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Mavs Hold Exit Interviews; Reflect, Look Toward Next Season

It’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks had one of its most surprising and successful seasons in a long while.

Nico Harrison, Mavs GM
Nico Harrison, Mavs GM

Photo and Story
By Dorothy J. Gentry
Sports Editor

It’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks had one of its most surprising and successful seasons in a long while.

After injuries and Covid ravaged the team early on, leading to a 16-18 start, the team finished the 2021-22 season fourth in the Western Conference with a 52-30 record and sealed homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2011 – the year they won the championship. The Mavs also got out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since ‘11 by defeating the Utah Jazz in six games.

The surprises didn’t stop there. They moved on to the best-of-seven games Western Conference semifinals and – after being down 2-0 – upset the No. 1 team in the league the Phoenix Suns in five games. The Mavs season ended last week when they fell to the Golden State Warriors 4-1 in the Conference Finals.

With the success of this season, one of only four teams left standing a week ago, the way other teams view the Mavericks has undoubtedly shifted. They have gone from the hunter to the hunted.


“Twenty-six teams watched us play the last week,” Nico Harrison, Mavs general manager and president of basketball operations, said during Friday’s team exit interviews. “I think if you look at next year, no, we’re not going to sneak up on anybody.

“They’re going to see us coming, and that’s a good thing. And they should see us coming. That’s the position you should want to be in.”

Star Luka Doncic said the Mavs’ winning season surprised everyone but them.

“We knew we were able to do this,” he said. “I know nobody had us here, but (that’s) nothing new. I love this team. I think we did a great job. From the whole playoffs we fought. At the end it was impossible, but I really enjoyed playing with those guys.

“I think we are a young team,” Doncic said. “I think this year we made a huge, huge step — maybe a couple steps. I think we are in a great way.”


The team this offseason will absolutely look at getting better, Harrison said, but it won’t be a quick fix like adding multiple All-Stars to their only All Star in Doncic.

“I don’t think it’s just about having All-Stars. There are tons of teams – and I’m not even going to waste my time mentioning names – that have a bunch of All-Stars and they were sitting at home watching us play (in the Western Conference Finals),” he said.

“You need to keep upgrading the roster, but I don’t think it’s about just getting a bunch of All-Stars. I think it’s about getting people that fit together – starting with Luka – and people that can fit around him. I think that’s more important than just getting All-Stars.”

Important for the Mavs to add this season is a rim protector, a place where they need a lot of help.

“We need to get somebody that can help us on the rebounds, be a rim protector. I think we need to figure that out, for sure.”


Harrison also said re-signing guard Jalen Brunson, who will hit free agency this summer, is a priority. They will also look to upgrade their roster in other areas.

“You always want to add depth,” Harrison said. “Clearly, the inside part, that’s like no secret. We got beat up on the boards. But at the same time our best lineup was small. But when you’re playing every other day (in the playoffs), at some point you do wear down.”

The Mavs have the No. 26 overall pick in the first round in the June 23 NBA Draft

“There’s definitely (rear end) kickers in the draft,” Harrison said. “But I think when you look at our position where we’re at, we’re not in control of who we draft because there’s 25 people in front of us.

“We’ll have our homework done, but we’re not in control. Maybe that (rear end) kicker goes When you’re at 26, I don’ think you control your own destiny.”


Also, Harrison’s big acquisitions this season included signing free agent forward Reggie Bullock last summer, and pulling off a mid-season blockbuster trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round draft pick to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Doncic and Kidd Look to Future

Doncic continued to be the superstar that he is, showing off his skills in the postseason and earning his third consecutive All-NBA honors. But there’s much more to him that will soon be unleased, believes head coach Jason Kidd.

“He’s done a great job of learning on the fly,” said Kidd who was in his first year as coach. “This is his first time playing until late May. He’s played a lot of basketball.

“I think he carries the load as well as anyone, and I think for us as an organization we’ll help lighten that load as we go forward,” Kidd continued. “But I thought the group of guys around him helped carry the load, also, when he didn’t have the Luka-type night.

When observers look at parts of Luka’s game, Kidd said, they’re all above average. “They’re all excellent. It’s just now being able to play the game within the game, and that’s what we’ll really talk about.”

Kidd acknowledged Doncic’s importance to the team as leader and face of the franchise and said he will be front and center as they discuss improvements to the team.

“He’s part of the(team leadership) council,” Kidd said. “We run things by him. We have a great relationship. Again, I’m here to help him achieve that goal, and that’s to win a championship.”

Doncic identified key areas where he has improved and where he feels he still nees to get better. “I think defense has got to be way better for me. Honestly, I think I made a huge step this year defensively, but there’s so much room for improvement.

“I’ve got to be way better there. I think that’s one spot that can take us to the next level.”

Kidd believes in him.

“He’s going to get better. By being in this situation more will only help him. This is his fourth year in the league and he’s gone to the (Western) Conference Finals. That’s pretty good,” Kidd said.

“I’ll go visit him at some point (in the offseason). I’ll go see him on his turf. Then we’ll sit down, and I’ll talk about a game plan and he’ll tell me if it’s good or not, and if it’s good, then we’ll roll. If not, then I’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”

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