Same Old July Song
The more things change, the more things stay the same. At least for the Dallas Mavericks in July, that is.
Here we go again – early reports on this July 1 are of two of the Mavericks’ top free agent targets – Hassan Whiteside and Nicolas Batum – staying with their respective teams, while one of their biggest free agents from their own roster, Chandler Parsons, is about to sign a max deal elsewhere (most likely Portland, Memphis or Orlando).
Mark Cuban’s batting average with runners in scoring position continues to struggle.
Cuban’s biggest issue isn’t really the lack of wooing free agents to sign here. Rather, it’s setting the table (or lack thereof) to eliminate the need to sign big free agents to stay competitive in the west.
I’m talking about the NBA draft.
How do you think Dirk got here? OK, yeah, the Mavericks didn’t actually draft him, but they got Milwaukee to on draft day in 1998 in a pre-arranged trade. Bottom line – they targeted a young prospect and he paid off in spades.
Before the Miami Heat went out a few years ago and grabbed LeBron and Chris Bosh, they drafted a kid named Dwayne Wade. Golden State? Drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. San Antonio has set the bar in finding young players and making them their foundation for years.
There is one untouchable, in my opinion, on this Mavericks roster and that’s Justin Anderson. Cuban and the Mavericks have to get back to building through the draft, and it may take a couple of ugly seasons to do it. But if they don’t, all they are staring at is mediocrity. Anderson’s not the next savior, but he is a good young player that is home-grown that can be part of a nucleus if they build it right.
Dirk’s a big part of this current philosophy; I do understand why Cuban does not want to simply tank while the big German is still here. And as much as I hate to say it, maybe having Dirk go elsewhere this summer wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
The Mavericks will not have the chance to compete for a title again until they turn the page on Dirk and go through the natural rebuilding pains that every franchise does. Even then, there is no guarantee that it will work. Look at Minnesota and Washington and Philadelphia and Orlando – they’ve had multiple opportunities with lottery picks and they’re not quite challenging for a title just yet.
You have to draft well, and also have a little luck on your side. That’s what the Mavericks had in the late 90’s, when they landed Michael Finley in a trade (by drafting Jason Kidd), Dirk arrived, and Steve Nash was given new life from Phoenix. Those three moves set the Mavericks up for the Cuban era, one that has spoiled us here in Dallas.
Remember those seasons in the mid-90s where we had to sweat out even winning 10 games here in Dallas? We may have to go back to those days before we see a season like 2011 again.
Until then, we’ll have to settle for watching and enjoying Dirk’s last few seasons of greatness, maybe make the playoffs and be out in the first round. But don’t expect any big free agents coming to the Mavericks any time soon.