It wasn’t long ago that the higher-ups in the Dallas Mavericks organization proclaimed publicly that the team’s focus moving forward would be to sustain continuity. Presumably, they meant that there would be a concerted effort toward keeping the extended core of the team’s roster in Dallas while improving the team’s opportunity to contend by making some small adjustments here and there. That sounded pretty good, especially considering the roster as it stood pushed the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games, giving them their biggest challenge of the 2014 playoffs in the first round.
It’s about one month later now, and it looks like something happened along the way. Either the concerned audience misunderstood the intended meaning of “continuity,” the decision makers changed their minds, or their initial statements were just intended to conform to the established political correctness of the league, because the current Dallas roster has very little in common with the roster that competed in the postseason.
All that aside, we can agree that the Mavericks have pulled off a solid, somewhat quiet offseason thus far. Two roster spots remain to be filled, and rumor has it that the Mavericks’ aim is to make a splash with those moves, as well. For now, what’s clear is that the team is poised to compete at a higher level than it did last season.
They have procured a championship-tested defensive anchor in center Tyson Chandler. They managed to overcome long odds and get the player they reportedly considered their number-one option in free agency, small forward Chandler Parsons. They have lost and replaced as much long-range shooting as any team needs. And they have re-signed the two players they wanted to re-sign in point guard Devin Harris and face-of-the-franchise power forward Dirk Nowitzki, who took an unprecedented pay cut to become the fourth-highest paid player on the team. It seems clear that this is the best offseason the Mavericks have had in several years, and the team’s fans couldn’t hope for more.
It would not be out of line to say that, if they turn the right knobs and make the right moves with the couple of personnel decisions they still have to make, specifically what to do with their $2.3 million cap room exception, this Dallas team could find itself contending with the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trail Blazers for one of the four spots at the top of the Western Conference, which would have been dismissed as an outrageous claim about three weeks ago. So mark your calendars, Mavericks fans. Make one of those chains of paper rings you made in first grade to count down to Christmas. You have a reason to look forward to the 2014-15 NBA season; a big reason.
Brian Ogle is a Dallas Mavericks columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheOgle.