Continuity is a valued commodity in the NBA. Players, coaches, owners – they all like to know what they can depend on.
Look no further than the 2011 championship season. The Mavericks had only two significant changes to their playing rotation from the previous season – Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic.
That quest for stability was a big part of the equation for Tim Hardaway Jr. with his decision to return to the Mavericks.
Yes, there is a new coach, which represents a disturbance in the force that is regularity.
For 14 years, the Mavericks had consistency at the head coaching spot. It was Rick Carlisle’s team.
Now, it’s Jason Kidd’s team. But Hardaway knows what the thinking is with Kidd’s hiring. And he said it should help the organization.
“Everything still feels similar up to now,” Hardaway said. “We still have our core. I think the only difference is the front office and we added a few new faces.
“They’re the ones that brought a championship to this city. And that’s very important. That’s going to be a key factor going forward. They know what it takes.”
Hardaway emphasized that being able to tap into that championship DNA can do nothing but help the Mavericks this season and beyond.
The same can be said of him re-signing in Dallas. Hardaway’s strong body of work over the last few seasons, plus a very solid playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers (17 points per game, 40.4 percent 3-point shooting), made him a hot free-agent target last month.
The Mavericks like the way he fits with Luka Dončić. And the feeling is mutual.
“Playing alongside KP (Kristaps Porzingis) for these last four or five years now and playing alongside Luka, I did feel like, the year we got to the bubble (2020), I really felt like this was a place I could really flourish and find my niche.
“After that, I felt like I was part of something special. I do feel like this is home. I do feel like I’m supposed to be here.”
Hardaway spent last season bouncing between starting and coming off the bench.
That figures to change this season – another sign that consistency is being valued.
While the Mavericks have good depth at their wing positions, it would appear that Hardaway is cemented in the starting backcourt with Dončić.
While things can change when training camp opens later this month, the rest of the starting lineup could include Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith and someone from the center group of Moses Brown, Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein or Dwight Powell.
Regardless of how the rotation breaks down, Hardaway is intrigued about the Mavericks’ possibilities. It will be Luka’s fourth season. Kidd will bring a fresh approach while preaching some of the same priorities that topped Carlisle’s list for the last decade-plus.
“I think everybody has another year under their belt,” Hardaway said. “Just make sure we play both ends and make sure we get to the postseason and past the first round and second round and try to get to that championship round and try to bring another trophy here.”
It all starts with Dončić, of course. Hardaway said there’s nothing the 6-7 point guard does anymore that surprises him.
And management knows that the clock is always ticking on building a big-time winner around the two-time first-team All-NBA Slovenian. It was the same mission the Mavericks of 20 years ago had with Dirk Nowitzki, who needed eight seasons to reach an NBA finals and 12 seasons to win a title.
“Honestly, if you look at the Mavs’ roster right now, you have a top-five player in the NBA and I’m saying that loosely,” general manager Nico Harrison said. “Then I think it’s just putting pieces around him. And then the pieces that are around him, how do you empower them to play their best?
“How do you communicate with them to play their best? How do you create a culture that helps them play their best? If you do all those things, now you’re looking at players and (saying), maybe he’s better than I thought or playing better than I thought.”
That applies to a lot of players, Hardaway included. With continuity on the roster one of the themes, they all should get a chance to build their games.