NBA free agency is a lot like fishing and after a weekend of monstrous contracts the Dallas Mavericks seemed to have cast their line without any bait. The Mavs clearly assumed an accomplished coach, an aging superstar and a passionate owner would be enough to convince Hassan Whiteside and/or Mike Conley to leave their respective teams.
They were wrong. The Mavs watched both re-sign with their respective team. On top of that, they lost Chandler Parsons in the process and possibly Dirk too.
While they have reportedly offered a four year max deal to Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors, the Warriors will likely match that offer, unless Kevin Durant chooses Oakland as his next destination.
Keep in mind, signing Harrison Barnes and Dirk is the best-case scenario for Dallas. It could get a lot worse.
The rest of this free agent class, which was weak to begin with, is laughable and that is what the Mavericks have to choose from to patch together their roster. That means the upcoming season will likely be nothing, but a Dirk farewell tour, assuming the best player in Mavericks’ history chooses to re-sign with the team.
If Dirk decides to leave, the 2016-2017 season will become a full-blown rebuilding season for Mark Cuban and company. The club will have zero “valuable” trade assets and no marquee players to build on. Mavs fans are very close to watching Rick Carlisle trot out a lineup of Devin Harris, Wesley Matthews, Jeremy Evans, Dwight Powell, and Zaza Pachulia. Calling that group less than spectacular would be a compliment.
That is the risk you run when you trade away draft picks and avoid developing young players to chase rings every year. While you cannot blame Carlisle and Cuban for avoiding the rebuilding process for as long as they could, (because there just are not that many examples of “tanking” working out well) you can blame them for not better preparing for this possibility.
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With an Dirk aging and Chandler Parsons free to leave after the season, the Mavs needed to have a Plan B. Without that Plan B, they have become exactly what they have tried to avoid, a team looking forward to the draft.
Now it will be up to Carlisle and Cuban to decide what the future of the Mavericks will be. Hopefully they commit to the rebuild, because without some sort of miracle the Mavs will just be holding off the inevitable. The Mavericks will have to be bad, if they want to get better.