The Dallas Mavericks finished the 2011 season as NBA champions, but immediately made moves in the offseason to ensure that making a run at a second consecutive title would be virtually impossible.
There were many differences from a talent perspective between the 2011 and 2012 Dallas squads, but the loss of Tyson Chandler was the most notable, and perhaps the most avoidable, when you consider the fact that he was an unrestricted free agent.
At the time, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban chose to proceed cautiously in the era of a new collective bargaining agreement, believing that financial flexibility (and not locking in veterans to long-term deals that would eat up future cap space) was more valuable than trying to repeat as champions.
Chandler ended up with a four-year, $55 million deal with the Knicks, while Dallas ended up getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs without him. Cuban alluded to the fact that he might have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight, while re-introducing Chandler at a press conference this week.
“Let’s just say I learn from my mistakes,” Cuban said, replying to an inquiry about whether the big man’s second stay in Dallas would last longer than one season. …
So it was a mistake to let him go in the first place, huh?
“Obviously it would have been better if we could have kept him, right?” Cuban said after leaving the stage. “But our hand was dealt with all the changes. All’s well that ends well. I think it turned out just the way we wanted, just the way I planned.”
That last part probably isn’t true, unless you believe that going two seasons without a playoff victory was precisely what Cuban had envisioned.
The Mavericks have a legitimate defensive big man once again, and have also added Chandler Parsons in free agency. The roster has been upgraded from a team that took the eventual champion Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, but interestingly enough, Tyson Chandler will once again be an unrestricted free agent after just one season in Dallas.
We’ll see if Cuban makes the same “mistake” twice.