A Door Opens, A Door Possibly Closes

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 26, 2012 under Commentary, News | Read the First Comment

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After playing a total of 83 minutes in 14 regular season games for the Miami Heat and being released after being a training camp invitee by the San Antonio Spurs, Eddy Curry has now joined the Dallas Mavericks. He was claimed through waivers by the Mavericks on Thursday afternoon. Curry, 29, has been widely regarded as one of the most disappointing players in recent league history. Whatever the reason has been, Curry has never lived up to the promise he had when he was selected fourth overall in the 2001 Draft. In a weird series of coincidences, Tyson Chandler joined Curry as he was selected second overall in the draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, who immediately traded his draft rights to the Bulls for…Elton Brand.

“He did a nice job this morning in shootaround,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Curry. “This is a good opportunity for him and for us.” Curry (7-0, 295) has played in 525 games, 411 starts, with Chicago, New York and Miami.He holds career averages of 13.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 24.9 minutes per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the field. “I feel great about it,” Curry said at the team’s shootaround. “Obviously, it’s a great organization with great players. It’s a great opportunity.

“I’m just going out there and play. I know what I can do and they’re giving me the opportunity to do it. I’m just going to make the best of it.”

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Mavericks would waive guard Delonte West in order to make room to acquire Curry. West was suspended for the second time, this time indefinitely, within a span of 10 days. As was the case the first time, West was suspended due to performing conduct detrimental to the team. “We have suspended Delonte for conduct detrimental to the team,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said in a statement. “The suspension is effective immediately and no other statements will be issued.”

Dallas announced in late July they had re-signed West. He was deemed the 15th signing on the roster for the team. West was originally signed by the Mavericks as a free agent on December 13, 2011. He averaged 9.6 points, 3.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 24.1 minutes in 44 games (33 starts) last season despite suffering a fractured and dislocated right ring finger on February 15 against the Denver Nuggets. The injury forced West our of 21 games but he returned to start the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a platoon of guards for the Mavericks, someone was going to became very expendable. In comparison, even before the setbacks to Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, it seemed like the Mavericks were thin in the frontcourt. Sure, Elton Brand is a quality rotation player, but Kaman has a consistent history of injuries over the last five years. On average, he’s missed 30 games over his last five seasons. With Brandan Wright, who is currently dealing with left leg issues, still trying to develop as a big man in the NBA, the Mavericks only had rookie Bernard James as a viable backup big man. That’s not exactly the best case scenario for the Mavericks. With the talent pool depleted in regards to big men, Curry seems to be the best fit.

With West apparently out of the mix, the pressure now sits on Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones to carry a heavy load in the backup point guard position. O.J. Mayo has been known to be a capable facilitator, but he’s played just about all of his minutes with Darren Collison. It has been lined up as a make or break season for the Beaubois and Jones. With the team picking up their team options during the summer of 2011, both could possibly be playing their last year in Dallas. Now, the pressure is really on the two of them. What the backcourt now lacks in experience now relies on speed and athleticism.

A door closes for Delonte West. With the unfortunate set of circumstances that have piled up over recent years, West’s time in the NBA might be running out (the Lakers, who showed an interest during the summer, could be an option). Getting to see him and talk to him on multiple occasions, I came away with the thought that West definitely tries to do the right thing. For example, he carried the flag for Dallas during this offseason as the Mavericks were trying to acquire Deron Williams. As a free agent, West went to Twitter to encourage Williams to come home to Dallas.

“I wouldn’t call Delonte high maintenance,” owner Mark Cuban said last week. “Delonte is Delonte maintenance. That means he’s his own unique brand of maintenance, but we’re used to it.” Cuban added, “Delonte will tell you, when it’s time to hunt, he’s the dog you want out there hunting for you. He’s the guy you want in the foxhole with you. He’s a warrior and guys love that.” Things have clearly changed as he has been jettisoned out of town.

West’s constant struggles with bi-polar disorder have been well chronicled. As it was mentioned earlier, West has done what he can to make sure that doesn’t define him as a person. One could easily bring up the example of patience with Lamar Odom last season and question why West was on a shorter leash. Details with West’s actions that led to suspension will remain shrouded in mystery, but you could easily make a case of the ratio of talent (or expected talent) falling off versus the actual setbacks the team has to deal with. With the Mavericks in a bind, the Mavericks could have seen the conduct as an issue, but they also could have seen West’s performance on the floor as a immediate concern.

Through seven preseason games, West was only averaging 5.0 points and 2.0 assists in 17.6 minutes of action. With make or break seasons lined up for Beaubois and Jones and Jared Cunningham being a project they want to continue to develop (with West being the cheapest of the group), it might have made the most sense to let West go. The conduct issues just compounded the situation. It could also be seen as a little odd that Delonte sent out tweets prior to the game against the Thunder showing that he was with O.J. Mayo as the lone players on the final bus to the arena. Mixing the lack of production, salary obligations and potential locker room concerns, it begins to really add up.

A door now opens for Eddy Curry. Over his career, he has had many doors opened for him. He has yet to really take advantage of the opportunities. It appears he left a good impressions on the Spurs. Before being released by San Antonio, coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan both commented that Curry’s performance during the preseason made it a tough call in ultimately letting him go. If Curry can recognize that chances are running out, it’s possible he did while he was attempting to earn a roster spot with the Spurs, he’ll have the chance to capitalize as the roster for the Mavericks currently is very depleted up front. “The stars kind of aligned here, for better or worse, with us needing some big bodies in the absence of Kaman and Dirk,” Carlisle said. He has the chance to go from out on the street to starting center on opening night. “That’s a very real possibility,” Curry said. “I’m going to do everything possible to make that happen.”

The plot began to thicken later on Thursday evening as news came out that Curry will have company as Chris Douglas-Roberts and Melvin Ely have joined the Mavericks with non guaranteed deals, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. The Mavericks will have until Monday to decide on their final 15-man roster for the beginning of the regular season. With the new guys needing to make a strong impression by Monday, it’s safe to assume that all three could see ample time on the floor. Carlisle noted that Douglas-Roberts and Ely had yet to arrive in Dallas, but they will arrive this afternoon. It is still a possibility those two could get out of the car and get a jersey, locker and see some action tonight. “We’re pretty good at flying by the seat of our pants around here,” Carlisle concluded with a grin.

It’s hard to say that the Mavericks haven’t been interesting leading up to the start of the regular season.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.