Three years ago, the Dallas Mavericks had a joyous summer after winning their first NBA title in their 31 years of existence, but with some big names lurking in the free agency pool in the coming years, owner Mark Cuban decided to dump some key members of that title run to make cap room to sign some big name players to go along with Dirk Nowitzki. Players that wouldn’t return in the 2012-13 season were J.J Barea and defensive player of the year, Tyson Chandler. Cuban wanted to go after Texas-native Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets last summer, but on the day of their scheduled meeting, Cuban was the only one that couldn’t make it as he was taping an episode of Shark Tank. In an instance, Williams would stay with the Nets and the Mavs would lose former sixth-man of the year Jason Terry on the same day.
Their roster during their title run consisted of Dirk, Chandler, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jet, Barea, and Peja Stojakovic. Their roster this past season consisted of Dirk, O.J Mayo, Marion, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Bernard James, Vince Carter, and Jae Crowder. Needless to say, the Mavs went from winning the title to being swept in the first round to missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Dirk also missed 29 games including the first 27 due to knee surgery, his first major surgery of his career. He also missed his first all-star game in 11 years.
Now, Cuban and the Mavs are at it again. When free agency came around, they had their eye on the likes of Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul. Paul is going back to Lob City, but the first two are still on the Mavs list. Howard, who had a disappointing season with the L.A Lakers, met with Cuban, Dirk and the Mavs on July 1. Dirk also reached out to Howard early last week. The Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Lakers, and Golden State Warriors also sat down with Howard. He is expected to make a decision on July 5.
The Mavs have also been linked in trade talks with Rondo. Rondo, who is coming off an ACL injury, seems to be the last piece in starting the rebuilding process for Danny Ainge and the Celtics. After getting rid of their coach, Doc Rivers, and hall-of-famers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Ainge hired a new coach in 36-year old Brad Stevens, who had great success at the University of Butler. It seems as Rondo, who had his share of problems with Rivers, wouldn’t get along with a young, first-year coach and with no big names in Boston, it also seems Rondo won’t want to play in the green and white.
Both players would be huge for the Mavs, of course, as it would give plenty of help and a shot for another title for Dirk, who at 35, has two to three good years left in him. Early this year, Dirk was quoted in saying, “he’d consider the idea of leaving Dallas if he didn’t get any help around him.” If only one were to make it to the Big D, Howard would be a better fit. Both players have their share of attitude problems and high egos, but when healthy, prove to be the best at their position.
Howard, the best rebounder in the game, would immediately give the Mavs a center they’ve been dreaming of. He could be himself and feel no pressure, at least not as much as he got in L.A. That many titles, Hollywood and coming from a long line of centers that included Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. Tell me, if you were Howard, would you want to come after those hall-of-famers, or after the likes of Tyson Chandler (who may make it to Springfield), Erick Dampier and Shawn Bradley. I would chose the latter too and bonus, I believe Howard and Cuban would get along. They both want to win and both like to have fun, act silly and pull pranks.
If the Mavs can pull the Rondo trade, that will surely elevate Howard’s decision to coming to Dallas, but after all that being said, the Mavericks are not at the top of Howard’s list. That spot belongs to the Rockets, who are trying to land Josh Smith, who played with Howard in their AAU days. Go along with James Harden, and it be hard for Howard not to chose the Rockets.
Rondo would be just as terrific. Though he’s still learning his jumpshot, Rondo proves to be the best passing point guard on the planet. He would probably rather play for a coach like Rick Carlisle, a former Celtic who has won a ring and has been to multiple conference championships, than someone like Stevens. Since Dirk has around three years left, Cuban has to give the Celtics as much as they want. I can see Marion being one of those pieces. The Mavs will have to owe 9.3 million dollars in Marion’s final year of his contract if he stays. They could also give the Celtics even more first-round draft picks in the future in order to win now.
The Mavs also don’t have to resign Mayo, who looks to be headed to Milwaukee and if they can land Rondo, he can also be a mentor figure to Shane Larkin, the rookie out of Miami, FL, who the Mavs picked up in last week’s NBA draft. The Mavs would still have to get a lot healthier even if they snag both players.
Hopefully, a full summer will help Dirk and his knees and Howard’s back will fully heal, but if the three can come together, it will put the Mavs back on the top of the West and make them contenders such in past years.