DENVER – Coach Rick Carlisle made a reference to the Mavericks’ youth after Tuesday’s lopsided loss in a must-win game against the Lakers.
“We have some inexperienced guys who haven’t been here before, so this is a valuable learning experience for them,” Carlisle said. “But it has a price.”
There are two problems with that statement.
The first is that the vast majority of the Mavs are playoff tested. Yes, a pair of 25-year-old guards play major minutes. But Darren Collison has 16 games of playoff experience, having helped the Pacers advance to the second round and put up a fight against the Miami Heat last season. And O.J. Mayo has 20 games of playoff experience, serving as the sixth man on a Memphis team that pushed the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the West semifinals two years ago.
Crowder played a productive 16 minutes against the Lakers, scoring seven points on 3-of-3 shooting and grabbing three rebounds. Wright (plus-2 in 18 minutes) was the only Mav with a positive plus-minus in that game. In other words, they weren’t the reason the Mavs got blown out in such a big game.
The other issue with the statement is that the Mavs might not benefit from any learning experience for most of their young players. Collison, Mayo and Wright can all be free agents, making them part of the majority on the Mavs’ roster.
It’s highly unlikely that Collison returns to Dallas. He’s made it clear that he considers himself a starting point guard. Carlisle has made it clear that he sees Collison as a backup.
Mayo has a player option for $4.2 million next season, but it’s all but a certainty that he’ll test the market again this summer. What are the Mavs willing to pay to keep Mayo?
The same question applies to Wright, whose recent performances might have put him in position to get an offer similar to the one former Mavs backup center Ian Mahinmi signed with the Pacers (four years, $16 million).
Any growing pains aren’t much of a consolation prize for the Mavs.