DALLAS — Although he couldn’t hide his giddiness for the upcoming season following a summer of wheeling and dealing, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tempered his expectations for his new-look team as he made his radio rounds last week.
Acknowledging that the Mavericks will have to build chemistry over the course of the grueling 82-game schedule, Cuban put aside his excitement after making several upgrades to the roster this summer. Instead, Cuban used the team’s past successes and failures as blueprints for how important it is that the Mavs jell with a cast of new faces.
“I mean, I said every summer that I’m happy about [the offseason], but winning the summer means nothing,” Cuban told 105.3 FM The Fan last week. “And that’s the way it works, right? I’ll tell you a quick story just to show you that you never know. The year after we lost (in the NBA Finals) in 2006 is the year we won 67 games and lost in the first round (of the playoffs). We started that season 0-4, and I remember sitting with [former Mavs assistant coach] Del Harris when we were 0-4 and we were going into maybe Phoenix or L.A. I forget where it was, but I was sitting with Del and he goes, ‘You know, you just never know, Mark. Maybe we’ve reached our peak and now it’s rebuild time.’ Right? And we ended up winning 67 games. … You know, I just try not to say now we’ve got it, because when you think you do you never do.”
With the franchise’s title run during the 2010-11 season as an example of what a team can accomplish when it mixes chemistry and unselfish play, Cuban and the Mavericks will once again set out on a championship chase. However, after also seeing the team set a franchise record by winning 67 games during the ’06-07 campaign before falling in the first round of the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors, the owner is quick to point out that the Mavs will not be able to simply rely on their talent this season.
Working out a six-player trade with the New York Knicks back on June 25, Cuban brought back the defensive catalyst of the Mavs’ 2011 title team in center Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks also got back 10-year veteran point guard Raymond Felton in the deal, setting the stage for a big offseason.
Re-signing 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and reserve guard Devin Harris, the Mavs kept in the fold two key pieces from last year’s squad that pushed the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games during their first-round playoff series. But, after making several splashes in free agency by signing new additions Chandler Parsons, Jameer Nelson, Al-Farouq Aminu and Richard Jefferson, in addition to a trade with Chicago for big man Greg Smith, Cuban acknowledges that the Mavericks will have to build chemistry on the fly in order to be successful.
And according to Cuban, their ability to come together will ultimately determine how deep the Mavs will go this season.
“Look, chemistry to me is critical,” Cuban explained. “You know, a team with talent without chemistry is never going to win, I don’t think, at least not in this day and age where everybody’s so visible and everybody’s got social media. In the past, maybe it worked because you had three beat writers that wrote about you and that’s the only people that presented anything, and players didn’t have to worry about their brands or didn’t care about their brands. I don’t know, but now chemistry is vital. You can have one knucklehead in the locker room, but if you have two, you’re (in trouble). You can have one prima donna maybe in the locker room, but if you have two prima donnas, you’re (in trouble). And so, to me, chemistry makes a huge difference.
“If you look at the talent in our 2010 team, we didn’t have the best talent in the NBA, right? You look at our 2006-07 team, we did. We probably had the best talent in the NBA, but we weren’t able to keep it all together when we got to playing the Warriors, so chemistry matters.”