From the minute they won the NBA title last season, the general consensus amongst NBA fans was that the Dallas Mavericks chances of winning a second title in a row were limited. The phrase “one and done” came to mind and the Mavs were dismissed as a "flash in the pan" where everything just happened to line up for them to win.
Those thoughts were further amplified heading into the free agent signing period when several key components of the Mavs title run were up for free agency- Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Deshawn Stevenson, and Caron Butler. When three of those four players signed with other teams (and potentially Stevenson who is still a free agent) the Mavs cupboards suddenly looked bare. But, what did the Mavericks really lose?
Obviously losing Chandler was the most impactful loss as he provided the Mavs with an inside presence that they have seemingly always lacked. That stings a little.
Caron Butler on the other hand, was injured so frequently that we never really got to see him play to his potential or get comfortable. Missing the majority of last season and the entire playoff run proved the Mavs didn’t need him.
I love JJ Barea and his unique skillset as much as the next guy, but thinking he will ever be anything other than a change of pace PG who can give a team some quality, limited minutes is a mistake. Ever loving point guard addict Wolves GM David Kahn signed Barea to a reported four year, $19 million dollar deal- does this move not scream “bad idea” to anyone else?? Barea excelled in Dallas due to the talent around him and the way he was used as a reserve. The Mavs did the right thing by letting him go and didn’t overpay to keep him.
But still, with all those subtractions and nary an addition, “Mav Fan” had to be a little concerned. So then, Mark Cuban got down to business.
He acquires Lamar Odom and a 2nd round pick from the Lakers for essentially nothing- a $8.9 million dollar trade exception and a 2012 1st round pick. Suddenly you’ve got a 6-11 guy who can play all five positions and perhaps most importantly, your most competitive rival in the Western Conference doesn’t have him anymore.
Two days prior to that Cuban signed low risk/high reward 6-10 free agent power forward Brandan Wright, a former lottery pick who just hasn’t been able to stay healthy in four NBA seasons. When healthy he has been productive in limited minutes- if he stays that way it could be a great move.
Then over the course of two days, the Mavs re-sign Brian Cardinal then add Vince Carter and Delonte West via free agency. All of the sudden, the cupboards aren’t so bare any more.
So it all shakes out like this- you traded Chandler for Odom, Barea for West, Butler for Carter and add the wild card of Harris.
And, you don’t overpay anybody, either on their way out or their way in. You bring in a bunch of “names” but there is no doubt Nowitzki is the top dog and alpha male, an underrated aspect in the ego driven NBA.
Is it possible that the Mavericks are suddenly better than they were a year ago? I bet that is what Mark Cuban will tell you.