Dallas Mavericks won the 2016 free agency under the radar
The 2016 Free Agency has been remarkable for the Dallas Mavericks, even though they missed out on Kevin Durant and Hassan Whiteside.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has shown an uncanny ability to get more than the sum of parts out of any roster he's been handed. He firmly established his solid credentials in the 2011 playoffs when he goes a team projected to lose in every single round to the promised land.
Who would have thought that Dirk Nowitzki surrounded by a group of ageing veterans could make it to the NBA finals that year, let alone challenge the infamous Big 3 of Miami? They even swept the Lakers in such a decisive fashion that the team broke up soon after.
In 2015, the Mavs were exhibiting one of the best offences in the league until the trade for Rajon Rondo jinxed it. Fast forward to 2016, in an off-season marked by big splashes, the Mavericks have quietly added some remarkable pieces to make a deep run.
As consistent as ever
The Dallas Mavericks are one of the most remarkable franchises in the NBA. Ever since they acquired Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 NBA Draft, they've steadily climbed the rungs of standings in the uber-competitive Western conference since 2001. In spite of roster overhauls with only Nowitzki being the constant presence, they've managed to count themselves among the league's elite teams.
Only the San Antonio Spurs have been more consistent over the last two decades. Since 2001 the Mavericks had 12 straight postseason appearances. Just as the Spurs foundation rests squarely on the shoulders of Tim Duncan, so does the Mavs' find itself propped up by the ageless Nowitzki.
There is no doubting the ability of Carlisle, especially when he has Dirk as a cornerstone. Organisations with a consistent culture find it easier to build and maintain solid chemistry. The Mavericks have been lucky in that regard.
Back when the Mavs were setting the league on fire with their blistering offence in 2014, their offence depended a bit on a versatile forward in Jae Crowder, and a centre who could help wreck havoc with Nowitzki in the pick and roll offence. This off-season the Mavs have retooled by adding two key pieces from a championship team in the shape of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
The Mavericks agreed to a 4 year, $95 million deal with Barnes and then followed up their good work when they reached and agreement to sign Seth Curry to a 2 year, $6 million contract. With further additions of Dwight Powell with a 4 year, $37 million dollar contract and the addition of Andrew Bogut via a trade, makes their haul an enviable one.
Even as the Warriors made their deep runs in the playoffs, there was always the looming possibility of the core being broken up in the near future when the old deals of some players would expire. The reason the Warriors managed to keep a rich collection of talent is because their center-pieces were acquired through the draft.
One of the names the Warriors knew would soon be moving on was Harrison Barnes based on Kevin Durant’s decision. There was no question that Curry and Thompson are untouchable. And the emergence of Barnes as a solid 3 who would need a bigger role and contact became apparent.
Barnes brings to the table what the Mavs expected to get from Chandler Parsons. His contribution was limited, mainly because he struggled with injuries. The Mavs will now hope that Harrison Barnes will definitely be the x-factor which they hoped Parsons would be.
The Mavericks had been jilted in the free agency last year when DeAndre Jordan reneged on his word to sign with them. They announced the signing of Barnes with a tongue in cheek picture of Barnes being restraint and n handcuffs to prevent him bolting.
The Dallas Mavericks also have a budding young talent in Satnam Singh from India to bolster their front court in the near future. He's currently honing his talent and physique with the Texas Legends D-League team.
While Dirk shows no signs of slowing down or diminishing with age, he will be on his last legs by the time his new 2-year, $20 million contract runs out. The Mavericks will need to have a plan in place for that eventuality. In Barnes, they may have found a solid foundation piece for their roster for years to come.
The first two spots in the Western Conference are a toss up between the Warriors and the Spurs. The rest of the conference is wide open and up for grabs. The Mavericks gained the 6th seed last year with a diminished roster. One can safely assume that injuries notwithstanding, the Mavs will be poised to make a deep run this coming season.