Summer Thoughts

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 2, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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With the Las Vegas Summer League over and in the rear-view mirror, the basketball activity period is officially shifting towards the hibernation phase. Crumbs will be thrown to those who can’t get enough of the NBA as there will be a few signings that will be done to fill out rosters, the schedule will be announced and we’ll start to hear about training camp information. Unfortunately, the dead time of the NBA year has to come. It doesn’t leave me with much to do (what am I going to do, try to watch TV? No, thank you).

If I’m not going to dust off my remote and actually try to watch TV shows that everyone loves, I’ll keep thinking about basketball. A lot has actually happened over the last few days/weeks and that has led me to do what I do: wonder and try to assess things. That usually leads to questions and answers. It’s been a few weeks since the Q&A format has been used.

Here is the first batch of questions and subsequent (and questionable) answers.

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Ripple Effect

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 31, 2013 under Commentary, Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Many expected the time during the Las Vegas Summer League to mainly just be centered on the prospects as they were looking to show the Mavs made the right decision in making a commitment to them. It would also be geared towards the ones that were trying to prove they deserve an opportunity to go to training camp.

Instead, the time saw those games being played with major shifts in the main roster being made. Probably the biggest shakeup saw the Mavs bring a new person into their front office mix. The team agreed in principle with Houston Rockets vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to become the franchise’s new general manager.

Rosas, 35, began his nine-year tenure with the Rockets as a video coordinator and scout, and rising to executive vice president of basketball operations. With Rosas as general manager of Houston’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team won two championships and reached a third league finals.

One thing is certain: if you want to make it through the ranks as a front office type in the NBA, you probably need to start as a video coordinator. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s claim to fame was the fact he started as the video coordinator for the Heat and emerged as now one of the best coach’s in the league.

The move really raised some eyebrows. What did this mean for president Donnie Nelson? He was essentially the de factor general manager since 2005, when his father, Don, left the franchise. Was there going to be a shift in the collective balance of power within the organization? Owner Mark Cuban joined Galloway and Company on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM last week and communicated about the move in more details.

It’s time to decode what he was actually saying.

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Jury’s Still Out

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 29, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Handing the figurative keys to the castle to a player has always been a skeptical kind of move, in my opinion. For the Mavs, that’s one of the things with the pursuit of Dwight Howard that was kind of perplexing to me. There was one line of thinking that was suggesting that part of the pitch to Dwight Howard would be that Dwight would be able to help select the pieces to the 2014-2015 roster, once the Mavs would have much more cap space to work with in the summer of 2014.

Part of Mark Cuban’s two-year plan in regards to a superstar would be that they would have to make due with a roster with someone like Dwight in the mix and build towards 2014-2015 when the contracts of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter come off the books.

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Worth the Risk

Posted by Kirk Henderson on July 20, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Heading into Las Vegas Summer League, the expectations were fairly straight forward.  The Mavericks hoped to see offensive consistency and defensive stopper potential from second year forward Jae Crowder. Center Bernard James was to dominate the glass and finish around the rim. Rookies Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo needed to show some sort of basketball skill translatable to the NBA. Gal Mekel simply needed to show that he belonged on an NBA roster. Read more of this article »

Men in the Middle

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 18, 2013 under Commentary, News | Be the First to Comment

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After having a meeting with Dallas last week, Andrew Bynum decided to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Mavs decided that Bynum’s situation was not worth pursuing any further. After much discussion, Dallas decided to make Samuel Dalembert their new starting center. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein first reported that Dallas was closing in a deal to make Dalembert the team’s new starting center.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the deal is a two-year, $7.5 million deal with Dallas.

Dalembert’s contract for 14-15 is partially guaranteed.

That means he is the next center from the recent crop of Dallas centers: Erick Dampier, Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler and Chris Kaman.

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The Thoroughly Unremarkable Death Of Plan Powder

Posted by Connor Huchton on July 15, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 8 Comments to Read

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There is always a plan in the mind of the fan. There is always a plan in the mind of the analyst. There is always a plan in the mind of the GM. There is always a plan in the mind of the owner. There is always a plan in the mind of the player.

This much, we can know.

It is almost astonishing to consider how rarely these carefully laid plans of ours coalesce with the course of reality. Every NBA season ends with only one happy ending. The building of teams is no different. And yet, we strive forwards, expecting, hoping.

The reactions to the Monta Ellis signing, mine included, are filled with sentiments of exaggerated woe and disbelief. The Mavericks have now failed to sign Tyson Chandler (two seasons ago, and quite willingly) Deron Williams (last season), failed to sign Dwight Howard, failed to sign Andrew Bynum, failed to sign Andre Iguodala, failed to sign Nikola Pekovic, and failed to address most major team needs. They have however, signed several aging guards and now one Monta Ellis.

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Fork in the Road

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 12, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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With the Mavs deciding to pass on Andrew Bynum, many fans and analysts were wondering what the Mavs were ultimately doing. They were in a state of desperation in regards to the inability to finding a man in the middle.

Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com wrote about how the Mavs are now running on the mediocrity treadmill, the thing that owner Mark Cuban fears the most. Cuban is essentially trying to do the hardest thing in sports: rebuilding on the fly and doing it without hitting rock bottom.

In regards to Bynum, it does sound like a wasted opportunity in not just taking the gamble on Bynum. While it is a conservative approach, I can understand the logic in it. Yes, the Mavs were going to be taking a chance on Bynum, but they, mainly the team’s medical staff, decided that it was not in their best interest to pursue the option.

If they believed that his body and mind weren’t prepared to handle the season, why take the chance? I understand the concept of swinging for the fences and going for the potential reward. The way I look or perceive the situation, the organization didn’t feel there was any reward in the situation, thus not stepping up to the plate.

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Left to Ponder

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 8, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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The Mavs came up short in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, over the weekend. The quickly shifted their focus to plan B (or whatever letter), and have made moves to give a little more insight for what the Mavs are looking to do this offseason.

Questions lead to answers and answers lead to more questions. It’s a vicious circle. Let’s go over some key notes as we head into the next phase of free agency.

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Welcome Back?

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 6, 2013 under Commentary, News | Be the First to Comment

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The Mavs aren’t bringing the band back together, but it does appear that they are bringing a piece from their past back. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that the Mavs and Devin Harris are closing in a three-year deal in the $9 million range. For those who don’t remember, prior to the 2004 draft, Washington and Dallas consummated a deal that ultimately sent the No. 5 pick in that draft, Harris, to Dallas. Harris played three-and-a-half seasons in Dallas before being traded to New Jersey as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Jason Kidd back to the Mavs.

Harris went on to spend four years in New Jersey before being traded to Utah as part of the deal that sent Deron Williams to the Nets. He spent two years in Utah before he was traded to Atlanta. This was rare because a start point guard was not involved in the trade. He was traded in exchange for Marvin Williams.

Harris holds career averages of 12.8 points, 4.9 assists on .441 percent shooting from the field. He played in 58 games for the Hawks and averaged 9.9 points, 4.9 assists on .438 shooting in 2012-2013. Atlanta was 35-23 when Harris played and 24-10 in games that he started. Atlanta was 21-6 when Harris played 25-or-more minutes and 20-8 when he scored in double figures, including 4-0 when he score at least 20 points.

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Spanish Flavor

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 5, 2013 under Commentary, News | Read the First Comment

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The Mavs have made a move.

The thoughts of the NBA contracting the Dallas Mavericks based on them striking out on Dwight Howard were clearly premature. ESPN has reported that it will be a four-year deal for $29 million. This news came shortly after the news that O.J. Mayo was going to sign a three-year, $28 million deal. If you ask me for the money being equal or close to it, I’d rather have Calderon.

Calderon was ranked as the best point guard, outside of Chris Paul, on the free agent market. When it comes to shooting and protecting the ball, Calderon is about as good as it gets. The seven-year veteran has career averages of 11.3 points, 7.1 assists, .483 shooting from the field and .399 from 3-point range. His assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the best in the league, a spot where Dallas struggled tremendously at over the course of 2012-2013. He will certainly be able to direct traffic for the Mavs and space the floor with his ability to shoot the rock.

This isn’t all sunshine and daffodils for the Mavs, though. Calderon does have his warts. He struggles on the defensive end, to say the least. He has often drawn comparisons to Steve Nash due to his ability to facilitate for others, but it also rings true for his inability to stay in front of his man on defense. There is a footwork issue and that can also be seen in his lack of free throws attempted. For his career, he only has averaged 1.6 free throws per game.

That said, this was about making a move for addressing one of the weakest areas for the Mavs from last season. Calderon will take care of that issue. In addition, he will be a solid mentor for Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel as they try to find their way in the NBA.

Speaking with Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack on Twitter) covers all things hoop up in Toronto and she had nothing but high praise when it came to describing Calderon. She described him as a “true professional” and that he has “a really, really, really great presence” on the floor. She spoke of his ability to really direct traffic and put the ball in the spot that it really needs to go. It could be the makings of a Jason Kidd-like player that was at the tail end of his career, minus the defensive chops. In addition, she said that he’s “the nicest human being I’ve met in sports.” I know that doesn’t score any points, but that should count for something.

This move will likely also add years onto Dirk Nowitzki’s game on offense. It’s a given that Dirk operates better with a drive-the-bus point guard.  That is something extremely valuable for the Mavs. Making Dirk happy is always a good, good thing.

The Mavs will now need to address the shooting guard and center position. They will also need to decide what they want to do with Shawn Marion. Since free agency has been approaching, the thought was that they could trade Marion to obtain a defensive or more mobile center (like a Marcin Gortat). That still is a possibility. Either way, they’ll need to address those two positions, with center being the higher priority.

Dallas has roughly $10 million of cap space to work with. Things will clearly open up if they unload Marion for a piece or for space. Keep in mind, the years on Calderon’s deal sound a bit rich, but Mark Cuban said he would likely offer that amount of years in order to help soften the blow if they do end up using the stretch provision on players. It also shows that Cuban is sticking to his plan. If they weren’t able to get the big fish in Dwight Howard, they were going to start to bring in pieces that would help establish the new core for the Mavs.

The Mavs didn’t get Dwight, but they did address a major need. The ball is now rolling and they’ve got someone who can grab it and they know what to do with it.

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.