2012 NBA Off Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks

2011-2012 Record: 36-30, 3rd in Southwest
Stat Leaders: Dirk Nowitzki, 21.7 ppg, Shawn Marion, 7.4 rpg, Jason Kidd, 5.5 apg, Brandan Wright, 1.3 bpg

Depth Chart

C - Brendan Haywood
PF - Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright (TO), Lamar Odom (TO)
SF - Shawn Marion, Keleena Azubuike (TO)
SG - Vince Carter (TO), Dominique Jones
PG - Rodrigue Beaubois

Unrestricted Free Agents: G Jason Terry, G Jason Kidd, F Brian Cardinal, F Yi Jinalian, C Ian Mahinmi, G Delonte West

The Good: It is hard to find the good in the Mavericks 2011-2012 season. The defending champions struggled all season and were an easy out in the first round of the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki remains an elite player. He had a down regular season, maybe due to injury hangover, but really stepped it up in the playoffs. He was the only Maverick other then Shawn Marion to do so. His offensive game remains as potent as ever, though he struggled with defense and rebounding without Tyson Chandler around to watch his back. Marion is plugging along as a very solid starter as he enters his mid 30's. He is one of the best on the ball defenders in the league, and a very good rebounder for his position. Jason Terry continued his role as one of the best scoring sixth men in the league. The team has developed a few good young players, as Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi should be key parts of the rotation for years to come.

The Bad: Tyson Chandler was the most crippling loss of the off season for any team. He proved that he was worth every penny of the deal he got for the Knicks, because of how much better they got on defense and how much worse Dallas got. Brendan Haywood has been an absolute bust since signing a huge contract a couple years ago, and Nowitzki is just not a defensive player. Wright and Mahnimi did a commendable job, but neither player is good enough to hold down the middle on defense. The Mavericks really suffered. Also, the team got very old in a hurry. The ageless Jason Kidd is in the 12th round of a bout with father time, and he is down for the count. The team really lacked leadership and a floor leader and it showed. This team needs a second scorer to take some of the pressure off of Nowitzki. Terry can shoot the rock, but he isn't demanding double teams.

Key Free Agents: Dallas would probably want to bring back Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Ian Mahinmi, but would not compromise too much cap space to make that happen. Kidd could be a nice backup to whatever stud point guard they bring in. Terry knows his role with Dallas. Mahinmi is developing into a very solid backup center, and is the toughest big man on the roster. A few million for each player won't damage the Mavericks cap space.
Projected Cap Space: $24,240,157. The team can clear another $19,669,000 by terminating the contracts of Lamar Odom and Vince Carter and using the amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood. That would give the Mavs enough cap space to use the max on two players and sign a few other free agents. Dallas will be the talk of the NBA off season.

Amnesty Possibilities: Off the top of my head I cannot think of a more likely candidate for the amnesty clause in the entire league then Brendan Haywood. Even though the Mavericks need front court help in the worst way, they simply cannot allow Haywood, due about 40 million dollars over the next four years, to remain on the books. Not when that money can be used to bring Deron Williams to the big D. No brainer if there ever was one.

Look at those haircuts!
Free Agent Possibilities: You name the player, the Mavericks will be in on him. It is no secret that Mark Cuban and the front office will be all over Deron Williams, and should be the favorite to land his services. He played high school ball in Texas, and Dirk is one of the best pick and roll partners in the entire NBA. The team would then love to trade for Dwight Howard, using Lamar Odom's team option contract,  Rodrigue Beaubois and the 17th over draft pick. Would the Magic do that if Dallas takes Hedo Turkoglu's contract back? With Howard, Williams and Nowitzki veterans will flock to Dallas for one more chance to win a ring. Think Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Grant Hill for example. How does a lineup of Williams, Allen, Marion, Nowitzki and Howard with a bench of Kidd, Terry, Hill, Turkoglu and Garnett look? If they decide not to pursue Howard at this time or are unable to land his services, they could sign Chris Kaman and Carlos Delfino to round out the starting lineup. The possibilities are pretty much endless here and it is impossible to speculate, other then that they will go hard after Williams.

Draft Possibilities: If Dallas does not use the 17th overall pick as trade bait, they could draft a player that will help this team immediately. This is a very deep draft and guys picked in the teens will be immediate contributors. Arnett Moultrie would be a nice backup stretch four and learn from possibly the best shooting big man to ever play the game. Terrence Jones would be a steal if he dropped this far. As would Austin Rivers or Dion Waiters. Basically the team could go in any direction, as they need youth on the bench.

Rebuilding, Contending or Status Quo?: As long as the Mavericks have aggressive owner Mark Cuban and a prime Dirk Nowitzki, they are contending. The roster will probably look very different next year, as only Nowitzki and Marion are guaranteed to return. The team should have no problem attracting the best free agents the NBA has to offer this year and next. Dallas is a huge market, Texas is a great place to live and Cuban is a great passionate owner to play for. No doubt about it, the Mavericks will be back to contending next year.

All logos courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net/.

Jonathan Carrano

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