The Dallas Mavericks put up a good fight; they played to end of the season never giving up on the sliver of playoff hopes that they were holding on to. Their superstar Dirk Nowitzki embraced the pact to not shave until the team reached .500 as much as anyone and that alone shows why he is a unique talent and person that the folks here in Dallas should not take for granted. Tonight the season will officially come to an end and with it the 12 straight years of the Mavs being in the playoffs, only the San Antonio Spurs have a longer active playoff streak at 16. While it will be a bit strange to watch the NBA playoffs and not have the Mavericks in the mix we can now look forward to next year and what the future holds for this team.
The next three months could be one of the most important times in the history of the Dallas Mavericks franchise.
You have the NBA draft in June with free agency right after that and while the talent level in both is expected to be lower than normal it is still crucial.
The Mavs are slotted in the 13th spot in the lottery, they will have their highest pick in the draft since the 2000 season when they picked 12th. Many people don’t believe there will be many players in the draft who will make an impact as rookies but every year players surprise you i.e. Damien Lillard. There are also some interesting international players in this draft, could the Mavericks find the next Dirk?
The Mavericks haven’t had a first round draft pick that has made an impact since Josh Howard in 2003 so this year will be as important as ever.
Free agency doesn’t look too much better but a lot can depend on the outcome of the Los Angeles Lakers game tonight and if they make the playoffs or not. All reports seem to point toward Dwight Howard staying in LA but haven’t we all heard that before?
Chris Paul is set to be come a free agent but barring a shocking twist he will almost certainly re-sign with the Clippers. Then it leaves the Mavericks looking at a lot of guys who will demand a lot of money and may not be the level you want to spend on.
Among the top unrestricted free agents are Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguadala, and Manu Ginobili. Then restricted free agents who will most likely stay with their current teams like Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Ty Lawson.
The Mavericks have many decisions to make between now and then regarding the players on the roster now as well. O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion each have the opportunity to opt out of their contracts this offseason and Elton Brand, Brandon Wright, Chris Kaman, and Mike James are all unrestricted free agents. Mayo will likely command much more than he makes now to stay in Dallas after having the best season of his career, and Brandon Wright may cost a bit more showing glimpses of the guy teams wanted when he was a lottery pick a few years ago.
Rodrigue Beaubois and Darren Collison are both restricted free agents meaning the Mavericks can match any offer sheet the two players may sign elsewhere.
This off-season will be important with an aging superstar and we could be looking at a completely different Mavs squad next season. The question is will they be a squad competing for a championship or to finish .500?