While the Dallas Mavericks were battling through the Playoffs last spring on their way to their first NBA Title in the club’s history; the team’s usually outspoken Owner Mark Cuban pretty much kept silent throughout the Post Season. It became so noticeable that the Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle and some members of the media started joking about it. What ever was the cause of the self-imposed ban on speaking with reporters during the Playoffs, it is now over as Cuban has become quite vocal again lately.
According to “ESPN.com” the Dallas club’s owner spoke with reporters before the Mavericks defeated the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Even with the team starting off the campaign with an 0-3 record, he said that he was pleased with his squad. In fact he told the members of the media that he thought that this edition was superior to the club that won the NBA Finals in June.
Cuban said “I think we’re a better team than last year. I think we’ve got more talent than last year, by far. It takes time. It takes time. We still have the same coach, the same core with one or two exceptions, but I think we did all right replacing those guys, so we’ll see. …. We’re more diverse. There are more things we can do. That’s not to take away from the guys that we lost, but Delonte West brings something different, Lamar and Vince bring something different. We’re posting up three, four, five possessions in a row. That’s a look we would have loved to have last year. The matchups, if we can get in shape and exploit them, I see a ton of positives.”
The Mavericks owner stated that he believes the reason the team got off to a slow start was mainly due to the fact of a lack of familiarity on the squad. He told reporters “We need some practice! We’re a precision team. I think teams that are super athletic have an early advantage. You design schemes to beat athleticism when you can, but you have to have guys who understand everything and are in shape in order to be able to execute.”
There is no doubt that once the roster gets to know each other better that the Mavericks will look a lot better on the hardwood. Already Carlisle has made adjustments with the squad; as he is now starting Delonte West and bringing in veteran Vince Carter off of the bench. It is also true that a club that plays a more fundamentally sound game will take longer to come together than a team that relies on a run and gun type of offense.
However the team lost three key pieces from their core; not one or two as Cuban said. JJ Barea, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler were all integral parts of the team and it was the club’s decision not to retain any of them. Chandler and Barea were both key contributors during the Playoffs; does Cuban truly believe that this team is better without them?
Dallas does have size coming off the bench after trading for former Lakers star Lamar Odom and Ian Mahinmi showed what he is capable of on Friday night against the Raptors. However Mahinmi still is an unproven commodity and needs to show consistency before he can be considered an asset. Does Cuban truly believe that Carter who was waived the Suns and West are a better pair of guards than Butler and Barea?
If the Mavericks long-term goal was to clear salary-cap space so that they could go after Free Agents Deron Williams and Dwight Howard then their roster moves do make sense. One can also understand that Cuban would never say that the team has taken a step back this season; however that is not a reason to come out and say that this year’s club is better than the team that won the 2011 NBA Finals.
Whether Cuban believes it in his heart or he is just engaging in Spin Control remains to be determined. However on paper at least this edition of the Dallas Mavericks is not a better team than the club that gave the franchise their first NBA Title.