In a suprising bit of news, former Maverick Bernard James slipped all the way through waivers, meaning no other team picked up his contract, and will be resigned by the Mavericks. This bit of news courtesy of Marc Stein, once again: Read more of this article »
Earlier today ESPN’s Marc Stein took to twitter to announce that the Mavericks have waived guard Josh Akognon Read more of this article »
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.
The last game of a wild Mavericks season is now less than 24 hours away. Fittingly, uncertainty still looms even as game number 82 approaches; the result of tonight’s contest determines whether Dallas finishes the season as a losing team or achieves the respectable .500 mark they fought so hard to reach. Though that distinction in itself may prove to be of little consequence, the end of a troubling season introduces far more questions an uncertainties with precious few answers to speak of.
While most of Dallas’ future is unknown, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided a useful framework for understanding and classifying known and unknown forces. Rumsfeld famously responded to a journalist’s query about uncertainty by putting “knowns and unknowns” into three conceptual categories, explaining:
“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But, there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.
In the first category, the “known knowns” which represent areas of total certainty, Dallas entered 2012-2013 with none and leaves with a very important one: Dirk’s still got it.
Encapsulating a team’s essence in one word is difficult, particularly when that team is the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks and one isn’t supposed to curse. Those conditions standing, however, the word which best describes both the current and future outlook of these Dallas Mavericks is “unpredictable.” The instability which characterized the Mavs this season will become the new normal as Dallas prepares to enter another hyperactive off-season.
As the primary topics of discussion shift away from the playoffs and beards, talk of free agency will ramp up. A rush of predictions, rumors and opinion pieces will attempt to assign a method to the ongoing Mavericks madness. It is a void into which I will willingly plunge as an analyst, but I wish to first beg your forgiveness. The task of predicting Dallas’ moves this offseason, or offering reasonable advice to its ownership, is a tall task, and potentially a fool’s errand. Anyone searching for a definitive answer would be wise to remember that little in this Mavericks era can be anticipated; most everything has yet to be determined.
The makeshift Dallas backcourt suffered yet another shakeup last weekend following the release of little-used point guard Dominique Jones. The news, like Jones’ time in Dallas, was an afterthought to most fans. Aside from bearing witness to the Mavericks’ 2011 championship run, Jones was more well known for the playful nickname he despised owning — “DoJo” — than he was for his on-court production.
Jones’ exit should trouble Dallas fans, though not because his absence will result in any immediate threat to the team’s production. Jones was a ghost in Dallas before his abrupt departure, and his exit represents another example of Dallas’ inability to groom a once-promising young athlete into a steady rotation player.
There were some hopeful signs emerging for Jones earlier this season. He started three games and showed rare glimpses of the skills that made him a first-round draft selection, including intensity, defensive awareness and an ability to push the pace and get to the rim in transition. His stock was rising along with his playing time, a career-high season average of 11.7 minutes per game.
Despite his progress, Jones’ opportunities this season came few and far between and soon almost vanished entirely. He became glued to the bench as the calendar flipped to 2013, sitting out 25 of the team’s 29 games this year due to coach’s decision. Dirk Nowitzki summed it up best, in comments to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“He never really got a real shot at it,”’ Nowitzki said. “I like his athleticism, I like what he brought, it just wasn’t a good situation to be in.
“I obviously wish him luck for the future. I was always cool with D-Jones and I wish him luck.”
The Mavericks were expected to be quiet as the deadline came. Despite that theory, it appeared that things might work out to where the Mavericks acquired Beno Udrih if a deal with Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks fell through. The Smith deal never panned out, but Udrih ended up being dealt as part of a six-player deal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. As the deadline was winding down, the Mavericks ended up striking a deal with the Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks swapped veteran wing player Dahntay Jones in exchange for Anthony Morrow. “We want to thank Dahntay for what he brought to us,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
After the deal was announced, Carlisle commented on his new player. “He’s one of the best shooters in the game and you can never too many shooters,” Carlisle said. Morrow, 27, averaged 5.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game in 24 appearances for the Hawks this season. He has had to miss a chunk of this season with a hip injury. For those who haven’t tracked Morrow, he was acquired by Atlanta from Brooklyn as part of a package for Joe Johnson. The Mavericks are interested in Morrow as he’s in the final year of his deal that pays him $4 million.
According to TV play-by-play voice of the Mavericks Mark Followill, the only rookie in NBA history to lead the league in 3-point shooting percentage is Morrow at .467 in 2008-09. Morrow’s career .425 3-point percentage is the 9th highest in league history (minimum 250 3-pointers made).
Today is the day. The trade deadline is finally here. At 2 pm central standard time, the wheeling and dealing will pretty much be over. The Mavericks are in a tough spot as they try to balance their run for the playoffs this year and continue their process of transitioning into the future. With viable trade assets in Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Chris Kaman, anything is possible. Dallas could be looking for players that can boost their playoff chances this year, they could look to accommodate other teams and acquire nice pieces in return or they could unload everything and work with a relatively clean slate going into the offseason.
The most recent report came from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com suggesting that the Mavericks have made Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Brandan Wright available for draft picks, according to sources. Some have joked that the Mavericks would be willing to take a third-round draft pick for either Roddy or Jones (there are only two rounds in the NBA draft). Picks are quite valuable in today’s new NBA as rookie-deal players are all the rage. The Mavericks would be interested in obtaining those picks, but they won’t do anything to compromise their cap room.
As the festivities of All-Star weekend faded away, the trade deadline became the top story for the league. Rumors, like the ones mentioned above, always run rampant as the deadline approaches. Owners and general managers are valuable sources of information, but it’s hard to really figure out if they’re giving you information that is worth running with. The best thing to do is just look around the league and get a feel for where each team is at and determine if there is something in terms of a fit for your team. That’s what we’re going to do here. As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, it’s time to look at every team around the league and see if there’s anything that makes sense for the Mavericks.
On Friday, at Hickory-High, Ming Wang put together a really interesting piece sharing an interesting new strategy for examining the tradeoff between production and cost for the contracts of NBA players. Here’s the rationale and method in his own words:
A few weeks ago, Kevin Pelton of ESPN looked at the best contracts in the NBA by multiplying a player’s WARP (wins above replacement level) by the average amount that teams pay for each WARP. I’d like to approach this same problem from a different angle: namely, how much value are teams getting out of the salaries they pay their players? Instead of looking at WARP, I’ll focus on win shares, another metric of player value. While Pelton’s methodology assumes that the overall NBA salary market is priced correctly (therefore attaching a value to each WARP a team pays for), my method makes no assumptions about overall pricing accuracy and instead seeks to evaluate relative player salary and performance.
At a basic level, my goal is to quantitatively evaluate the best and worst contracts in the NBA. To do so, I construct a simple metric that I call the “value ratio.” This is defined as: (Player Salary/Median Salary)/(Player Win Share/Median Win Share). In effect, I am comparing the amount over (or under) which a player is being paid vs. the median NBA player with that player’s production over (or under) that of a median player. Comparing salaries and win shares with median values serves as a way of normalizing these metrics and making them more readily comparable to each other. A simple way to think about this metric is the following: if the ratio is less than 1, the player is undervalued; if the ratio is greater than one, the player is overvalued; if the ratio equals one, the player is properly valued. In short, the most valuable players will be those with the smallest value ratios.
To get a more full picture of player production, Wang used a three-year average of a player’s Win Shares. To compensate for the fact that salary is not consistent in every year of a contract he averaged the per year salary commitments of this year and each remaining year on a player’s contract. There are several holes in his method, which he acknowledges at the end of his post, but if you know the context for specific players and specific teams, the stories told by his numbers become much richer.
Several Mavericks showed up in different places in Wang’s results. With a value ratio of 0.131, Elton Brand’s contract provided the 7th greatest value of any player who has played at least 500 minutes this season. At a value ratio of 0.259, Darren Collison’s contract provided the 10th most value of any player who had played at least 1,150 minutes this season. Driven by curiosity, I pulled together his results for all of the Mavericks to see how the team’s current crop of contracts rated in value.
“The only constant is change.” – Heraclitus
Derek Fisher’s departure created a void which the Mavericks unsurprisingly filled with a veteran journeyman: the 37-year-old Mike James. James played well enough to earn a second 10-day contract, but Dallas must decide by Sunday whether the player Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas labeled a “poor man’s Derek Fisher” will remain with the team for the rest of the season.
It’s unclear whether Dallas plans to retain James, but Rick Carlisle clearly trusts him at the end of games, to the point of keeping him on the floor to finish several close contests while starter Darren Collison warms the bench. Carlisle’s short leash with Collison is evident in his stated reasoning for opting to go with James down the stretch against Houston, as he told our own Bryan Gutierrez that “(Jeremy) Lin just walked right in there twice in a row on Collison. The physical size with Darren is what is tough for him. We needed a stronger guy in there.” Carlisle continued that James offers “experience, some physical strength and some toughness” before concluding simply: “I like him. I really do.” As inelegant as James’ play sometimes appears, the Mavericks are 5-1 in games where James has been on the floor.
All of that said, it would ultimately be best for the Mavericks to part ways with James, even in spite of Carlisle’s praise and the team’s recently impressive performance. While physically stronger than Collison, James is several steps slower and a much worse shooter and distributor. James’ moments of great play are outnumbered by mind-boggling inconsistency. Collison’s play has improved dramatically of late but he needs to receive consistent and consequential minutes to continue his improvement. Carlisle’s general preference for veteran guards shouldn’t mislead him into opting to keep James.