DALLAS -- It's certainly fitting that Poo-Pouri, a toilet bowl deodorizer, was the promotional sponsor for Wednesday night's game at the American Airlines Center. Unfortunately, there is no spritz that can get rid of the stench of this Dallas Mavericks' season.
What has been by far the worst season of the modern Mavs era, as defined by Dirk Nowitzki's 19-year tenure, reached a new low point. There is no polite way to describe the debacle of a proud franchise being blown out on its home court by a perennial lottery team, as was the case when the Sacramento Kings rolled to a 120-89 rout of the Mavs.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who was so frustrated that he took technical fouls for calling extra timeouts twice in the fourth quarter, didn't put much effort into describing the loss at all. His postgame news conference lasted less than a minute, as he opted not to take any questions.
"This was a very, very disappointing performance," Carlisle said. "It starts with me. I've got to do a better job getting these guys ready to play, getting them ready to compete. The second half was inexcusable: The way we played, just the way we performed all around -- everything from how we competed, decision-making.
"Shot-making comes and goes, but the competitive spirit has got to be there. We're going to do better."
Maybe Carlisle used a little harsher language during the postgame team meeting, which lasted about 35 minutes after the media was ushered out of the Mavs' locker room a lot earlier than usual.
The Mavs can meet all they want, but it won't fix the franchise's biggest problems. Mavs management might argue that it's health -- and it's certainly hard to win with Nowitzki (Achilles tendon), Andrew Bogut (knee) and J.J. Barea (calf) wearing sport coats -- but that's ignoring an issue that has prevented the franchise from winning a playoff series in the past five seasons.
Dallas probably will need a couple of summers to address their glaring lack of talent, which is rooted in the franchise's draft failures over the past decade.
Dallas has drafted one bonafide NBA player over the last 10 years, and they gave away Jae Crowder in the disastrous Rajon Rondo trade. Justin Anderson, last year's first-round pick, has a chance to be the second. But Anderson has struggled this season after a promising finishing to his rookie year, getting passed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Dorian Finney-Smith.
The Mavs will keep swinging for the fences in free agency. One of their likely future targets put on a pretty good show for the supposed sellout crowd at the American Airlines Center, as Kings center DeMarcus Cousins produced a 24-point, 14-rebound, 7-assist, 3-block line against the Mavs' backup big men.
There is reason to believe the Mavs might have a shot at Cousins when he hits the free agency market in the summer of 2018. He can talk all he wants about how much he loves Sacramento, but nobody outside of California's capital city actually believes he wants to sign another contract with the Kings.
The Mavs made a pretty transparent attempt to butter up Boogie by bringing his younger brother, Jaleel, to training camp and signing him to the D-League Texas Legends. They also have a good relationship with Cousins' agent, Dan Fegan, although that didn't pay off when they recruited his previous clients Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.
If the Mavs are going to convince Cousins or any other proven star to come to Dallas, they'll have to provide proof that the franchise has a potentially bright future. That means acquiring young talent is a must.
Harrison Barnes falls in that category as a 24-year-old bright spot, proving he can be a primary offensive option after the Mavs signed him to a max contract that many questioned this summer. (Barnes' five-bucket, six-turnover night against the Kings was a rare stinker for him this season.)
But Barnes isn't nearly enough, as evidenced by the Mavs' misery this season. Dallas desperately needs to draft a star -- and that's why being so bad now should be good for the franchise in the long run. Unless the Mavs manage to screw things up by salvaging this season, they'll have a high pick in a lottery that experts consider loaded with top-end talent.
Fresh talent is the NBA's best deodorizer. Just hold your noses for the rest of the season, Mavs fans.