(Ed. note: Welcome to the first SB Nation NBA #ThemeDay of the offseason. All around the network, our blogs are tackling this question: where will your team be in 12 months?)
"The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different," said Peter Drucker, according to the Internet. He probably didn't frame his words in the context of the Dallas Mavericks, nor did he intend them to show up on "BrainyQuote.com." Oh well.
With another offseason gone and past, the Mavericks have decidedly reaped the riches of not playing it safe. They could have offered Luol Deng $10 or 11 million and nabbed Mo Williams for half of that. They could have kept Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon in the backcourt, citing "team chemistry" and saying "we love our boys in blue" and pointing out that they took the Spurs to seven games. Nobody would have faulted them for those moves.
But playing it safe wouldn't have netted them Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and a gang of complementary role players to fill out the roster. Now the question is what the team will look like in 12 months, after another offseason and more decisions.
In turn, that question gives birth to dozens more, starting with Monta Ellis. As Jonathan Tjarks points out, the 28 year old revitalized his career last season with the Mavericks, but he's facing a player option in the summer of 2015. If his coming season goes equally well, he'll feel pressure to opt out of his final year with the Mavericks to look for one last long-term contract. He'd probably get it, too. For the play he provided last season, his three-year contract with Dallas is well undervalued at about $27 million. With the way free agency has trended and the rising CBA, there's no question someone could top that price.
Would it be the Mavericks? It's tough to say. As a classic tweener, short for the 2-guard but not disciplined enough for the point, Ellis is difficult fit for any team. Is he and Chandler Parsons a duo the Mavericks want to commit to going forwards? They'll have one season of those two together to figure that out.
The decision on Tyson Chandler is loaded, considering, well, you know. That whole letting-him-walk-away-after-winning-a-championship-for-Dallas thing. He's not that player anymore, of course, and he won't be asking for $15 million next summer. He'd like another multi-year deal, though. Can his injury-prone nature be trusted?
It's more than just the those two, though. Parsons. Dirk Nowitzki. Ricky Ledo. Devin Harris. Gal Mekel (although I'm growing less and less convinced he'll be on the team come November). Those are the five players under contract, without player options, for the 2015-16 season. I have a hunch Raymond Felton is more likely to decline another BBQ sandwich than his option for $4 million (read: both are very likely), so the Mavericks will return at least six players as the burst into another offseason of wide-open possibilities.
At that point, it's really up to the Mavericks what direction they want to go. Unrestricted free agents next summer include Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. Several more big names have player options (Brook Lopez, Goran Dragic). It'll depend on the results of the 2014-15 season, but it's really up to the Dallas front office what type of team they want to pursue.
I don't know what August 2015 will bring, but if I've learned anything since the title team was broken up in the lockout-induced panic attack that was the December 2011 offseason, it's that this team never really plays it "safe." Sometimes, that strategy can extort a division rival into releasing a prized young talent. Sometimes, that strategy backfires when the young talent is O.J. Mayo. Never can you be sure either way.
I'm content with knowing the future will be different. We can figure it all out when we get there.