Needless to say, there’s a lot of free time on my hands. I like to think when I have a lot of free time. I like to think when I do not have a lot of free time. With that in mind, I’ve sat and wondered about various subjects revolving around the Mavs. I went ahead and got my fingers working on the keyboard and came up with questions and answers about the Mavs. Here are 10 of the questions and answers now. I will share the other 10 later this week.
Dollars and sense. When it comes down to it, that’s what it is all about.
There is a lot of work ahead for the Mavs as they look to make the 2012-13 season an aberration and not the new norm in the new CBA world. It is a new world for the Mavs, and everyone else in the league, as everyone continues to adapt to what the implications are with the new CBA. I think Donnie Nelson hit the nail on the head when he discussed it during his exit interview. “It’s not like the good old days where there’s all kind of financial freedom where you can sign checks into the wind,” Nelson said.
It is a big summer, and the Mavs will have to trust their instincts based on all they work they do and they are currently doing.
Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FTR ORR TOR
Dallas 94.0 96.7 44.4 15.7 25.0 9.5
Boston 79.3 43.9 14.9 11.4 17.7
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- The Celtics’ availability issues started out crippling and ended up comical; if it weren’t bad enough that Rajon Rondo (suspended), Kevin Garnett (personal reasons), and Brandon Bass (knee) were nixed from the game at the start, Jermaine O’Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (groin) left in the third quarter and did not return. That left the Celtics reeling with all kinds of crazy lineup combinations, and completely incapable of mounting a comeback run using their typical offensive and defensive alignments.
- Then again, considering how O’Neal and Wilcox plodded through their pick-and-roll recoveries on Dirk Nowitzki, maybe a delayed absence was for the best from Boston’s perspective. Nowitzki was focused from opening tip and quick to fire, but each of his ball screens secured him an ocean of open space. A make is virtually guaranteed for any competent NBA shooter who is able to catch, square up, and fire off a jumper without even the slightest hint of duress; under those same conditions, a shooter as as accurate and highly utilized as Nowitzki apparently rattles off 26 points in 30 minutes. Without having Garnett around to at least attempt to check Dirk, Boston was fairly helpless.
- Dominique Jones, making dreams come true:
- Dirk officially signed his new contract with the Mavs yesterday, and here are the yearly values, according to Eddie Sefko: $17,278,618/$19,092,873/$20,907,128/$22,721,381.
- Congrats to Dominique Jones, who made the All-Summer League Team in Vegas. At the beginning of Summer League, we all figured Rodrigue Beaubois would be in thie position, but Jones’ offensive efficiency and defensive excellence weren’t necessarily surprising, but they’re definitely welcome.
- Something about this picture is just…weird.
- Omar Samhan on his decision to play professionally in Lithuania next season (via Jeff Caplan): “I didn’t have any offers for guaranteed money [in the NBA]. A lot of people wanted me to come to training camp, but they couldn’t guarantee anything. And, if I did make a team, I wouldn’t get playing time, I wouldn’t get a chance to develop a ton…So, it’s going to give me a chance to go over there for a year or two and really develop as a player. I plan on coming back and being an NBA player for the next 10 years.”
- Jason Kidd will help out Team USA this summer. He just won’t, y’know, play.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News has a featureish piece on Ian Mahinmi for those that aren’t acquainted with his career in Austin and San Antonio.
- The Chicago Bulls are considering picking up Josh Howard for next season.
- Shocker: Brandon Bass doesn’t seem all that happy with his role on the Magic. In such situations, I recommend actually learning the playbook and rotations.
UPDATE (10:29 AM CST):
Basketball is an industry. Goods are bought and sold, players are reduced to commodities, and there is money to be made on every conceivable level of the operation. Some of those (professional athletes hiring agents) are more palatable than others (college athletes receiving an envelope under the table), but regardless of varying perceptions of the ‘student athlete,’ there seems to be a general distaste for the exploitation of minors.
That’s pretty much the modus operandi of the old world AAU, the world guys like our own Jason Terry are trying to eradicate. JET, among a number of other players including Jason Kidd and ex-Mavs Devin Harris and Brandon Bass, have begun to repave the roads that have become so treacherous since their basketball upbringing. Controlling the perils of the AAU system is a great way to start cleaning out the muck resting in the game’s lining, the shadows behind the game that allow for all sorts of unseemly profiteering.
There will always be a never-ending stream of “professionals” waiting to siphon money whenever and wherever they can, but limiting their access points to athletes (especially at a young age) is important, and not just to JET. As long as we can appreciate these efforts for their intent, commitment to change, and progress (even if it is minor) toward a cleaner basketball system, their value is not lost on us. Obviously there are no absolutes here; some players could just as well use the AAU system for their own personal gains, be they monetary or otherwise. Still, guys like JET ooze a genuine enthusiasm for the nobler aspects of running a program, and that should be celebrated.
From the Associated Press:
Jason Terry has all sorts of fond memories from his AAU basketball days, like finishing fourth in the national tournament as an eighth grader and taking his first plane ride to get to other games. So when his oldest daughter was ready to play organized basketball, he wanted her to have a great experience, too. He just wasn’t sure AAU could provide it.
…Its most high-profile efforts are in boys’ basketball, sanctioning teams, tournaments and camps that give top players a chance to show off their skills outside of their school programs — and, according to critics, also provide a fertile feeding ground for shadowy middle men to steer top young players to a particular agent, college program or athletic equipment company. AAU basketball has changed since Terry’s days in the early 1990s. With NBA salaries skyrocketing from around $1 million then to more than $5 million, the organization is much more of a juicy target for people who want to latch onto kids in hopes of getting a piece of the action.
Terry knew about those problems and more — players jumping squads during a tournament, kids lying about their age, parents who encourage such things — because besides playing for the Dallas Mavericks, he helped train four players who recently came through the AAU system. So of course he was leery about signing up his daughter. Then he had another idea. Why not start his own AAU program? Terry is now among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of current and former NBA players with their own clubs, guys like LeBron James, Lamar Odom, Devin Harris and Mike Bibby.
Their motivation is simple: Giving back to the program that helped turn them into multimillionaires, while trying to improve things for the next generation — which, for guys like Terry and Bibby, includes their own children…”Once it gets to high school, it starts to get tainted — kids are trying to get scholarships and you’ve got agents and stuff involved,” Terry said. “By the time they get to ninth grade, we’ve already alerted them of what to expect.”
…Kidd became hooked by talking to Terry and Robert Hackett, the Mavericks’ strength and conditioning coach and a dad-coach in Terry’s program. Instead of starting a program, Kidd came up with a concept: Gathering every eighth-grade-and-under AAU team run by current and former NBA players for a weekend packed with tournaments for kids, seminars for parents and brainstorming sessions for the NBA guys. With Hackett’s help, Kidd secured a Dallas-area facility in July, a few weeks after the national AAU tournament. During pregame warmups, Kidd, Terry and Hackett sidled up to friends on opposing teams and asked if they had an AAU team or knew who did.
Bibby, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Brandon Bass were among the verbal commitments. Even if only a handful of local teams show up, it’s a start. “As the years go on,” Kidd said, “we’ll get it bigger and bigger.”
…The fifth-graders became the first tournament winners. Although Terry missed it, a picture of the kids and their trophy hangs in his Mavs locker. He was there a few weeks later when the sixth-graders won their first title, rallying from 18 points down against a team they’d lost to by 40. “Jason sprinted around the court like he’d just won an NBA championship, he was just so proud of the girls,” said Christie Foy, whose oldest daughter has been involved from the start. “I get goose bumps thinking about it. To have a coach — whether he’s an NBA player or not — have that much faith in you and support for you and enthusiasm in what you’re doing, it’s gone a long way with them.”
- We already knew this was going to happen, but the Mavs have announced they will pick up J.J. Barea’s $1.8 million team option for next season. Michael Dugat of DallasBasketball.com compared Barea to other reserve point guards around the league by using base statistics, and the results show about what you’d expect: we’re all far harsher on Barea than we should be.
- The Mavs plan to bring in Brian Zoubek for a workout, likely as a prospect for the 50th pick.
- Eddy Rivera reviews Brandon Bass’ 2009-2010 season for Magic Basketball: “In retrospect, it’s fair to wonder why general manager Otis Smithsigned Brandon Bass. There’s no question that Bass is a good player but he’s the equivalent of being a round peg trying to be inserted into a square hole. Bass’ strengths as a player are completely the opposite to what makes the Magic successful. For instance, even taking into account his efficiency on offense, Bass is the lone player on Orlando that bases his game around the mid-range jumper. Add to the fact that Bass was never able to learn the Magic’s defensive schemes and there shouldn’t be a surprise that he barely saw minutes this year.”
- We should know by the end of the day whether or not Dwane Casey will be the next coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
- Andris Biedrins is a very attainable non-free agent that the Mavs could score this summer, but doing so would mean Dallas struck out on a number of fronts beforehand. If Nelson and Cuban end up using Dampier’s contract to grab Biedrins, it’s merely consolation. Still, better something than nothing, right?
- UPDATE: Jason Terry, on Nate Robinson’s performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals: “What a game from 1 6th man to another nate way 2 show up and show out town bizness”
- UPDATE: John Hollinger ranked the top 50 single-game Finals performances of all-time, and Dwyane Wade’s Game 3 and Game 6 in 2006 ranked 9th and 19th respectively.
“Yeah. That went well.”
-Captain Malcolm Reynolds
As much as we’d like for the Mavs to down the Magic on a night like this, it’s not reasonable to expect it. For one, the Magic are far and away the superior team. Plus, it’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavs, and they’re coming off an overtime finish and a plane ride home, no less. I know the Mavs don’t need any excuses at this point, but the realities of the NBA regular season do influence performance from time to time, and this one was off those times.
It’s no surprise that the Mavs stuck with the Magic before slipping in the second half. I didn’t quite expect them to post an effective field goal percentage as low as 40.7%, but that’s what happens when everyone’s shooting turns a bit wild. The only Mavericks who could score were Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 24 but took 22 shots to do so, and Jason Terry, who finished with similar efficiency in scoring 16 points on 16 shots. They “carried” the offense, but only because the first half was so low-scoring that even an inefficient night from the Mavs’ two primary scorers kept them close. Decent defense from both sides DOMINATED the first 24 minutes, provided your understanding of defensive domination includes both teams missing open jumpers, committing unforced turnovers, and lacking any kind of offensive cohesion.
In the second half, members of the Magic just took turns exposing various aspects of the Mavs’ defense. Orlando utilized its numerous perimeter alternatives on the pick-and-roll, exploiting the Mavs’ tendency to double down on Howard following his strong start to hit three after three. Mickael Pietrus (24 points, 7-8 FG, 6-6 3FG) was especially dangerous in that regard, and he was absurdly effective from the corners. Jameer Nelson (14 points, seven assists, six turnovers) joined in on the fun to hedge the damage of his dismal first half, and his ability to hit from mid-range and his patience in the pick-and-roll was a big reason why the Magic’s third quarter offense was so effective. Then, Vince Carter (19 points, 8-17 FG, seven rebounds) beefed up his production in time to cushion Orlando’s lead, and Pietrus finished with nine of the Magic’s final 10 points to protect it from a late Maverick rally.
It was just a matter of time before Orlando’s defense came around. Dwight Howard (18 points, 20 rebounds, five blocks) is one of the league’s most influential defensive forces, and every block (and even goaltend) made the Mavs more and more nervous around the basket. Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood passed up looks at the rim due to Howard’s very presence, and many more Mavs faked themselves out of a rhythm as they approached the basket. There are certain award races this season that have discussions or arguments involved. Defensive Player of the Year is not one of them. No player in the league has a more profound impact on the defensive end, and that’s just as obvious in what he does do (block shots, get mad rebounds, show aggressively on screens) as what he doesn’t (deter opponents from coming in the lane, alter shot selection).
Otherwise, there’s not much to say. The half-court offense was stymied by an elite defense, the Mavs blew plenty of their opportunities in transition, and the better team won. Dallas looked off, was forced into too many tough shots, and couldn’t convert their easy ones. That’s not exactly a winning formula on any night, much less one where the opponent is a true contender and one of the hottest teams in the league.
The closest thing Dallas had to a hero was J.J. Barea (16 points, 7-9 FG, two steals), who put on something of a one-man comeback in the fourth quarter. Barea, the very man so many Mavs fans are desperately trying to bury as an offering to Rodrigue Beaubois, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter alone, including Dallas’ last seven. As much as we’d all like to carve out minutes for Beaubois, Barea still deserves to play. He’ll have nights where he’ll struggle to keep the offense in control or where his shot is a bit errant. That’s why he’s a reserve and not a starting-caliber guard. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve to play or even rightfully deserve the back-up point guard job. It’s crucial that Rick Carlisle keeps his options open, and more important than cementing the back-up PG role is doling out minutes based on the merits of each players’ recent performance. On this night, for example, Rodrigue finished with just two points on 0-of-3 shooting and two turnovers. He may have the potential to produce in greater volume than J.J. (hello, 40-point night), but Barea was by far the more productive player against the Magic. The debate should never have been about getting more minutes for Beaubois, but rather for getting more minutes for the players that deserve them.
- Brandon Bass (eight points, two rebounds) doesn’t always crack the rotation for the Magic, but he played well in 12 minutes. His defense was a mixed bag (some things never change, right?), but offensively he was a nice boost.
- Caron Butler (three points, 0-4 FG, three rebounds, three turnovers) is really struggling right now. On the bright side, his poor shooting isn’t shifting him into chucking mode, but he really needs to establish his value on the offensive end. Otherwise, he’s probably not worth the minutes. I’m not saying Butler should frequently try to take his man one-on-one, but what is Caron providing on the floor during these stretches where only Dirk or JET is clicking on offense? Part of that is the tendency to milk the hot hand, which is fine. It’s after the hot hand cools off that the problems begin to surface, and ideally that’s where you’d like to see Caron chip in.
- Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood combined for 10 points and 18 rebounds, which is alright, I suppose. Both were clearly upstaged by Dwight (as is to be expected), but the defensive effort was there even if neither could properly hold Howard down. The Mavs began their coverage of Howard with a variety of double-teams coming from different angles at different times, but to no avail; Dwight showed off a variety of post moves (including a beauty of a lefty running hook) and found his open teammates on the perimeter. He’s such a tough cover in this system, and that was before the Magic’s outside shooting really started clicking.
- Though the Mavs often looked a step slow, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Dallas really competed in this one, and kept fighting to trim the lead even when a comeback seemed impossible. The loss still hurts (especially in the standings), but the fight is important.
- Orlando finished 14-of-24 from beyond the arc. Ouch.
- Erick Dampier and Jason Kidd appear to be good to go for tonight’s game.
- There are a few different philosophies when it comes to retiring from the NBA. Obviously, there’s the “go out on top” approach, where a veteran NBA champion rides off quietly into the sunset. Jerry Stackhouse is apparently taking a different route. From Stack, via Eddie Sefko: “I still feel I have something left in the tank…When I go out, I want it to be on ‘E.’ At this point in my career, most guys are thinking about trying to get on a team that’s really close to a championship. But where could I have more value than to a younger team that’s really trying to take it to another level?”
- Stack also talked about his career arc, his role on the Bucks, and a little on his time with the Mavs with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. Stack’s never been one to shy away from anything, and though nothing he says is particularly outlandish, I did find one of his responses especially interesting: “NBA.com: Yeah, but you haven’t been on a championship team. The Inside the NBA guys turned that into a debate — would a player rather have Steve Nash’s career or Steve Kerr’s? — to weigh All-Star status against a ring collection. JS: I don’t hold a whole lot of stock in [needing a championship ring]. Some people get the chance to play for a championship, and I did in Dallas. [But] if Steve Kerr or somebody had a chance to play longer than he did, I’m sure he’d have jumped at it. He probably would have traded back a ring. It’s great to say that you won. But at the end of the day, they’re probably going to say you coat-tailed Michael Jordan for it anyway [laughing]. A lot of those guys who were on championship teams — Keith Booth or Tony Brown — don’t you think they would trade those rings for four or five extra seasons of income and playing? At the end of the day, it’s a business. You’re working and trying to use the gifts you got from the Man Upstairs to create a legacy for your family. That’s all that’s going to matter once all of the air’s out of the ball. How much have you been able to save and put away. You know the stories, the guys who squandered their earnings and outlived their means.”
- Speaking of ex-Mavs, Chris Littmann of The Baseline catches up with Brandon Bass. Something tells me Bass didn’t quite have this current situation in mind when he left the Mavs for what was assumed to be more minutes and a bigger opportunity.
- Over the last four games, the Mavs have leaned more and more on Josh Howard to supply fourth quarter minutes. That often leaves Shawn Marion as the odd man out, but things could be different if Marion’s defensive talents are needed against Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.
- Jason Terry, when asked if he needs to make adjustments in his game to accomodate his shooting slump (via Jeff Caplan): “No question, going into the new year, for me personally, I’ve had a situation where I’ve had an adjustment to make…Teams are playing me a little bit different defensively. I’ve watched tons of film, I know what to do now. I don’t want to give it away, but it does involve getting in the paint and loosening them up. It’s just something that I have to do and I have to remain concentrating on it.”
- Per the AP report, yesterday’s game against Memphis was the first all season in which Dirk did not attempt a free throw.
- Is Jason Kidd a possible candidate to participate in All-Star Weekend via the 3-point shootout? On merits alone, probably not. But if the powers that be opt for some local flavor, Kidd may very well see his day in the games…if not as a shooter, than surely in the skills competition.
- The best and worst of a decade in Dallas sports, with plenty of Mavs on both ends.
- Last year, the Mavs stuck it to the Blazers on Christmas day by milking the J.J. Barea/Brandon Bass pick-and-roll for all it was worth, in spite of a huge performance from Brandon Roy. Though the Mavs didn’t play on Christmas this year, the Blazers did, and the loss from a year ago was still very fresh in Roy’s mind.
- A fun scatterplot charting NBA teams by offensive and defensive efficiency. As you can see, the Mavs have some pretty talented neighbors. (link via Ryan Parker of Basketball Geek)
- We’re just a hop and a skip into the season, and former Mav Brandon Bass and almost Mav Marcin Gortat are in Marc Stein’s list of the top five players most likely to be moved. It’s strange how these things work out.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Vysotsky, and Gerald Green. It all makes sense, trust me. (via A Stern Warning)
- The Mavs are tied for the most road wins in the Western Conference.
- The JET has only good things to say about Erick Dampier (via Eddie Sefko): “The big fella has to play, plain and simple…We got to have Erick Dampier on the court. I don’t care what team we’re playing against – big lineup, little lineup, what have you. He has to be out there. He’s having an outstanding year, and whatever we have to do to keep him out there, we have to do.”
- Erick Dampier himself on his success within the offense (also via Sefko): “We know teams aren’t going to leave Dirk or Jet…On the pick and roll, if I set a good pick, it’s going to be either a walk-in layup or open jumper for the guard or a dunk for me…That’s just basic basketball. We don’t have to make it complicated.”
- J.J. Barea has had his fair share of struggles, but you wouldn’t know it after last night’s game. Barea was a game-changer, and in the locker room, he was treated like one.
- That Tim Thomas issue? A non-issue.