Relax, Mavericks fans. This isn’t the summer of 2010, and it doesn’t matter matter where Lebron James takes his talents to. Let go of the anger from watching any semblance of parity disappear with Demarcus Cousins signing on for a year with the Golden State Warriors. The NBA is made up of teams in various stages of franchise building. There are the win-now teams looking to cash in on the talent they’ve accumulated. These are the Warriors, Houston Rockets, and, whatever team the Eastern Conference sends as tribute to the Finals. Then there are teams like the Dallas Mavericks that are looking to add young talent in the hopes that they can one day become a win-now team.
They’ve done a marvellous job this summer in adding rising European star Luka Doncic to the roster. With reports of Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic already getting practice time together, Dallas’s future looks brighter today than it has in a long time. But winning draft night is for teams building for tomorrow. Free agency is for teams adding final pieces to their rosters.
And that’s exactly why Golden State adding to their riches shouldn’t mean much to Dallas fans. The Mavericks aren’t expected to contend this year. So if a super team becomes even more super, nothing changes for Dallas. A 24-win team turning into a 44-win team would be an incredible success. The Mavericks will need to take their lumps and understand what it takes to win. They’re in a position to have nearly $90 million in cap space next offseason should Harrison Barnes opt out of his contract. The Mavs aren’t looking to carry salary, so a move for Kevin Love doesn’t make sense from that perspective.
Instead of worrying about the Warriors, Rockets, and now the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas is in an arms race with teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and even the Boston Celtics. Those are the teams amassing an impressive arsenal of young talent ready to take their next steps. The Phoenix Suns, led by the electric Devin Booker and fresh rookie Deandre Ayton, are on a timeline that should lineup with the natural declines of today’s superstars. The Celtics and 76ers are a step ahead already playing deep into last year’s playoffs.
It’s a tough thing to ask a fanbase to wait for their turn, especially when their last turn was so long ago. But there’s hope in Mavsland. There may not be much intrigue at the top of the standings as the Warriors rob the NBA of surprises, but there’s plenty of reason to watch the young Mavericks this upcoming season. Besides watching how Smith Jr. and Doncic play together, it’ll be interesting to see how new acquisition Deandre Jordan compliments their strengths. Does Seth Curry’s exit mean more minutes at the two guard for Doncic? Watching how coach Rick Carlisle utilizes the team’s strengths is worth the price of admission.
Leave the hand wringing to teams with players in their primes. Let James Harden and Chris Paul worry about how they can overtake the Warriors. Dirk Nowitzki already has his championship. Let Russell Westbrook and Paul George fret over the pursuit of rings. Those are problems for another day in Dallas.
Talk basketball with Jeff Mapua on Twitter @JeffMapua