Dallas Mavericks

Howard started 76 games for the Mavericks during his second season.
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
Tariq Abdul-Wahad (player has right to terminate contract)
Darrell Armstrong (unrestricted)
Alan Henderson (unrestricted)
Keith Van Horn (player has right to terminate contract)
2004: 50. Vassillis Spanoulis, Greece
2003: 29. Josh Howard, Wake Forest
57. Xue Yuyang, China
2002: 55. Mladen Sekularac, Yugoslavia
2001: 44. Kyle Hill, E. Illinois
54. Kenny Satterfield, Cincinnati
2000: 12. Etan Thomas, Syracuse
31. Dan Langhi, Vanderbilt
58. Pete Mickeal, Cincinnati
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: The Mavericks were beginning the post-Steve Nash era with several new faces, including Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and rookie Devin Harris. Though not thought to be as dominant as they were at their peak, the Mavericks were still expected to contend in the West.

What happened? As celebrated as Steve Nash’s play was in Phoenix, where he earned the MVP, consider this? The 2004-05 Mavericks won 58 games without Nash, six more than they did in his final year in a Mavericks uniform.

That’s not to discredit the shaggy Canadian, but rather to illustrate the importance of his pal Dirk Nowitzki, who had his best all-around season in leading the Mavericks to a 58-24 record despite a roster overhaul and a mid-season coaching change.

Nowitzki averaged 26.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.53 blocks, providing a rare shred of continuity for a team that returned only five players – two starters – from 2003-04 and whose coach spent the year taking frequent leaves of absence before officially handing the reins to Avery Johnson on March 19.

Nellie bowed out with a 339-251 record (.575) in Big D, saying his team needed a new ‘voice’. Maybe he was right. The Mavericks were 33-18 with Nellie patrolling the sidelines, and 25-6 under Johnson, including a 16-2 mark to end the season.

In the playoffs, the Mavericks squeaked past Houston, and took top-seed Phoenix to six games in the Western Conference Semifinals.

What now? The Mavericks are without a first-round selection, and that’s OK. For a team that has been so consistently successful, the Mavericks have done well to find three young contributors in Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard and Harris. They also have 7-5 Russian center Pavel Podkolzin to develop.

The Mavericks really hit their stride at the end of the season, so wholesale changes would seem unlikely. Alan Henderson and Darrell Armstrong are free agents, but the top nine players are locked up for next season.

If the Mavericks have a need, some additional bulk to back up Erick Dampier and is probably at the top of the list. A physical presence would aide a front line that relies on Nowitzki, Keith Van Horn and Shawn Bradley.