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Mavericks change of business models came to roost on court

May 6, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban reacts during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Dallas Reuters

The old model wasn’t going to work anymore.

Mark Cuban has read the new CBA that the owners and players signed off on after the lockout, and he saw the increasingly punitive taxes and penalties on big spending teams. He looked at his business model of the last decade — which was to win by spending like the ATM machines that are the Lakers and Knicks — and knew things had to change.

Flexibility became the watchword. Starting this season Cuban started to look to the future reshaping the roster with younger free agents — ideally both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams at the time — and made hard choices. Dallas didn’t bring Tyson Chandler back. Or Caron Butler. Or J.J. Barea. Or DeShawn Stevenson.

Combine that with the roll of the dice on Lamar Odom that flamed out, and the Mavericks didn’t have the depth, didn’t have a different guy who could step up every night as the second star. Last season they had depth and matchups that could confound anyone. Last season those guys were key behind Dirk Nowitzki — and the team leader himself showed up this year with a championship hangover not ready to play at his peak. His shooting percentage dropped from 51.7 last season to 45.7 this season and there was nobody there to consistently pick up the slack.

The result was the defending champs getting unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs by the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Dallas defense was still solid this season, but their Mavericks offense fell from eighth best in the league (109.7 points per 100 possessions) the year of their championship to 22nd best this season (103.3 points per 100).

It was the price of flexibility.

This coming summer Jason Terry likely is gone. Jason Kidd may come back but not at the price he’s asking. Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood will be moved if Dallas can find takers, although Marion’s defensive value may keep him in the fold. Any player not born in Germany is not safe on this roster going forward.

Flexibility.

It is Nowitzki and the chance to chase Deron Williams this summer that is the drive. The original goal was to lure Williams and Dwight Howard, but Howard chose to spend another year with Orlando (even if the Magic decide they need to trade him the Mavericks do not have the assets anymore). Williams is the target, but he does like the idea of Brooklyn and staying with the Nets. Even though that franchise has little shot at Howard or another big name either. Here is what Marc Stein wrote at ESPN.

One source well-acquainted with Williams’ thinking told ESPN.com this weekend that the Mavericks, in their current state, have no better than a “50-50 shot” of getting D-Will’s signature in July …

Even if Dallas does not land Williams, it has landed cap space and the ability to make moves and evolve this team into a future winner. Cuban saw what Jerry Buss did with years the Lakers — make moves too early rather than too late — and saw the new CBA rules and made his move. In a couple years we may look back and see it as brilliant.

But this season it came home to roost on the court in a first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Thunder. It was the price paid for a gamble. Cuban tried for the half-court shot of trying to rebuild on the fly and not take a step back, and that missed like half-court shots usually do.

But the Mavericks got their ultimate goal. They have cap space and flexibility. Now we’ll see what they can do with it.

  1. davidly - May 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    With the Mavs’ ultimate goal not being repeating this year, it’s not likely under under any rules that they’ll be getting the kind of players they need in the future. As an organization they quit. That doesn’t give them any credibility to land the talent they’re gonna need to win in the future, no matter how flexible they are.

    • drunkenjunk - May 6, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      stfu. You don’t know what you’re talking about. The Mavs were playing it smart as far as the cap goes. They thought gettin Odom would help enough to make them competitive. They didn’t quit, OKC was the better/younger team. Look at Dallas core players and then look at OKC. Stop blaming Dallas for what happened this year and give OKC the credit they deserve.

      • davidly - May 6, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        I give Ok City credit for sweeping what amounts to a shell of a championship team because the Organization quit on the players. Period.

    • kilo0986 - May 6, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Cuban loves this team and if you really think he quit it on the mavs youre sadly f**’**ng mistaken. He made the right moves as much as you dont agree with it, not giving injury prone tyson the money he wanted was a great move. And Id rather have the ability to give a max contract to a player, than to have credibility without the cap space.

      • davidly - May 6, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        Good luck getting that player.

  2. chadinkc30 - May 6, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Cuban will try to make team better, but the fact that this team is extremely old isn’t gonna make it easy, rather difficult! What young pieces do they have? Deron Williams is a longshot IMO. Nowitzki also took a step back, sorry Mav fans

    • drunkenjunk - May 6, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      alright, let me break this down for you since you’re probably kinda slow. Terry 34, Cardinal 35, Kidd 39, Carter 35, Odom 32 come off the books next year. That leaves Dirk, Marion and Haywood as the only guys left over 30. Haywood will probably get amnestied. That leaves 2 players north of 30 and Cuban might try and get rid of Marion if he can find any takers. The team won’t be that old next year, Cuban made the smart move and did what he had to do to clear up cap space. I’m glad you know so much about Deron Williams, do you know him personally?

      • zxrated - May 6, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        All those older players you listed as coming off the books were coming of regardless of those that were released or allowed to walk. The new CBA penalties don’t kick in til 2013. Allowing Tyson to walk was a huge mistake. Resigning him would’ve allowed Cuban to use him as trade bait for D-12 if Williams is the free agent mark. Tyson should have been kept. They would still be a contender and in play for cap reduction next season. Bynum and or Tyson are the only centers the Magic could get fair value for in trading Howard.

    • therealhtj - May 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      These are the same Mavs fans who said this team was still a title favorite despite the core players they let get away. The same one who were convinced Dwight Howard was coming, and are still convinced Deron Williams is coming.

      Here’s what we do know. The Mavs just got humiliated in the first round. Outside of Dirk, the team is basically a lottery team. Dirk looked nothing like he did in last year’s post season, and he’s not getting any younger. Dwight Howard is definitely not coming. Deron Williams may come, he may not. We also know that the number of marquee FA’s that actually landed in a Mavs uniform is ZERO. They don’t want to live in Texas and that’s what you’ve got to resign yourself to. That despite all your protestations, Dallas will never be New York, LA, Miami, or Chicago – any of the cities rich, young, good looking people flock to.

      Mavs fans, you’re sounding as deluded these days as Knicks fans.

  3. diabloryno - May 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I think the Mavericks still have a fairly good chance at Deron. I think he understands Cuban’s passion to win so he know Cuban will do whatever it takes to put a good product on the court. Dirk might be over 30, but he’s exactly the player Deron will flourish with as he will be able to space the floor for Deron. I would say Deron’s chance of going to Dallas are more 70-30. If the Nets can somehow figure out a way to get a better product on the floor, I’m sure he’d be willing to stay as he likes the NY/NJ area, but that seems like a long shot looking at the available players.

  4. drunkenjunk - May 6, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    That is my point, the team will be a lot younger next year just with those older players leaving the team. The Mavs let Tyson walk because the plan was to get Howard this offseason. Things have changed.

  5. jbizzzle - May 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Cuban has done nothing but positive things for the franchise since he took over and made us champions! I’ll roll the dice with Cuban all knowing that he’s a winner no matter the cost. There’s to many good players who will be FA’s in the next two years and he put us in a great position to get one if not two max players. MFFL

  6. pesh00 - May 6, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Cuban is playing the market. It would have been nice to keep the same pieces
    But he saw the penalties based on the new CBA and let’s face it all those guys outside of JJ were older guys and if we didn’t repeat then likelihood is we get stuck with all those contracts and no end in sight. Instead, whether or not we land Williams or howard, Cuban realized that a lot of the teams are going to have to let some decent players walk or get amnestied due to the new CbA. Smart business if you ask me…field a competitive team, still make playoffs, and bet on the future.

  7. chadinkc30 - May 7, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    No I don’t know Deron, but if he wants to win title, him & Dirk aren’t enough to be a top 6 team

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