Is Dallas better than last year?

Thanks to the shortened free agency period inflicted by the lockout we are being overwhelmed by NBA news. Many franchises are in a mad dash to make their teams worse (we’ll post on that, don’t worry!) but a surprise story is that the defending champions may have in fact secretly improved themselves in several ways.

Here’s a brief rundown of the Mavericks offseason thus far (2011 Numbers can be found here):

Last season Tyson Chandler was very good. The New York Knicks clearly noticed and offered him a contract worth roughly $15 million a year. The Los Angeles Clippers did not get the memo that Caron Butler has been steadily declining and offered him a contract worth roughly $8 million a year. The Los Angeles Lakers managed to fleece Lamar Odom into a terrible contract. He will make roughly $8.5 million over his next two seasons. Additionally only this season is guaranteed.

Losing Chandler definitely hurts. Losing Butler is not a problem at all, especially with Shawn Marion to pick up the minutes. However these two players had an open market value of over $20 million a season. The Mavericks have managed to replace their lost production for 1/3 the cost. What’s more, losing Lamar will definitely hurt the Lakers, who are a competitor with the Mavericks. There are definite concerns the Mavericks will have to address. They still need a center. Additionally their core of great players (Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Lamar Odom) are all over 32 this season. It’s doubtful such a team can continue to play top basketball for many years. That said, this off-season the Mavericks are doing well. One or two other good moves and the Mavericks may very well see the Heat in the finals again.

-Dre

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