Watching the final couple of minutes of the Dallas Mavericks' 106-104 loss against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night showed just about every reason why this team will be in the NBA lottery for the first time in forever in June.
The good news is the Mavericks are looking at their highest spot in the draft since they selected Etan Thomas out of Syracuse with the No. 12 selection in 2000. In case you are wondering, Thomas never actually played for the Mavericks as he was part of a deal to the Wizards to obtain Calvin Booth and Juwan Howard; Thomas played nine NBA seasons.
Back to this season ... if you can call it that.
They don't have a point guard. Darren Collison ain't it. Jason Kidd was 84, but he did know how to run a half court set.
Their only reliable scorer in the serious minutes is Dirk Nowitzki. Watching O.J. Mayo fumble the ball away in the final minutes was another illustration that when the game gets big, he doesn't.
They can't defend the post well enough. You can't blame Brandan Wright for not being able to block LaMarcus Aldridge's buzzer beating fade away, but the Mavs have no one who can defend the post; they are also one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA.
It is only slightly ironic that the Mavs have blown this team up when they were actually trying to remain competitive.
Only a small number of players - Dirk, Shawn Marion, Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder - are locked in for next season.
Chris Kaman, Dahntay Jones, Elton Brand, Dominique Jones, Brandan Wright and Mike James are all off the books for next season.
Mayo has a $4.2 million player option that he may opt out of; Collison and Roddy Beaubois have qualifying offers of around $3.2 million. Vince Carter has a team option at $3.1 million. That's about it.
You can't blame the players or the coaches for not being professional or not trying. This is not an effort deal. This is about talent and ability.
The Mavs are 19-26, and now six wins behind Houston for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. They have three games remaining on this road trip - Golden State, Phoenix and Oklahoma City - and the way things are going this will be this franchise's first losing season since 1999-'00. That's the last time they didn't make the playoffs.
The Mavericks will be the first team since the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers to win one NBA title and not multiple championships. Every other NBA champion since that season has won at least two.
As much as it sucks to watch, for the long-term sake of this franchise, it may be better this way.
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