BE THE BEST OR BE DIFFERENT
When you hear the words super team, you think of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Kevin Durant and the splash brothers in Golden State, but you would never think of Dallas Mavericks in the same context. Mavericks are now following the adage: To be successful, either be the best or be unique. Mavericks have tried to get the marquee free agents since they split up their championship roster in 2011, but they came up short. In 2012 offseason, they aggressively pursued Deron Williams but he chose to re-sign with the Nets. 2013 offseason was a big offseason and the Mavericks went after Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Paul re-signed with the Clippers and Dwight Howard chose Houston over Dallas. In 2015, Mavs signed DeAndre Jordan to a verbal contract but Doc Rivers and his team of players were able to pull off a heist to bring Deandre Jordan back to the Clippers. Since 2011, the Dallas Mavericks went after the top free agents but were unable to sign any of them. All the available salary cap money was not enough to lure big name free agents to Dallas. It was time for Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson to revise their strategy and do something unique.
THE NEW MAVS
Donnie Nelson and the Mavs scouting have always have been enamored with European and international talent. They have always done a great job of scouting international talent and tracking their progress over the years. Mavs must have decided in summer of 2018 that if we cannot get the best free agents to Dallas let’s pave a new way. They drafted Luka Doncic in 2018 NBA draft. Luka turned out to be a sensational rookie. He over exceeded everyone’s expectations, probably even the Mavericks expectations. With Dirk Nowitzki about to end his illustrious 20 year career with the Mavericks, Dallas was in search for the new face of the franchise. Mavericks found it in Luka Doncic. Dirk can now rest easy that there is a successor after he leaves the Mavericks. Luka Doncic has been showered with heaps of praise from GMs, coaches, and other marquee players around the league. Suddenly, there is a palpable excitement in the air. You can feel it at the American Airlines Center in Dallas when you attend the Mavs games this season. Ticket sales have been up this season and they can be attributed to Dirk’s final season and fans wanting to see him as much as possible in the final year. But in addition to the reverence for Dirk, fans want to see more of Luka and the future.
THE EURO CONNECTION
After the Mavs added Luka in the 2018 NBA Draft, they pulled off a stunning unexpected trade with the New York Knicks before the Feb 7th trade deadline. Knicks wanted to free up cap space to get rid of big contracts and possibly sign 2 max contracts with the top tier free agents such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the upcoming free agency. Dallas wanted to get rid of disgruntled Dennis Smith Jr, an erratic Wesley Matthews and unpredictable Deandre Jordan. Deandre will be a free agent in 2019 offseason and that probably prompted the Mavs to move Deandre to the Knicks to get back something back in return. Mavs landed the 23 year old Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian player has been a star player with the Knicks as long as he stayed healthy. His health is the major concern, noone doubts the talent that this kid possesses. He is a guard in a 7 foot 3 body. Porzingis will sign a max contract with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason and the Mavs will have Doncic and Porzingis for the next decade. Atleast that’s the plan to build this franchise around 2 young superstars and possibly add more along the way. If Porzingis can stay healthy, this will be a great trade for the Mavericks.
FUTURE FREE AGENCY FOR MAVS
Drafting of Luka Doncic and trading for Porzingis, signals a new trend in Dallas. They are building a super “Euro” team. There are 108 international players in the NBA today. Giannis Antetokoumpo (Greece) is a top 3 talent in the NBA. There are budding superstars in Jamaal Murray (Canada), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia) and many others. When this crop of international talent hits free agency, they will definitely consider the Dallas Mavericks as a possible destination, which will come as a welcome change from the lean 2011-2018 free agency years.