Where do the Mavs go from here?

What a difference a year makes. Around this time last year the Dallas Mavericks were headed to the NBA Finals after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now their offseason has already begun after getting swept at the hands of that same Thunder team.

The Thunder did not change their team all that much, they were just young and with a year’s more experience, they got a lot better. The Mavs however, got a lot worse.

Mark Cuban decided to focus more on the future and not worry as much about the defense of his title. He let some key guys get away, including Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler. Cuban tried to replace those guys with Vince Carter and Lamar Odom, but it clearly was not enough.

The Mavs added aging veterans to an already old team, and Odom could not even finish out the season. It was clear from the beginning that this team was not built for the defense of a title.

“If you want to be an elite team in this league right now, you have to have at least two or three guys that can just go off at any time,” said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki after the Game 4 loss. “I just thought [the Thunder] had more weapons than us. That was pretty clear.”

Well if this Dallas team was not going to win another championship, did they serve another purpose? Was Mark Cuban just sacrificing this year in order to create a dynasty? That is what everyone seems to think, that Cuban is some sort of mad genius whose plan is going to come together, we just can’t see it yet.

I think that may have been the case at some point, but I think it is all backfiring on Cuban now.

The Mavs were clearly hoping to land Dwight Howard and Deron Williams this summer, but that plan went out the window when Howard signed an extension to stay with the Orlando Magic until the summer of 2013. Now the Mavs can only go after Williams, and even if they could get him, would he even make that big of a difference alone? Williams is very good, but if you just stick him on a team of guys who cannot run alongside him, what good is he? The thought of coming to Dallas might not even be attractive to Williams anymore without the possibility of Howard coming along too.

“We never had cap space [before],” Nowitzki said. “So they made the decision to go for that and we’ll just have to wait and see what comes out of that. We have no idea now. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the summer or the summer after that. We’ll just have to kind of wait and see who can we get, who’s available and who wants to come here. That’s going to be something we’re going to see in the future. We can’t make a judgment on that now.”

So the Mavs cleared out all that cap space for nothing. There is not really going to be another big player that the Mavs can go after this summer, so what happens now? Do they throw away another season just for the hopes of landing Howard next year? There is no guarantee that the highly sought after big man would want to go to Dallas next year either.

I think at this point, the Mavericks are in big trouble.

Who knows who they will be getting back next year? The team is full of free agents and aging veterans and they could be undergoing another facelift, and once again, the results might be hideous. Lots of people like to believe in the power of Mark Cuban, but I think he dug himself a grave that he cannot climb out of right away. There may not be a quick fix if this team wants to return to the top. They may have to start a rebuilding process, but knowing Cuban, he will not want to be a lottery team so I am sure we will see some sort of drastic move coming this offseason.