Please make welcome to the center stage, HornMafia! He'll be doing work with us here on FanTake on a variety of sites. Here's his view of the Dallas Mavericks this summer.
The highly anticipated NBA Free Agency period of 2010 is upon us, and though it literally just started, so far it has the feel of this season’s other big sports story – college football realignment.
Lots of talk, little action.
As is usually the case, the Dallas Mavericks are right in the thick of the conversation, looking to improve upon a club that took a step back in the 2009-2010 season, falling to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, their third first round exit in four seasons.
And the question is, will a band-aid, even a super strength band-aid, be able to cure what ails this team?
The Mark Cuban era has been fantastic for the Mavs. Ten straight years of fifty wins. A NBA Finals appearance. Three division titles. Sold out arena each and every night.
But no rings.
And while the stretch of good play after the acquisition of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood in mid-season gave a lot of Mavericks fans false hope, anyone that watched the Finals this year and saw the Lakers and Celtics battle it out for seven games know that this team is far, far away from being on that level.
And the league only gets harder next year. Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant will want yet another ring. Portland is an up and coming team. Oklahoma City figures to improve even more next season. Yao Ming will be back for Houston. Memphis has the ability to be next year’s Oklahoma City. They must get better, and they must get better quickly.
Luckily, the Mavericks enter the Summer of 2010 with plenty of firepower to make a team altering move. Eric Dampier finally gives the Mavs something other than six fouls in the form of a non-guaranteed contract that is on the books for $13 million next season, an attractive entity for any team looking to cut costs. Butler and DeShawn Stevenson have sizable expiring contracts. J.J. Barea makes some decent coin and has the NBA’s Midget Who Jacks Up a Lot of Three Pointers, Plays No Defense But is Dangerous Enough to Take Over Quarters annual award locked up. The draft rights to first round pick Dominique Jones could be traded. Rookie sensation Rodrique Beaubois would be available for the right deal. Draft picks and cash could be sent in any deal. And, of course, the $8.7 million and three years owed to Matt Carroll is attractive…oh wait, that isn’t attractive in the least bit, unless some team has cheerleading budget that they would like to blow.
Unfortunately, the big name free agents don’t appear to be a reasonable possibility. Shockingly, pitching that the Cowboys have a nice stadium hasn’t sent Lebron James searching for homes in Preston Hollow. Dwyane Wade surprisingly put Dallas on his short list but it is likely to schedule only a courtesy visit followed by shooting free throws at the American Airlines Center out of habit. Chris Bosh apparently doesn’t want to play in his hometown, and frankly you have to question the mettle of a guy who doesn’t want the pressure of playing in front of a docile media market like Dallas.
Mark Cuban reportedly flew out to Los Angeles this week not only to shoot an episode of HBO’s Entourage, but also planned to woo free agent shooting guard Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks, who we last saw getting booed by his home crowd after shooting 30% in a second round sweep at the hands of the Magic. While getting a four-time All Star and member of the All-NBA team to play Turtle to Dirk Nowitzki’s Vincent Chase looks good on paper, Johnson is a shoot first, shoot second, shoot third guard, and hoisting up bad shots has never been an area of concern for this current roster.
Other talk has centered around signing Shaquille O’Neal (about 7 years too late) and looking into signing free agent forward Matt Bonner (about one unathletic, black hole on defense too much) and doing little and going into next season with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and head coach Rick Carlisle as the centerpieces once again.
This team is simply not working. The Mavericks should be looking into making a huge splash, because anything short of Lebron, Wade or Bosh coming to Dallas would be too close to the status quo of first round exit. The window of opportunity might have already shut, but now the steel door is coming down, too.
If you can’t make the huge splash, go get Al Jefferson from Minnesota. Sure, he plays the same position as Nowitzki, but wouldn’t you rather have too many big men than too many guards? He would give the Mavericks their first low post scoring threat since Roy Tarpley was the franchise’s savior. He’s also 25 years old, and would be a cornerstone of this franchise in the transition to the post-Nowitzki years.
Give Beaubois more of the point guard duties. Jason Kidd looked like he had played two seasons by the time the playoffs rolled around, and Beaubois was stuck to the bench in crucial portions of playoff losses. Beaubois is the future here, why not see if he has the ability to be in effect a great free agent pick-up to a playoff team?
In the same line, give draft pick Dominque Jones a fair shot to earn substantial playing time at shooting guard. The Mavericks were sorely lacking a guy that could make his own shot and get to the line last season, and that man could be Jones, who showed enough of that ability in college to be a first rounder.
Finally, go get a sharp shooter with the mid-level exception, a guy like Kyle Korver or Ray Allen. If you’re going to be a jump shooting team, at least go get someone who can make them.
Because if you’re just going to put a band-aid on the situation, you might as well use a better looking band-aid, no?