Dirk Nowitzki wants to be a Dallas Maverick forever, but also doesn’t want to be chasing a low playoff seed every year either.
The figurative (possibly literal) Bank of Mark Cuban is open, but he doesn’t want to take on bad salary or deviate too far from the flexibility Dallas has built either.
The Mavs have won four straight games including a massive 104-83 victory over the now-powerful Memphis Grizzlies, but that came after four consecutive losses.
So, what does all of this mean? With every step forward so far this year, there has always been an equal or greater step backward. To their credit, the Mavs do appear to be coming together more as of late with their recent wins. Trying not to be too obvious, that is mostly due to the return of Dirk Nowitzki from preseason knee surgery. Not only that, Nowitzki has begun rounding into form and fitting more firmly next to his teammates.
Since circa 2005, the Mavericks simply haven’t had an identity if Nowitzki missed a game for any reason. If he happened to be out for an extended amount of time, things stayed ugly until he found his stride. As has been the case in recent years when Nowitzki returned from injury, Dallas didn’t immediately find their way upon his first few games back this year. Now, this current roster is discovering how to fit their games next to Nowitzki and the 2012-2013 Mavericks are looking a little more like what was expected before the season started. The problem is they are 17-23, in 12th place, and four games out of the last playoff spot. What’s an even bigger issue is Dirk’s further return to form will likely make this team much more formidable as the season progresses, without any postseason return due to missing the playoffs. That leaves the Mavs right where you don’t want to be in the NBA: Standings Purgatory.
Not quite good enough to make the playoffs and not quite bad enough to collect a meaningful pick when it comes to draft time. We’ll call this the “Milwaukee Bucks Zone”, if you will.
That makes me question what the opening of Mark Cuban’s piggy bank actually means. The fact of the matter is that despite how good this Mavs team becomes, it’s a long road ahead in order for them to make the playoffs. That being said, why would Cuban be so eager to potentially add a piece to make his team marginally better, while taking on additional salary and crippling the financial flexibility he so passionately pursued? It’s not that I don’t agree with making a move, I just don’t understand the logic that goes into recalibrating “Plan Powder.”
Obviously, there are a couple exceptions here. If Cuban can find a move out there that makes the Mavs better in the short-term AND protects their long-term cap space, then that is fantastic. If the open doors of “Bank of Cuban” means he can snag a superstar to place next to Dirk, then that would be perfect. But isn’t every team looking for those moves, too? All the time.
Considering what is going on in Sacramento with the Kings and what already happened in Seattle with the Sonics/Thunder, a generous and loyal owner is something that can’t and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Mavs are currently a flawed team and knowing that Cuban is willing to fix it is encouraging for fans and veterans like Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. For now though, it’s just difficult to know exactly what he means by that.