By losing the first three games of their season, the Dallas Mavericks had the worst start to a season for a defending champ in more than four decades. I’m sure that’s an accolade that owner Mark Cuban will cherish. But it didn’t stop him from spouting his mouth before Dirk Novitzki and company finally earned their first win of the season last night.
The loud-mouthed owner said, “I think we’re a better team than last year.”
Um, paging Mr. Cuban, you’re not. In fact, you’re a lot worse. Maybe you didn’t realize it, but Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and Deshawn Stevenson were very important parts of your team last year.
Chandler was a borderline all-star last year. He played nearly 30 minutes a game and averaged 10.1 points to go along with 9.4 rebounds. On top of that, he is a very good defender and was key in clogging up the paint for the Mavs last year. Butler missed the second half of year and the postseason with a knee injury, but during his time on the court, he averaged 15 points in 30 key minutes. Yes, the Mavs won the title without him but he’s now part of a dynamic Los Angeles Clippers team that will compete with Dallas all year. Him not being on the Mavs doesn’t make the Mavs worse to be fair to Cuban and his quote, but it is going to make it harder for them to repeat as champions.
Barea is the Mavericks biggest loss in my book. While he wasn’t a starter, the little Puerto Rican was a workhouse on the court who found seems all over the place. Whenever he was in danger, he just always found a way to wiggle out of it. With the acquisition of Lamar Odom (who seems to have spent all offseason/lockout period eating chips on his couch), the Mavs have a solid sixth man to come off the bench and battle down low. He won’t be as effective as Chandler defensively, but he is more versatile on the offensive end.
However, Barea, the Mavs didn’t replace. They signed Delonte West, but he’s just not good enough and does not fit their system as well as Barea did. West is a good player, but Barea moved around the court better and could pick out the Dallas shooters better than West could. On top of that, Barea is a better defensive player and is not as big of a hot head as West is.
The final player the Mavs lost, Deshawn Stevenson, is the most minor of the four, but he will be missed as well. Dallas signed Vince Carter to help make up for his loss, but Carter is 34 years old and will wear down as the season goes on, especially with this year’s tightly packed schedule.
After three losses to start the year and the loss of some important players, why did Mark Cuban think it was appropriate time to make such comments? It increases the pressure on the already struggling Mavs – and no, a 13-point victory over the Raptors does not settle those fears. It’s early in the year and Dallas is just coming off an NBA Championship. Can’t Cuban just sit back for a few games and let his team settle down before putting the spotlight back on him and his unnecessary comments? His comments are counterproductive for his team and in this case, flat out wrong. The Mavs are worse this year. If they sign Dwight Howard in the offseason next year, then Cuban can make such comments and be correct(though I’d still advise against it). Right now though, he just needs to be quiet.