Dallas made a massive mistake last year - albeit a somewhat understandable one. Their offense was working very well, and they had major playoff aspirations. By the middle of December they felt that their biggest weakness was at point guard - Jameer Nelson, J.J. Barea and Devon Harris aren't exactly a power trio, and Raymond Felton seemed to be permanently injured. The reasoning was sound. Unfortunately, the execution was badly lacking. They traded for Rajon Rondo - arguably the most overrated player in the entire league at the time. He did not mesh with the offense, and he was oil in water with head coach Rick Carlisle.
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The team was 23-12 without Rondo and just 27-20 with him. Things went so badly in the end that he was benched 10 minutes into the second game of the playoffs and didn't play again - due to a phantom 'injury'. It was an ugly era for the Mavericks, and it seems like the karma bled over into what was a hideous summer.
2015 Dallas Mavericks Betting Story Lines
We'll deal with the moves the team made in a little while, but we can't talk about this team without starting with the move that didn't happen. The free agency battle for DeAndre Jordan was the most intense of the offseason. The Mavericks won the race - or at least they thought they did. Jordan agreed to join the Mavs, but then he developed cold feet. In a bizarre drama, several members of the Clippers - staff, management and ownership - locked themselves in the house with Jordan and wouldn't let him talk to anyone, including Mark Cuban, until Jordan could sign back with the Clips. It spawned a major, and majorly entertaining, war of words. More significantly, it left the Mavs in a horrible place. Because they had Jordan on board they let starting center Tyson Chandler walk, and he had already signed with Phoenix. The rest of the major free agency market had dried up. Suddenly, a team that was looking forward to having one of the top centers in the league in the middle was stuck bringing in Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert, and JaVale McGee and hoping for the best. It's a major downgrade. More significantly, it has to have a major psychological impact on the team.
Rick Carlisle is a very good coach - he has at least 49 wins in eight of his 13 years leading NBA teams. This team is not going to win 49 games - not even close. You have to wonder at this point how much appetite he has for another rebuilding project - and how much patience management will have, for that matter. This is Carlisle's eighth year with the Mavs. Since he won the championship in 2011 he endured two lousy seasons and then two in which he won 49 and 50 games but bowed out in the first round of the playoffs both times.
What does Dirk have left? That's a major consideration. Nowitzki is back for his 18th year - and likely his second to last. He saw his minutes shrink last year, but he was surprisingly effective. He should again see fewer minutes this year. There isn't a player besides Tim Duncan who is more completely aligned with his team than Dirk. His role, and how he handles the inevitable frustration he and the team will encounter this year, will be worth watching.
2015 Dallas Mavericks Additions and Departures
We've already talked about Rondo. That was a major improvement - he's now in Sacramento and won't be missed. To replace him the team grabbed Deron Williams after he was bought out by the Nets. He was a mess in New Jersey but was brilliant back in his Utah days. He won't recapture that magic fully at this point, but if he is energized by the move he is more than serviceable. He'll team up with Harris and Felton.
We've already talked about how they replaced DeAndre Jordan. There were other big losses, though. Leading scorer Monta Ellis is in Indiana. Defensive stalwarts Richard Jefferson and Al-Farouq Aminu left the bench for greener pastures, too. They replaced Ellis with Wesley Matthews, though he likely isn't as enthusiastic as he could be because he thought he was joining Jordan when he committed to the team. To fill other gaps they added John Jenkins and Jeremy Evans and also drafted Justin Anderson from Virginia. Those guys add energy and will play some minutes, but they don't add up to what was lost.
To sum it all up - a massive overhaul, but not a net gain, and some real concerns defensively.
2015 Dallas Mavericks Futures Odds and Trends
Despite winning 50 games last year, the team was a dismal 36-44-2 ATS, which placed them 26th in the league. Despite a strong offense and weaker defense, they went "under" 43 times in 82 games.
Dallas Mavericks Futures Odds (from BetOnline)
NBA title odds : +6600
Western Conference title odds : +3300
Odds to win the Southwest Division: +5000
2015 Dallas Mavericks Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
This team just needs to redefine what success means. They are all but a lock to finish last in their division, and they are not a playoff team. Success would be finishing .500. I'm not optimistic - 38 wins or so seems about more realistic. They are going to struggle to score like they did last year, and they are not going to be very good defensively. It will be a long year for Mark Cuban - likely the worst of his 16 years as an owner.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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