Mavericks eyeing repeat as NBA practices start
The Dallas Mavericks are thinking about a repeat — even after
losing some key players from their championship run.
”We’re world champions,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
”We’re excited about that.”
Beginning with Tyson Chandler, the team’s defensive and leader,
the Mavericks have significant holes to fill before the season
starts Dec. 25.
Chandler agreed to the deal Friday with the New York Knicks as
training camps opened. Jose Barea, a part-time starter and
postseason star, is resigned to the fact he’s not coming back to
Caron Butler, injured much of last season but a key contributor
before going down, has already signed with the Los Angeles
Clippers. The Mavs also don’t appear to have much interest in
bringing back DeShawn Stevenson.
”The makeup of the team is probably going to be a little
different, but that’s just the business of basketball,” Jason Kidd
said. ”That happens, but we still believe we can win. We’re going
to work extremely hard and take pride in being a champion and
trying to protect our championship.”
The Mavericks still have Dirk Nowitzki, the reigning Finals MVP
who remains one of the league’s elite players despite being 33.
Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion round out Carlisle’s veteran
”A championship is the goal,” Terry said. ”In every training
camp you want to set your goals high. Ours are very high, obviously
for the reasons of myself, Dirk, J-Kidd, Marion. We’ve been around
a long time. We know what it takes to win.”
The Mavs had only 10 players for the first workout, including
Brandan Wright who was signed Friday. Rudy Fernandez is expected to
clear up visa issues and be in camp Monday. League rules stipulate
that teams carry at least 13 players.
”Our roster isn’t complete,” Carlisle said. ”There are still
possibilities that exist outside of who is here.”
The decision not to sign any of the team’s key free agents is a
result of the new collective bargaining agreement, owner Mark Cuban
has said in various interviews. The CBA, ratified Thursday by the
owners and players, has made cap room a more valuable than ever
before, Cuban added.
Since buying the franchise, Cuban was simply able to outspend
competitors to build a contender. The Mavericks have been over the
luxury tax threshold for virtually his entire 11-year tenure.
By not signing Chandler and Barea, in particular, the team is
projected to be under the salary cap next season. Kidd and Terry
are also entering the last year of their contracts, which would
take millions more off the books.
Cuban said that cap room will not only aid in signing players —
Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are among the possible
big-name free agents available next summer — but make trades
easier to execute in the coming years.
Cuban’s goal is to restock talent while the Mavericks are at or
near the top.
”I’m anxious to see what our roster is going to look like,”
Wright adds to add frontcourt depth behind Nowitzki. Brendan
Haywood steps into Chandler’s starting center role with Ian Mahinmi
as the backup.
”Just knowing you’re going to get more minutes is definitely an
added plus, but you have to go out there and do something with your
minutes,” Haywood said.
Dallas also needs to get something out of young guards Roddy
Beaubois and Dominique Jones, who weren’t factors last season due
of injuries. The Mavericks are grooming Beaubois be the heir
apparent to Kidd at point guard.
The Mavericks expect to have a team ready to compete for their
second title when Miami rolls into town Christmas Day for a Finals
”It’s great to be back to defend our title and play the game
that we love,” Kidd said