HOUSTON – In recent years, the Dallas Mavericks’ roster has been flipped around more times than hamburgers at a local fast food joint.
Since winning the 2011 NBA title, the Mavs are just 4-12 in the postseason and have yet to win a playoff series. And no doubt, they’re fans are hungry and anxious to seriously get back in the running for another championship.
After Tuesday’s 103-94 loss to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center, which ended the Mavs’ season, coach Rick Carlisle pointed directly to what needs to happen in order for Dallas to at least get out of the first round of the playoffs.
"We’ve got to get healthy,’’ Carlisle said. "Playing the series without (small forward Chandler) Parsons is a big factor – he’s one of our top players.
"Health is a big part of it. We’ve got to a lot of free agents again. We’ve got as many as 11, depending on opts-in and opt-outs and all that kind of stiff, and so there will be a lot of activity this summer and a lot of opportunities to get the team better, and so we’ll just take a little time and catch our breath and then we’ll be real aggressive.’’
Only four players on the current roster were with the Mavs when last season ended with a seven-game lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki ($8.3 million), Devin Harris ($4.05 million) and Parsons ($15.36 million) are the only players under contract for next season.
Monta Ellis plans to opt-out of a contract that will play him $9.08 million next season. Raymond Felton can opt-in and earn $4.54 million next year, but hasn’t decided what his plans are.
Al-Farouq Aminu has a player-option for the bargain basement price of $1.1 million, so signs are pointing to him probably opting-out.
"It was fun and I wish it would’ve ended a little better, but that’s just sometimes how it goes,’’ Aminu said. "I enjoyed my teammates and they taught me a lot on how to work and how to conduct myself and I really appreciate it.’’
The Mavs, who were 50-32 during the regular season and a seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs, surely appreciated Aminu and the hard work he brought to the table.
"One guy who really rose to the occasion and showed why they brought him and the talent that he has, I thought Farouq is the reason that we were in a Game 5,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. "His energy and his play and the heart that he showed out there, he was a game-changer.’’
Elsewhere, the Mavs can make Bernard James a qualifying offer of $1.18 million. And Dallas has a team option on Dwight Powell for $845,059.
In the meantime, major decisions ned to be made on unrestricted free agents-to-be Tyson Chandler, J. J. Barea, Richard Jefferson, Amar’e Stoudemire, Charlie Villanueva, Greg Smith and even Rajon Rondo, although Carlisle has already said that the tempestuous point guard will never wear a Mavs uniform again.
Chandler acknowledged that he would prefer to be back with the Mavs next season.
"That’s always a preference, but we’ll see what happens with everything,’’ Chandler said. "I’ve got to take some time mentally.
"There were so many things going on throughout this season. I’ll take some time mentally and when the time is the time, we’ll discuss it and go from there.’’
The Mavs also have to discuss what went wrong with Rondo, who was supposed to be one of the main missing pieces after Dallas engineered a blockbuster trade with Boston to acquire the heady playmaker. But Rondo got involved in two cursing matches with coach Rick Carlisle – one during the Feb. 24 home game against Toronto and one in the locker room after that game.
Then, the day after the Mavs went down 2-0 to the Rockets in this best-of-seven series, Carlisle mysteriously said Rondo had a back injury and explicably would no longer wear a Mavs jersey again. Apparently no MRI was conducted by the Mavs on Rondo’s back, but he certainly didn’t endear himself with his teammates during his four-plus months in Dallas.
"As far as our locker room goes, we traded a lot of pieces for a point guard that is not with us right now,’’ Chandler said. "And our big (three-year, $46 million) signee (CP (Chandler Parsons) got hurt.
"And then the back ups to the back ups got hurt. We were out there, and we fought, but at the end of the day we didn’t have enough.’’