Dallas Mavericks on the verge of worst case scenario

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Dallas Mavericks made the trade for Kyrie Irving they were in the thick of the playoff hunt. Despite their standing, they didn’t feel they were actual challengers in the West and needed to upgrade or else face an early exit.

Despite making it to the conference championship a summer before, the Mavs lost their No. 2 weapon Jalen Brunson in free agency. With the feeling they caught lightning in a bottle a season prior and the results were not realistically duplicable in 2023, the Dallas Mavericks decided to sing big and pull of the biggest deadline trade of the year.

Everything that could have gone wrong for the Dallas Mavericks, has gone wrong and now they face the worst case scenario.

The Dallas Mavericks have now lost 10 of their last 13 games and have fallen from the top half of the playoff race to outside the picture altogether. Currently in 11th place in the West with just three games left to play, Dallas needs help from other teams just to reach the play-in tournament.

It’s hard to believe how far they’ve fallen in such a short period of time but here we are. The Mavs are now on the outside looking in and facing their worst case scenario. What is that worst-case? It’s any combination of the following:

  1. Miss the playoffs: not many thought a fall from grace could be significant enough to drop out the playoff picture completely but the Mavs appear to be on the verge of such a collapse today.
  2. Lose Kyrie Irving for nothing: There was no guarantee Irving was going to re-sign with the Mavs when the deal went down. And frankly, that was ok. As long as Irving could help get the Mavs back to the WCF then he would have been worth the investment. Dallas wanted to have a chance at the title and as previously constructed, they weren’t. If he boost them in 2023 then it would be worth it, even if he left in free agency. But he didn’t boost them and the season turned into a disaster. Now the idea of him leaving is salt in the wound. A clear indication the trade was a complete failure in all regards.
  3. Miss the lottery: The Knicks still have dibs on the Mavericks pick if it falls outside of the top-10. If the Mavs are about to lose Irving and start their roster build over, they better have a lottery pick to help them. But if they pick at 11 they lose the pick completely. A significant blow to rebuilding.

The Dallas Mavericks are in a no-win situation but level of worst-case is still yet to be determined. If the Mavs win enough to jump out of the lottery, they’ll be doing a major disservice to the future. Even if they make the play-in, is there any reason to believe they could win with any consistency?

That’s rhetorical because we all know the answer.

Asking Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to shut it down isn’t a good answer either. Players want to play and don’t have much interest in draft order. It’s an ugly situation of the highest order.

The Dallas Mavericks best chances at salvage is to miss the play-in, retain their lottery pick, and tray to construct a roster for 2023-24 with or without Irving (for what it’s worth, he really wasn’t the problem).