Long build to title, swift fall from grace
July, 7, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
It took Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki nearly a dozen years to raise the Dallas Mavericks from the ashes of the 1990s to the pinnacle of the NBA as champions.
Just 13 months later, a nearly complete dismantling of the title team has created one of the swiftest falls from grace in league history. In 1998-99, the Chicago Bulls, having moved on from Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, followed a second three-peat with a 13-37 record in the lockout-shortened season.
The Mavs' downward spiral is most similar to that, ironically, of the 2006 Miami Heat, the Dwyane Wade-led team that rallied from an 0-2 hole to beat Avery Johnson's squad. The next year the Heat finished a mediocre 44-38 and were swept out of the first round of the playoffs. The Mavs ended this lockout-shortened, 66-game schedule at 36-30 and were swept in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The following year, the Heat won 15 games. It would be a stretch to think the Mavs will crater to such depths next season, but with a roster now in full rebuild mode -- and one that will not include Jason Terry or Jason Kidd or Deron Williams, for that matter -- Dallas could face a long, hard climb to extend the franchise's record 12-year playoff run.
So where has everybody gone from the title team that partied deep into the South Beach morning last June?
Let's take a look.
Still around: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beauobois, Dominique Jones
Coming back?: Ian Mahinmi (unsigned free agent), Brian Cardinal (unsigned free agent)
Long gone: Tyson Chandler (signed as free agent in 2011 with New York), J.J. Barea (signed as free agent in 2011 with Minnesota); Caron Butler (signed as free agent in 2011 with L.A. Clippers), Corey Brewer (traded in 2011 to Denver), DeShawn Stevenson (signed as free agent in 2011 with New Jersey, traded to Atlanta), Peja Stojakovic (retired)
All but gone: Jason Terry (agreed to terms this week with Boston), Jason Kidd (agreed to terms this week with New York).