After a three game losing streak that included the debacle in Denver Sunday night and the annihilation at the hands of the Clippers one night later, this roller coaster ride of a Mavericks season has officially sent many level-headed fans into a state of anger and frustration not reached since before the Dirk Nowitzki-era.
With a record of 33-31, there’s no denying what this edition of the Mavericks really is : a fringe-playoff team in a down Western Conference that will have their behinds handed to them in a first round series against an elite team. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. You’re wasting your time. It doesn’t make you a “better fan” to question that assessment.
Despite it being perfectly clear what the Mavs’ fate will be this season, this is still an important six or seven week stretch for the boys in blue.
Best case scenario: The Mavericks go 13-5 or so to finish 46-36, earn the sixth seed in the West and take the Thunder to six games. There are smiles and good feelings during the stretch run and a few loud and fun moments at the AAC in three home playoff games. Everyone feels like it is justified to try and retain a few of the impending free agents and the front office spends the offseason trying to build around this Chandler Parsons/Dirk Nowitzki/Wes Matthews core.
Worst case scenario: The Mavs go .500 over the final 18 games to finish 42-40 and face the Warriors in the first round. There are no smiles. The only cheers at the AAC during the series are from bandwagon Golden State fans wearing their Steph Curry jerseys with the tags freshly cut off. Post-game press conferences yield uncomfortable answers that tell free agents might have different plans for their futures than staying here in Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki retires as a member of a team contending for the number one lottery pick.
That worst case scenario may seem a bit dramatic at first glance, but it’s really not if you know all the details.
Wesley Matthews could be the only starter who isn’t a free agent this summer. Yes, that Wesley Matthews. The one that, according to this tweet from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, ranks 117th out of the 118 eligible players in the league in field goal shooting percentage. The one whose 4 years/$70 million contract is likely to end up being one of the worst in franchise history.
And yes, all of the other four starters could be free agents. The contract for Zaza Pachulia expires, Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams have player options for next season that they will likely not take in order to seek longer deals, and even Dirk Nowitzki has a player option that he could pass on for next season. In what could be his last season, why would the then 38-year-old Nowitzki want to spend his last shot at winning a title with a team that will have not made it out of the first round in the five years since their title in 2011? Don’t rule it out. No one could blame Dirk. He has given this city everything he possibly can for almost two decades.
If some of the veterans move on to greener pastures, it’s not like the Mavs have a plethora of budding young talent to insert into larger roles. 24 year-old Dwight Powell played well in the early stages of the season but has since fallen out of favor with Rick Carlisle. After averaging over 20 minutes per game in November, Powell had fallen to a measly 9 in February. 2015’s first round draft pick Justin Anderson is still only seeing the floor during garbage time despite seeming to be one of the more “NBA-ready” players Dallas has drafted in years. The Mavericks have not prioritized developing young talent in the last decade and it may finally catch up to them in the ugliest of ways in the next few years. The cherry on top of this is that they don’t even have a draft pick in this year’s draft thanks to several “win-now” trades for veterans that are no longer part of the team.
Things wouldn’t seem so bleak for Dallas if the rest of the league wasn’t as dominant as Golden State and San Antonio or as young and seemingly on the rise as the likes of Minnesota and Portland. They are the second oldest team in the league and are no where close to being mentioned in the same breath as the NBA’s elite teams. The elite aren’t going anywhere and the young teams are charging fast. What does Dallas do to prevent being trampled and left behind?
Not one soul within the organization truthfully knows the answer to that question and that should scare the living hell out of every loyal Mavericks fan out there. The only way to prevent the eventual terror is by finishing this season as strong as possible and building some shape of momentum heading into the most important off-season in franchise history. Hang on, MFFL’s. It could be quite the bumpy ride.
- Six Underrated Heroes as the Texas Rangers Celebrate First World Series Title
- How do the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks Match Up in the 2023 Fall Classic?
- Texas Rangers bound for World Series vs Diamondbacks in a euphoric state
- Previewing a Texas-Sized ALCS Between Rangers and Astros
- Despite a shaky finish, the Rangers still have the same focus on postseason success as they go to Tampa for the Wild Card series