Mavericks: Is This All About 2016-17?


Why do the Dallas Mavericks appear to be relying heavily on players that might not even be ready for the coming season in time to make a serious playoff push?

I know, I know.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is on record stating that his perpetually rebuilding franchise, with the exception of power forward Dirk Nowitzki, has no plans to tank in 2015-16. As far as anybody knows, the Mavericks could make the Western Conference Playoffs for the third straight season.

But can anybody imagine the Mavericks ranking any higher than a 7th or 8th seed in the tournament?

I sure can’t.

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Granted, a new season is approaching and now is the time for excitement and optimism for the coming season.

In my line of work, it’s time for realty.

I do believe that the Mavericks have some attractive pieces for the future, yet that future isn’t right now at a couple of positions. The wing players and centers just don’t have that long-term championship look to me.

Where small forward Chandler Parsons and free-agent acquisition Wesley Matthews are concerned, the obvious injuries and subsequent rehabilitation speak for themselves.

Wes Goldberg of Hardwood Paroxysm sums up the situation with Parsons and Matthews quite well. He states the following likelihood facing the Mavericks regarding these two significant investments.

"The Mavs need a lot of things to break right if they are to finish outside the lottery, including both Parsons and Matthews making a speedy and full recovery. But these aren’t just any injuries. The injury Parsons is dealing with is the same that took down guys like Amar’e Stoudemire and Jamal Mashburn. A torn Achilles tendon, as Matthews suffered, infamously ruins careers."

My take on this might not be quite as dire, especially given the money that was spent despite the injuries. Cuban is not an idiot where money is concerned and if he thought that Matthews wasn’t very likely to return to his old form then he would have never offered him a max-contract.

Still, this doesn’t mean that Matthews is anywhere near ready to compete in the NBA again.

It’s true that Achilles injuries used to be pretty much fatal to an athlete’s career, but that’s not always the case anymore.

I can’t see Matthews playing in the season opener, and probably not for a few months thereafter.

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News got the following from Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle this week regarding the approach to be taken with both of these future stars in Dallas.

"Well, I would say that there’s a chance that Parsons could play in the (season) opener. Wes is going to take a little longer. He’s not going to want to tell you that and we’re going to have to fight to keep him off the court, but we’ve got to make sure we do this the right way."

While Christmas was mentioned as a possible target date for Matthews’ return, I’m betting it’s actually closer to Valentine’s Day – February 14th for those of you with significant others.

Christmas might be a better date for Parsons’ return, now that I think about it.

But by that time, the Mavericks would have already played 29 games, or a little more than a third of the schedule.

The Mavericks could have already lost as many as 15 games in that span – remember that this team opens the season with three consecutive road games.

In other words, a hot start doesn’t look likely for this team that’s probably going to limit the minutes played by Nowitzki like never before.

I’m a believer that the Mavericks, all things considered, are a team that wins between 35-40 games if things go exactly right, and that never happens for this franchise.

What if that total is just 30 wins.

Or how about 25, especially if Parsons and Matthews are delayed by a typical time frame for their respective injuries?

When you start considering that first round draft pick that Dallas owes the Boston Celtics in the completely failed Rajon Rondo deal, that reality that I’m talking about begins to look much more – well, real.

No, I’m not stating that the Mavericks will tank in the upcoming season. I will suggest, however, that both the motive and the roster are certainly in place to justify not pushing the gas pedal anymore than necessary.

That first round pick to Boston is top-seven protected through 2020.

In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets held the 7th overall selection following a season with just 30 wins. The Sacramento Kings held the 6th overall pick after a season consisting of just 29 victories.

Call me crazy, but it just seems like this is the neighborhood the Mavericks could definitely end up occupying next summer, a time in which future players are healthy and Nowitzki is likely headed towards retirement following 2016-17.

Playoffs for the Mavericks next summer?

Don’t bet on that.

Next: Dallas Mavericks: Power Rankings Unkind

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