Summer Thoughts Continued

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 7, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

2536358399_c16896768f_z

As we discussed last week, there are plenty of things to cover with the Mavs. Considering the time of the year, that might come as a shock but there’s been a lot of movement within the organization during the off-season.

Let’s roll with the next part of the Mavs Q&A.

1. What did the Mavs need with the 15th roster spot?

DeJuan Blair is the man to take the 15th spot on the roster. That shouldn’t be taken as he’s the 15th man on the roster. He will likely be involved in the rotation mix in the frontcourt. His ability to play either power forward or center will help him earn minutes. He’s known as a guy who will get “junk buckets” off of put-backs or broken plays at the basket.

Based on how the roster was shaking up, the Mavs were going to need another big man off the bench. Blair’s ability to cross between both big positions gives flexibility with Brandan Wright’s ability to flip between either of them, too.

I like the idea of the move because they now have options at the backup power forward position other than Shawn Marion. Asking him to be the main perimeter defender and lead the team in rebounding, which he’s done the last two years, is way too much of a demand for him. As he’s advancing in age, injuries have started to pop up. They need to do what they can to preserve him, so this is a move that will help that.

Blair would also represent the first official move the Mavs made under the umbrella of their new front office structure with Gersson Rosas in the mix. That’s something to keep in mind.

2. Was pursuing Greg Oden worth it?

Oden decided late last week to go with the Miami Heat for the minimum. It’s a two-year deal with a player option coming in the second year. He’ll have the opportunity to take his time and give this comeback effort a true chance by going at his own pace.

Was it worth it? I guess it was worth it. The guy is oft-injured and hasn’t shown a lot of history to suggest that he will be able to make it through another comeback attempt. That said, if you were only going to offer him the minimum, you can’t make much of an argument to say it was a bad idea to go after him.

With only the minimum at your disposal, you don’t have a whole lot as an organization that can help you stand out against the other five teams (Miami, San Antonio, Sacramento, New Orleans and Atlanta) that were vying for his services. The Mavs’ medical staff and culture would have to be the main selling points.

The Mavs didn’t really have anything to lose by going for Oden.

3. How do we evaluate the front office now?

They, mainly Mark Cuban, will continue to be graded harshly due to their inability to lure a big free agent to Dallas. They’ve had two years of actual time to have that opportunity and to this point they have failed. It’s unfortunate, but they’ve still done what they could to make the best of the situation.

Personally, I think they’ve done a good job of creating a roster that has versatility, intrigue and potential viability. Cuban has always wanted to reload rather than rebuild. That’s nearly an impossible feat, but that won’t stop him from trying.

He’s said that the team isn’t about winning the off-season. We saw what the Lakers did last summer and what ultimately happened with that. Now, the Rockets will be the team to watch as they “won” this summer by nabbing Dwight Howard. Dallas has had their plans and when things don’t go according to their first plan, they collectively keep working to stick to their general plan and avoid radical gambles. Last year didn’t work out for them, so we’ll have to see if they’ve learned from their evaluation mistakes from then and see if they’ve improved in that department.

4. How will the Mavs integrate Monta Ellis on offense and defense? (can they survive with Calderon on the perimeter as well)

I imagine they’re going to have to keep relying on their zone defense with Ellis and Calderon as the primary defenders on the perimeter. Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo often looked lost on defense last year and that led to terrible defensive possessions. Ellis tends to gamble a lot on the defensive end of the floor, so they will need him to buy in to playing with more balance and structure.

As for offense, it would be wise to get him to watch a lot of film of Dirk and Jason Terry working the two man game. The Mavs are known for giving their players film of situations where former players have succeeded and how the new players can learn from it. Ellis can be a rather potent weapon off the pick-and-roll and Dirk is still a legitimate threat when he steps out on the floor.

Again, it’s going to depend on Ellis and his ability to buy what the Mavs are selling. Mayo was willing to give his game to Carlisle and help make him better. The line of communication between Carlisle and Ellis will be critical to determining how the Mavs will fare this coming season. If Ellis can buy in and really reign in his game, the Mavs have a viable chance to be dangerous. If he doesn’t, they will be very limited in their ability to challenge teams.

5. Who would be the closing five guys on the floor?

I would imagine that it will be the group that usually starts the games: Calderon, Ellis, Marion, Nowitzki and Dalembert. If there are going to be changes, you could see the Mavs go with either Carter or Harris as the shooting guard and Brandan Wright as the center. I think matchups or natural ebbs and flows of the game would dictate those changes.

One intriguing thing would be if Harris was paired up more with Calderon, which was the initial plan the Mavs had. He could set the tone to start and end games with his defense and speed and then give way to Ellis.

Health certainly plays a big role in the continuity of establishing a closing crew. That was something the Mavs certainly lacked last season as they lost a total of 97 games due to injuries and suspensions. Training camp will help coach Rick Carlisle decide what lineup pairings will work best.

6. Does Gal Mekel’s performance in Vegas provide a stronger competition for the backup point guard position?

Due to health and actual time to show what he can do, he’s got to be ahead of Shane Larkin on the “depth chart” for the Mavs. Getting to see how Mekel operated in the summer league practices and watching his vision on the floor, I came away incredibly impressed with how he operates. He does a solid job of getting his teammates in an opportunity to succeed.

When things didn’t go right, Mekel did a good job of keeping his composure. As a comparison, Dennis Schröder, a player the Mavs could have taken in the first round, seemed to show part of the Rajon Rondo comparisons he drew leading up to the draft as he would often get visibly upset or angry about things breaking down.

Mekel will have to learn and grown as he continues to adjust to the NBA game. He’s already taken a positive step (in the eyes of the Mavs) as he has backed out of his EuroBasketball commitments for Israel and will rest, recover and be ready for training camp for the Mavs. He is certainly going to be a player to monitor during camp.

7. Samuel Dalembert: Good or Bad move?

I personally think he was a good acquisition. Once the top tier centers were swooped up, Dalembert emerged as one of the better options remaining. The Mavs don’t need a dominant big man to patrol the middle. It would be nice, but they just need someone who won’t be a liability on both ends of the floor. He is known mainly as a defender and rebounder. Dalembert also has the ability to block shots.

For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to stick in a situation for very long. It’s not a huge monetary risk the Mavs are taking in Dalembert. Chris Kaman, to me, wasn’t that big of a gamble in terms of money (one year at $8 million), but he ultimately proved to not work as a fit. If that was the case, Dalembert is a relative steal. If he’s engaged enough on the defensive end of the floor and provide them with that last line of defense option, he could really be very useful for the Mavs.

8. Are the Mavs now done with moves?

With 15 players under contract, the roster is “set.” One thing to note: the Mavs have already shown that they’re not bashful about waiving veteran minimum players (see Bernard James). Yes, that was under a different set of circumstances, but they’ve shown they’re willing to do what is necessary to improve the team.

I would imagine they will still bring live bodies into training camp to help with competition and give guys they like a shot to impress them. The Mavs will have the ability to bring up to 20 players in during camp. Here’s some more background on how the Mavs can do this.

A summer contract is typically used for training camp invites, because the player’s salary is not included in team salary until the first day of the regular season. In other words, it is a “make-good” contract — the player must make the team’s opening day roster in order to receive his salary and for his contract to be included in team salary.

If the player is a veteran free agent who last played for that team, the contract must be for one season at the minimum salary (see question number 16). In all other cases there are no special limits to the salary or number of years — a team could theoretically sign a player to a summer contract for four seasons at the maximum salary. However, summer contracts frequently utilize Exhibit 9 of the Uniform Player Contract, which adds further limitations (see below).

A summer contract can be signed from the first day after the July Moratorium (see question number 102) to the last day before the regular season. To avoid counting as team salary, the player must clear waivers prior to the first day of the regular season. To qualify as a summer contract no compensation of any kind can be earned or paid prior to the start of the regular season. The salary cannot be guaranteed or insured. However, the player may receive per diem, lodging and transportation expenses, and disability insurance covering summer leagues and training camp.

A summer contract does not need to utilize Exhibit 9 of the Uniform Player Contract (One Season, Non-Guaranteed Training Camp Contracts), but doing so limits the team’s liability in the event the player becomes injured. If a player with an Exhibit 9 becomes injured and unable to play basketball prior to the team’s first regular season game and the injury is a direct result of playing basketball for the team, then the team pays the player $6,000 when it waives him. This is in lieu of the rule for ordinary contracts guaranteeing the salary of an injured player until he is ready to play again or until the end of that season, whichever comes first (see question number 62). If Exhibit 9 is used, the contract must be for one season at the minimum salary, with no bonuses of any kind.

A team cannot sign a player using Exhibit 9 unless it has at least 14 players on its roster, not including summer contracts.

- Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ

If someone happens to really make an impact, the Mavs aren’t above waving someone or seeing if there’s a deal that can be made to free up some space. They would be rather limited in their trading options as they would only have the incumbent Mavs to really work with. Due to CBA rules, the free agent signings wouldn’t be able to be trade until the middle of December.

Either way, they’ll still have options, even with 15 players under contract.

9. What do you make of this expected 15-man roster?

I think Carlisle is going to have a good problem. With the help of his staff, he’ll have a plethora of combinations he can work with and guys with different intangibles that can provide different things when they’re on the floor. If something isn’t working, he can look to the bench and hopefully find some spackle to help keep things in order.

I think it’s going to be an incredibly fun roster to watch. You also have a majority of the roster full of guys that are trying to chase down their first championship. You also have guys, for whatever reason, that have chips on their shoulder. With a strong head coach and strong leaders in Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, there’s a lot of potential that’s there for the Mavs.

They’re going to be a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot. That’s certainly more enjoyable to watch than a team that’s in full-blown rebuilding or tank mode. It could certainly crater out to the side of the ditch, but that’s hard to imagine with the leaders in the mix. It’s going to be a lab experiment, of sorts. That’s how last season was, but the talent coming in this season is much more polished and has more security, of sorts, surrounding it.

10.

This is a fun question that was presented to me by TV play-by-play voice of the Mavericks Mark Followill. I was asking for questions on Twitter to help string together enough of them to get more content out. He threw a good curveball out there with this one.

For those who don’t know, Daniel Bryan (real name: Bryan Danielson) is a WWE wrestler. Yes, I watch WWE and there’s nothing wrong with that. Anyways, he’s known as one of the best technical wrestlers in the company and for his famous “Yes” chant. He’s distinguished himself as a unique person due to his fantastic beard.

As someone who has tried, and embarrassingly failed, to grow a beard, I’m not opposed to saying I am a beard fan.

Clearly, the 2012-2013 season will be remembered for Dirk’s .500 beard. His beard only lasted for a few months, but it got to a stage where it was mesmerizing and beyond fantastic.

Bryan’s beard has been a true sign of commitment as that “thing” has been growing since sometime in the summer of 2011.

Time clearly favor’s Bryan’s beard, even with Dirk’s brief beard time being truly magnificent. Okay, sorry for that, haha.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

  • Mikal

    Sorry, but those beards fail in comparison to James Harden.

  • solidus

    Defense on the wings is going to be a huge problem. Carlisle will probably switch Monta to the PGs (Westbrook, Paul, Rose) and let Calderon’s size match up with the SGs.
    Monta has the physical skills to be an elite perimeter defender. He was prone to taking a lot of chances due to trying to do too much. Look at the teams he was on. I think if he settles down and commits to Carlisle’s defense and sticks to his assignments without trying to do too much (read: try to turn every possession into a turnover), we’ll be in a good shape.