be over and time to rebuild.

    money didn’t buy the Mavs Nowitzki. … ya gotta go back to the lottery at some point. look at the Pelicans with Anthony Davis. and the Wolves will be coming in a few years. … it’s all gonna look very different soon and teams like the Mavs and the Heat should consider starting from scratch while they still have goods to deal Danny Ainge style.

  2. Dirkster says:

    I agree that it’s not necessarily a roster problem although I’d let Ellis leave cos I simply think he cannot lead a team and Dirk is just too old to do that an entire season. In the East they’d be top 3 easy 🙂

  3. MrNBA says:

    This was difficult to swallow. After being the only team to really challenge the Spurs last year, they upgraded their roster this season and started out with so much promise. But Dirk’s game took a drastic dip, somebody thought it was genius to give up a bunch for Rondo, and Parsons got hurt.
    Now the priority is to re-sign Monta. Then try to sign Aldridge or DeAndre (unlikely despite his interest), or both. If they’re able to sign DeAndre but not Aldridge, they should still keep Chandler since their game is very similar but Chandler’s a better FT shooter. If they’re able to sign Aldridge but not DeAndre, keep Chandler still. Dirk should seriously consider coming off the bench. I don’t know what’s harder to watch-him missing all those wide open shots which used to be like a layup to him or having Harden, JSmith, and Terence Jones(who?) attack the rim unchallenged whenever he’s defending them.
    Other moves: Keep JJ, Harris, and Aminu.
    Lastly, tell Rondo he’s a bum.

  4. harriethehawk says:

    I’m not sold on the Mavericks. They have good players but they are not championship caliber. Oh well.

  5. the coach says:

    mavs had,rondo, amare, dirk, chandler harris, barea aminu etc …pop would win a championship…or even recently fired scott brooks heck even mike d’ antonio would be perfect match for this roster

    • smulholland2 says:

      Rondo is a quiter, Amare was only great with Nash feeding him open dunks and is well past his prime, Barea is a decent BENCH player but vastly undersized, Chandler went down in game 1, Dirk is a little old and also past his prime (still great though). I will give you that Popvich would probably gotten more out of Rondo but Carlisle is a good coach. Better than Brooks who lost to the Heat with a better roster than Dallas has ever had. Carlisle beat the Heat. D’Anotine is god awful. Steve Nash is the only reason people even know him. The truth is if Rondo wouldnt have been such a crying baby, Dallas could have made this a series. But Houston has a really good team. They are younger, stonger, faster and hungrier.

  6. the coach says:

    i dont’t think roster is the problem…i think it’s the coach,

  7. krespino says:

    It would not be logical to expect any significant free agent wanting to go to the Mavericks. They don’t have a core, and therefore no favorable outlook for the next couple of years, their primary player being 37 years old. Even if they could keep Al-Farouq Aminu paying him a higher salary, their performance next year would not be any better than the past year, and that would not suffice to make the playoffs as the Pelicans, Thunder and even the Jazz would win more games than the Mavs, I believe.

    • artifex says:

      Depends on what a top free agent is looking for.
      Admittedly, the seeking to build a ‘super team’ is quite popular these years. But there are still those who like to be the alpha dog and the Mavs would be a perfect fit for those. It’s what e.g. Harden was looking for (and got in Houston). And the supporting cast there was quite less than what the Mavs have to offer (admittedly, they didn’t get out of the 1st round the past 2 years either).

  8. krespino says:

    Dallas not a playoff team next year. They might be faced with the need to reconstruct a whole new team, around 37-year old Nowitzki. Aminu would demand a high salary to stay.
    Apart from the Pelicans and the Thunder, Utah Jazz also could prove to be good enough to fight for playoff spot. If Lamarcus Aldridge leaves the Trailblazers might fall down though.