The Mavericks have been one of the NBA's most consistent teams this century, not finishing with a losing record since the 1999-2000 season. But this year looks like a rebuilding season. Dallas has a wins total of 36.5 on BetOnline's NBA odds.
I believe that Dallas owner Mark Cuban thought his team could contend for the NBA title last season after the Mavs acquired Tyson Chandler in a trade from the Knicks and signed free-agent forward Chandler Parsons. And actually the Mavs started very strong, leading the league in offensive efficiency in mid-December. But Cuban and Co. thought that point guard was the team's weak spot. Plus Cuban wants one more chance at a title before franchise icon and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, the best international player in NBA history, retires. So on Dec. 18, 2014, the Mavericks acquired former All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo from Boston for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and draft picks.
The Mavs were 19-8 when they made that trade, but they weren't the same team with Rondo, who was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. He was never on the same page with Coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo flat-out quit on the Mavericks late in the season. After an uninspired 10-minute stint in Game 2 of the first-round series playoff loss to Houston, Rondo didn't see the floor again. The Mavs claimed it was some medical condition, but Carlisle simply didn't want Rondo around. The coach even admitted this after Game 2 when asked if he thought Rondo would ever wear a Dallas uniform again: "Um, no, I don't."
And Rondo won't as he's now in Sacramento. That trade is going to turn out horrible for Dallas. Wright and Crowder are good young players and the Celtics now own Dallas' top-seven protected first-round pick from this season through 2020 (whenever it first hits). Boston could have gotten the Mavs' 2015 first-rounder, but it was protected from 1-3 and 15-30 and since Dallas made it into the playoffs, it fell into the latter category.
So if you are the Mavericks and struggling around midseason, do you tank the rest of the way -- perhaps trade a guy or two -- to ensure you finish with one of the top seven picks in the lottery?
Dallas was 36-44-2 ATS on NBA odds last season and 38-43-1 'over/under.'
Jordan Wrecks Cuban's Plans
I like Cuban, even though he's a bit of a loudmouth, because the guy will do whatever it takes to win. Any fan would love to have an owner like that. With Nowitzki at age 37, Cuban tried one more time this offseason to get a championship-caliber roster around him. The big move was to sign Clippers All-Star free agent center DeAndre Jordan. And the Texas native, who led the NBA in field-goal percentage and rebounding last season, did verbally agree to a four-year, maximum deal with the Mavs.
The problem was that Jordan couldn't sign the contract during the NBA's moratorium period. And during the week or so in between when Jordan agreed and when he officially could sign, he started having second thoughts and wanted to return to the Clippers, who put a full-court press on him at his Houston home. In fact, the night Jordan could sign a few Clippers essentially locked Jordan in a room with them until it became official. Jordan never gave Dallas officials a second chance to change his mind back. So obviously he will be Public Enemy No. 1 there.
Jordan's decision sets this franchise back years. Cuban also signed former Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews in a package deal with Jordan; Matthews opted to stay even after Jordan left and actually Matthews got a bigger contract because that happened. However, Matthews is coming off a serious Achilles' injury. Originally it was thought he might be out until Christmas, but now Matthews could play opening night. The other big acquisition was point guard Deron Williams, but he's way past his All-Star prime. The Nets were happy to let him walk and pay him to do so.
So when everyone is healthy, you are looking at a starting five of Williams, Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia, whom the Mavs picked up from Milwaukee following Jordan's change of heart. Parsons is coming off major knee surgery and probably won't be ready to start the season.
NBA Free Picks: The Mavs are +6600 to win the NBA title, +3300 to win the West and +5000 long shots to take the Southwest Division. Don't bother with any of those. If this team were in the East, it might go .500 and make the playoffs. Not in the West. But 36.5 feels a tad too low. Go 'over' that total by a couple of games.