DALLAS — Gone are veteran leaders Vince Carter and Shawn Marion. However, entering is an influx of young talent that’s hungry to taste success in a Dallas Mavericks uniform.
Opting to get younger this offseason following the free-agent signing of 25-year-old budding star Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks continued to add 20-somethings down their roster while also aligning 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki with veterans capable of competing for a championship now. Finishing the 2013-14 season tied for the fifth-oldest team in the league with an average age of 28.5 years old, the Mavs still managed to sprint to a 49-33 record before pushing the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the Mavericks hope that an injection of young blood will help get them over the hump.
“I mean, it gets us younger,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said while watching the team’s summer-league squad last month in Las Vegas. “The good news about all the experience we had is it really allowed us to modify and give the Spurs a run for their money last year. The bad news is that we had to restrict minutes, and so restricted minutes was a bigger challenge. [Parsons] is a guy that we can keep out there a lot longer, whereas with Vince and with ‘Trix [Marion] and Dirk we really had to balance minutes.”
With the 37-year-old Carter’s migration to Memphis, the Mavericks will undoubtedly need a young contributor to emerge off their bench to fill the vacant sixth man role. That responsibility could fall in the hands of third-year forward Jae Crowder, 24, or new addition Al-Farouq Aminu, who doesn’t turn 24 years old until Sept. 21. Meanwhile, second-year guards Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo will try to crack the rotation after limited playing time during their first season.
In the interior, the Mavs will lean on the body bodies of high flyer Brandan Wright, 26, and the bruising Greg Smith, 23, to back up starting center Tyson Chandler. But it’s the young legs, untapped potential and versatility of Parsons that figures to give Dallas the biggest boost after he finished seventh in the league last season while averaging 37.6 minutes per game, which was just ahead of Mavs guard Monta Ellis’ 36.9 minutes an outing.
“This was just a really good fit for us in a lot of respects,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said of the addition of Parsons. “In terms of chemistry and upside, you know, we’ve always liked guys that are multi-skilled and know what to do when they don’t have the ball, that are a triple threat and all those old-school things. It’s a really good fit for us.”