With their roster finally set, it’s time to put a bow on this offseason and get excited for next season, which can’t get here soon enough. But considering this has been one of the best July’s in recent memories, it seems appropriate to recap what’s happened these past few weeks and offer up a grade.
Let me start by saying this: this offseason was one of the best the Dallas Mavericks’ have had in years.I would give Dallas a solid B for their work this July. On paper, it looks like the Mavs’ front office has constructed a team that is one of the deepest teams in the Western Conference and will be as competitive as they’ve been since they won the title in 2011.
It all started before the NBA Draft when they sent Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and both of their second round picks to the New York Knicks for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Chandler had an injury plagued year with the dreadful Knicks last year and just didn’t seem motivated. Some are afraid that Chandler might be breaking down, but reuniting with the Mavericks and being on a solid team again will surely be enough to motivate him again. Even if he’s not quite the same Tyson Chandler as 2011 he’s still a big time upgrade over Dalembert and will provide rim protection and defense that the Mavs sorely missed last year. Dallas will miss Calderon’s three-point shooting and his ability to space the floor, but they have been able to replace that shooting with other players.
Dallas followed that up by re-signing Devin Harris to four year deal worth about $16-million, which is a bargain compared to what other backup point guards got on the market. The focus shifted to the small forward position, arguably the Mavs’ biggest need. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James were never going to come here, even if Melo did take the time to meet with Dallas. So the Mavs moved on to their next big priority, the 25-year old restricted free agent Chandler Parsons.
Like the shark he is, Mark Cuban gave Parsons an offer sheet that would cripple the Rockets should they match it. Daryl Morey even said that the three-year $46 million dollar contract was one of the most untradeable he’s ever seen. Houston ended not matching and settling for Trevor Ariza. Plus they ended up weakening themselves by trading Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to free up cap space to sign a third max star like Chris Bosh, which they struck out on. Not to mention, Parsons said that he was offended by the way the Rockets handled everything and believes he is third star the Rockets were looking for. So, the Mavs weakened a division opponent, got a 25-year old small forward who has all-star potential and is coming in with a chip on his shoulder? It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Following that, Dirk Nowitzki re-signed for an even steeper home town discount than we thought. It was first reported that he would take the “Tim Duncan Deal” at three-years for $30 million. It turns out that he ended up signing for three-years and $25 million. THAT’S ABOUT WHAT MONTA ELLIS IS GETTING PAID. Seriously, God bless Dirk Nowitzki. We all know how great he is on the court, but after this contract one could argue that he is the greatest athlete to ever come through DFW, right up there Roger Staubach.
With the core in tact, the Mavs spent the rest of their time filling out their roster with veterans and projects. They signed Richard Jefferson with the veteran’s minimum and traded for back up center Greg Smith. Jefferson will provide much needed three-point shooting while Smith will be a nice back up to Tyson Chandler and interesting developmental project at age 23. They also added summer league standout Eric Griffin who figures to spend a lot of time with the Texas Legends.
Dallas did sign Rashard Lewis, but voided his contract after discovering he needed knee surgery. But they rebounded quickly with what might be their most underrated signing in Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu is not a very good offensive player, but perhaps Rick Carlisle can help with that. As a defender, Aminu is probably just as good as Deng and is also a very good rebounder for the small forward position. It’s a great pick up for Dallas especially at the veteran minimum. They also used their $2.7 million exception on point guard Jameer Nelson. He had one of his worst seasons last year shooting wise, but let’s remember that he was with the Orlando Magic. Those shooting numbers will not doubt improve playing with Dirk, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler.
So that is the Mavs roster. Younger, deeper, more athletic and, frankly, better than last year. Parsons, Nowitzki, Ellis, Chandler will be the starters at their respective position, while the point guard spot will likely be competition between Nelson, Harris and Felton for the starting job. No matter who starts the point guard, that’s VERY good starting lineup that no team is going to want to deal with.
The only reason I’d give the Mavs a B for this offseason and not an A was for not being able bring back Vince Carter. Carter ended up going to Memphis for more money, but it’s a big loss for Dallas who will miss Carter’s energy and shooting. We’ll never ever forget the game winner he hit against the Spurs in game three, and hopefully someone can fill his shoes as the sixth man.
Other than that, it was a tremendous offseason for the Mavs. Risks were taken, but they paid off big time. I can see the Mavs winning anywhere from 53-55 games next year and having a team that is going to be a joy to watch.