Are Dallas Mavericks Headed Back to Early 2000s Version of Team?

Ross Bentley@@imrossbentleySenior Analyst IApril 21, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 04:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks talks with Mike James #13 of the Dallas Mavericks as they face the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on April 4, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 95-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks are doing something right now that the franchise has not done in over a decade: watch the NBA playoffs from home. 

After a 41-41 season, the Mavericks found themselves on the outside looking in of the stacked Western Conference and missed the postseason for the first time since 1999-00.

Dallas has been a consistent commodity in the NBA playoffs up until 2013, with only San Antonio having had a longer active streak going into this season.

Still, Dallas will now be forced to try to pick up the pieces from what was a lost season, and try to right the ship moving forward.

The Mavericks will without a doubt be looking to make a splash in the offseason.

Dallas's pursuit of both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard last offseason was well documented, and this year the team likely will be trying once again to bring another superstar to Dallas.

The Mavs are in desperate need of another star to put alongside Dirk Nowitzki, as the seven-foot Dirk is on the tail end of his Hall of Fame career.

However, the front office may have limited options in bringing about a superstar player. 

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard seem likely to return to Los Angeles. Josh Smith isn't the best fit in Dallas and even players like Brandon Jennings or Al Jefferson may be a stretch.

So the Mavericks must have some sort of backup plan if they can't bring in the top player that they may want to. 

One direction the franchise may choose to go to is to bring the Mavericks back to the style that they played in the early parts of the 2000s.

Once the Mavericks' playoff streak began, they were consistently one of the better regular-season teams in the Western Conference under Don Nelson. 

However, they never broke through in the playoffs, only making the NBA Finals once in that decade, and not winning the franchise's first NBA championship until the next decade in 2011. 

Mark Cuban was able to make Dallas competitive by using the strategy of overpaying for certain players to come in and complement a budding Nowitzki. Although he may have overspent, he was able to lure them to come join the upstart Mavs and turn them into a playoff contender. 

They already had a core of Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Steve Nash on board, they would soon go out and acquire players such as Juwan Howard, Nick Van Exel, Raef LaFrentz and later Antawn Jamison and Antoine Walker to add on to the talent they already had. 

While those Mavericks teams were certainly talented, they were unable to be a serious threat for an NBA championship due mostly to their lack of defensive prowess. 

Still, it is entirely possible that Dallas could go back to that very same strategy this offseason. 

If the Mavericks don't get the exact free agents they want, Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson may feel pressure to get this team back to a playoff level sooner rather than later. 

Instead of investing in young players, they may end up overspending for veterans to try to help them win now. 

The Mavs tried a similar strategy this season, signing many players to short-term contracts, but it proved not to be successful. However, if Dallas is unable to get who it wants initially, the pressure on the organization to be winners here and now means that it could try once again to bring in a lot of one- or two-year contracts to established vets. 

As ESPN's Tim Legler discusses in this video, the issue this year is that the NBA free-agent class is relatively weak. This isn't a good year to try to bring in four or five difference-making players, and the Mavs will have to be creative in order to get back into the playoffs.

Could Dallas overpay to try to get a player like a Monta Ellis, Paul Millsap, Andrei Kirilenko or J.R. Smith? It is entirely possible considering that Dallas has to try to find a way to become a contender when Dirk is still a superstar.

Still, it is important for the Mavericks not to lose sight of the mistakes that were made in the last two seasons. Going for broke on one or two superstars isn't the right strategy, and neither is bringing in nine new players to short-term contracts.

Dallas instead must find that middle ground to build a contender for the next several seasons. The blueprint from the early 2000s can provide a look into a way to build a team good enough to make the postseason; however, Dallas has greater goals than that, and Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson must evoke a brand-new strategy this offseason to bring the Dallas Mavericks back to prominence.