Admittedly, what owner Mark Cuban said his Dallas Mavericks have basically done this season is re-tool on the fly.
And re-tool with younger players.
Gone midway through this season via waiver wire or trade were 32-year-old Deron Williams and 32-year-old Andrew Bogut. Their replacements were 23-year-old Yogi Ferrell and 22-year old Nerlens Noel as the Mavs’ youth movement went into overdrive.
“It’s been incredible the way it’s worked out,” Cuban said. “We couldn’t have scripted it any better. We basically have – we’ve built on the fly.”
What’s more, that annual drudgery during the off-season when the Mavs flip their roster and bring in a ton of players is also about to change. Cuban said that won’t happen this summer.
“Traditionally we’ve rolled over the roster a lot,” Cuban said. “We always had seven or eight new guys.
“I don’t see that happening this year. So I think continuity with our existing guys and getting lineups comfortable with each other – now it’s up to coach – but I think that’s the way we’re going.”
Adding older veterans to their roster since they won the 2011 NBA title hasn’t exactly worked out in the Mavs’ favor. The Mavs, in fact, haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs in four tries since winning it all in ’11, so maybe it was time to do something different.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys and they’re going to get better as a unit, and physically they’ll get better as well,” Cuban said. “We’ll get somebody in the draft and maybe a free agent.
I think now that we’re young, there’s a lot of benefits to keeping those young guys together.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban
“I think now that we’re young, there’s a lot of benefits to keeping those young guys together.”
Of the 15 players on the Mavs’ roster, 10 of them are 27 years old or younger. And five of them are rookies, including Nicolas Brussino (24), Doran Finney-Smith (23), A.J. Hammons (24), Jarrod Uthoff (23) and Ferrell.
The Mavs’ young base also includes Harrison Barnes (24) and Seth Curry (26).
“We’re really planning on keeping them together,” Cuban said. “We’ll always be optimistic though.
“Because we’re young and we’ve got great really strong young talent with Seth and HB, etc., there’s a lot of value to having them play together for a long time.”
Cuban said the Mavs’ fans have reacted positively to the re-shuffling of his franchise’s roster from an older core to a younger bumper crop.
“Our season ticket renewals are shockingly high,” Cuban said. “They’re the highest they’ve been at this point and time in years.
“It’s the highest it’s been in at least five years.”
Cuban even defended the trade for Noel, who missed his entire rookie season – the 2013-14 campaign – because he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in college and had surgery.
“Look, the downside was 20-something games that we get to try him out,” Cuban said. “There’s nothing that had us believe that there’s any problems.”
Nerlens becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, but the Mavs can match any offer he receives.
“We’re not allowed to say we’re matching anything, or anything like that,” Cuban said. “But obviously we want to keep him as a Dallas Maverick.”
Especially considering Noel’s age.
“If our young guys can keep on playing hard and keep on improving and making progress, we’ll keep on making progress,” Cuban said. “It feels good.”