Dirk Nowitzki isn’t entirely too happy about the Mavericks’ approach right now. After the Mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011, the Mavs decided not to risk luxury tax territory by locking key guys like Tyson Chandler up in long-term deals and hoped for something big in free agency once their cap freed up. They whiffed on all three key guys in free agency. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul would both eventually go to Los Angeles (on different teams) and Deron Williams opted to stay with the Nets.
Dirk talked to ESPN Dallas about the state of the franchise.
“It’s going to be tough now,” Nowitzki said after the Mavs’ home overtime loss to the Western Conference cellar-dwelling New Orleans Hornets. “I always liked to think you don’t want to build your franchise on hope.
“We hoped for Deron last year. We hoped for Dwight. Why would he leave the Lakers? To me, it makes no sense. He’s in a great situation. Why would CP3 leave? [The Los Angeles Clippers are] the best team in the league probably right now. They’re probably the deepest team. So are you going to hope that we get something?”
Dwight isn’t exactly in a great situation right now, but nevertheless, Dirk doesn’t want to wait too long to get competitive.
Mark Cuban had something to say about Dirk’s comments when told about them. From the same article:
Cuban took Nowitzki’s comments in stride when contacted Monday morning.
“Dirk gets upset when we are in a tough period,” Cuban replied in an email to ESPNDallas.com. “If you only knew the things he has said to me during recent seasons about our team. I’m glad I didn’t listen :)
“That’s Dirk. He uses being mad for personal motivation. No one on this team should be happy with the way we are playing right now. I know I’m not. But we aren’t going to change our approach. We will be opportunistic and try to get this season turned around.”
That’s all fine and dandy but it’s going to be a tough road back. Dallas is 12th in the West and 5 1/2 games behind Portland for the eighth playoff spot. Yes, it’s still only January but it’s always a battle in the Western Conference.
Despite Dirk’s unhappiness about the Mavs’ long-term plans, he’s not exactly looking for a trade (though he did mention it briefly in that article).
“The only reason I would leave — or would have left — is if we wouldn’t have won the championship, and I would have been like a Karl Malone and [Gary] Payton going to join Kobe and Shaq in L.A. like they did at the end,” Nowitzki said. “But now I’ve got a ring and obviously want to finish my career here. But I also want to be competitive.”
At 13-21, they haven’t been exactly competitive. Maybe they will with Dirk back but bottom line is that they’re not going to be confused as a championship contender and that they’re going to have to walk on the road they had built over the past couple of years. And they’re doing exactly what Dirk doesn’t want: hope something happens in free agency. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul headline next offseason’s free agents and it’s a pretty longshot for Dallas to get either of them.
All the Mavericks can do now is hope.