Mark Cuban knew after the 2010-2011 season he could no longer throw around money at veteran players like in years past, and for that reason he was willing to not re-sign players like Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry to long-term deals. The last few years the Mavericks have relied on veteran players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and the additions of Devin Harris and Jose Calderon this past season.
However, as we have witnessed over the years with the San Antonio Spurs you also need to have a young athletic group to compliment a core of veteran players to contend year in and year out. The Spurs have done this for the past decade and it’s the reason why they have been a title contender every year during the Duncan era.
With Dirk being in the twilight of his career it’s even more crucial that the Mavs add depth, and young athletic players to prevent the Mavs from experiencing a fall from grace like the 2012-2013 season. The Mavs have started that movement with the additions of Brandan Wright & Monta Ellis the last couple off seasons and drafting the likes of Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin but there is still work that needs to be done and questions to be answered. This is why this off-season is so crucial for the Mavs in adding one or two key pieces while hopefully continuing to see improvements in Larkin, Crowder, & Wright. This group can be the key to how much longer Dirk can extend his career and contend for a championship.
Dirk even admitted the increase in his minutes played in the first round against the Spurs took a toll on his body and could explain a big reason why Dirk was so ineffective for the majority of the series. Carlisle would love to play his veteran players for less than 30 minutes a game like Popovich did with his entire roster, but the truth is Carlisle does not have that luxury. Shawn Marion is still very much an effective player but the Mavs can’t rely on him playing over 31 minutes a game and be the versatile defender from years past.
The Mavs need to find a new starting SF that can spread the floor and is committed to defense like a Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza. Point guard is another issue to address, while Jose Calderon is an above average point guard on offense, he is a huge liability on defense and in the Western Conference that is a big issue. Devin Harris was a great complimentary backup this past year but his biggest asset is his speed and as we’ve seen with other players around the league speed doesn’t age well.
Shane Larkin can fulfill that role with his quickness and relentlessness on defense long as he can continue to work on a consistent jump shot. While I’m not the biggest Samuel Dalembert fan I do believe him and Dejuan Blair are a serviceable 1-2 punch at center in the short-term. Most importantly of all the Mavericks need to start looking for a PF to develop and back up Dirk, Brandan Wright could be that guy but again that’s yet to be determined.
In the end, I believe the Mavs are better off not re-signing Shawn Marion, Devin Harris, & Vince Carter unless it’s a maximum one year or two-year contract. The Mavs need to make moves to add depth and young athletic players to their roster if they are to make a deep playoff run. It was evident that the Mavs ran out of gas in game 7 against the Spurs and simply didn’t have the athleticism on defense to contain San Antonio’s potent offense.
If the Mavs can make the necessary tweaks to their roster they’ll not only be able to contend during Dirk’s last years in a Mavs uniform but beyond as well.