Across the Pine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 20, 2010 under Commentary | 4 Comments to Read

pine


Tim Thomas won’t be playing for the Mavs this year after all
. In his place, Dallas is apparently looking to fill the void with a cartoon character capable of fulfilling what would have been Thomas’ most basic function: spacing the floor.

Maybe I’m the only person who still views Thomas as a three-dimensional talent, but his value for Dallas last season really did stretch beyond his ability to hit the three. Thomas wasn’t as bad as advertised defensively. He showed off off some of his post-up scoring ability. He displayed a great sense of court spacing that went beyond parking himself in the corner or rotating around the perimeter; Thomas found spots behind the defense and dug up free scoring opportunities. He even rebounded a little bit, and kept his turnovers in check.

Shooting from the perimeter was undoubtedly one of Thomas’ strengths last season, but he was far more versatile in his season as a Maverick than many of the free agent bigs left on the market will likely be in the coming year. Namely, the three candidates that Mavs are currently considering to slide into Thomas’ proposed role, according to Art Garcia of NBA.com: Brian Cardinal, Steve Novak, and Bobby Simmons.

Oddly enough, Cardinal, as the seasoned veteran of the trio, has somehow become the headliner and “early favorite” in spite of his limited athleticism and abilities. Perhaps this view of Cardinal’s game is overly simplistic, but I fail to see what he can offer any team that Steve Novak couldn’t; both are pretty poor defenders both in the post and on the perimeter, and find their strength in scoring from the outside. Though while Brian Cardinal has posted impressive three-point shooting averages in nearly every season he’s been in the league, he’s never really had the in-season volume to validate those percentages.

In his 10-year career, Cardinal has shot a total of just 517 three-pointers. Novak attempted 286 in a single season, and hit 41.6% of them. Cardinal has proven himself as a reliable deep threat, but Novak seems like a superior three-point shooting option, and is six years younger, to boot. Novak has shown that his shot holds up even when his attempts skyrocket, and that in a jam, he can use up minutes without taking anything away from the Mavericks offense. Novak isn’t leaps and bounds better than Cardinal, but if the Mavs are looking for a token three-point shooter, why settle for anything less than the best one left on the block?

We’ll conveniently neglect to discuss either player’s defensive abilities. They’re end-of-the-bench candidates for a reason, folks.

In fact, Simmons may also be a more attractive candidate than Cardinal to fill the roster vacancy. Simmons, too has a terrific career mark from the three-point line (.401 in eight seasons), is a few years Cardinal’s junior, and at least has a tinge of utility beyond three-point shooting. Novak and Cardinal are pure specialists, but Simmons does have some aptitude as a slasher, and a bit more defensive versatility. His absolutely absurd contract has made Simmons into a bit of a laughing stock over the last few seasons, but Dallas could do far worse for a 14th or 15th man.

In all likelihood, neither Cardinal, nor Novak, nor Simmons would really come into play (they’d come in to play, but not come into play, if ya dig) for the Mavs, so debating this issue too much is just splitting already-split hairs. There would have to be notable injuries at the top end of the roster for any of these players to register consistent minutes, and in that case, Dallas will have far more to worry about than the relative shooting abilities of these gents.

  • Allstargtr

    What happened to Ahmad Nivins.

  • William Head

    The fact that the consensus is now that this roster position will effectively be “wasted” on one of these bodies speaks louder than any comparative argument.
    Last year with Tim Thomas in this role (the 3rd PF), it was a viable option on any given night to contribute, even in an extended role and in crunch time minutes.
    The question is why Mgmt. is conceding this spot to a retread.
    It has long been my belief that there are probably thousands of Dennis Rodman/Jerome Williams/Ben Wallace type players in this country- and that every basketball team could benefit from that type of player.
    It's weird to me that guys like Jason Collins and Tony Battie and Kwame Brown still find jobs in the NBA, and guys like Pops Mensah-Bonsu and James Singleton (who is playing in China for chrissakes) can't get a spot as a glue/hustle guy in a 9 man rotation.
    I've seen the NBA product: you are not so fixed 9 deep in 31 cities that these guys should be starving for jobs.
    I think the talent pool at every position is only as thin as you assume it is. I bet the market is full of players with hunger and the ability to do dirty work.

    Considering the role that the signing is supposed to fill (an end of the bench roster fill and practice body) why would you waste it on Brian Cardinal's white corpse when you could bring in a person with the hunger to compete?

    It's a question I often ask mysef when I'm watching the Kings/Nets games and the second units get to ply their trades against each other.

    • Brayden

      I totally agree with you there. I'd love to have Singleton back. Or for that matter, why not give Omar Samhan a shot? He played for our summer league….

      I think the issue in this particular case, though, is that we seem to be looking for a bigger guy who will spread the floor and shoot 3's. We don't seem to be as interested in a guy that is a hustle/glue guy with any low post skills to speak of…

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