The city of Dallas remains in a catatonic state today following the aftermath of the DeAndre Jordan debacle.
Jordan's unceremonious exit from his verbal agreement will reverberate throughout the Maverick franchise for the next decade, because winning Jordan last Friday had marked a passing of the torch from Dirk Nowitzki to the next generation of Maverick royalty. Nowitzki carried that torch as high as humanly possible for 17 strong years, but the flame wilted in the Jordan's vapor trail. It's difficult to decipher who will catch more flack for the solemn state the Mavericks currently sit in: DeAndre for his reneging or Mark Cuban for his eschewing of the draft since 2011. Casting those stones may be cathartic, but it does nothing to change the Mavericks' bleak outlook. It's all but guaranteed that Dirk Nowitzki will finish his sparkling career putting up 20 points a night on a completely irrelevant team.
After the 2011 title, extending the "Dirk window" became the no. 1 priority of the Mavericks offseason. For all the hand wringing about allowing Tyson Chandler to walk, had the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard situations not gone completely haywire, the 2012 free agency sea would have been ripe for the taking with big fish. But, as we're all too familiar with now, shit happens in the NBA and the Mavericks weren't presented with that opportunity. Instead, a glorious season of O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman was endured to get to the next big fish.
Realizing that cap space and organizational culture alone would not draw noteworthy free agents, Cuban began collecting lesser assets like Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis. The front office laid back for a bit and when an opportunity presented itself, all the while cashing in on their smaller assets for an impact player (hello, Tyson Chandler). Shortly after, Chandler Parsons signed with the Mavs while throwing back some margaritas with Cuban in an Orlando nightclub. Nowitzki even signed a contract far under market value to make this all possible. By no means were the Mavs title contenders at this point, but Monta, Parsons, Dirk, and Tyson were the makings of a fun 50-win team.
When it became clear that the early season offensive juggernaut Mavs couldn't compete with the elite teams in the West, the Mavericks threw a life raft at Rajon Rondo. Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and a first-round pick, all gone in hopes of extending the Dirk window just a tad bit longer. But the Rondo deal backfired like a drunk teenager handling fireworks. Instead of extending Dirk's window, the Mavs threw a rock through it.
Even after emptying the cupboard for an overnight stay with Rondo, and after looking dead in the water again, the Mavericks still wriggled out, and for a brief moment, finally positioned themselves for a post-Dirk future. Chandler Parsons wined and dined a 6'11 center just entering his prime, who could change the fortunes of the Maverick franchise over the next five years, until he verbally agreed to sign with the Mavericks in the comfort of his own home. For five short short days, the Mavericks believed they had their center of the future. Dirk could age gracefully as a spot-up shooter while still competing for a playoff spot. It was the ideal situation for a Hall of Famer in the twilight of his career.
But after a bizarre day of emojis, hostages, and card games, Dirk Nowitzki finds himself on a treadmill roster again with no hope of competing for a title. The run of 50-win seasons and deep playoff runs is over for the Dallas Mavericks; the Dirk Nowitzki era is over.
That's what hurts the most about the DeAndre's decision.
There's a good chance Dirk will never appear in the playoffs again. After this season he can opt out of his contract and it wouldn't be surprising at all if he walked away. He's stated in the past that he'll stick around as long as it's fun. With Raymond Felton currently slotted as the starting point guard, this is no longer fun.
When the Mavericks lost to the Warriors in the 2007 playoffs, Dirk went on a backpacking voyage through the Australian outback. After this debacle, could you blame him if he went on a similar journey and just never came back?