Nowitzki had high hopes when Odom joined
When Lakers coach Phil Jackson decided to retire after the Mavericks defeated Los Angeles in the playoffs last season, there was widespread speculation that Kobe Bryant would have a say in who would become the new coach. In other words, many thought the Lakers brass would check with Bryant before naming Jackson's replacement.
While that reportedly did not happen, the thought was conceivable. Judging by the comments Dirk Nowitzki made Sunday at American Airlines Center, it's obvious the 7-foot German wants no part of calling the shots. Nowitzki wants to play ball and leave contracts and free agency up to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson.
"Mark and Donnie always make good decisions and are trying to make the best decisions for this franchise," Nowitzki said during his season-ending exit interview. "We'll have to wait and see. Concerned? Yeah, we need to get better. That's my only concern. As the Mavericks over the last decade we usually pride ourselves on not having to play for the seventh seed or the eighth seed. Our goal was always to be in the top four in the West and make a deep run. That was always our goal. It wasn't just to make it into the playoffs."
After winning the franchise's first championship last summer, Nowitzki admitted that he didn't know about Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson not returning until the team opened training camp. For anyone that thinks Nowitzki is constantly communicating with Cuban about the roster, Nowtzki pretty much put that to bed.
"The vibe I was getting when we started camp and nobody was here, I kind of figured that we were going in a different direction," Nowitzki said. "So it was disappointing at the beginning."
But Nowitzki sat back and let Cuban and Nelson handle the roster. And they came through with a few significant moves, adding Delonte West, Vince Carter and Lamar Odom.
"I think the pain eased up a little bit when we got some good players in, and then we pulled a Lamar trade out of a hat," Nowitzki said. "Then I was excited again to play and defend our title."
Obviously the Odom trade went about as poorly as anyone could've imagined. Maybe the Mavs would still be playing had it worked out differently.
"I think we still had some nice pieces if the Lamar thing would've worked out and he played like the year before when he was the best sixth man," Nowitzki said. "I think we would've had a shot. It would've given us another playmaker. Another guy that's long and can defend, can rebound. But for whatever reason, the stuff he was going through off the court was just too much and he couldn't help us the way we wanted, the way he wanted and we had to move on without him.
"Without him I just think we didn't have enough weapons in the arsenal to compete with those boys [with the Oklahoma City Thunder]."
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