The Dallas Mavericks
know that money can't quite buy you love.
It is not that the Mavericks throw money around crazily like the two New York teams. Mark Cuban's team have been prudent with how they chose to spend money. The Mavs refused to overpay for players such as Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and Corey Brewer after their 2011 Championship. These players would go on to find their rich but questionable contracts elsewhere, and the Mavericks essentially took a two year break from being serious contenders. (To their credit, the team did remain competitive.) The Mavericks decided to punt on defending their title for the hope of building a consistent contender during Dirk Nowitzki's twilight. For the most part, it has worked. However, the post-Championship Mavericks have had ample money to spend, but somehow their desired targets did not buy. Dwight Howard understandably decided to that it was better to play with the younger James Harden than an aging Dirk Nowitzki. Two hometown stars, Chris Bosh and Deron Williams, decided to make (even) more money and stay with their respective teams. Sometime, money can't quite buy you love, especially when other people have more money or are more desirable.
Love & Basketball was an enjoyable movie. And in basketball, like love, at times, you have to settle. Sometimes, settling is the best thing that can happen to you, on other occasions, it is a decision filled with regrets. Reality is usually somewhere in the middle. Even with their money and front office smarts, the Mavericks, unable to sign desired superstars, had to settle for the next tier of stars to pair with their German future Hall of Famer. They signed Monta Ellis in 2013, and Chandler Parsons this past year. They cycled through Jose Calderon, Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and the injured Rajon Rondo at point guard. This season, they traded for Tyson Chandler to make an attempt to improve their defense. The Mavericks filled out the rest of their roster with an interesting cast of characters. They are seeing if coach Rick Carlisle's genius will inject life into Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson, and brought back Barea. They have situational defender and non-shooter Al-Farouq Aminu and somehow Devin Harris is back as the starting point guard. All this makes the Mavericks an entertaining team and essentially a worse version of the Clippers. Just like the Clips, the Mavericks are an elite offensive team and an average defensive team. Watching the Clippers play the Mavericks is similar to watching a boxing or tennis match where both combatants have the same technique and style but one of the combatants is just substantially better at everything.
The Mavericks are a perennial Playoff Team, but it is difficult to view them as legitimate Championship contenders. The team has issues defensively and while they are a good offensive team, they are not quite on the level of the Clippers and Warriors. They probably need one more superstar or star player to add to their roster, and they need an upgrade at point guard. Devin Harris is a very good player, but he is probably in that very good third guard category rather than a starting point guard for a Championship team. Rajon Rondo is not the answer even when healthy. At times, Rondo was benched in favor of Harris in the fourth quarter of games. The 2012 Playoffs version of Rajon Rondo is more than likely gone forever.
With Mark Cuban's charisma and pocketbook, the Mavericks will continue to make runs at superstar free agents. Getting these players to sign in Dallas is proving to be more difficult than expected. The Mavericks are about two players away. With their resources, they will find a way. If they don't, we will just have to watch Rick Carlisle work his magic, tinker and hopefully overachieve with Dirk, a few minor stars and spare parts.
Favorite Obscure Player (FOP)
Brad Davis was a Mavericks guard for 12 seasons from 1980-1981 to 1991-1992. He was the backup point guard on those contending Derek Harper-Rolando Blackman-Mark Aguirre teams. Mostly, I remembered him rocking a classic 1980s moustache. I am saddened that athletes, not just basketball players, don't look like Brad Davis anymore.
Mavericks' Watchability Essay
The Mavericks are an entertaining watch. The team is filled with skilled offensive players. Watch a slightly past his prime but no where near washed up Dirk Nowitzki shoot one legged jump shots, command double teams and occasionally play the decoy so Monta Ellis can go wild. Tyson Chandler was the original DeAndre Jordan. He is still more fundamentally sound defender than Jordan and is a career 64 percent free throw shooter, who is actually making 74 percent of them this year. (Hell, I will take 60 percent, maybe even a consistent 50 percent from DeAndre.) I always find Devin Harris fun to watch; almost as fun as watching Al-Farouq Aminu shoot wide open jump shots. Watch the last gasp of Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson. The Mavericks are top 3 offensive team with a middling defense that is probably worse than the Defensive Efficiency Rating suggests. This means that the Mavericks usually plays 120-117 type of competitive exciting games, or get blown out by scores like 125-100, which is still a great entertainment value, especially when your team is on the winning end of these blow outs.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
Regarding the Playoffs, Zach Lowe commented that the Clippers "just need a little more luck than a few of the other teams jostling for center stage." In my humble opinion, out of the top 7 teams in the Western Conference, it is the Mavericks who will need the most luck to advance in the Playoffs. The only team that I can see losing to the Mavericks in a seven game series is the Portland Trail Blazers with LaMarcus Aldridge playing through an injury and Nicolas Batum having the worst shooting season of his career. I don't see them beating any other Western Conference Playoff Team, including whoever gets the 8th seed. In the future, the Mavericks will continue to retool around Dirk, Monta and Chandler Parsons. With no state taxes in Texas and a great owner, perhaps, they can add a superstar that they have been trying to get for the last five years. If I am a Mavericks fan, I would hope they let Rajon Rondo walk, save that money and add a slightly higher caliber star than Parsons and Monta. I have no idea who that star is. But eventually, with a great coach, a smart front office and an owner who is willing to spend, the Mavericks will contend for the Finals again before Dirk retires. It may take three years, but this is 2015, and money solves everything -- well, almost everything.