Dallas Mavericks Defined by Playoff Failures

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Stop me if you have heard this before; the Dallas Mavericks finish with a great regular season record only to get ousted from the NBA playoffs in the first round.  It has happened in three of the past four years including last season when the Mavs finished with the second best record in the Western Conference.  Will that lack of post-season success change this year?

By: David Kay

Dallas Mavericks (55-27 in 2009-2010)

2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Tyson Chandler/Brendan Haywood/Ian Mahinmi
PF: Dirk Nowitzki/Brian Cardinal/Alexis Ajinca
SF: Caron Butler/Shawn Marion/Steve Novak
SG: Jason Terry/Dominique Jones/DeShawn Stevenson
PG: Jason Kidd/Roddy Beaubois/J.J. Barea
Head Coach: Rick Carlisle (3rd season)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $87.8 million

Offseason Moves:

-Mavs acquire C Tyson Chandler and F/C Alexis Ajinca from Charlotte for C Erick Dampier, PF Eduardo Najera, SG Matt Carroll, and Cash considerations
-Mavs sign F/C Ian Mahinmi to 2-year, $3.8 million deal
-Mavs re-sign C Brendan Haywood to 6-year, $55 million deal
-Mavs re-sign PF Dirk Nowitzki to 4-year, $80 million deal
-Mavs acquire G Dominique Jones (25th pick) from Grizzlies for Cash Considerations
-Mavs acquire 2013 2nd Round Draft Pick and Cash Considerations from Raptors for C Solomon Alabi (50th pick)

Off-Season Grade: B
To nobody’s surprise, Mark Cuban once again opened up his checkbook like he was Tiger paying Elin.  Signing Dirk to an extension was a must and he was never really going anywhere after opting out of his contract early.  Ponying up $55 million over six years to re-sign a guy like Brendan Haywood who has career averages of 7.7 points and 6.4 rebounds seems like a lot but big men are rare to find on the open market so Cuban probably had no choice but to overpay the former Tar Heel.

I love getting Tyson Chandler from Charlotte for Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract.  When Chandler is healthy he can be a difference maker in the paint and gives Dallas even more depth at center to run alongside Dirk.  Plus, he is in a contract year which means he could be extra motivated in hopes of cashing in next summer.
Jason Kidd Dirk Nowitzki
2010-2011 Outlook:

Not much has really changed from last year in terms of personnel.  The nucleus of Nowitzki and Kidd is back for another go-around.  You know what you are going to get from Dirk who is probably the best offensive big man in the game.  Entering his 17th season, the question is can Kidd keep playing at a high level?  (Based off his opening night 18-assist performance, I am leaning towards yes.)

The role players remain the same.  Jason Terry is the outside threat running alongside Kidd while Caron Butler starts his first full season with Mavs after being acquired prior to the trade deadline.  Chandler is an up-grade from Erick Dampier and provides a solid one-two punch at center with Haywood.  Shawn Marion is clearly a shell of the player he was a few years ago in Phoenix can still be effective thanks to his versatility.

There are also a couple of intriguing young players to mesh with that veteran talent.  Roddy Beaubois surpassed expectations as a rookie and will likely be Kidd’s replacement one day.  Dallas acquired Dominique Jones in a draft day trade who is a talented scorer and adds depth at the two.  The Mavs also brought in a pair of young big men who did not develop as hoped with their previous teams.  If Alexis Ajinca or Ian Mahinmi can figure it out this season, they would give Dallas even more depth inside.

Barring an injury or major step back, this team should once again be one of the top regular season finishers in the Western Conference.  But if the Mavs end up repeating recent history and fizzling out in the post-season, then what becomes of the team?  The bar is set high where anything but a trip to the NBA Finals is a disappointment.  Unfortunately with the Lakers and other talented teams out West standing in their way, that playoff failure may just end being how this era of Dallas Maverick basketball is defined.

Looking Ahead to Next Summer:

Despite the fact that Chandler, Butler, Stevenson, and Barea all come off the books after this season, Dallas will still likely be above or very close to the salary cap.  Mark Cuban can never sit still around the trade deadline so expect the Mavs to try and move a couple of these expiring contracts as they look for a roster up-grade since the cap space freed up really does nothing for Dallas in free agency.

NBA Power Ranking: 8th

Other NBA season previews/power rankings:
#2 Miami Heat
#3 Boston Celtics
#4 Orlando Magic
#9 Portland Trail Blazers
#10 Milwaukee Bucks
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Houston Rockets
#13 Utah Jazz
#14 Denver Nuggets
#15 Phoenix Suns
#16 Charlotte Bobcats
#17 New Orleans Hornets
#18 Memphis Grizzlies
#19 Philadelphia 76ers
#20 New York Knicks
#21 Los Angeles Clippers
#22 Indiana Pacers
#23 Golden State Warriors
#24 Washington Wizards
#25 Detroit Pistons
#26 New Jersey Nets
#27 Sacramento Kings
#28 Cleveland Cavaliers
#29 Toronto Raptors
#30 Minnesota Timberwolves

Check out David’s Fantasy Basketball Rankings

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