What are the Dallas Mavericks plans after Dirk Nowitzki retires?

By Derek Ayala

Dirk Nowitzki tweeted answers to fans not too long ago about the possibility of hanging it up once his contract is up in two years. That is just around the corner. After winning the NBA Championship in 2011 Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and the Front Office decided not to bring back the core group that won that title. Everybody has his own opinion on that topic, but that’s old news and it’s time to move on and look at the future. No need to focus on the past.

It may be time for the Dallas Mavericks to start focusing on life after Dirk. They are on a right track signing young guys like Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo to go along with their rookies James Bernard, Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham. However a lot of guys that the Mavs signed for this upcoming season they are only on one or two year contracts and I am assuming that they are hoping to land a “big fish” in next year’s off-season. However, history shows that “big fish” players in the NBA are most likely to end up in Los Angeles or Boston and now Miami, Brooklyn and New York. That means that landing a big name superstar is unlikely.

The only way for the Mavericks to land a big name guy would to be in a trade which they have a few pieces to throw around in a trade which may be used to go after Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks as both Carmelo and Amar’e Stoudemire will most likely have problems playing together which will ruin the team’s chemistry. That’s why I see the Mavericks eventually going after Anthony in the near future.

Again, that does not mean it’s going to happen and the possibility of that happening is 10%. If the Mavericks aren’t able to ever land a big name superstar post-Dirk then what should the Mavs do? That’s a question that will be all over both Cuban and Nelson once Nowitzki does retire if the Mavs have not done anything prior to his retirement.

The likely scenario for the Mavs will be in the 2013, 2014 and the 2015 Drafts. They may have to do what the Oklahoma City Thunder did and that’s wait for talented players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to land in their laps. It may happen and it may not happen; nobody can predict that far into the future when it comes to basketball terms. The Mavs best bet right now is to keep all three rookies that they acquired during this past draft and build them up into caliber talent that can get them to 45-50 wins every year and build around that.

Once Nowitzki hangs it up Mavs fans will never see another Dirk Nowitzki on this team ever again. That time will past and the future of the Mavericks will be up in the air. However, if they do go with the “Oklahoma City Plan” then fans will have to be patient and wait as season after season will contain of 20-30 wins and that is what fans are going to want if they want their own “Durant” or “Westbrook”.

If the Mavericks do not go with the “Oklahoma City Plan” then they may need to take a look at their I-35 rival, the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs for over a decade have been able to build up talent that they draft like DeJuan Blair, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. I doubt that if Parker or Ginobili were drafted by another team that they would be the players that they are today as well as Blair. The Spurs have always had a system that they build up the talent they acquire and look what it has gotten them four NBA Championships since 1999.

Unlike the Spurs the Mavericks have failed to build up young talent and instead have traded them or let them go to hopes to acquire a “big fish”. Trust me when I say that the Mavericks will never see the playoffs again and will fall back to what they were in the 1990’s if there game plan is to go after a Dwight Howard, Caremlo Anthony or a Chris Paul. It’s not going to happen.

As I mentioned earlier the Mavericks best bet is to build from the bottom up and take the “San Antonio Plan” instead of the “Oklahoma City Plan”. Don’t get me wrong what the Thunder did was good and all, but the fact is the way they are right now is all based on luck of the lotto draw. The Thunder may have never had a Westbrook, Harden or a Durant. With that said going the OKC way may not be the best way for the Mavericks to go. The only way for the post-Dirk team to go is the way of the Spurs. They are going to need to build up Crowder, Bernard and Cunningham which believe it or not could be the face of the franchise if the Mavs play the cards right.

Jared Cunningham scored almost 18 points a game during his junior season at Oregon State as well as 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals a game. He could be a difference maker in the Mavs future at the guard position if the training staff develops him the right way. He would be great in transition and if he is trained to passed the ball at the NBA level he could be what the Mavs are looking for at the guard position since Steve Nash.

If Cunningham is developed into a decent passing guard then another rookie that could help the Mavs in the near future is James Bernard. He may be a 27 year old rookie, but with his maturity it could help him develop fast in the NBA. Again, it all depends on how the Mavericks build up their young talent. He could become a rebound machine and he showed it during this past NBA Summer League. He grabbed 9 rebounds a game as well as 2.6 blocks a game. He could become a great defensive player that the Mavericks have never had in their franchise history.

As for Crowder I believe that he could be a great replacement for Dirk Nowitzki once he retires. He averaged 16.6 during the Summer League as well as 5.4 rebounds. During his last year at Marquette he averaged 17.5 points a game as well as 8.4 rebounds a game. It may not be much but as a forward I think he become a great asset to this Mavs team in both the scoring end and the defensive end. Again, this will only happen if the Mavs play the cards right.

If the Mavericks are able to build up these three rookies then I believe that the Mavericks should be find in the coming years. They may not be a championship caliber team, but they will be able to continue to show up in the post-season. It may not be a high seed and it may not be a fun ride, but the Mavericks have the talent right now to continue after the big German retires. However, both Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will need to see that the young talent that they have right now that they get the proper training that will develop them into a caliber NBA player.

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