When the NBA season started, the Mavericks looked like a group that had the potential to compete in a very good Western Conference. The addition of Chandler Parsons and the return of Tyson Chandler to go with the potent duo of Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis gave them some solid firepower, yet would it be enough to make the top-eight in a conference that could field 12 or more playoff teams if all things were equal across the league?
Then the opportunity came along to add an all-star point guard to the mix in Rajon Rondo. He came with a price – any real depth along the Mavericks’ front court would go bye-bye, a price Dallas could probably live with, though it was a risk.
The Mavericks have forged ahead, using journeymen players to get by in their attempt to make their rotation work along the front line, while Rondo was sidelined with a facial fracture injury (ouch). Then Chandler went down with an ankle sprain last week.
Good news came in threes this week. Rondo has been declared good-to-go for Thursday at Oklahoma City, and Chandler is also likely to be back. But the biggest news is that the front court is getting a new influx of talent with the expected addition of Amar’e Stoudemire later this afternoon.
The 6-10 big man selected Dallas over several potential suiters like Phoenix and the LA Clippers, believing that the Mavericks gave him a better chance at winning a title.
That’s gotta be a little encouraging, right?
Actually, what’s encouraging is adding a 32-year-old veteran who can play center and power forward, someone who has a good mid-range jump shot and is effective in the pick-and-roll (somewhere Steve Nash is wishing he was a few years younger and back with the Mavericks). Stoudemire isn’t the greatest defensive big body in the league, but he can rebound (when healthy) and can finish.
The timing couldn’t be better for Dallas. The Mavericks have 27 games left in the season and are in a heated battle among five teams seeded 3 through 7, all within two games of one another. Stoudemire’s 24 minutes-per-game average in New York, along with his 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds would be welcomed.
Jermaine O’Neal? Sorry bro; you snooze, you lose. There were rumors that he was interested in joining the Mavericks, but he’s still officially on the street. Stoudemire is too, but not for long.
How much will this move help the Mavs? Could it be enough to possibly get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? Could be, but this team will be in the playoffs, and once you get in the dance, anything can happen.
Give Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson credit – it may not always work, but every year they refuse to simply sit and not attempt to improve the club. It resulted in hardware for the 2011 postseason. Stoudemire and Rondo (among others) are hoping that the Mavs find lightning in a bottle again.