Dallas Mavericks owner and number one fan Mark Cuban keeps reassuring Mavs fans not to worry about the team’s roller coaster 13-8 start to the lockout shortened 2011-2012 NBA season. Despite being the defending world champions, the Mavericks have taken the unorthodox style of rolling out a new look team the following year. With impending free agent superstars in the form of a franchise center in Dwight Howard and a franchise point guard in Deron Williams, the Dallas front office risked the fallout from breaking up their first ever championship squad to position themselves financially to be one of the main players in the 2012 free agency frenzy.
The Mavericks allowed fan favorite and one of the league’s best success stories of the past decade in J.J. Barea to walk, as he cashed in on that success with a payday from the Minnesota Timberwolves who needed a combo guard like the Miami Heat need a superstar.
But the most criticized move of the offseason by Mark Cuban and company was not giving center and the heart of the Mavs defense Tyson Chandler the long term deal he was seeking. With eyes committed to the big picture, Chandler was reportedly offered a one-year contract for a whopping $20 million dollars. But with a history of pesky injuries and the opportunity of his career to cash in for multiple years, Tyson signed with the New York Knicks. You can ask him how that’s going so far @tysonchandler. But I wouldn’t.
Sounds like the Mavericks, fresh off a title, are wasting a season of Dirk Nowitzki’s prime and Jason Kidd’s life to micromanage their personnel thinking about the following season. Two things; that is not the case, and never, ever, doubt Mark Cuban.
Although the team lost multiple key parts of the 2010-2011 squad, this season’s Mavericks are still a favorite to repeat as champions.
Veteran Brendan Haywood returns to a starting role, something he is no stranger to from his days in Washington. After a much criticized year and a half in Dallas, mainly attributed to his hefty contract, the former North Carolina Tarheel looks comfortable beginning the game without his warm-ups on. Ian Mahinmi’s emergence has solidified the backup role that Haywood previously occupied.
The wise and savvy Mavericks front office turned to the free agent pool to fill the gaps that the roster needed. Brought in were veteran guards Delonte West and Vince Carter for cheap value. Former top 10 draft picks Brandan Wright and Yi Jianlian were also signed to supply front court depth. In the midst of all these well under the radar transactions, the Mavericks took advantage of an awkward situation in Hollywood and stole reigning 6th Man of the Year Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Through a little over a month this season, the defending champions have been through a tumultuous stretch that has featured two separate injuries to Jason Kidd, a week long hiatus for Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, and ups and downs from Lamar Odom that take a new turn every game.
But all set aside, the Dallas Mavericks have a one game lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. But it doesn’t matter; just make the playoffs like Cuban says.