The Dallas Mavericks aren’t stupid. Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and company know Dallas can’t stick with the status quo. The Mavericks not only have to get better, but also get younger.
The Mavericks also know they have no business asking the prettiest girl to go the prom. Dallas just isn’t the place to be for the big superstars in the NBA. It is for the Dallas Cowboys, just not for the Mavericks, nor will it ever be.
For the most part, over the years, Nelson has acquired a bunch of B-plus players via trade; but not big name free agents. In Cuban’s dream world, he was going to bring Deron Williams (which would have been a mistake) and Dwight Howard (which would have been huge) to Dallas . The fact is, Cuban allowed that one championship to get to his head.
He needs to get over it. And Cuban needs also to part ways with his sentimental attachment to the only remaining piece aside from head coach Rick Carlisle and superstar Dirk Nowitzki — Shawn Marion. Marion was too epic during that championship run and has continued to be a really good all-around player for Dallas, but it’s time to move on.
Marion just turned 36, and Cuban has to make the same decision he made with another beloved former Maverick, Jason Terry. That’s not to say the Mavericks need to start rebuilding, as they still need veterans — just younger veterans. Monta Ellis, for instance, is a veteran, but he’s still a young player. The biggest key for Ellis this past season was not that he was so fast and explosive, but that he could play around 40 minutes on most nights.
Marion can’t do that at this stage of his career. So at the small forward position, the Mavericks can’t afford to bring Marion back, nor can they waste their time going after the prettiest girl at the dance — Carmelo Anthony. The Mavericks instead need to lower their expectations and, in the process, try to woo Luol Deng, who in the long run might prove to be an even better choice in free agency.
Deng, like Ellis, can play 40 minutes on most nights — he’s durable. The statistics he put up in his short stint with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and the trigger-happy Kyrie Irving should be overlooked. With the Mavericks, Deng, 29, would be in a perfect situation with a great head coach. Deng fits what Carlisle wants in a player — he’s tough, durable, experienced, a great defender, can shoot and he’s unselfish.
It would be hard for Mavericks fans, like Cuban, to say goodbye to a fan-favorite like Marion, but the NBA is a business; you have to move on. Mavericks fans of course will cry their eyes out at first, but Deng will win over the city of Dallas in due time.