NBA teams on the decline this season

1. Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks once again were passed over in their free agent pursuit of Dwight Howard, and they kept Vince Carter and Shawn Marion and added Jose Calderon. They are talented but old and eventually owner Mark Cuban is going to have to find a replacement for Dirk Nowitzki and take the same rebuilding road as the Celtics. It’s a matter of time.

2. San Antonio Spurs: That Game 6 Finals loss is still bitterly remembered in San Antonio and the Spurs didn’t get any younger in the offseason. They brought back Manu Ginobili on a three-year deal after he looked fried during the regular season and playoffs. How many times can the Tony Parker-Tim Duncan-Ginobili trio keep the Spurs among the best in the Western Conference? The slippage may begin this season.

3. Los Angeles Lakers: With Dwight Howard gone and Kobe Bryant still recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon, the Lakers will be nothing more than average. They signed a bunch of temporary fill-ins to save salary cap space for 2015. That’s the only way the Lakers can rebuild, as the draft has produced virtually nothing for them in the past decade.