Offseason In Review: Dallas Mavericks

November 25 2013 at 8:37pm CST By Zach Links

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Trades

  • Acquired the No. 16 pick in 2013, the Nets’ 2014 second-round pick, and the Celtics’ own 2014 second-round pick from the Celtics in exchange for the No. 13 pick in 2013.
  • Acquired the No. 18 pick in 2013 from the Hawks in exchange for the No. 16 pick in 2013, the No. 44 pick in 2013, and Jared Cunningham.
  • Acquired the No. 43 pick in 2013 from the Sixers in exchange for the Nets’ 2014 second-round pick.
  • Acquired a fully unprotected 2016 second-round pick from the Grizzlies in exchange for the rights to Nick Calathes. The Mavs had already acquired that 2016 second-rounder, but it had previously been top-55 protected.

Draft Picks

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

  • None

Last summer, the Mavericks put their eggs in the Deron Williams basket and came away with very little.  This time around, the Mavericks missed out on their top two targets but had a much better backup plan.  Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki appreciates Mark Cuban & Co’s contingency plan.

I figured last year we signed nine one-year deals so we figured there’s going to be another big turnaround again,” Nowitzki told Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld. “This year, we didn’t go for nine one-year deals. We brought Monta [Ellis] in for [three] years, and [Jose] Calderon for four years, we signed some long-term deals, so that’s going to be our backcourt for a while. I like it. They’re smart, we can play, we got some playmakers, some passers, some shooters, and it’s been going pretty good, but we got to be better defensively if we really want to win big games in a row.

The Mavericks watched Dwight Howard go to the other Texas team in the running and had no shot at Chris Paul once Doc Rivers came aboard in L.A.  In theory, the Mavs could have pulled something similar to what they did in the summer of 2012 – load up on one-year deals.  That would have given them money to spend in the free agent frenzy of 2014, but that wouldn’t have made much sense for them.  Mavericks fans have gotten pretty used to winning and owner Mark Cuban isn’t known for his patience.  Star forward Dirk Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger and while he’s synonymous with the Mavs franchise, he might not have stuck around beyond this season with another trip to the lottery.  And good luck convincing Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the elite free agent crop to sign up for four years with a non-contending club.  The Mavs knew that their one and only option this summer was to be aggressive.

Ellis is thrilled to be with the Mavericks, but he might be even happier to be out of Milwaukee.  The athletic guard won’t be starving with his three-year, ~$25MM deal, but he turned down an $11MM player option from the Bucks to hit the open market and later turned down Milwaukee’s three-year, $36MM extension offer.  The deal includes a player option on year three and if his play early on in 2013/14 is indicative of what is to come, then he’ll likely turn the option down.  Through 14 games, Ellis is averaging a career-high 23.6 PPG with 5.4 APG off of 49.4% shooting from the floor.  The 28-year-old has been an NBA notable for years, but he’s never been this effective – Ellis’s PER of 20.46 is the very best of his career.

He’s joined in the backcourt by the almost equally thrilling Jose Calderon.  Unlike Ellis, Calderon was willing to stay in the NBA’s Central Division.  There was mutual interest between Calderon and the Pistons in a reunion, but agent Mark Bartelstein said that things didn’t come together because of timing.  It turns out that the Pistons were waiting on Josh Smith, but Calderon did alright for himself with his four-year, $29MM deal.  It’s possible that he could have held out for a higher average annual value, but a four-year pact for a 32-year-old is nothing to sneeze at.  With Calderon, the Mavericks locked down one of the league’s most creative distributors, something that they sorely needed.  Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo were both shoot-first guards and one could argue that they were both out to pad their own stat sheets as they looked ahead to free agency.  Cuban has said many times that players in their contract years will play harder than guys with security.  The playing style of Collison and Mayo last season pokes a sizable hole in that theory.

The Mavs watched several players go elsewhere this summer, but they retained athletic forward Brandan Wright with a two-year, $10MM pact.  Wright, 26, had the best year of his career in Dallas last season, averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 18 minutes per contest.  The forward is still recovering from a fracture in his left shoulder suffered during training camp, but he’ll help bolster the Dallas frontline when he returns.

Wright’s ETA is still up in the air, but he’ll be back on the floor before Devin Harris.  Harris initially agreed to a three-year, $9MM deal to return to Dallas, the place where he began his career and looked to be on his way to becoming a first-tier point guard.  However, the deal was nixed shortly thereafter when it was learned that the guard had to undergo toe surgery.  Ultimately, the two sides restructured the deal to a one-year pact for the veteran’s minimum and Dallas hopes to see Harris back on the hardwood before Christmas.  After being traded to the Nets for Jason Kidd in 2007/08, it was all downhill.  Stints in Utah and Atlanta didn’t help him resurrect his value, but a strong, healthy year with the Mavs can net him a better deal next summer.  While Harris is on the mend, Dallas finally has rookie guard Shane Larkin in the fold and he’ll help support the club’s veteran backcourt off the bench.

GM Donnie Nelson and company have been high on Samuel Dalembert for years, believing him to be an ideal fit with power forward Dirk Nowitzki.  This summer, they made it a reality.  Dalembert came into this season averaging 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes for his career and he figures to see more burn in Dallas than he did in Milwaukee last season.

The Mavs’ pickups of Wayne Ellington and Israeli guard Gal Mekel got a decent amount of attention this offseason, but the club’s signing of former Spurs forward DeJuan Blair for the minimum might prove to be one of their smartest additions.  Blair was frustrated with his inconsistent playing time in San Antonio – he was virtually forgotten during the postseason – but he looks to have found a more comfortable home in another part of Texas.

While other clubs are trying desperately to position themselves for the best free agent class and draft class in recent memory, the Mavericks pounced this offseason and gave themselves a chance to do some damage in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.  This Dallas team won’t reach the same heights as the 2010/11 incarnation, but they’re on the right track.

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