Dallas Mavericks Get Trounced 4-0 by Thunder, Now What? (2012 in review)
Now What will Mark Cuban Do? Of course, Mark Cuban dumped Chandler primarily to create another $10 mil / year in cap space so he can re-construct another championship quality Mavs squad. The plan is, most likely, to at least let go of the now officially over the hump Jason Kidd (8 mil) and to part with Odom as well (8 mil). With some 26 million or so in cap space based on these moves alone, Cuban can then go after the prize of the 2012 free-agency class Deron Williams, and then hopefully construct around a Williams-Nowitzki tandem a nice set of role players who will subscribe to coach Rick Carlisle's defensive minded approach.
Picking up Williams is not a guarantee, though it does seem like he's itching to step away from the Brooklyn Nets circus and onto a legitimate basketball contender. Dallas will be a top choice with its top flight reputation for player treatment and Nowitzki probably having two more quality years in the tank. Still, can D.Will find in himself the predatory competitive instincts that the elite NBA players have? Can Williams close out a playoff contest? Can he play the voracious defense we are seeing Chris Paul play yet again in the 2012 playoffs? These are key questions surrounding whether Williams is a championship quality acquisition.
Even if the Mavs get Williams, who is going to play center in the '12 season? The Lakers will lock Bynum up, and Dwight Howard's status is not only a total mystery, but do the Mavericks really want a whining malcontent who isn't even the best center in the NBA, nor a true #1 go-to guy? Looks like maybe Cuban should have picked up Chandler, as a Williams-Nowitzki-Chandler triangle would have been deadly. As to other positions, do the Mavericks keep an aging Jason Terry at what would probably be 10 mil a year? If not Terry, then who do the Mavs go to in the free-agent class, especially given the dearth of 2 guards in the league? With Odom gone and Shawn Marion in decline, how will the Mavs patch up small forward. 30 year old one-time all star Gerald Wallace is available, he's an injury liability.
2012 - 2013 outlook: Mark Cuban is one of the shrewdest GMs in the league, and you never know what he may pull off before the 2012 begins. Most likely, though, he's already done the bulk of his work by creating enough cap space for D.Will in 2012. Even still, a Nowitzki-D.Will combo with a decent supporting cast probably won't be enough to deal with the likes of OKC, a Clippers team a couple of small acquisitions away from being a championship calibur team or a Lakers squad with an emerging Andrew Bynum and Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The Mavericks should go back to being a mid 50 win team that falls short as a #4 seed in the playoffs.