Be the best or be different
When you hear the words “super team,” you think of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, or Kevin Durant and the splash brothers in Golden State. But you would never think of the Dallas Mavericks in the same context.
The Mavericks are now following the adage: To be successful, either be the best or be unique. The Mavericks have tried to get the marquee free agents since they split up their championship roster in 2011, but they came up short.
In the 2012 offseason, they aggressively pursued Deron Williams but he chose to re-sign with the Nets. The 2013 offseason was a big offseason and Dallas went after Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Paul re-signed with the Clippers and Howard chose Houston over Dallas. In 2015, the Mavericks signed DeAndre Jordan to a verbal contract, but Doc Rivers and his team of players were able to pull off a heist to bring Jordan back to the Clippers. Since 2011, the Dallas Mavericks went after the top free agents but were unable to sign any of them. All of the available salary cap money was not enough to lure big-name free agents to Dallas. It was time for Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson to revise their strategy and do something unique.
The new Mavs
Donnie Nelson and the Mavs scouting team have always been enamored with European and international talent. They have always done a great job of scouting international talent and tracking their progress over the years. Dallas must have decided in the summer of 2018 that if they cannot get the best free agents to Dallas then they must pave a new way.
The Mavericks drafted Luka Doncic in 2018 NBA draft. Doncic has turned out to be a sensational rookie. He over exceeded everyone’s expectations, probably even the Mavericks expectations. With Dirk Nowitzki about to end his illustrious 20-year career with the Mavericks, Dallas was in search for the new face of the franchise. Mavericks found it in Luka Doncic. Dirk can now rest easy that there is a successor after he leaves Dallas. Doncic has been showered with heaps of praise from GMs, coaches, and other marquee players around the league.
Suddenly, there is a palpable excitement in the air.
You can feel it at the American Airlines Center in Dallas when you attend Mavericks games this season. Ticket sales have been up this season and they can be attributed to Nowitzski’s final season and fans wanting to see him as much as possible in the final year. But in addition to the reverence for Dirk, fans want to see more of Doncic and the future.
The Euro connection
After the Mavericks added Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft, they pulled off a stunning unexpected trade with the Knicks before the Feb 7 trade deadline. New York wanted to free up cap space to get rid of big contracts and possibly sign two max contracts which could possibly be Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving this upcoming summer.
Dallas wanted to get rid of disgruntled Dennis Smith Jr, an erratic Wesley Matthews, and an unpredictable Deandre Jordan. Jordan will be a free agent in the 2019 offseason and that probably prompted the Mavericks to move him to the Knicks to get back something back in return. Dallas landed th23-year-old Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian player has been a star with the Knicks as long as he stayed on the court. His health is a major concern; no one doubts the talent that this kid possesses. He is a guard in a 7-foot-3 body. Porzingis will sign a max contract with Dallas this offseason which will give the Mavericks a combo of Doncic and Porzingis for the foreseeable future. At least, that’s the plan. If Porzingis can stay healthy, this will be a great trade for the Mavericks.
Future free agency for Mavs
The drafting of Doncic and the Porzingis trade signals a new trend in Dallas. They are building a super “Euro” team. There are 108 international players in the NBA today. Giannis Antetokoumpo (Greece) is a top 3 talent in the NBA. There are budding superstars in Jamaal Murray (Canada), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia) and many others. When this crop of international talent hits free agency, they will definitely consider the Mavericks as a possible destination, which will come as a welcome change from the lean 2011-2018 lackluster free agency periods Dallas experienced.