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No rest for the weary, eh? The Bobcats will have to shake off the post-win glorious afterglow to face a Dallas team that recently beat the Lakers. I talked with SB Nation Dallas' Jonathan Tjarks about the Mavericks in preparation for this game.
- With Dirk injured, what does this team's future in the coming years look like?
That's the $64,000 question in Dallas these days and I don't think anyone, even Mark Cuban or Donnie Nelson, can really tell you the answer. Since losing out on Deron Williams this summer, the team's been in a holding pattern, bringing in veteran free agents on one-year deals in order to maintain their cap space to find another star to pair with Dirk. But, if you look around the rest of the NBA, I don't know that there are that many more stars out there that can be had. Does Dallas have a Plan B if they can't land Andrew Bynum or Chris Paul next summer (which I don't think they will). Whatever the new plan ends up being, I doubt it would have been better than building around Tyson Chandler and Dirk. Letting Chandler go, long-term, will end up being a worse decision than letting Steve Nash walk in 2004.
- How do Dallas' new additions fit in?
Two games aren't much of a sample size and the team will look much different when Dirk and Chris Kaman come back, but the early returns look pretty good for the team the Mavs built, at least in terms of maintaining respectability this season, which is the main goal. Collison, Brand and Mayo are all starting-caliber players, while Marion is a rock at SF. The key to this year may actually be former UNC forward Brandan Wright, who is finally starting to come into his own in is sixth season. Obviously he's not going to maintain a 28.5 PER and his rebounding is a serious issue, but he is a great finisher in the paint and an excellent shot-blocker.
- What should we expect out of OJ Mayo?
I'm really not sure. OJ the Juiceman (rap fans know what I'm talking about) is a solid NBA player, but I'm not convinced he'll ever live up to his pre-draft hype. For one, he just isn't that athletic and he's undersized for a two guard, so he has a devil of a time getting into the lane off the bounce. Other than that, he's a very fundamentally sound player with a great outside shot and is a solid passer and defensive player at the 1 and 2. I think he'll end up having a career as a bigger, more functional Delonte West as a 10+ year NBA player who could be a contributor on an elite team as a combo guard, but not a foundation guy. That being said, I reserve the right to get irrationally optimistic when he hits a blizzard of 3's and scores 30+ against a good team this year.
- What are the Mavs' biggest weaknesses?
It's hard to give a great macro answer to that question; not only is the season still young, but Dallas is still making roster moves, picking up Troy Murphy and cutting Eddy Curry on Friday. However, without Dirk, it's a team who relies a lot on jumpers and doesn't have anyone who can consistently create a good shot off a 1-on-1 move in the paint, so they're prone to offensive droughts. Combine that with a small front-line that struggles on the boards and you can have situations like the 3rd quarter in Utah on Wednesday, when the Jazz out-scored them 37-13 thanks to a bunch of transition three-pointers. The Mavs, right now at least, feel like a team who can beat anyone and lose to anyone too.
- When does Eddy Curry get his 5 year $35 million contract? [Ed. note: this question was sent a day before Curry's ultimate waiving]
As much fun as the Eddy Curry Experience has been, without being mean, my first reaction to hearing he was gone was "thank goodness". He's just not capable of playing NBA-caliber defense at the center position, which is kind of a problem. Even if he had stayed, Bernard James, a second-round pick out of Florida State, would have quickly jumped him in the rotation.
As to your question, under Cuban, Dallas has spent more than a quarter billion dollars on Shawn Bradley, Raef LaFrentz, Evan Eschemeyer, Erick Dampier, Brendan Haywood and DeSagana Diop. Deadspin had a post about a psych textbook using Dampier as an example of the sunk-cost fallacy, which appears to have gotten lost in the internet, but as a psych major, absolutely slayed me. Yet they couldn't afford to give $60 million to the Defensive Player of the Year coming off a championship!! I get mad just talking about this.