Editor's Note: Front Paged
Mavs Nation, relax. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
Finally, we are at the doorstep of major changes in the next few days, ones that will no doubt have a major impact in shaping the Mavericks' basketball successes (or lack thereof) over the next few years. With a deep draft coming up in a few hours, a ton of cap space to use for the first time in the Cuban Era, and a lot of potential trades floating around, the possibilities truly are endless.
We could sign Deron Williams and pair him with Dirk to give him the elite backcourt option he's lacked since Steve Nash left. Or we could just re-sign Steve Nash himself. We could scoop up some underrated stud at draft pick No. 17 or trade up a few spots and grab someone more highly-touted in the late lottery. We could use Lamar Odom's desirable contract to acquire a legitimate starter from a team looking to shed salary. Or...we could whiff on all of these and be stuck with an aging, mediocre roster around Nowitzki, a product of our premature blow-up of a championship team, doomed to repeat this year's pathetic run for the foreseeable future.
It's been an unusual summer to say the least, following an even more unusual season. For so long, the formula for winning had always been in place for the Mavericks -- let Dirk do his thing, hope Terry shoots well, have some other role players provide ancillary contributions, and play passable team defense. This was always enough to guarantee 50 wins, a top-4 playoff seed, and maybe some playoff noise as well. If it didn't work out one year, we would change some players on the periphery, swing an interesting trade or two, and hope for the best.
But for the first time in a long time, though, that cycle seems to be hopelessly inadequate. The league, and the West in particular, has gotten far younger and more talented. The Thunder is the obvious hegemon, but even the lower seeds and late lottery teams like the Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, and Timberwolves are young and threatening. More than the level of competition, though, is the restrictive new CBA, which appears to have robbed Dallas of its overwhelming advantage over the past decade -- Mark Cuban's willingness to spend big. Trades to take on other teams' unwanted contracts, like the Washington deal that netted Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, and Brendan Haywood, have long been a Cuban specialty, but they are clearly a thing of the past in this new financial climate.
With all these very real obstacles, there's a palpable sense of urgency. And it's understandable. There has never been a more critical week in a Mavs offseason. It's a scary time, with all the ominous "Deron Williams to the Nets" rumors circulating the blogosphere, but also an exciting one, with the chance to start something new as Dirk rides off into the sunset.
So, as a longtime Mavs fan, I just have two bits of advice for you before you turn on ESPN to watch the draft tonight or fire up your first search on July 1st to see where Deron Williams' heart lies: remove all expectations and trust in Cuban.
Regardless of whether we do or don't sign D-Will (and I'm by no means implying he's gone), Nash, or Dragic or draft Meyers Leonard, Terrence Ross, or Kendall Marshall, things will be okay. All teams go through a major transition period, but few have the luxury of having a championship-caliber superstar on the roster or a brilliant, crazed owner who would give an arm and a leg for another chance at a ring.
I have no doubt Mark and Donnie will figure something out. They're too invested, too hardworking, and too smart to accept what happened this season as our norm. Sooner rather than later, the Mavs will be great again. You can take dat witchu.