The Dallas Mavericks have gone from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy to getting blown out two games in a row on their home floor to start the season.
It’s ugly. Younger teams ran the Mavs into the ground and Dallas’ transition defense was nonexistant. It should get better, but it’s ugly now and next up is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yikes.
Tyson Chandler — the anchor of the Mavericks championship defense who left for New York because they only offered him a one-year contract to stay — is not surprised at the slow start. He told the New York Post he saw it coming when he and other veteran free agents only got one-year deals.
“Honestly, I kind of saw it coming because when you put a team in a situation where you say, ‘You’re the defending champions, but we’re not necessarily trying to repeat,’ and when I say that, I’m not saying that they don’t have the pieces there, I obviously think very highly of those guys, but I say that because they offered everybody one-year deals,” he said.
“So they knew nobody was going to necessarily accept that. … And when you have veteran guys in the locker room, the type of guys they got, in this time of their career, it’s tough to face that.”
We knew it would be different, but the chemistry is going to take time in Dallas. They won a ring with a core built around Dirk Nowitzki that had been together for years and knew how to make the whole more than the sum of their parts. They moved the ball, their defensive rotations were crisp because guys knew where the others would be and trusted them after years of repetition (Chandler just fit neatly into that puzzle). This year the players are different and that trust has to be rebuilt. It will get there but it takes time.
Mark Cuban has made his gamble — he has chosen cap space and a run at free agents next summer over going for the repeat title. If he lands Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams and others, he’s brilliant. If not, well, it may be a tough few years for Mavericks fans. And that probably wouldn’t shock Chandler, either.