Eye on the Market

Posted by Brian Rubaie on January 16, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

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Changes are coming to the Mavericks roster. Contrary to the suggestion made by Bill Simmons on NBA Countdown that the Mavericks would catch “lottery-itis” and shelve Dirk, owner Mark Cuban has made it clear that he isn’t content to embrace a year without a trip to the playoffs. “There’s a one hundred percent chance that we’re going to try to do something,” Cuban told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Soon after, Cuban told Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas that the Mavericks are “letting everybody know that the ‘Bank of Cuban’ is open.”  Some caveats, such as the unwillingness to deal Dirk or “to do a trade just to do a trade,” were explicit, while others, such as retaining O.J. Mayo, are widely assumed. Those assurances aside, the future of Dallas is as unclear as it has been in recent memory. Cuban, blessed with extra salary cap space and a treasure trove of expiring contracts, will confront two inter-related questions: when to act and who to target.

There is pressure on Cuban to act quickly. The fan base is in disarray as it watches a team defending a 12-season playoff streak slip towards the bottom of the Western Conference. Dallas is still five games behind the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, even after winning three straight, and the playoff window is shrinking quickly as the February 21st trade deadline looms. Aside from making the playoffs, Dallas wants to maximize every moment of Dirk’s last few productive years and demonstrate progress to potential free agents over the summer. Cuban also wants to quickly capitalize on the desire of other teams to avoid the costly repercussions of the luxury tax.

While the case for acting quickly has merit, Cuban would be wise to be patient and wait until the summer to make any big moves. The playoff streak is a mark of pride but it’s isn’t worth sacrificing operating room over the summer to impossibly chase. It is also of little comfort to fans when the season ends: streak or no streak, sneaking into the playoffs and being swept by Oklahoma City last year felt little better than the prospect of missing the playoffs this season. Meanwhile, a big signing could easily reverse those feelings and reignite disaffected ticket-holders. Cuban is wise to capitalize on the upcoming luxury tax but the looming hike won’t exert significant pressure on other owners to act until summer arrives. Dallas would avoid further mid-season roster turnover and find a significantly stronger group of available free agents if it waits patiently.

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Point Guard Help Wanted

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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As a last minute scratch, Darren Collison missed the game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained right middle finger. That led to Dominique Jones getting his second consecutive start at the point guard position. It is safe to say that the point guard situation has gotten desperate for the Mavericks. It’s gotten to the point where Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle announced shortly after the loss to the Bulls that Derek Fisher would be joining the team. The news was made official on Thursday afternoon. ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst was the first to report that Derek Fisher would likely make a decision on his new team by Thursday.

“I think (Fisher) can really help our situation with experience, defensively and really all areas of the game,” Carlisle told reporters after the loss to Chicago. “Right now, the point guard position is a challenge for us and I think Derek can help us.” To make room for Fisher on the roster, the Mavericks released Troy Murphy. Fisher (6-1, 210) is a five-time NBA World Champion and has played in 1,173 games (722 starts) with the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State, Utah and Oklahoma City. At age 38, he holds career averages of 8.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 26.2 minutes per game. Fisher was originally the 24th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and went on to win five World Championships in Los Angeles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010). He also served as President of the NBA Players Association from 2006-2012.

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The Revolving Door

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 2, 2012 under Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

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Things just tend to never slow down for the Mavericks this year. Veteran forward Troy Murphy reached an agreement on a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday evening, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. It was reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com that the Mavericks would waive newly acquired center Eddy Curry, not guard Dominique Jones, to make room for Troy Murphy on the 15-man roster. Things were finally made official late Friday afternoon. By letting Curry go, the new acquisition gives the appearance that Chris Kaman’s return to the lineup could be imminent.

Murphy, 32, has experience playing for coach Rick Carlisle. He played for Carlisle with the Indiana Pacers in 2006-07, averaging 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds after arriving in a midseason trade from the Golden State Warriors. Additionally, he has experience playing for assistant coach Jim O’Brien. He played 220 games for O’Brien where he averaged 13.7 points/game, 9.7 rebounds/game and shot 41.3 percent from three-point range.

In a moment where they could have gone with guys such as Brian Cardinal or Yi Jianlian (Former Mavericks who are without an NBA gig at the moment), they went with Troy Murphy. While holding career averages of 10.9 points/game, 7.9 rebounds/game while shooting 39.0 percent from three point range in his 11 year NBA career (715 games, 480 starts), Murphy has tailed off during the last two years in the league. He only averaged 16.2 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers and scored 3.2 points/game.

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The Longer Road

Posted by Brian Rubaie on October 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

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A lot can change in five years. In 2007 Josh Howard and O.J. Mayo were both on top of the world. Howard was Dirk Nowitzki’s clear No. 2 on a team that won a team-record 67 games. Mayo was the country’s premiere high school prospect. Five years later, they are journeymen at a crossroads. Howard is still seeking employment, and though the Mavericks have had plenty of roster openings, they’ve displayed no interest in their former star. Instead, they’ve placed their hopes in the hands of the enigmatic Mayo, who arrives in Dallas with much to prove in what may be his last chance to cement a starting role. Mayo weighs in at precisely the same 220 pounds as Josh Howard but many doubt his ability to hold the same weight of responsibility that once rested on Howard’s shoulders. Can Mayo fulfill his promise and become the second option in Dallas? It’s a tall order but one that Mayo can meet.

Mayo’s career arc thus far has taken a steady decline. He arrived in the NBA after a solid but unspectacular campaign for USC. Viewed as a distant draft consolation prize behind Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, he was dumped before the dance ended, traded by the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Things only got worse in Memphis. The 38 minutes a game he was afforded by the Grizzlies in his first two seasons transformed to 26 minutes a game and a sixth-man role behind rookie Xavier Henry. Asking whether Mayo has fulfilled expectations yields an unflinching “no.” The better question is where his ceiling currently stands; what should Mavs fans reasonably expect from Mayo?

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Rank This (Pt. III)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 15, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 2 Comments to Read

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After working through a majority of the 15-man rotation, it’s time to get to the cream of the crop and go over the five players who are the most important to Dallas’ success this coming season. For those jumping in late, here is your recap with back end of the rotation, players 15-10 and players 10-6:

15: Jared Cunningham

14: Bernard James

13. Dominique Jones

12. Dahntay Jones

11. Jae Crowder

10. Brandan Wright

9. Roddy Beaubois

8. Delone West

7. Vince Carter

6. Chris Kaman

Let’s go with the final five.

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Rank This (Pt. II)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 12, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

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It’s time to move into ranking the top 10 Mavericks in terms of projected importance for the team this coming season. For those that missed the back end of the rotation, here is a quick recap to get you up to speed:

15: Jared Cunningham

14: Bernard James

13. Dominique Jones

12. Dahntay Jones

11. Jae Crowder

All caught up? Good. Let’s move on and rank players 10 to 6 for the Mavericks.

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Rank This

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 10, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 4 Comments to Read

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Ed. note: This post doubles as an introduction to a new member of The Two Man Game family, even if Mavs fans are undoubtedly quite familiar with his work already. Bryan Gutierrez is a contributing writer for Mavs.com, and formerly worked the Mavericks beat for Mavs Moneyball. You can follow Bryan on Twitter at @BallinWithBryan.

Ranking teams or players before the real season tips off is a chore that doesn’t really make a lot of sense but it’s great for conversation. Unless you live under a rock, you probably followed ESPN.com’s #NBARank project. We’ll put a wrinkle on it by ranking the Dallas Mavericks’ expected 15-man roster.

The experts who rated each player ranked them in terms of “the current quality of each player.” Here are the rankings for the Mavericks, alongside a notable player for comparison.

#463 – Jared Cunningham – Comparison: Mike Bibby, 472
#447 – Bernard James – Comparison: Hasheem Thabeet, 443
#381 – Dominique Jones – Comparison: Jonny Flynn, 386
#339 – Jae Crowder – Comparison: Kelenna Azubuike, 345

#301 – Dahntay Jones – Comparison: DeShawn Stevenson, 319
#212 – Brandan Wright – Comparison: Drew Gooden, 213
#204 – Roddy Beaubois – Comparison: Corey Brewer, 203
#185 – Vince Carter – Comparison: Richard Jefferson, 181

#159 – Delonte West – Comparison: Jason Kidd, 157
#113 – Chris Kaman – Comparison: Kendrick Perkins, 120
#98 – Darren Collison – Comparison: Jose Calderon, 96

#92 – Shawn Marion – Comparison: Thaddeus Young, 91
#90 – O.J. Mayo – Comparison: Jason Terry, 81
#85 – Elton Brand – Comparison: Taj Gibson, 82
#11 – Dirk Nowitzki – Comparison: Kevin Love, 7

ESPN.com’s panel  views the Mavericks in a lone star way as Dirk Nowitzki is the only player ranked inside the top 50. Here at The Two Man Game, we’re down for a discussion or starting another string of debates. Over the next few days, we’ll have player capsules for each Maverick and rank them in terms of projected importance for the team this coming season. It’ll start with the back end of the roster and work our way up to Dirk, whoops, I mean the top of the roster. Here are players 15 to 10.

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Get Back

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 25, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 10 Comments to Read

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As we’ve come to better know and understand the basic form of this particular Dallas Mavericks roster, we’ve only become all the more familiar with its limitations. Even after acquiring Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, and Dahntay Jones, this was (and is) still a team in need — of perimeter and interior defense, of consistent ball-handling, of creative playmaking, and of dependable long-range shooting. The Mavs managed to address almost all of those issues through the re-signing of Delonte West (per Marc Stein of ESPN.com), and while Dallas is still a tier or two away from even hopeful contention, this low-cost play is a perfect use of the team’s 14th roster spot.

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Contrast

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 18, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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Dallas remains among the league leaders in consolation. Continuing in a series of moves that scored Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, and Dahntay Jones on reasonable, short-term deals, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have — according to Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas — agreed to terms with now-former Grizzly O.J. Mayo.

The reported deal is a slight change of pace from the rest of Dallas’ rentals, but given the modest amount of cap space (~$4 million) the Mavs had at their disposal, a two-year deal with the second being a player option seems completely reasonable for a player of Mayo’s skills and age. At one time Mayo appeared to be the free agent most likely to receive a contractual overcommitment, but instead Dallas adds him to a growing rotation for sub-midlevel money without much complicating their financial outlook.

That’s a victory in itself. Ball-handling, perimeter shooting, and quality wing depth were all Maverick needs, and yet Dallas was caught between overcommitting to target players (thereby compromising their long-term goals) and settling for honorable mentions. The gap between Courtney Lee and Marco Belinelli is a wide one indeed, and fortunately, the Mavericks landed in the preferable end of that spectrum without any guaranteed salary beyond this season. That very well could be Dallas’ most impressive stunt this summer — quite an accomplishment considering that Brand, Collison, and Jones were acquired by opportunism alone.

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Flying Buttress

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 13, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

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Few teams know how to rally in the wake of a plan broken like the Dallas Mavericks; the same system of  contingency that netted the Mavericks Tyson Chandler in 2010 has struck again, this time with the expected acquisition of Elton Brand for the unexpected sum of $2.1 million, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com. That’s a quality get at a staggeringly low cost, and the latest in a series of moves that has returned Dallas to, if nothing else, competitive respectability. That’s miracle work considering where this team stood just a few days ago, and a strong endorsement in a front office that’s had a bit of a tough off-season. Losing out on potentially acquiring Deron Williams could still set this franchise back a few years, but the Mavericks front office has proven themselves more than capable of handling the interim with vision, purpose, and the utmost creativity.

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