Commentary

Mavs must find a sidekick for Dirk

Nowitzki needs some legitimate help to prevent golden years from wasting away

Updated: April 19, 2013, 7:08 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

Sadly, the Dallas Mavericks have wasted a season of Dirk Nowitzki's career.

The reasons don't really matter. All you need to know is owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson put a team around their aging 34-year-old star that forced him to be the Mavs' best player once again.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezThe Mavs would be doing Dirk Nowitzki a disservice by asking him to be the team's best player next season.

That can't happen anymore.

This has nothing to do with Dirk, and it has everything to do with Dirk.

The big lie currently being perpetuated by MFFLs and Cuban is that this team would've been significantly better if Dirk hadn't missed 27 games because of a knee injury.

Wrong.

This team comprised of dudes from The Land of Misfit Players would've forced Dirk to carry such a heavy load during the season that his body would've eventually given way under the strain.

Missing those 27 games at the start of the season has given Dirk the energy and life in his legs to remain a factor a the end of the season.

If you look at the standings today, it's fair to say the Mavs probably would've made the playoffs if Dirk had played all season. But they didn't have the point guard play to be one of the top four teams in the Western Conference, which is Dirk's definition of a contender.

So you're fooling yourself if you think putting another collection of flawed players around one of the greatest players to ever wear a jock strap is going to make the Mavs a contender.

Dirk deserves better.

He can still be one of the league's best players on a given night, and he's still a good player every night.

Those who watch the games see Dirk's moves aren't quite as fluid as they were just a couple of seasons ago. You rarely see him drive from the top of the key to the basket anymore.

He has averaged just 3.2 free throws per game this season -- his career average is 6.3 -- an indication he's settling into life as a jump shooter.

To make the most of Dirk's golden years, the Mavs must get him some legitimate help instead of relying on this silly notion that he can be an elite player for another two or three seasons. They must make Dirk the second-best player on this team, which was the plan going into last season.

It's why the Mavs flirted and pursued Deron Williams. It's why they allowed themselves to believe Dwight Howard or Chris Paul would wind up in Dallas.

But they failed to land the "big fish."

Howard and Paul weren't coming here last year and they're not coming here this year because neither is going to give up the extra year and $30 million they would get by re-signing with their current clubs.

So let's stop with that foolishness. Maybe the Mavs sign Andrew Bynum, the epitome of a dude with a loser mentality, or they get shoot-first guards such as Monte Ellis or Brandon Jennings. Ellis and Jennings can create their own offense and could run an effective two-man game with Dirk, the way Jason Terry did.

Maybe the Mavs trade for someone we haven't even considered, since Cuban and Nelson are among the league's most creative folks. It doesn't matter how they get it done, but if we want Dirk's last two or three seasons to mean something, the front office must have a stellar offseason.

Think about it. Dirk has never really had a true sidekick since he became a full-fledged star. During his best seasons, Josh Howard was a pretty good complement, and others such as Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd have been excellent players. But it's not like the Mavs have had perennial All-Stars in the lineup alongside Dirk.

The reality is this has been Dirk's team for a while now.

Dirk deserves better. He has earned the right to compete for another title, regardless of whether he ultimately gets it.

Dirk is one of the best ever. He deserves to be sent out, whenever it happens, the right way.

Anything else is shameful. It's time for Mark and Donnie to get to work.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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