State of the Cap: Dallas Mavericks
2008/09 Dallas Mavericks Payroll: $80.3 million
2008/09 Estimated Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly $22.3 million over cap
[img_assist|nid=1413|title=Dirk Nowitzki|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=449]Josh Howard continued to improve his play after signing a large contract extension two years ago. Howard appears well on his way to earning the three years and $32.5 million left on his contract (the final year is a player option). He once again set career highs in points (19.9), rebounds (7.0), and assists (2.2). There really is nothing to worry about when it comes to Josh Howard... except for his admission of off-season pot use. That might come back to bite him in the butt someday.
A welcome surprise during the season, Brandon Bass became a breath of fresh air off the bench for the Mavericks. His tough, aggressive play lead to 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in about 19 minutes per game as a sub. Bass really turned some heads with a few monster games towards the end of the season and in the playoffs. For less than $1 million next year, Dallas gets an excellent young player that should see a more expanded role in the future.
One good thing I can say about Erick Dampier is that he is a model of consistency. The past three seasons, he has averaged about 6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1 block per game. In this case, however, consistency is a bad thing since Dampier will receive $32.5 million over the next three years. On a game by game basis he is wildly inconsistent. For every 19 point, 17 rebound outing, there are plenty of times where he barely registers in the box score. You never know what you might get from Erick Dampier, but whatever it is probably won't be worth the price.
The highest paid player on the team is Jason Kidd, due to make $21.3 million next season. Dallas gave up a lot to acquire Kidd and his gigantic contract because they felt his experience and leadership would get them over the hump in the playoffs. After Chris Paul ran circles around him to pour in 24.6 points and 12 assists in their five game series, the trade now doesn't look so good. The younger, quicker Devin Harris might have had a better chance of slowing down the speedy Paul.
Kidd's intangibles had better be worth something because his stats don't exactly merit his sizable paycheck. He only shot 42.6% from the field as a Maverick, which was actually his best showing in nearly ten years. He also wasn't able to average double digits in points. I know Kidd is still a great floor leader who distributes and rebounds very well, but for what he is being paid, he simply has to do more, especially in the playoffs. Perhaps his quest for gold in the Summer Olympics and a full season in Dallas will key a Jason Kidd resurgence.
Jerry Stackhouse hasn't played more than 67 games in any of his four seasons with the Mavericks. He also hasn't shot better than 42% in eight years. The 10.7 points he averaged last season was the worst of his career. His game is in decline and he can't seem to stay on the court. However, Stackhouse is still owed roughly $7 million each of the next two seasons. The team simply isn't getting their money's worth.
I thought it was a mistake to pull the trigger on the Jason Kidd trade, yet I was still surprised to see them lose to a much less experienced New Orleans team. With back-to-back first round exits, where does Dallas go from here? Most of their rotation will be over 30 by the start of next season. Kidd, Dampier, and Stackhouse are already well beyond that. Dirk Nowitzki, who just turned 30, has plenty of years left in him and is signed for the next three at about $59.3 million total. His numbers were down slightly, but still worthy of his contract with 23.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and good shooting, as always.
Jason Terry turns 31 in September and is signed for the next four years at about $10 million each. His 15.5 points and decent shooting still warrant that kind of money, but it looks like his skills are starting to decline. He might be considered overpaid in a year or two. This is a team that doesn't have time to waste trying to figure things out. They need to win and they need to do it now.
Former coach Avery Johnson had a winning percentage of .735, but that wasn't good enough. New coach Rick Carlisle has a tall order in front of him. He'll need all the help he can get from Nowitzki and Kidd, two veterans hungry for a championship. They had better win soon because Mark Cuban won't keep overpaying for a contender forever.
DeSagana Diop has had a curious NBA career. First, he was a lottery pick flop for Cleveland. Then, brought in to Dallas as an afterthought, he resurrected his career as a cheap role player that blocked a few shots and grabbed a few boards. Next, he was traded away as part of a blockbuster deal and was hardly used by his new team. Finally, as a ridiculously overpriced free agent, he was signed by the same team that traded him away. Something tells me there will be more to this story before his time in the NBA is through.
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