The Dream Never Died

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 14, 2011 under Commentary | 14 Comments to Read

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No team with Dirk Nowitzki at its core will ever be wholly conventional, but the Dallas teams of the last half-decade have become strategically tamer than some of the outlandish groups pieced together under Don Nelson’s tenure. The Mavericks iterations of the last few seasons have all had their quirks, but Rick Carlisle has largely remained true to positional orthodoxy in his lineup machinations. Carlisle demonstrates a clear willingness to push buttons (as evidenced by masterful lineup control in last year’s playoffs), but the cogs in his machine were largely in line with positional expectation.

All of that is about to change, as the Mavs have revamped their roster by adding a ridiculous amount of versatility. Tyson Chandler is long gone, and while his departure may leave Dallas with few precious traditional centers, the Mavs have other, more ambitious plans in mind.

“We still have the prototypical starting center in Brendan [Haywood] that’s still the quote-unquote ‘aircraft carrier,’” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “But now we’ve got the flexibility to slide Dirk [Nowitzki] a little bit over there, slide Lamar [Odom] over there a little bit, which gives us a whole different wrinkle. These guys are three-point threats. It’s kind of a different way to attack a same problem.”

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Overflow

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 13, 2011 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 5 Comments to Read

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One good cost-cutting move apparently deserves another.

Just days after the Mavs swept up Lamar Odom up from L.A. in order to tidy up the Lakers’ books (helpful gent, that Donnie Nelson), Dallas has agreed — per Marc Stein of ESPN.com — to send Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to Denver in exchange for a future second round pick. This isn’t an equitable trade, but it allows the Mavs to liquidate some depth for the sake of immediate salary savings and an extra chunk of cap space next summer.

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Crafted from Stone

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 12, 2011 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 4 Comments to Read

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Contrary to popular belief, Tyson Chandler’s departure from Dallas did not leave a gaping hole where a starting center should be. The Mavs may have lost a valuable contributor and an invaluable leader from their championship squad, but they retain Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi, a capable starter and reserve, respectively, to fill minutes in the middle. It’s certainly not an optimal arrangement, but considering the circumstances, Dallas is likely better off relying on their in-house bigs rather than re-signing Chandler to a team-stymying contract.

But even after giving Haywood and Mahinmi every benefit of the doubt, the Mavs were still in need of another utility big. With that need in mind, Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle, and Mark Cuban scanned the free agent market, considered the available possibilities, and…signed the unproven, 24-year-old Brandan Wright to a one-year deal for the league’s minimum salary. Wright may not be the free agent big man Mavs fans had in mind, but Carlisle clearly sees Wright’s potential as a reserve center.

But what, exactly does Carlisle see?

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Turning the Crank

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 11, 2011 under News, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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Things…appear to have taken a bit of a turn.

According to¬†Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the possible three-team deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers is now dead, and Lamar Odom — who was set to go to New Orleans as a part of the transaction — will instead be sent to Dallas in exchange for the traded player exception created by Dallas in the Tyson Chandler deal. Or, in a less convoluted way: the Mavs have turned the inevitable, gainless departure of a prized free agent into the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

No matter how you slice or dice that transaction, you’ll arrive at the same conclusion: that’s a hell of a move.

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Bones on Bones

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 10, 2011 under Commentary, News, Roster Moves | 2 Comments to Read

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The Mavs weren’t expected to make much commotion during this year’s abridged free agency, but they’ve already made one move in anticipation of another. The Knicks’ acquisition of Tyson Chandler — originally designed to be an outright free agent signing — has officially been processed as a three-team, sign-and-trade endeavor, scoring Dallas an $11 million trade exception, a protected second round pick (via Washington), and the imminently waivable Andy Rautins. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Mavs are already working to use that traded player exception to acquire Samuel Dalembert on a one-year deal via sign-and-trade with Sacramento.

It’s a lot of hustle and bustle (especially when coupled with Dallas’ signing of Brandan Wright, and likely acquisition on Vince Carter) for a team largely anticipated to stand pat, but it’s worth waiting for the smoke to clear before we take full stock in Dallas’ off-season haul. Trade exceptions, by nature, are transitory tools; they’re only worth what a team is able to gain with them, and we’ll have a better grasp of the yield from the Chandler sign-and-trade as soon as Dalembert makes his decision. The Mavs are hardly the only team pursuing him; Stein also noted that Houston was interested in acquiring Dalembert if the Rockets’ other options fell through, meaning the Mavs’ next play could lean on the reconstruction and upcoming review of the Chris Paul blockbuster.

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Kindly Ignore the Electric Sheep

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary, News | 17 Comments to Read

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Before we begin, let’s all take a deep breath.

From Sam Amick of SI.com:

Orlando PR man Joel Glass calls to inform that D. Howard’s agent now has permission to speak w/ Lakers, Nets, & Mavs about possible trade.

Stop. Right. There.

Stop daydreaming over the thought of Dirk Nowitzki being paired with a frontcourt partner even more productive than he is. Erase the thought that the Tyson Chandler free agent saga — while unfortunate in its own way — could ultimately give way to the greatest era of Mavericks basketball yet. Toss away the notion that the Mavs are currently in legitimate running to net another superstar, be it Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Deron Williams.

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Reinventing the Checkbook

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 9, 2011 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Fans and analysts have done their best to read the tea leaves containing the Mavs’ off-season plans, but implicit in that process is a lot of assumption. We know that Dallas doesn’t want to sign Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler to the kinds of deals they’re able to secure elsewhere. We know that J.J. Barea was only offered a short-term, and that it wasn’t to his liking. We know that the Mavs are likely to pursue free agents on one-year contracts almost exclusively. From all of these facts — and the reports they stem from — we can try to piece together the team’s strategy, but there will always be bits of logic and nuance missing from our formulations.

Well, prepare to have the blanks filled in. On Thursday, Mark Cuban articulated Dallas’ general strategy in a must-read post by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

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Rumor Mongering: Friends of P

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 8, 2011 under Rumors | 3 Comments to Read

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The Mavs free agent plans are now completely in focus: the team has no intent to overpay to keep Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, and J.J. Barea, and all three are likely to sign elsewhere as a result. It’s an unfortunate development given all that the Mavs accomplished last year, but again, I find it hard to fault Mark Cuban for his reluctance to lock up the team’s finances for the next four to five years.

As such, the Mavs currently have just 10 players under contract. Lower-salary free agents like Brian Cardinal, DeShawn Stevenson, and Peja Stojakovic could end up returning to Dallas, but the Mavs would still need a few more pieces if they wished to completely round out their roster. There aren’t many means through which Dallas can pick up free agents at this point; any players courted would need to be candidates for either the taxpayer mid-level exception (a $3 million window that can be used to sign players to deals for up to three years) or the veteran’s minium. With that in mind, here are some of the names that have popped up in connection with the Mavs:

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Fame and Fortune and Everything That Goes with It

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Video | Be the First to Comment

Just a little reminder.

Rumor Mongering: Taking Inventory

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 6, 2011 under Commentary, Rumors | 4 Comments to Read

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Look, I don’t want to be tossing these wistful ideas around, and if you’re dawdling around these parts, odds are that you don’t much like reading them. Yet we must depart from the usual realism to discuss one specific rumor, from Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:

There is also a small handful of teams that has informed the Hornets they are prepared to trade for Paul with no assurance that they can keep him beyond this season. That list, sources say, includes the Rockets, Boston Celtics and defending champion Dallas Mavericks.

Each of those teams would be gambling that Paul would be won over by his new surroundings and either elect to play out the final season of his current contract (valued at $17.8 million in 2012-13) or opt out of his contract on July 1, 2012, and sign a new deal. Paul’s 2011-12 salary is listed at $16.4 million.

How wonderful. Obviously Chris Paul would be an incredible get for the Mavs, but like so many other franchises reportedly vying to obtain him via trade, Dallas is low on assets. Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s run down the slim list of Maverick pieces that would be attractive to a team like the Hornets:

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