Sigh. Just like that, it’s over. One game more than the minimum to play in the post-season, ousted in five playoff contests. That’s your 2014-15 Dallas Mavericks.

Let’s hope that’s where the bleeding stops. Cause there is potential for worse news next season, as in a long season with no playoffs (yikes!).

dwight-howard-amare-stoudemire-5c09d81c3d2a2d38It starts and ends with the roster, which is basically what sunk the Mavericks of any shot of downing the No. 2 seed Rockets. That is, the lack of a roster. The Mavericks were basically down two starters in this series – one was hurt (Chandler Parsons) and one quit (Rajon Rondo). This left coach Rick Carlisle with less depth and little options to pick up the slack. We saw in Game Five last night that the Mavs could not survive a down night from Dirk or anyone else without the horses to pick the team up.

Now the hope is that this summer, more horses don’t leave the barn.

Let’s start with what we know – who is locked up and under contract for next season; a grand total of four players: Devin Harris has three years left on his deal while Nowitzki and Parsons have two more years left. Reserve forward Dwight Powell has one year left.

Now, three players have player options in their deals to become free agents, the biggest being Monta Ellis. The other two are Raymond Felton (no thanks) and Al-Farouq Aminu (who has raised his stock more than any other player recently on the roster).

Unrestricted Free Agents include Tyson Chandler, Rondo (thanks for coming), Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson, J.J. Barea, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Greg Smith. The one Restricted Free Agent is Bernard James.

Ellis is really the key here. If Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson can get him to accept his player option for $8,720,000 next season with the promise(?) of a big payday in the summer of 2016 when the cap is expected to go up, it gives Dallas hope to keep a decent base together and hopefully lure a big fish free agent (LaMarcus Aldridge, anyone?).

Should Ellis walk, it would create somewhat of a scrambling effect for the Mavericks, especially with an aging Nowitzki. Would Chandler return to Dallas if the appearance of unraveling was going on? I, for one, do not want to go down this road.

Life without Dirk is coming sooner than later, and the Mavericks brass needs to get its foundation in order to usher in the next era, and hope it doesn’t look anything like the 90’s prior to his arrival.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State WarriorsThen there’s Carlisle, who has one year left on his contract at $4,600,000. Speculation surfaced during the Rockets series that perhaps he and Cuban have a somewhat strained relationship. If that is the case, and Carlisle sees his roster beginning to fall apart, he could easily walk into Cuban’s office and ask to be released from his contract and part ways. After all, there’s a pretty good situation just three hours up I-35 that is in need of a coach.

So what will happen? I’m banking on Ellis buying into what Cuban and Nelson are selling for the future here in Dallas, especially that 2016 summer payday. Re-sign Chandler, Barea, Jefferson, and Aminu. Go for it with Aldridge and try to convince him to leave Portland and play for his hometown team.

That group has to be better than ending your season after just five playoff games, right? Let’s hope so, because any playoff run is better than none.

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Rob Scichili (shick-lee) has worked in professional sports for over 24 years in PR and communications, including time with the Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks,, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks. A journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he is co-owner and editor at ScoreboardTx, principal at Shick Communications and VP at Franchise Sports & Entertainment while serving on the board of the Mike Modano Foundation.