No, Really, Mavs Fans. It'll Be OK. We Think.

Categories: Sports

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"Oh J.J., how I miss thy Puerto Rican magic tricks."
That sound you just heard? That was any and all illogically bloated expectations for the Mavericks' season hitting the ground with a thud.

This isn't your typical championship defense. The Mavs made it clear in the off-season that they weren't content to merely bring back all of the components of last year's team, and essentially chose to surrender its position as a true title contender before the season even began. Change was prescribed. Adjustment was inevitable. And a period of painful growth -- which has begun with two blowout losses at home to the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets -- was all but certain.

In place of Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, and Caron Butler, Dallas added Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West and a pair of young bigs in Sean Williams and Brandan Wright. This isn't a matter of fitting round pegs into square rotational holes, but reconceptualizing the pegs down to their most basic specifications. The Mavericks, who tip-off at 7 tomorrow against the Thunder, are a very different team this year than they were in 2010-2011 or have ever been before, and Rick Carlisle is working to figure out the most sensible ways to combine a group of versatile, unique players into a complete product. It's more difficult than it seems, and it could result in plenty of losses before Dallas is finally able to turn a corner.

That day is coming, even after the implosive start to the season. The Mavs will get more and more comfortable with each other and with the way their team operates on the whole, and they'll improve by leaps and bounds over the course of the year. I believe that. But while this team has a championship under its belt -- and a literal championship belt, for that matter -- they're no longer poised to be a top-tier title contender. With the direction the franchise has taken, it was just never meant to be; Dallas is doing its absolute best to compete under the circumstances, but Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson still made the decision to forgo re-signing Tyson Chandler in order to save the team's long-term finances.

It may be too early to say, but letting Chandler walk seems like the right move. Not necessarily because the Mavs will have a shot (and only a shot, regardless of Dwight Howard's interest and Deron Williams' local ties) at landing a premier free agent, but because Chandler could have potentially contributed to a nightmarish financial situation a few years down the line. Dallas would look better this season with Chandler as the starting center, but don't confuse that immediate hypothetical improvement with what lies in the best interests of the franchise.

The Mavericks have played some pretty miserable basketball thus far. There's just no way around that. There's no way to downplay their 25th-ranked offense, their 24th-ranked defense, and their underwhelming start in virtually every statistical measure. They've lost both of their games in the first half, and struggled to even save face. They've blown their first two games in a fashion unprecedented for a defending champion, suggesting rather strongly that this team is not made up of the same title-worthy fiber of last year's squad.

These are truths that have been made more real with two huge losses, but they're precisely the early trials that should have been expected for this team. It gets better; with a roster this flexible and this talented, it has to.

Rab Mahoney runs The Two Man Game and writes about the NBA for the New York Times' basketball blog. He occasionally writes about the Mavs for Unfair Park.

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Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dear Mav's fans,     Keep tellin' yerselves that it's cool-and there is, like, 62 games left?  No center.  No Big Man.  AND a 140 year old V.Carter.  When does truck day happen? Can't wait for pitchers and catchers.  

ps-OKC beats them by 40 tonight.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I'm still in my "Meh, we're defending champs" haze, so I can see why the players would be too. I really do think I'm going to reserve judgement of this season until next season starts. If the Mavs score DWill and/or Dwight, I probably won't care. If they whiff on them, it's going to be incredibly irritating that they just rolled their eyes at going for two in a row.

Kergo
Kergo

Rob M is a really good writer. He really knows basketball.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Really? I think ya'll know what I think about Rob Em.  I'm not going to piss in his Wheaties today gents.  

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

I will NEVER forgive Cuban for not bringin JJ back. I hope they loose bad.

matt
matt

so ready for rangers

steroids
steroids

things can always get worse.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Cody Johnson is my hero. Hookem! (Love that he's wearing #2 too)

Stay hard Fuzzy!

I'd give Mack the extension.

Ash is redeeming himself, a bit.

OU fans still live in houses with wheels, for the most part.

Agg will go 4-7 next year.

Mavs will get the 5/6/7 seed and get bounced by OKC/LAC in the first round.

We'll all sing the praises of JJ and TC until we die. (unless we get DH and DW somehow)

The Rangers and LAA are going to be the Phillies of the AL.

Josh will walk, mark it down...and Methinks Cecil's baby boy is still in play.

Last Longhorn thought: if #8 Jordan had of been healthy and contributed as much as #8 Jaxon, do the Horns run off 3 straight Championships?

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

A Ranger thought: If J-Ham was/is talking about a respectful offer because of what LSB wrote about today, then the Rangers are.. most definitely.. Dicks. (you don't offer to buy out the Arb years for 20 mill, coulda offered 50 for five and he woulda jumped on it) Bad blood.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

it can't get any worse. right?

It's So Sad
It's So Sad

Nope. We're already winless. Can't go negative, no matter who you put on the court.

So this looks to be a season where ANY WIN  is cheered as "Hope for the future!"

And, since the Mavs have apparently decided to start over with a new team, why are Dirk and Kidd still here? They are not the "future" of the franchise any more.

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