It’s safe to say that the Dallas Mavericks are still reeling over DeAndre Jordan’s decision to go back on his commitment to join them in the summer of 2015. To say the Texan team’s plans were punctured is an understatement after focusing all their efforts upon signing the big man as a centrepiece for the franchise for years to come.
Years of playing as the third wheel in Los Angeles behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin had created a longing for an increased role on a team where he could showcase his offensive skills on a night-to-night basis. Dallas would’ve provided him exactly this but in the end it wasn’t enough, ending in a farcical situation where owner Mark Cuban’s calls went unanswered as he reportedly drove around the streets of Houston in search of Jordan’s home.
As a result of their failings in the off-season, the Mavs had no choice but to turn to players that evidently were not in their original plans. This included a Deron Williams ravaged by injuries in recent years, and a second rate centre in Zaza Pachulia. It wasn’t a surprise that Cuban was enraged by the circumstances that stood before him and he definitely made sure he didn’t keep it quiet, once stating that he doesn’t ‘give a (expletive) about the Clippers’ in response to a question.
Dallas had no choice but to push on, with many predicting a tough season and an instant rebuild, but they beat all odds by clinching the sixth spot and in the process making the playoffs in a difficult Western Conference. Pachulia was nearly voted in as an All-Star, with his home nation of Georgia rallying behind him in the fan vote in an attempt to secure his position that ultimately fell short. Improved play from ‘D-Will’ and JJ Barea aided their cause in finishing above 50% and ahead of playoff regulars such as the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets.
This summer the Mavericks are clearly looking to write the wrongs of last year, hoping to utilise their available cap space by making their interest in high-profile free agents known. Hassan Whiteside seems to be the priority, having granted them the first meeting to pitch why he should make the switch to the 2011 champions. The Miami centre carried over his impressive play that first began in the 2014-15 season. Averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and a beastly 3.7 blocks, he struck fear around the league as a defensive stalwart due to his stellar play protecting the rim. Therefore it’s hardly a surprise that he’s no short of suitors and if the Mavs manage to secure his signature, others may just follow.
The other major position that Dallas is seeking an upgrade on is at point guard, with Mike Conley touted as the answer. Currently with the Grizzlies, Conley will certainly be after a max contract and the Mavericks will have no problem in offering exactly that. A pairing of Whiteside and Conley would be a huge statement in today’s game and considering last summer’s shortcomings, it’s unquestionably a positive step forward.
There’s no argument that the Dallas Mavericks are a respectable organisation with a top quality head coach in Rick Carlisle and prospective free agents will know this for a fact. Therefore, Mark Cuban should make use of all the tools before him during the forthcoming meetings, particularly selling Rick Carlisle as a means to success, a coach who has now made the postseason in seven out of the last eight seasons.
The DeAndre Jordan debacle did immensely affect the Mavericks, as his signing could’ve led to more. However Cuban will not be outwitted in the same fashion this summer, seeking to break away from past disappointments, which have already led to an alteration in the question on every fan’s lips from “what if?” to “what now?”.