A year and a half after winning the NBA title, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t come close to being one of the best teams in the league.
Since defeating the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals, the Mavericks have a losing record. Last season, they were swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs as a No.7 seed. This season, they are in danger of missing the postseason all together.
At 16-23, the Mavericks are 12.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division, and five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Injuries have played a big part in the Mavericks' struggles, as Dirk Nowitzki missed 28 games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. He has only started six games, and has yet to score more than 20 points in a contest.
The Mavericks still have half of the season to turn things around. Nowitzki is only averaging 13.3 points per game, but is expected to improve in the coming weeks. Once he returns to his superstar level of play, the Mavericks will have an opportunity to make the postseason.
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Owner Marc Cuban isn’t happy with the team’s performance, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the Mavericks winners once again.
"We're letting everybody know that the "Bank of Cuban" is open," said Cuban on Monday. "If it's the right deal, we don't mind taking back money. But we're not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It's got to be worthwhile."
The Mavericks have a lot of flexibility when it comes to making trades. They cleared a lot of salary cap space last season in hopes of signing a big free agent. Dallas’s top two targets, however, ended up elsewhere. Deron Williams re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets and Dwight Howard was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, Cuban is ready to use the salary cap room with the trade deadline about a month away. The organization could target teams that want to lower their payroll and avoid paying heavy luxury tax penalties.
Cuban has stated publicly that he won’t move Nowitzki, but the Mavericks do have a few pieces that could net them some players of value.
Chris Kaman could be a big help to a few teams. The seven-footer would be attractive to any team that is looking to add size and rebounding help. Perhaps even more attractive to teams than Kaman’s height is the size of his contract. He’s in the final year of his deal and would intrigue teams that are looking to shed payroll.
Darren Collison could also be on the move at the right price. His averages of 13 points and 5.1 assists per game could be packaged in a deal for a bigger star. If a team doesn’t want to keep Collison for the 2013-2014 season they can refuse to make a qualifying offer and make him a free agent.