Major Transformation In Dallas
Since hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2011, the Dallas Mavericks have been scrambling to make it back to the upper echelon of the league. Team owner Mark Cuban has admitted his decision to disassemble the Mavericks’ championship squad immediately after the club’s title run might have been the wrong move. The team’s aggressiveness in free agency the past few seasons serves as proof Cuban and company aren’t satisfied with the mere distinction of just reaching the playoffs.
As free agency continues to rumble on, the 2015-16 Dallas Mavericks will sport a completely revamped unit of supporting cast members for the aging Dirk Nowitzki as he winds down a Hall of Fame career. While there’s still time to make moves in free agency, the Mavericks are essentially out of cap room and would need to explore the trade market to secure more assets. At this point, the team is shopping for guys willing to play for the minimum, which is a waiting game as players fully explore their options.
So here is where the team stands after free agency opened a week ago:
Additions: DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Jeremy Evans
Retained Free Agents: J.J. Barea, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Raymond Felton (player option)
Players Lost: Monta Ellis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo
The addition of Jordan, one of the most dominant defensive centers in the league, immediately shores up the team’s rim protection and rebounding. Jordan is similar to the departing Chandler, but is younger and, unlike his predecessor, has mostly avoided the injury bug since entering the league. In fact, Jordan hasn’t missed a regular season game the past four seasons – proving his durability.
However, the team lost plenty of firepower with the departure of Ellis, who agreed to terms with the Indiana Pacers after it became clear his days with the franchise were numbered. As good as Jordan has been defensively and clearing the glass, the most field goal attempts he’s averaged over the course of a season is 6.5.
But the team is viewing Jordan as its future centerpiece and believe he can become a consistent scorer in the post, something he didn’t do with the Los Angeles Clippers. One of the obstacles standing in Jordan’s way will be leaving one of the best point guards in the game in Chris Paul for the Mavericks’ cast of 30-plus year old guards without the same court vision.
The Mavericks also have two major injury concerns hanging over the roster this summer. Matthews is rehabbing from a torn Achilles that abruptly ended his season and forward Chandler Parsons has a nagging knee injury that cut his playoff run short that he’s attempting to make it back from.
Rondo never completely fit in with the team’s culture, but his playmaking couldn’t be denied when he was completely locked in. Aminu started slow last season and then emerged as one of the team’s sparkplugs on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas will miss Aminu’s work on the boards from the small forward position – an underrated aspect of his game.
After striking out in recent years in free agency, the Mavericks were able to land Jordan – an outstanding talent. Jordan is the team’s marquee acquisition and the guy chosen to carry the crown once Nowitzki is no longer wearing blue and white.
But a legitimate question looms over the head of Jordan despite all of the flashy dunks, big time blocks and massive rebounding. Can he finally develop into an All-Star? Is he an All-Star caliber talent? You can make the argument Jordan was overshadowed in Los Angeles by the sheer star power of Paul and Blake Griffin but in Dallas, armed with a max deal and higher expectations, the need for him to emerge as an elite-level superstar is critical to the Mavericks’ future success.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Clippers are meeting with DeAndre Jordan in an effort to change his mind and get him to break his verbal commitment with the Dallas Mavericks. Because no deals can be signed and finalized until the moratorium ends on July 9, the Clippers can still try to change Jordan’s mind. Jordan has reportedly had doubts about his decision, and the Clippers are trying to get him back. Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin and possibly others (such as Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, reportedly) will meet with Jordan and try to get him to commit to the Clippers.
Indiana serious about transitioning offensive focus
The Indiana Pacers have been known primarily as a defensive-minded team and a slower tempo offensive unit. Well, that was when the club featured two All-Star big men in David West and Roy Hibbert. Both of those guys are now in new destinations and with the addition of free agent guard Monta Ellis, the team is much leaner and apparently ready to speed up their tempo next season.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel echoed team president Larry Bird’s thoughts at the end of the season about his desire to play a faster game offensively.
“We’re going to be very different than we’ve been in the past and that’s something I’m really, really excited about,” Vogel said during an interview on NBA TV during summer league.
“We’re going to try to get up and down the floor a lot more than we have, be more of a running team, play (with) a little bit more pace but also playing Paul George at the four some — maybe a lot — could give us an entirely different look.”
The Pacers missed the postseason in 2015, snapping a four-campaign streak and two consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
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