The dust has finally settled. Or at least, it will in the coming days when the Mavericks realize they have five new players, four of whom certainly are looking for as much playing time as possible from their new coach, Rick Carlisle.
More on that in a moment.
Now that the NBA trading deadline has passed and there was a whopping amount of player movement around the league, the Mavericks on Thursday could take stock and see where two major deals have left them. After swapping last week with New York for a package of four players headlined by Kristaps Porzingis, they shipped Harrison Barnes to Sacramento on Wednesday for Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph, who would be waived, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said.
Around the league, transactions happened in rapid-fire fashion in the last 24 hours before the deadline.
Some teams, like the Kings, bolstered their roster for playoff runs.
Others, like the Clippers and Knicks, cleared salary cap space in hopes of making major free-agent splashes this summer.
They joined the other teams from LA and New York in the ranks of teams lining themselves up for free agency. The Nets and Lakers already have a load of cap space and several other teams can take swings for the fences in free agency, too.
This brings to mind the thoughts of Mark Cuban. The Mavericks’ proprietor often says that if too many people employ the same strategy, it usually doesn’t work – at least not for everybody.
And while there will be a bumper crop of free agents this summer, including many of the biggest stars in the game, it’s still a gamble.
And, yes, the Mavericks will be rolling those dice, too.
“We will absolutely be active,” Nelson said of this summer’s talent scramble. “As always, it’s going to be a very interesting and opportunistic summer. We certainly are positioned to make some noise. There’s household names, but as you know, we’ve had good luck with, let’s call it, maybe not the max level guys.”
The Mavericks no doubt will find themselves involved, but that’s a concern for July, not February.
For now, the question to answer is how they can put this team in a position to be competitive over the last 29 games. Let’s face it: they traded away four of their starters in the last week. The players they got back are solid. But the Mavericks are going to need more from a lot of contributors to make a playoff push.
And that remains the goal, of course. But they are three games behind the eighth-seeded LA Clippers and would also have to leapfrog the Lakers and the Kings if they want to get to the postseason for the first time since 2015-16.
What seems clear is that the Mavericks are going to have to employ a lot of different lineups and some players are going to get opportunities that may not have been there in the first 50 games of the season.
“Down the stretch of the season, we need to look at a lot of things,” Carlisle said. “We got a lot of guys that are capable. I don’t know that it’ll be a situation where everybody will play all the time. That’s not really possible. But we will look at different lineups. We will be a matchup-driven team with preparation.
“I like the spirit of the guys we have. They’re into it, they’re competitive and they’re raring to go.”
It’s a brave new day, to be sure. From last season’s 24-win team, 60 percent of the minutes played among guys who saw more than 12 games with the team are gone. This thing is brand new. And starting over is very exciting.