This has never happened before. It’s understandable that we all have our own way of dealing with it, some more reasonable than others, but just about every reaction is justified. For the first time in the organization’s history, the Missouri Mavericks will not reach the postseason.
Technically, they are not mathematically eliminated yet, but it would take a historic winning streak, and a historic collapse by not one, but two teams ahead of us for that miracle to come to fruition. Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but the Mavs only earning six out of a possible 14 points in their last seven games really hurt and put them in uncharted territory.
With the trade deadline approaching (Thursday at 2pm) the Mavericks will be sellers for the first time. Coach Matvichuk and General Manager Brent Thiessen have taken their share of criticism this season for the number of trades that have gone down, but this situation is different. I understand the fact that no one likes to see their favorite player shipped out of town, but right now, the Mavs are in a position where they need to acquire as much value as they can to focus on next season. That all started with the trade of Josh Brittain on Wednesday, who has been one of the best players for the Mavs since being acquired earlier in the season. Brittain has been great for the Mavericks, but the return that the Mavs received in dealing him to Ontario could very well be greater.
It may be hard to realize, but any trade that happens between now and the deadline is a good thing for this team, for all parties involved. Any player that is traded will have the opportunity to possibly be in the middle of a postseason push with their new squad, while the Mavericks get a good haul in return to start focusing on next season. Thiessen made it clear on Wednesday night’s broadcast in Moline that they have no intention of “dumping salaries,” and will continue to operate to the top of the salary cap. His statement was bigger than anyone realized. They aren’t looking to get rid of the higher salaried players just to save a few bucks. What he basically said is that what has happened this year cannot happen again, and they will do whatever they can to get maximum value to ensure that it doesn’t. They will be looking for on-ice talent to build for this team’s future. That’s me reading between the lines, but I think that is pretty accurate. Between now and the deadline, any player on this team should be available if the return is right. Obviously some would require a gargantuan haul in return, but if another team is willing to pony up that kind of value, then we all have to keep an open mind.
Some familiar faces will be gone, and we’ll have some new faces to root on for the next 14 games. While the Mavs may be out of it, the next 14 games will tell us all a great deal about the guys in that locker room. With the postseason essentially out of reach, they will be pulling on those sweaters every night, playing for one thing: pride. We will find out over the next 14 games who really wants to be here and play for this organization, and have the honor of playing in front of the Orange Army every night. This season has not gone according to anyone’s plan, but the Mavs can still do some things to set themselves on the right path for next season.