Heard It Through the Weekend Grapevine 1-24-09/1-25-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 25, 2009 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com gave a glowing review of Josh Howard’s game against the Pistons: “Really, all we’ve ever asked of Josh Howard – and let’s forget that season-opening campaign from coach Rick Carlisle to proclaim J-Ho “our most important player’’ because while it seemed simply inaccurate then, it now looks like a velvet-gloved attempt to mollycoddle the guy – is to be Dallas’ second-best player.  With 22 points, five rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and an assist – oh, and with his opposite number Tayshaun Prince making just one basket — mission accomplished for Josh.”It was certainly a great night for Josh, and hopefully a step in the right direction.  It only gets harder today against the Celtics, and the Mavs are definitely going to need Howard’s best.
  • Brandon Bass can be a bit confusing.  Only not in the way you’d think; Bass is confusing because I’m pretty sure that we know exactly who he is, and yet there are games where he appears as a Dampier-esque shade of his true self that lacks the assertiveness and confidence we see with the real Brandon Bass.  Maybe Bass really is taking a page from Damp’s book, sometimes appearing unintrested or otherwise unmotivated.  But the idea that he’s trying to infuse this team with more energy from his first step on the court (a la Jason Maxiell) is certainly a step towards giving the real Bass full-time status.  From Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: ” “I wanted to match Maxiell’s energy because every time you watch him, there’s lot of energy and he goes out there and rebounds,” Bass said. “Coming off the [34-point] loss we had against the Bucks, we knew we had to come in and get stops. Being lackadaisical, we can’t get stops. We need tons of energy, so that’s what I tried to come with.” “
  • Mavs Moneyball tackles a classic blunder among criticisms of Dirk’s game: the idea that he doesn’t get to the foul line enough.  I remember scoffing at the comment during the game, and Wes Cox did a great job fleshing out the rebuttal: “And you know what else he’s doing?  He’s getting to the free throw line.  He always has.  He’s 15th in the league this year at FTA per game.  Last year he was 11th.  He’s finished top 15 in that category since the 04/05 season when he was fifth.  For a better a perspective on where he stands compared the league “greats”, coming into the Detroit game, Dirk had attempted just 16 less free throws on the season than Kobe and done so in one less game.  On the list of things Dallas could improve to most help their chances, Dirk shooting more free throws isn’t even top 20.  Thing like playing defense and “showing up” are slightly more important to this team.  Dirk can keep being Dirk.”
  • Dirk seems to be an absolute lock as an All-Star reserve, and rightfully so.  ESPN’s Marc Stein offers the first of what is to be many “ballots” for Dirk to be in Phoenix come All-Star Weekend in the most recent Weekend Dime: “Nowitzki suckered in his critics with a so-so November after turning 30 over the summer. Now? He’s producing at a rate reminiscent of his MVP season in 2006-07 season. Let’s face it: If the coaches were selecting the starters, Dirk would be a unanimous selection at forward alongside Tim Duncan.”It’s worth mentioning that Stein ranks Dirk as having first priority among the Western reserves (meaning he is the #1 snub), and listed Jason Terry as a notable ommission.  Smart man, that Marc Stein.
  • Stein’s Weekend Dime also discusses “Bird rights,” a notable exception to the salary cap that allows teams over the cap to re-sign players who meet specific contract provisions.  But, as Mavs fans found out the hard way in last season’s botched trade attempt for Jason Kidd, those with Bird rights can ultimately veto trades that they are involved in.  “Ryan Hollins was such a character, but in making the move to Dallas he ultimately had to void his Bird rights.  The athletic-but-unpolished Hollins was one of 13 such players in the club this season … as is George yet again. But Hollins — unlike his new teammate last February — had zero hesitation when asked to sanction this deal. Knowing that the Mavs, after shedding Diop, had no true backup center behind Erick Dampier, Hollins was eager to come to the Western Conference to try to kick-start his career with the athletically challenged Mavs after two-plus seasons of limited opportunities with the Bobs.  The 24-year-old had to forfeit his Bird rights as a result, which means George remains the only Mav who falls under this classification….Players on the following list lose their Bird rights and become a non-Bird free agent at season’s end if, like Hollins, they give consent to be traded in these circumstances.”If I’m not mistaken, this ultimately means that even if the Mavs fall in love with Hollins’ raw rawness and jump-out-the-gym acrobatics, they could be stuck in a tough situation in terms of re-signing him.  Something to keep an eye on as the off-season approaches, especially if Hollins does some good in the near future.
  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News weighs in with the gravitas, or maybe lack thereof, in Sunday’s game: “The Mavericks are playing with house money.  They can’t afford to think that way, of course, but then again, free-wheeling sometimes produces the best basketball.  With a 2-1 record on this, the longest road trip of the season, they go to Boston knowing they will return home Sunday night no worse than 2-2.  Not many teams go into the defending champion’s house and come away with a win. A loss would be nothing to be ashamed of.  And a win would mean a 3-1 trip and would show a national audience the Mavericks are not to be overlooked in the NBA’s big picture.”The NBA is all about drama, folks: WIN, OR…SUFFER ABSOLUTELY NO UNIQUE CONSEQUENCES BECAUSE NO ONE THINKS YOU’RE WORTH A DAMN ANYWAY.  You could cut the tension with a knife!
  • Tim MacMahon of The Dallas Morning News Mavs blog is re-living this KG vs. Dirk debate from last season.  Both are exceptional players, and very few would argue against that.  But exactly how much weight does that damn giant ring bring into the equation?  Dirk does things on the offensive end that Garnett could only dream of doing, and many of his less informed advocates refuse to acknowledge that like Dirk, he too is a jumpshooter.  Only Garnett is a jumpshooter who couldn’t make it out of the first round for most of his career, only made it out when pared with two premier scoring talents, and only made it to the Finals with two other established superstars.  What Dirk has been able to do with, what has been at times, an incredibly pedestrian cast of talent around him is incredible.  But on the flipside, Garnett’s defensive prowess is unparalleled, he’s an excellent motivator and leader, and a better rebounder.  Those skills are great, but I just don’t think they match-up all that favorably to Dirk’s ability to single-handedly turn a group of misfits, “veterans” (read: old guys), scorers who can’t score, and former lockdown defenders who can’t defend into at the least, a playoff contender.  I don’t know that I’m anywhere near coming to a conclusion myself, but the fact that KG has a ring isn’t nearly enough to close the book on a pretty entertaining discussion.  MacMahon provides one especiall interesting thought: “If Paul Pierce played for the ’05-06 Mavs, wouldn’t Dirk have a ring?”
  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe has a wonderful feature piece on J.J. Barea, everyone’s favorite Mav under six feet who just so happens to be a product of Northeastern University in Boston: “The prolonged absence of Josh Howard has forced the Mavericks, especially starved for shooters, to continue searching. They traded for swingman Matt Carroll last week. But Barea, an undersized point guard from Puerto Rico via Northeastern, continues to show that he is somehow part of the solution.  “He’s fearless,” Mavs captain Dirk Nowitzki said of Barea. “He gets in there. He’s small, but for some reason he’s a great finisher. He always finds the seams and gets to the cup. I just really like that he’s in attack mode.”…And, as the Mavericks have found out, imperfections shouldn’t always be confused with impediments.  “We realized a while ago that this guy has brains and (guts),” said Nelson. “He’s a little undersized, but shoot, there are no perfect point guards.” “
  • Just two seasons ago, Boston was a franchise in turmoil, fighting off calls of tanking, Paul Pierce trade rumors, and Bostonites flooding the streets with pitchforks demanding Doc Rivers’ head.  Things haven’t quite gotten to that point in Dallas, but if a team that was that bad can turn its fortune around on a dime, why can’t the Mavs?  Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram continues: “Two years ago, the Celtics were in the process of winning 24 games and Paul Pierce was nearing 30 years old. It seemed to be an ideal time to trade Pierce for young players, draft picks and begin rebuilding, and Cuban was one of many who was interested in helping that process. “Everybody and their brother called up when Boston was struggling about trying to get Paul Pierce,” Cuban said. “Everybody. We offered to try and take his contract and they said, ‘You know what? He’s part of our fabric, our culture.’…You look at how things turned out for Boston.” “Well said, Cubes.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe paints the Mavericks as more sleeping giant that say, something more reminiscent of a comatose cyclops.  And from Doc Rivers’ comments, it’s clear that the Celtics respect their enemy and what the Mavs are capable of on a good day.  Still, what I took away from Spears’ preview above all was a quote from Dirk.  Y’know, just another one of those quotes that makes you thankful to be a Mavs fan, and thankful for a superstar that is as responsible and humble as he is talented: ” “I always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Nowitzki said. “If we win, that’s great. If we lose, I always feel like I didn’t do my job. Even if I have a decent game in a loss, I feel like I should’ve done more, hit one more shot, got one more stop, one more rebound, or whatever…That’s how I’ve always looked at it and that’s how it’s been the last four years since Steve [Nash] and Mike [Finley] left. I was the face of the franchise. You got to take the highs with the lows. Sometimes I do get down [after] tough losses like I did in the last couple years in the playoffs. All you can do is take the blame and work out in the summer to become a better player the next [season].” “
  • http://www.freefranchiseinformationblog.com Tom Stanley

    I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

  • http://www.dallas-mavs.com Jared

    I doubt not having Bird rights on Hollins is going to be a factor. He’d have to have a hell of season to qualify for much more than the minimum. Plus we have our Bi-Annual exception to spend next season if we really want to keep him.

    I’ve been more concerned about Bass. He’s an early bird free agent so we can’t go higher than the salary equivalent of the mid-level exception to sign him. In years past some team may have taken a flier on him at a higher price. But I think the recession is going to work in our favor on this one. I’m no longer concerned about retaining Bass.

  • http://dallasbasketball.com DLord

    Good work.

    Note on Bird Rights and Stein’s article …
    You said “those with Bird rights can ultimately veto trades that they are involved in” and that’s NOT accurate. It is only a special subset of Bird Right’s players that get veto rights on a trade.

    You went on to say “If I’m not mistaken, this ultimately means that even if the Mavs fall in love with Hollins’ raw rawness and jump-out-the-gym acrobatics, they could be stuck in a tough situation in terms of re-signing him.” … I’m not sure that will be much of an issue. They can still sign him to a percentage raise over his prior salary or use an exception to sign him, and the bigger issue with cutting him a check is likely to be not WANTING to give him a very big contract anyhow, in saving room for 2010. Do you chase Hollins to the extent you mess up any possibility of a chance for a major talent? Doubt it.

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    Durp. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote the comment about Bird rights, DLord. I blame the weekend.

    You guys are right, though. It shouldn’t take more than a percentage raise to re-sign Hollins. I guess my concern was more along the lines of: Hollins is, at least by my approximations, a pretty serviceable back-up center for a paltry sum. If that price tag were to suddenly increase, to a few million a year, say, the situation changes entirely. Unlikely, as the both of you said, but just a thought.

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