(Sports Network) - For the second consecutive offseason, the Dallas Mavericks
had high hopes and plenty of cash for a star in the free-agent class.
For the second consecutive offseason, the Dallas Mavericks walked away
Last year, Deron Williams spurned the Mavs in favor of staying with the
Brooklyn Nets. This summer, Dwight Howard headed to Texas alright, but signed
with the Houston Rockets.
To be clear, the Mavs made plenty of moves. They just didn't land the big
Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis represent the new backcourt, replacing O.J. Mayo
and a revolving door of underachieving, or declining veterans. Instead of
Howard, Dallas brought in Samuel Dalembert, a decent shot-blocker and
The bench was revitalized with the returning Devin Harris, the inconsistent
Wayne Ellington, a slew of draft picks and some flyers on some youngsters with
"I really like some of the guys we've brought in and now it's time to go to
work," star Dirk Nowitzki said on media day.
Nowitzki is still a huge piece of Dallas' puzzle. He was injured to start last
season, but he's as healthy as a 35-year-old future Hall of Famer can be.
But the backcourt turnover is what the Mavs focused on when Howard went south
Ellis is an accomplished scorer in this league and his assist numbers are
decent for a shoot-first combo guard. He won't need to post big totals in that
department with Calderon in Big D. The Spaniard has averaged over 7.0 apg five
times in the last six seasons.
"Playing with these guys is going to be great. I'm real excited," said
2012-13 Results: 41-41, 4th in Southwest; Missed playoffs
ADDITIONS: G Monta Ellis, G Jose Calderon, G Devin Harris, G Wayne Ellington,
C Samuel Dalembert, G Shane Larkin, G Ricky Ledo, C/F DeJuan Blair, C Fab
Melo, G Gal Mekel
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Jose Calderon
SG- Monta Ellis
SF- Shawn Marion
PF- Dirk Nowitzki
C- Samuel Dalembert
KEY RESERVES: G/F Vince Carter, G Wayne Ellington, G Devin Harris, G Shane
Larkin, G Ricky Ledo, C/F DeJuan Blair, C Bernard James, F Jae Crowder, F
Brandon Wright, C Fab Melo, G Gal Mekel
FRONTCOURT: Nowitzki's knee injury last season sent the Mavericks in a
downward spiral from the beginning. His 17.3 ppg was the lowest season average
since his second in the league back in 1999-2000. The 7-footer is still a
lethal force on the floor with his range and proficiency. A bounce-back season
is in store for Nowitzki, but his days as a one-man championship contender are
Marion, much like Nowitzki, is no longer the player he once was. However, the
Matrix still has life in his sneakers. He averaged 12.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg and shot
51 percent from the field last season, which are solid numbers for a 35-year-
old. Plus, Marion is still a plus-defender.
Dalembert is polarizing. He only played 47 games for the Milwaukee Bucks in
part because of Larry Sanders' emergence. But Dalembert also fell out of favor
with the Bucks. He's temperamental, but has career averages of 8.0 ppg, 8.1
rpg and 1.8 bpg.
BACKCOURT: Ellis has averaged at least 19.0 ppg every season for the last six.
He's also posted marks of 5.0 apg or better over the past four. Ellis can be
maddening at times, but his shot selection and distribution skills have
improved since he left Golden State. Ellis only received a three-year deal
from Dallas, and not for gigantic money, so he may feel like he has something
Calderon is a very steady lead guard. You can pencil him in for 11.0 ppg, 7.5
apg and shoot over 90 percent from the foul line, 45 percent from the field
and 40 percent from the three-point line. A four-year, $29 million contract
seemed way too high, but Dallas has a steady point guard to teach Larkin the
BENCH: Last season's Sixth Man of the Year voting was screwy to say the least.
Luke Babbit of the Portland Trail Blazers got a third-place vote averaging
less than 4.0 ppg.
Carter also only got a single third-place vote. He averaged a respectable 13.4
ppg and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc. Perhaps he didn't garner votes
because the Mavs missed the playoffs, but Carter has found a late-career
Ellington and Harris are both great backup backcourt mates. Both could start
in a pinch, but the second unit is where both belong.
Wright and Crowder showed glimpses last season. Blair learned under Gregg
Popovich and Tim Duncan in San Antonio and might earn more minutes than anyone
at the center spot.
The rest of the Dallas bench is young and intriguing. Larkin led Miami U to
big things, but a broken ankle derailed the start of his rookie campaign. It's
possible we may not see much of Larkin with Calderon and Harris ahead of him
on the depth chart.
Ledo is a tantalizing prospect without playing college ball. He was ruled
academically ineligible at Providence and was taken in the second round.
Melo fizzled in one season with the Boston Celtics. A mid first-round pick
just two years into his career, Melo is worth a look.
Mekel is a two-time Israeli League MVP.
COACHING: Carlisle is one of the game's best coaches, but he was clearly
flustered by last season's team. He had trouble getting through to Mayo and
never figured out the point guard spot.
A healthy Nowitzki all season will make life easier on Carlisle, although
Dalembert can become a taxing chore. Ellis has ruffled some feathers in the
past, but Carlisle has them buying already.
Carlisle is taking the approach that no one believes the Mavericks have any
chance of meaningful success this season.
"We're going to prove a lot of people wrong," Ellis said at media day. "And
we're going to get back to the Dallas Mavericks making some noise in the
OUTLOOK: The Mavericks missed the playoffs last season, but gave it a valiant
This season should bring much of the same. Dallas will be on the fringe of the
postseason through much of the campaign. If everything goes well, Dallas could
punch one of the last two tickets to the playoffs in the Western Conference.
If things don't, and some of these personalities clash, it's lottery city for
But, Carlisle, Nowitzki and the Mavericks have one clear goal in mind.
"Our mission this year is to get back to winning in the playoffs," the coach
said during media day. "That's our mission. You know, the goal is always going
to be win a championship, but getting to the playoffs and winning puts you in
the top eight and then anything can happen there, so that's what our mission
"And we know that there aren't a lot of people that think we're capable of
doing that, so our self belief has got to be there. I've got to point these
guys in a direction that they understand what the path is going to be, how we
can get there and what there particular job is going to be in that structure,
and it's going to come down to how we defend and how we perform in close
Hunch is that Dallas comes up a little short of the postseason. The Mavs are a
decent squad, but there too many teams that are just simply better in the
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