DALLAS -- No DeAndre? What a disaster.
There's no gentle way to describe the immense impact that the DeAndre Jordan indecision could have on the Dallas Mavericks for years to come. You'd probably have to go back more than two decades to Roy Tarpley's suspensions to find a more destructive moment in franchise history.
The Mavs feel distraught and disrespected. They are shocked that Jordan changed his mind five days after giving a verbal commitment to owner Mark Cuban and lead recruiter Chandler Parsons. They are appalled that the big man wouldn't even bother to answer their phone calls or text messages as he hung out with the Clippers' recruiting contingent while waiting to sign their contract at his Houston home Wednesday.
How can the Mavs move on from this? Frankly, they have no idea.
There are no appealing options. The Mavs have essentially been operating without a safety net since they received word that Tyson Chandler had agreed to a deal with the Phoenix Suns, which the Mavs learned moments before their July 1 meeting with Jordan started.
Plans Y and Z were still on the table when Jordan told the Mavs he was coming, but let's not pretend that the Mavs would have had a snowball's chance in a Texas summer of contending in the West with career backup Kosta Koufos or a shell of Roy Hibbert as their starting center.
And now there are no centers available now who could make the Mavs a playoff team considering the stacked competition in the conference. Plus, the Mavs have a pretty big question mark at point guard, as their hopes to sign Jeremy Lin disappeared while Cuban was desperately trying to arrange a last-minute meeting with Jordan, who was too busy playing cards and video games with his teammates at the time.
The Mavs might not have even 60 percent of a legitimate starting lineup when the season starts. Heck, there's no reason for Wesley Matthews and Parsons to rush back from major surgeries for the beginning of the regular season. Might as well take their time, even if they have recovered.
That's because the best case for the Mavs next season is to be as bad as possible.
It's time to tank in Dallas.
This isn't a choice. It's inevitable.
Cuban, fueled by a few drinks while celebrating Jordan's original decision, basically admitted as much in one of the interviews he did on Friday that led to his $25,000 fine from the NBA office.
"If we got shut out, we weren't just going to try to fill out the roster," Cuban said on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. "We literally had the discussions that if we couldn't get a serious free agent, whether it's one of the other guys that are still out there or any of the early ones that went, that it was a time to step back."
After further explanation, including reasoning that the "race to the bottom" had become less crowded, Cuban concluded, "Fortunately, it didn't happen."
Unfortunately, yeah, it did.
Unfortunately, so did the disastrous Rajon Rondo deal last season. As a result, pretty bad isn't good enough for the Mavs. They need to be awful to avoid the misery of shipping a lottery pick to the Boston Celtics. The pick the Mavs owe from that trade is only top-seven-protected.
In a span of a day, the Mavs went from firmly believing they had the foundation of the franchise's future in place to facing rock bottom. Might as well hit bottom now and try to bounce back as soon as possible.
The Mavs can only hope that coach Rick Carlisle, who has been a good company man while dealing with all the front office's disappointments since the 2011 title run, will stick around for the rebuilding project. That's far from certain with Carlisle entering the final season of his contract and sure to draw a lot of interest from playoff-caliber teams if he makes himself available next summer.
The Mavs also have to hope that Parsons, who can opt out of his contract next summer, continues to embrace the responsibility of being the next face of the franchise even through the rough patches ahead instead of bolting for a sunnier situation.
The Mavs have to hope that they can find a star next summer willing to stick to their commitment to cash huge checks signed by Cuban.
The Dallas decision-makers knew this was a DeAndre-or-doom summer. The latter is here, and it's not a lot of fun.