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Dallas Mavericks (Last Year: 41-41)
2012-13 Season Summary:
Though the Dallas Mavericks finished with a .500 record, the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. A big part of the reason was the absence of Dirk Nowitzki who missed the first third of the season due to injury. While Dallas was able to stay afloat until Nowitzki's return, he was forced to be the true alpha dog without a real second banana to help take the workload off his shoulders. In the end, his supporting cast didn't do enough to get the team back into the postseason.
Newcomers like O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, and Chris Kaman were solid to a point, but by no means spectacular. Veterans Shawn Marion and Vince Carter did what they could as well during the later part of their careers while Dallas tried unsuccessfully to revive the careers of Elton Brand, Derek Fisher, Mike James, Troy Murphy, and even Eddy Curry. A pair of younger players in Brandan Wright and rookie Jae Crowder proved to be valuable role players, but Roddy Beaubois regressed while first-round pick Jared Cunningham was a non-factor.
With the roster turnover from the season before and underwhelming supporting cast for Nowitzki, expectations were low for the Mavericks last season. Give Mark Cuban and his front office credit though for managing to still put out a fairly competitive product during a "just get by" type season and still leaving themselves in a position to be major players this offseason to help reload the roster for next year.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Brandan Wright/Bernard James
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
SF: #Shawn Marion/Jae Crowder
SG: ^O.J. Mayo/Vince Carter/Jared Cunningham
PG: *Darren Collison/*Roddy Beaubois
NBA Free Agents:
#F-Shawn Marion (ETO)
^SG-O.J. Mayo (PO)
*PG-Darren Collison (RFA)
*PG-Roddy Beaubois (RFA)
PF-Elton Brand (UFA)
C-Chris Kaman (UFA)
SG-Anthony Morrow (UFA)
PG-Mike James (UFA)
PG-Josh Akognan (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $38.0 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
Mark Cuban has lived a "go big or go home" type of style with his team, and after striking out in his attempt to land a superstar like Deron Williams last summer, you can be darn certain that Cuban will go all-in to try and land one of the marquee free agents this offseason; most notably Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. The Mavericks has the cap space to make a max offer to either guy, but will Howard or Paul see enough in the team's long-term potential to win another championship to take the plunge and head to Dallas? If not, the Mavericks should be ready to pursue the next tier of available free agents which includes names like Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, and Paul Milsap, or even a restricted free agent like Brandon Jennings.
2. New Backcourt:
O.J. Mayo will almost certainly opt out of his deal in Dallas. Starting point guard Darren Collison is a restricted free agent and in no way the long-term floor general of the future, so I can't picture any scenario in which the Mavericks will look to sign him to a long-term extension meaning he could very well walk this offseason. Therefore, it is very likely that Dallas will have a new-look starting backcourt. Depending on what happens with Paul and Howard, there is the cap space to add quality pieces. If Paul ends up in Dallas, that obviously solves the point guard position, but the team must find affordable veterans if Howard ink in the Lone Star State.
Howard obviously solves this problem, but if not, there are other free-agent big men who would be an upgrade over Chris Kaman. Brandan Wright is capable of playing the five, but not a true intimidating, low post-scoring presence, so there needs to be a new face in the middle for the Mavericks to get back into the playoff picture.
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