Nowitzki-Chandler reunion, Parsons give Mavs hope
DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki welcomed Tyson Chandler to Dallas with little fanfare four years ago, and certainly not amid talk of potential championships.
Now that they’re reunited after leading the Mavericks to their only title in 2011, it’s a hard for the team not to be a little giddy, even in the face of the Texas dynasty that is the San Antonio Spurs and a potent Western Conference.
“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect the first time around,” Chandler said. “But clearly this time around and having the success and winning the championship here, the expectations are a little different on the return.”
There a couple of other reasons for the bubbly atmosphere.
The first is that Dallas, seeded eighth last season, gave the Spurs their toughest playoff series before Tim Duncan and company marched to their fifth title since 1999, dethroning LeBron James and the Miami Heat. The second is several major roster changes besides Chandler, most notably adding Chandler Parsons on a $46 million, three-year offer sheet that the Houston Rockets wouldn’t match.
“I feel like we got better again,” Nowitzki said. “I think every summer, that should be the franchise’s goal. I feel like we got better and took a great step forward, but we all know how tough the West is. It’s going to be tough to break into the top four.”
Here are some things to consider as the Mavericks try to win a playoff series for the first time since 2011, after which they were immediately dismantled in the name of salary cap flexibility. Dallas opens the season at the Spurs on Oct. 28.
MORE ROSTER CHURN: Coach Rick Carlisle is going into his sixth straight season with at least two new starters — Parsons and Chandler included this time — and four new players in the rotation.
Jameer Nelson is third starting point guard in the three seasons since Jason Kidd left. He signed as a free agent after he was released by Orlando, where he spent his first 10 seasons.
Another significant newcomer is backup forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who’ll bring a defensive presence to try to offset the loss of Shawn Marion to the Cavaliers. The Mavericks also have to find a way to replace the 3-point threat that Vince Carter took with him to Memphis.
“It’s such a new roster that I think we’ve got to go into it with an open mind and then see what’s what,” Carlisle said.
BACK IN THE BIG D: Chandler was offered a one-year deal by the Mavericks coming off the 2011 championship, because owner Mark Cuban thought a long-term contract would be crippling under the new labor deal. Now, he’s back for the final year of the four-year contract he signed with the Knicks after an offseason trade.
So, the obvious question is: Will the center beloved by Mavericks fans be a one-year wonder again?
“If you would have asked me that question the last time I would have said yes, and I would have said I would have finished my career here,” Chandler said. “It still could happen.”
DOUBLE CHANDLER: It will be confusing all season: Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. Carlisle tried to set some ground rules early in training camp, settling on “Tyson” for references to the center and “Parsons” on references to Nowitzki’s new sidekick at forward. If they want to think in basketball terms, it will be “rebounder-defender” for Chandler and “all-around guy” for Parsons.
“He’s a very good all-around player and he’s another guy that brings some personality, some real personality to the team,” Carlisle said of Parsons. “If you don’t believe me, just ask him.”
WEIGHTGATE: During training camp, Carlisle called out Parsons for being overweight, prompting Parsons to tweet a shirtless picture of himself frowning. Carlisle thought better of it a day later and apologized to Parsons and reporters.
Parsons never had much of a problem with it, joking as he passed his coach talking to reporters that he was going to go do crunches.
AND DON’T FORGET: For all the talk about the return of Chandler and the arrival of Parsons, Monta Ellis is back at the off-guard spot and Devin Harris decided to re-sign after playing on a one-year deal last season. Harris will again play a significant role at the point, this time behind Nelson instead of Jose Calderon.
“We have so many versatile guys off the bench to give you different looks,” Parsons said.
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