Offseason, Strike 3: Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jose Calderon, SG Monta Ellis, SF Shawn Marion, PF Dirk Nowitzki, C Sam Dalembert
Key Bench Players: G/F Vince Carter, G/F Wayne Ellington, F Brandan Wright
Offseason Additions: Additions: Ellis, Calderon, Dalembert, PG Shane Larkin, G Ricky Ledo
Offseason Subtractions: SG Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo, C Chris Kaman, PG Darren Collison, PF Elton Brand
FACT OR FICTION: The Mavericks are a playoff team.
FACT, barely. Honest admission? I actually wrote “Fiction” before seeing that not only the MAMBINO aggregate has Cuban’s boys in the 8-slot, but your boy BK himself slid them in at 7.
But a closer look has made me realize that the West, by virtue of various reasons, has become very top heavy this year. Unlike years past, there isn’t going to be a solid 9-seed this season. Dallas will sneak by with guile, with heart, and under the tutelage of the most underrated coach in basketball: Alvy, a one-time contributor to the MAMBINO team.

FACT OR FICTION: The Ellis/Calderon signings will hurt the franchise.

FICTION! A lot has been made of the swings-and-misses that the Shark Tank front office has endured with Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Some have even been amused at Cuban’s predictable response to those misses, that the team was actually better off spreading the salary cap space around several players instead of putting their feet in the superstar game. This year, I think that the Ellis and Calderon signings will actually, gasp…help Dallas in the long run.

In 2014, Dallas has a mere $35 million guaranteed. I predict that Dirk will repay Cuban’s willingness to make the German hero a “Mav for life” by giving him a hometown discount. Nowitzki doesn’t care about being the highest paid, and he doesn’t care about endorsements, and if he does, it’s far less than the majority of players of his caliber. Maybe the cap space won’t net LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. But what about a not-done-yet Paul Pierce if the Brooklyn experiment doesn’t work out and Kevin Garnett retires? What about, dare I say it on this space, Pau Gasol heading east when he finally realizes that Mike D’Antoni doesn’t know how to coach?

Best case scenario: 7th in the West. Ellis is a sparkplug that will light up the scoreboard if he can buy into Carlisle’s coaching. My fake money says he does. Nowitzki may be on the decline, but he would start for every team in the NBA; he’s still a true centerpiece. Calderon is a gamer; he’s a flopping gamer, but a gamer nonetheless. If Carlisle can coax season-long contributions from Carter, Ellington, and Wright, the Mavs are a playoff lock. If Dallas can get ANYTHING from Shane Larkin this year, then the Mavs are a Samsonite playoff lock.

Absolute apocalypse: The fact that I’m so effing educated and it took me too long to spell apocalypse. But in roundball terms, 1 or 2 injuries and this team could be looking at the lottery. I think that Nowitzki’s minutes get managed and/or Ellis assumes the #1 position at various points during the season, one or both of which will keep Dirk fresh for June. But hey, people get hurt. Injury scares could bring big-time criticism to Cuban and the rest of the braintrust.

Expected outcome: 4th in the Southwest, 8th in the West. Four playoff teams from one division would be rather impressive.

Do you smell what MAMBINO is cooking? Check out the rest (so far) of our 2013-2014 NBA Season Preview series:

Central Division

Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Bobcats

Miami Heat
Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trailblazers
Utah Jazz

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