As we prepare to watch the Lakers turn the Thuggets (L.A. in 7) into mere mortals in the Western Conference Finals, let's ponder what the Mavs can do to get back into the NBA's final four.
*Re-sign Jason Kidd?
*A sign-and-trade with Kidd?
*Trade Erick Dampier and Jerry Stackhouse to the Suns for Shaquille O'Neal?
*Use their mid-level exception on a summer free-agent crop highlighted by Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Rasheed Wallace, Trevor Ariza, Anderson Varejao and Chris Andersen?
I know a couple things the Mavs definitely will not do. One is acquire the Thugget who called owner Mark Cuban a "coward." The other is ...
Win tonight's 25th anniversary NBA Draft Lottery, which they aren't in. The Sacramento Kings have the best chance, by the way.
The Mavs will have to wait until the 22nd pick in the June 25 draft - Pitt brute DeJuan Blair, anyone? - to try and improve their lot in life without sacrificing assets. But if this decade is any indication, it's not likely.
Of the Mavs' 13 draft picks since 2000, only two - Eduardo Najera and Josh Howard - have played major minutes in meaningful games. More than age and injuries and level of competition, isn't that the biggest reason for Dallas' uncertain future?
"Nobody bats 1.000," GM Donnie Nelson told me back in the winter when I brought up his sketchy record. "I don't like to grade myself, but I never claimed to be an A. Hopefully I'm not an F."
Handicapped by their own success and some questionable trades, the Mavs have had only three first-round picks this decade. Nonetheless, nine drafts with only Howard to show for them will set any team back. Without an influx - or even a trickle - of young talent, it's amazing the Mavs have remained this good for this long.
Reason: Dirk Nowitzki.
At No. 22, the Mavs will have their highest pick since 2000. It better be good. They need help. And, thanks to the Devin Harris deal, they don't have a No. 1 next year.
Let's grade Dallas' drafts:
2000 - B-
Rd Pick Player Comment
1. 12 Etan Thomas - Sent packing in Juwan Howard trade before suiting up as a Mav.
2. 31 Dan Langhi (traded for Eduardo Najera) - Najera had four productive seasons as a Mexican "Birdman."
2. 58 Pete Mickeal (traded for Donnell Harvey) - Harvey played 36 games as a Mav before being traded in deal for, among others, Avery Johnson.
2001 - F
2. 44 Kyle Hill - Never played for Mavs.
2. 54 Kenny Satterfield - Ditto.
2002 - F
2. 55 Mladen Sekularac - See 2001.
2003 - A+
1. 29 Josh Howard - Former All-Star was an all-time steal until recent injuries and character flaws.
2. 57 Xue Yuyang (traded for '04 2nd-round pick) - Shrewd move?
2004 - F
2. 50 Vassilis Spanoulis (traded for Luis Flores) - Not so shrewd. Flores never a Mav.
2006 - D-
1. 28 Maurice Ager - A 27-percent shooter in 44 games as a Mav.
2. 58 J.R. Pinnock (traded for future 2nd-round pick) - If you say so.
2007 - D-
2. 34 Nick Fazekas - Latest in a long line of Great White Nopes totaled four points in Dallas.
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2. 50 Renaldas Seibutis - Who?
2. 60 Milovan Rakovic (traded for Reyshawn Terry) - Blockbuster deal. Terry never suits up as a Mav.
2008 - F
2. 51 Shan Foster - Last seen in Europe.