Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Long offseason of change begins

The 2007-08 season didn’t play out the way the Mavericks wanted for a myriad of issues that were first addressed with the dismissal of head coach Avery Johnson. Looking back at what went wrong, and forward to what lies ahead will occupy the franchise throughout an offseason that began in earnest on Wednesday.

The team is facing a major overhaul, beginning with the hiring of the next head coach. The organizational philosophy and makeup of the next season’s team will fall into place from there. Changes took place from Don Nelson to Johnson and the ninth coach in franchise history will have his own vision.

“We’ve got to bring a coach in that brings the best out of what he’s got here,” Dirk Nowitzki said after the team’s exit meeting. “Open up the offense a lot more, run, but still a guy that knows how to coach defense. Basically you don’t want to go back to the Nellie days where we just run-and-gun and have fun, and get scored on every time down, so that’s obviously not the solution you want to get to.”

The front office tried to find answers with the trade for Jason Kidd with less than 30 games left in the regular season. The blockbuster deal didn’t have the impact the team hoped. Recognized as perhaps the best pure passer in the NBA, Kidd was supposed to bring a new dimension to Johnson’s system.

The Mavs, however, struggled against playoff contenders during the season before squeezing into the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference with a 51-31 record. The playoffs opened with a pair of double-digit losses in New Orleans and included several well-publicized off-court incidents last week.

It all came to an end with Tuesday’s 99-94 loss, as the Hornets closed out a 4-1 series win. Though a number of reasons factored into the first-round setback, Nowitzki also hinted that Kidd’s talents may have been underutilized.

“We probably could’ve opened up a little more, had a little more free flow, let Jason create and not just make him a weak side spot-up shooter,” he said. “But Avery had his belief in the system and that’s the way he thought we could be the most efficient and the best team we can be, and things just didn’t work out.”

Read the rest of this story along with a behind-the-scenes slideshow at

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