Mavs Off to a Good Start

Dallas Mavericks keep hopes of another NBA title alive with retooled roster

Dallas Mavs keep hopes of another NBA title alive with retooled roster

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and four rebounds for the Mavs. Dallas Mavericks/Facebook
Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks
Shawn Marion is one of the few players left from the 2011 championship team. Dallas Mavericks/Facebook
Gersson Rosas of the Dallas Mavericks
Gersson Rosas resigned as the Mavs general manager the day before the season began. Dallas Mavericks/Facebook
Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks
Head coach Rick Carlisle is once again working with a new roster. Dallas Mavericks/Facebook
Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks
Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks
Gersson Rosas of the Dallas Mavericks
Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks

I guess the moral of the Gersson Rosas story is that Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson run the Dallas Mavericks, and if you can’t live with that, then it’s best to move on. So that’s what Rosas did. Granted, the eve of the regular season isn’t great timing. But when you know it’s time to go, you go.

Rosas said in a release that staying with the Mavericks was “not the best fit for me at this point in my career.” Cuban told reporters before Wednesday’s season opener with Atlanta that “it just didn’t work out.” Cuban hired Rosas with the hope that the young rising front office star could come in and help the Mavericks develop young talent, the way he did for the Houston Rockets.

But Rosas reportedly wanted more control over personnel decisions, and that wasn’t going to happen with Nelson in the org chart. Fortunately, that didn’t distract Mavs fans from the opening-night festivities or perhaps the strangest in-game video the Mavericks’ famously quirky video department has ever produced. Four words: Mavs as farm animals.

 The new paradigm in professional sports is developing young talent. You identify it, you nurture it and you control the costs. 

Like last year, this is another Mavericks team with high turnover. There are nine new players to go along with the mature core of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. The trio has 44 NBA seasons. The other 12 players — not counting the three rookies — have 51 combined.

“We’re all still getting to know each other, and it’s going to take a while,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game.

If you’re looking for a template for success this season — or what the Mavs hope will be success — it was evident in their 118-109 win over the Hawks.

Nowitzki is still the Dirk we all know. He just has a healthier knee than at this time last year. He finished with 24 points, four rebounds and a couple of key baskets down the stretch that kept the lead comfortable.

The Mavs hope Monta Ellis can be the scorer that keeps the heat off Nowitzki. Mission accomplished against the Hawks. Ellis went off for 32 points.

Ellis said the defense sagged on him most of the night, which led to a lot of pull-up jumpers. He and Nowitzki also excelled in the pick-and-roll.

“He can score in bunches so much it’s crazy,” Nowitzki said. “He can score with the best in the league, and we need him to score.”

The Mavs hope that Ellis, along with new point guard Jose Calderon, can be the facilitators that last year’s guards, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, were not. Well, against the Hawks, Calderon dished out 11 assists and Ellis had eight.

The Mavs also hope that veteran center Samuel Dalembert can make them stronger in the middle. He didn’t score much (just four points), but he did grab nine rebounds to lead the team, and the Mavs would love to see that as a season average. In fact, Cuban recently said Dalembert might be the team’s most important player this season.

It wasn’t a perfect night. Nowitzki said the defense needed to get tighter. Carlisle wants to see the Mavs reduce their turnovers. They had 20. Ellis had seven of them.

But this new cast has potential, and the Mavericks are churning personnel in an effort to keep Nowitzki’s hopes of another NBA title afloat. They’re also churning personnel because they haven’t developed enough home-grown talent this past decade, choosing instead to rely on free agents.

The new paradigm in professional sports is developing young talent. You identify it, you nurture it and you control the costs. Cuban doesn’t mind spending money, but he’s made it clear he won’t write luxury tax checks anymore.

Which is exactly why Rosas was hired. And exactly why Rosas leaving the Mavs could be a bigger hit to this team’s future than one might imagine right now, good vibrations of Wednesday’s win aside.