- Jason Terry on LeBron, Wade, and Bosh uniting in Miami (via Rey Moralde of The No Look Pass): “They gotta come through Texas first. We’ll see what happens. I’m still mad about the ’06 Finals. LeBron just walked into a fire he doesn’t know about.”
- Udonis Haslem, to whom the Mavs had reportedly offered their MLE, will re-sign with the Miami Heat for a significantly lesser salary. Hard to blame him, especially when he’s choosing both loyalty to the franchise/fan base and a better shot at a title over the extra coin.
- Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas makes an interesting note about Ian Mahinmi’s future development with the Mavs: “One issue with Mahinmi: He’s played two years in the D-League already, so he can’t be shipped to Frisco. That means he’ll have to develop without getting many minutes.”
- Mark Cuban doesn’t seem too happy with the way the Superfriends assembled.
- The Mavs are apparently growing more amenable to the idea of parting with Erick Dampier’s contract to acquire Al Jefferson…as long as Minnesota is willing to also take on DeShawn Stevenson’s $4.2 million expiring contract and the $11.7 million left on Matt Caroll’s deal. If anything goes down regarding Jefferson and the Mavs, it will almost certainly a package of draft picks headed Minny’s way (likely with a few first rounders). However, Marc Stein reported a bit later that the Utah Jazz have moved to the front of the pack to acquire Al, which puts quite the damper on the Mavs’ plans.
- Dirk will officially sign with the Mavs later this week.
- Rick Carlisle on John Wall’s debut (via Kevin Arnovitz): “He has fantastic ability and tremendous upside. He’s a different version of Derrick Rose, a little different kind of player, a little different body type and a little different style of play. They both have a great ability to defend. As they learn more, they’ll both get better and better. Wall is a little longer athletically and maybe a little more of a scorer.”
- Mark Deeks/Sham Sports parses through the Mavs’ Summer League roster.
- Regardless of whether Nowitzki wants fanfare or not, the Mavs have launched DFWDigsDirk.com for fans to show support for ze German. Nothing too special, but the Mavs’ official store is offering a 41% discount on all Dirk merch as part of Dirk’s honorary week.
- Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “…I would be shocked if the Mavericks don’t hang around the hoop and try to get a rebound in the Chris Bosh situation. People have been downplaying Bosh because he may end up being a package deal with LeBron James. But Bosh met early today with Houston GM Daryl Morey and if the Rockets are making a push for Bosh on the basis of pairing him with a perhaps-healthy Yao Ming, the Mavericks can do better than that. If the package deal with LeBron falls through, the Mavericks should be in the hunt for the 6-10 hometown kid, even if he’s a little reluctant to play in his backyard and put that extra pressure on himself. Dirk would help him alleviate it.”
Even though the Mavs may look like a better team on paper, the Rox are far and away the more likely Bosh destination. For one, Houston has a plethora of interesting assets (their own draft picks, the Knicks’ draft picks, young talent, expiring contracts) that could tempt the Raptors in a sign-and-trade, but the bigger issue is Bosh’s willingness to suit up for Houston. He’s a far more natural fit alongside Yao than he is alongside Nowitzki, and don’t think for a second that Chris doesn’t know that. Considering how set he is on playing power forward, he may be the least attainable free agent out there.
- Even though the summer’s premier free agents give the Mavs a nice pipe dream to chase, the far more realistic option is an Al Jefferson/Andre Iguodala style trade without the red tape of free agency.
- The Nets have signed Brian Zoubek to a make good contract, which guarantees him a spot in training camp but not a roster spot. Bummer. Devan Downey (Sacramento) and Mac Koshwal (Detroit) have also been picked up for Vegas Summer League.
- According to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon, the Mavs were one of the teams to contact Matt Bonner. He wouldn’t be a bad get as far as bench bigs go, really.
- Keep this page bookmarked, it will no doubt come in handy. This one, too.
- Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that Miami and Cleveland have legitimate interest in Brendan Haywood, which appears to be true. However, he also reported (as did Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) that there was potential for a double sign-and-trade involving Brendan Haywood and Shaquille O’Neal, which was denied by Marc Stein. It makes sense; sources with the Cavs might indicate that a trade was in the works, because it’s likely that Cleveland would initiate such discussions. However, there would be no reason at all for the Mavs to entertain the idea of bringing in O’Neal.
- In case you didn’t hear, Josh Howard is an unrestricted free agent. Sign-and-trade???
- Two days later, and this is still hilarious.
- Donnie Nelson clearly prefers veteran free agents to undrafted ones, and for obvious reasons. There are a number of intriguing veteran options to be had on the market for a chunk of the Mavs’ MLE, but I can’t help but wonder: does that also open the door for a D-Leaguer or two?
- Caron Butler on Twitter, back on Tuesday a little before midnight: “About to check out twilight ill get back and let you’ll know what’s good holla”
- Caron Butler was on the Scott Van Pelt Show, where he shot the breeze on the nature of NBA stardom, Kobe Bryant traveling with him to his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin for ribs, and a few Mavs topics (via ESPN Dallas).
- Speaking of Caron, you can now follow him on Twitter at @realtuffjuice.
- Wang Zhizhi listed Britney Spears, N*SYNC, and the Backstreet Boys as his favorite artists for his NBA.com profile. That is all.
- Rodrigue Beaubois made the Team for NBA Hipsters, Dirk Nowitzki was righteous even in defeat, and Caron Butler is apparently a member of Team Edward; there’s lots of fun to be had with Shoals and Ziller in their playoff retrospective.
- Chad Ford says there’s a 10% chance that Dirk ends up on the Phoenix Suns this summer (and a 15-20% chance that Dirk leaves the Mavs). That number seems awfully high to me, but then again Ford was put on the spot with a specific, numerical question in the middle of a chat. My guess of 1.854% probably wouldn’t be any more or less accurate, since dumbing these things down to a percentage is pretty ridiculous. Still, for what it’s worth, there are basketball brains out there that think this is a legit possibility. I still don’t see it.
- ESPN’s Free Agent Slot Machine is nothing more than a neat little distraction, but for what it’s worth, I wasn’t able to get LeBron to wind up on the Mavs in what was probably over 100 spins (though Nick Taylor was, on his fifth roll of the dice). Dallas also isn’t even listed as a possible destination for Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Joe Johnson according to ESPN’s experts, leaving James as the only big-name free agent the Mavs have a shot at.
- John Hollinger (Insider) posits that the ideal teammate for LeBron James this summer is Chris Bosh. Next in line? Dirk Nowitzki: “The lesson here: Pairing LeBron with a floor-spacing 4 can be really, really effective. We’ll start with Nowitzki, the gold standard in this category. Dallas doesn’t have the cap space to pursue LeBron, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try like the dickens with some combo of Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed deal, talented prospect Rodrigue Beaubois and any other goodies ($3 million and a future first-rounder, for instance) they can muster. If they pulled it off, Dirk and LeBron would make a fearsome pair. Nowitzki doesn’t rebound like Bosh does but is an even better outside shooter; and, as with Bosh, Nowitzki has both a low Turnover Rate and a high TS%.”
- Tim MacMahon wonders if Rodrigue Beaubois can eventually make a Rajon Rondo-like impact. There’s a big difference between the two in terms of their career arcs: the Celtics have always needed Rondo. He was their only option at point guard from his second season onward essentially, and ready or not, he was thrown into the fire. If the Mavs want to see similar developmental patterns, Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Mark Cuban will have to really put the franchise’s faith in Beaubois’ production. Rodrigue will be able to put up points regardless, but if we’re talking about his eventual development into a difference-maker of that magnitude, it’s going to take plenty of franchise support.
- Each Mav will receive $32,500 as a playoff bonus.
- The Spurs may have beat the Mavs in the first round, but they’re still facing plenty of questions after being swept by the Suns ins the second round.
- Mark Cuban, on how Facebook is predicated on compromises in privacy. Nothing basketball-related, but interesting.
- Another affirmation of the Mavs as a dark horse candidate for LeBron’s services. Though it’s worth wondering (and this is nothing against SI’s Ian Thompson specifically, who wrote this particular piece) whether we’ve already reached the speculative breaking point. By now, LeBron’s future has been so thoroughly analyzed, that all we may be getting is the recycling of already recycled theories. Then again, given the media anticipation of 2010 free agency, maybe we reached that point a year or two ago.
The Mavs’ potential for off-season turnover exists regardless of how deep they go into the playoffs. Given the unique financial circumstances afforded to the Mavericks this summer and the never-ending arms race that exists between NBA teams, no one should be surprised to see Dallas make significant changes this summer even if they somehow stumbled their way to an NBA title.
The reason for that is Erick Dampier. Due to the unique performance-related incentives of Dampier’s contract, he can be traded this off-season and then his entire 2010-2011 salary can be subsequently voided. That makes him an invaluable piece in a potential sign-and-trade, supposing Mark Cuban and the Mavs can entice one of this summer’s bigger talents and manage to convince a rival GM to play ball.That’s what makes Dallas’ off-season outlook so difficult to predict: if the Mavs are to acquire anyone of note this summer by using a sign-and-trade, they’ll have to do it with the blessing of the team said player is deserting. Accurately gauging how willing another GM may be to do such a thing requires an intimate knowledge of management style, manager personalities, ownership complications, and overall team strategy that goes far beyond my pay-grade.
Instead, the best way to predict which players could interest the Mavs is simply to analyze which among them may be the most attractive. Unfortunately, that also hinges greatly on the status of the Mavs’ own unrestricted free agent, Brendan Haywood. Haywood is a franchise center. He’s a capable big that can catch and finish, he’s a top-notch interior defender, and he helps well. Should Dallas lose him to another team this summer, their irrefutable free agent strategy would be aimed at securing another big man. Dampier seems like a lock to be moved; should his salary become fully guaranteed for net season by Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson’s choice, he’ll be owed $13 million next season. I consider myself a stronger advocate of Dampier than most, and I’ll be the first to admit that his level of production doesn’t even whiff that price tag. The allure of dropping Damp’s salary — either by trade or by cutting him loose should the right opportunity not present itself — is simply to great for him to remain a Maverick at his current salary, which makes Haywood an essential piece in the free agency equation. We know that Dirk Nowitzki is not a center, and should Dallas be left Haywood-less, they would essentially have four options:
- Sign a cheap, veteran center for the minimum to start and play major minutes for the team. (Read: disaster.)
- Try to acquire a center like Shaquille O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ian Mahinmi, or Jermaine O’Neal using the mid-level exception.
- Try to acquire a power forward and play him at center, either through a desperate grab for Chris Bosh, a run at a mid-level guy like restricted free agent Luis Scola, etc.
- Scrap the free agency dream entirely and try to trade Damp to a team looking to get out from under their center’s contract (Nene, Andris Biedrins, etc.).
How Haywood’s negotiations go this summer obviously hold enormous implications for the Mavs’ off-season plans, so speculating beyond that point is probably fruitless.
So consider me without fruits; I can’t help but think that a number of stars could look awfully good in a Maverick uniform.
LeBron James is this summer’s big prize, but the likelihood of him somehow ending up in Dallas is incredibly slim. It’d be nice, sure, and the Mavs would probably offer him the best chance to compete immediately of any potential destinations. The team is already established in Dallas, and that’s enticing. Then again, do you know where the team is also already established? Cleveland. Who knows how this year’s playoffs will affect LeBron’s decision, but title or not, I like the odds of him sticking with the Cavs.
Chris Bosh also seems like a pipe dream, mainly due to two factors: Bosh does not want to play center, as he’s expressed time and time again in Toronto, and he wants to be The Man, which he wouldn’t be in Dallas. The key in the Mavs acquiring any signed-and-traded free agent is the player’s desire (not just willingness) to come play for Dallas, and Bosh could be described as lukewarm at best when approached about the possibility of playing in his hometown.
Instead, if I’m the Mavs, I have my eyes fixed on the fortunes of two players, one of which is an incredibly unlikely target and the other only mildly unlikely: Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson.
Caron Butler is only the illusion of a starting shooting guard. He can, in theory, shoot, score, handle the ball a bit, and defend. He just doesn’t manage to do the former two efficiently, and his defensive abilities are competent and only likely to diminish with his age. Butler’s Game 5 explosion was so welcome because of the contrast it posed to his typically inefficient scoring nights, and having other scoring threats like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry around Butler hasn’t elevated his efficiency like we thought it might. He’s more or less the same player he was in Washington, only playing well into April.
That leaves the Mavs still looking for a legitimate 2-guard, and the combination of Damp’s contract provisions and Butler’s expiring deal gives Dallas a unique opportunity. They could potentially offer a team like Miami or Atlanta a player of Butler’s caliber in a sign-and-trade, while also allowing them to dump a bit of salary in exchange for Dampier’s deal. The ability of those teams to acquire Damp and then cut him immediately at no cost is something that no other team in the league can offer in a sign-and-trade, which does give Dallas a bit of an edge. Enough of an edge to willingly sign off on the departure of a franchise player? Probably not, but the Mavs are hoping so.
The wild card in all of this is Rodrigue Beaubois. The rook quickly carved out a niche for himself as a highly efficient scorer, and he hasn’t even begun to actualize his full potential as an NBA player. Few players come into the league with the gifts that Beaubois possesses, and should the right prize be available, Dallas may dangle him as trade bait. Teams may not be eager to give up their star player for Butler and Damp’s savings alone, but if Cuban and Nelson are willing to include a rookie guard that has star written all over him? I’m guessing they’d at least get their phone calls returned.
As for the two players I specified, it’s simple: shooting guard would be the Mavs’ biggest hole in the rotation if they can hang on to Haywood, and Jason Terry wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate, even his prime. JET still has plenty left and is ideal as a sixth man, but just doesn’t have the size or defensive aptitude necessary to guard opposing shooting guards well, and isn’t very good at guarding opposing point guards, either. Terry is much improved on the defensive end, but even those improvements don’t have him quite where he would need to be in order to be a highly effective starter.
Two guys that do have that defensive ability — in addition to elite offensive skills — are Wade and Johnson.
Wade is the dream that probably shouldn’t even be chased. For one, because Miami and Chicago are considered the favorites to acquire him. Rightfully so, as both can try to pair him with very talented players, and both boast some sort of hometown advantage. I’m confident one of those teams will land Wade, and they’ll be very, very happy together.
The Mavs could still have an opportunity to play home-wrecker here, supposing Pat Riley is willing to play along with Cuban and Nelson’s plans. I don’t see that as even a remote possibility, but again, I’m not Riles. Maybe he’s very high on Beaubois, or decides he wants to give Caron another go with the Heat, or maybe just wants to do right by Wade for all that he’s done for the franchise. These are not probable scenarios but they are scenarios, and the Mavs would be considered fools if they didn’t do their due diligence when the top shooting guard in the league (yeah, I said it) becomes available.
There would be, of course, that one thing. That one little thing. That one little he single-handedly (we’re not counting officials) destroyed the Mavs in the 2006 Finals thing. It would certainly make the relationship…interesting. There were comments exchanged from both sides in 2006-2007, the thought of the series still stings most Mavs fans, and I can only offer one piece of advice to all parties involved: get over it. This is Dwyane Wade. He’s a remarkable player with a hell of a career still ahead of him, and even though it’s extremely unlikely he’ll wind up a Maverick, the very thought should have Mavs fans sending him love letters and fruit baskets. They don’t come much better than Wade, and regardless of the past between him and the Mavs, his talent and Dallas’ needs should make him a top priority.
Consider Joe Johnson the back-up plan. He’s older, less efficient on offense, a bit slower on defense, and generally not as Dwyane Wadey as Dwyane Wade is. That doesn’t mean he would be anything less than an excellent addition for Dallas. Messing with Atlanta is always a mess, but I think Beaubois could pose an intriguing piece for the Hawks in particular. There’s no reason that Rodrigue can’t do everything that Mike Bibby currently does, only with better activity on the defensive end, better driving ability, and impressive length. He could be a perfect point guard if the Hawks continue on with Mike Woodson (or at least his offensive and defensive systems), and Atlanta may find the idea of getting Beaubois back in a sign-and-trade far more palatable than letting Johnson walk.
However, as talented as Johnson is, there are two concerns. For one, giving a 29-year-old a five or six year deal could end up being a nightmare, especially with the new CBA likely decreasing the possibility of such long-term, lucrative deals in the future. Second, a lot of Caron Butler’s more irritating habits also exist in Johnson, Joe is just better. He’s still a jumpshooter and a lot of his offense in Atlanta has been isolation-centered, he’s just a better player than Caron. Whether that’s good enough to put the Mavs over the proverbial hump or not is unknown, but it’s certainly not a bad start.
It’s almost trite at this point to say “stay tuned,” but that’s exactly the approach Mavs fans should take with regard to the team’s future. So much of what the Mavs will be able to do depends on who wants what, who goes where, and what teams have which options on the table. Fathoming all of that a few months in advance definitely qualifies as impossible, and all that we’re left with is a microscope fixed on the free agent class, an ear on every news and legitimate rumor available, and a head full of pipe dreams and possibilities. The dominoes will be falling soon enough, and we know Mark Cuban will be ready to pull the trigger. Until then, all eyes should rest on Brendan Haywood, who could very well determine the Mavs’ free agent destiny.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears have unearthed the All-Star reserves, with a few surprises.
Dirk Nowitzki’s exclusion was not one of them. His selection was never even debatable. But the Western Conference reserves will be Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, Deron Williams, and and Zach Randolph. Great picks all the way down the line, and particular kudos to the coaches for picking this crop over Denver’s Chauncey Billups. Billups is a fine player, but this just isn’t his year. Plus, I think there’s a very legitimate argument to be made for Tyreke Evans over Chauncey, anyway…but we’ll save that for another day.
In the East, the reserves will be Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Gerald Wallace, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, and Derrick Rose. In related news, it really, really sucks to be David Lee right now. He’s doing just about everything humanly possible (ahem, offensively), and still can’t catch a break. Pierce is having an off-year, but his selection was more or less assumed. I just wish we could see Lee and Josh Smith in the game, but no such luck.
- Everything you wanted to know about Stephen Jackson, resident chameleon.
- A handful of ESPN’s experts think either Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire could end up in Dallas next summer. Then again, Orlando and San Antonio are listed as other possible destinations, despite the fact that both teams are neck deep in salary after adding significant salary this summer.
- Tim Kawakami of the Silicon Valley Mercury News on his blog, Talking Points: “…no, I don’t see the Mavericks as a serious destination [for Stephen Jackson] quite yet…Monta Ellis in Dallas? That I can see, if Dallas would send some short-term deals and if the Warriors would be happy taking a major talent hit just to dump Monta’s money. For all the energy the Warriors have placed in telling us that Monta is their centerpiece and all the sweat issued to dispute my reports that he’s unhappy… well, I could very much see Don Nelson working hard to trade Ellis. Nelson has Stephen Curry now. The new toy is always more fun than the old, ornery one.”
- According to Pro Basketball News’ Tony Mejia, the Mavs have five of the NBA’s top sixty six players. No, Erick Dampier didn’t sniff the top 100, and couldn’t even make it on to the top 20 at what most consider to be the weakest position in the NBA.
- Marquis Daniels finally made Boston his official home.
“You don’t mind the rain if you haven’t seen the sunshine.”
Kidd hit 10,000 assists. Jason Terry returned. The James Singleton tour rages on. Let the good times roll.
For one night, not much went wrong in the world of the Mavericks. Unless you’re J.J. Barea, who ended up -8 in point differential and -2 in teeth on the night.
Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters (via DMN Mavs Blog).
Chris Bosh posed a lot of problems for the Mavs, but that’s bound to happen. Dampier just isn’t mobile enough to keep up with him, and Brandon Bass/James Singleton lose in height what they make up in speed. The results on that front were fairly predictable: 28 and 10 for Bosh, and early foul trouble for the aforementioned Mavs. To their credit, Bosh shot just a hair under 50% and didn’t really explode. 28 points is great production, but surprisingly manageable given the Mavs’ offensive explosion and the Raptors’ lack thereof.
I’m sure you know by now that basketball is a “game of runs.” To be perfectly frank, I don’t expect the Mavs to come remotely close to locking teams down; the foundation just isn’t there. Instead, the key is to appreciate stretches of successful defense and a team-wide ability to counter offensive runs. Any success the Mavs are going to have in the playoffs is based on their ability to endure and strike back. If they roll with the punches and land some of their own, they’ll be just fine. Otherwise, they just stand there taking hit after hit to the kisser and forget that they control their own destiny in their hands. The Raptors are far from a great team, and their laundry list of problems runs much longer than ours. Still, the Mavs answered virtually every Raptor run with one of their own, and capped off their offensive explosions with some nice D. An ideal turnout against a less than ideal opponent, but we’ll take it.
Of course it doesn’t hurt when the Mavs coaxed the Raptors into 37.4% shooting on jumper after jumper. The defense was active and effective, but the Raps didn’t help their cause last night.
Jason Kidd may have totalled 10,000 career assists, but that milestone came in a game where he actually showed some assertiveness. He did the usual Kidd thing, firing passes all over the court at angles no one else even knew existed, but he also refused to pass up layups and open shots. He finished with 9 points and just 7 shot attempts, but I promise I’m not crazy. One of the most infuriating things to watch is a point guard penetrate all the way to the rim but defer to a jumpshooter. Kidd and Boston’s Rajon Rondo are the league’s primary culprits, and it’s just one of the examples wherein unselfishness can be a detriment. I appreciate the effort and the thought process, Jason, but you’ve beaten your man. Just finish the job, eh?
Great success for Maverick shooting guards. Antoine Wright decided that Jason Terry ain’t got nothin’ on him, and went off for 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half alone. Beautiful. His 9ish second half minutes wouldn’t even come close to matching that production, but Wright’s line on the night was still enough to get me smiling. Jason Terry looked surprisingly un-Jason Terry-like in the box score (8 points, 3-9 shooting), but he’s back man. Baby steps. The dude was out there wearing a Power Glove. I’m glad to see #31 back on the floor and that purty jumper, even if it is errant and forced for a few more games. Missed you, JET.
What can be said about James Singleton (12 points, 16 friggin’ rebounds…8 of which were offensive) that hasn’t already been said about the Incredible Hulk? Singleton may not have a few bad movies and a completely overrated late 70s television series that has the benefit of the vintage lens to his name, but if you’re a Maverick opponent, you’re not going to like him when he’s angry. Lucky for Mavs fans, he plays like he’s angry all the time. Singleton is rebounding like a maniac, active as hell, and trying to tear down the rim with dunks on fast breaks and dead balls alike. While I lament the fact that he’s three inches short of being our ideal center, I applaud his energy, skill, and intensity.
Lost in Singleton’s meteoric rise up the Maverick depth chart has been Brandon Bass. He’s getting fewer and fewer minutes at center, but Sunday night was an excellent reminder that the man can still ball. He’s still a tad turnover-happy, but his finishing ability is pretty superb, and when he doesn’t finish on his first attempt he’s almost always in position to give it a second go. Stay within yourself, young squire, and I will love you forever.
Can you believe I’ve gotten this far without even a mention of Dirk Nowitzki or Josh Howard? Dirk only had 24 points (8-19 FG), 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Yawn. His typical brilliance was trumped only by his usual subtlty, ‘invisibly’ anchoring the Mavs’ attack. (On another note: why is the word invisible always used as a pejorative when it comes to basketball? There’s something wonderful about blunt domination, but I can see the advantages of killing an opponent without them knowing they’re being killed.) Howard continues to boggle the mind. His 16 points tells you he did fine on the offensive end, which is true. But 0 steals and 0 blocks? Just another example of the deception of the box score. The team continues to excel whenever Howard hits the floor, and his somewhat empty statline is balanced by a +15 for the game. Well done, chaps.
As someone who has watched Dirk’s entire career, I feel obligated to comment on Andrea Bargnani. Dirk was the hopeful projection when Toronto drafted Bargs with the 1st overall pick, and it’s kind of silly. It’s not that Bargnani isn’t talented, or that he doesn’t have some of Dirk’s skills. Their approaches to the game are just fundamentally different. Dirk’s ungodly efficiency is a product of a natural high ground, a high release, and a sweet shooting stroke. What he lacks in athleticism and mobility he makes up for in footwork and precision. Bargnani doesn’t share Dirk’s dominant shooting touch, as much as he loves to shoot. But he does show a willingness and an ability to drive and finish, which is something in it’s own right. He’s 23 and has all the time in the world, but for those still hoping to see Dirk 2.0, keep this in mind: Nowitzki is the exception, not the rule. There has never been a player that combined Dirk’s size and shooting touch, and it may not be so soon before we see another. Bargnani still has work to do (rebounding might be a point of emphasis), and I think he’ll turn out to be a swell player. He’s only 23 after all. But don’t be all that surprised to see plenty more 18-points-on-18-shots games.
Things are looking good for the Mavs lately. That means we’re primed for a loss, right?
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to James Singleton. I’ve denied him his proper due for far too long, and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse with a sick 8 offensive rebounds and 8 defensive rebounds. Encore!
Everybody loves rankings. Everybody hates rankings. It’s just the way of the world. Still, I am now finding myself falling into the trap of getting baited into a response.
So I’m going to just say a few things, keep this brief, and hopefully avoid sounding like some deranged homer:
- Bill Simmons’ yearly “Trade Value” column emerged today, with Dirk at #13. I’m actually 100% okay with that, considering that both age and salary matter. Though I’ve gotta warn you, Sports Guy: Josh Howard pot jokes aren’t exactly topical anymore.
- Former NBAer Eddie Johnson blogs for HoopsHype, and decided to rank the top 25 players in the league (via DMN Mavs Blog). Dirk pops in at 12. 12 isn’t so bad, but I’m not yet convinced that our man should be anywhere out of the top ten just yet, especially considering who Johnson has ranked just above Nowitzki: Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, and Tony Parker. Hard to argue with LeBron, Kobe, and the like, although an argument could be made for Dirk over Yao Ming. Still, I think Yao’s placement has merit. Pierce, Bosh, and Parker? Notsomuch.
In summary: OMG U IDIOTS DIRK IS THE BEST PLAYER EVER AND COULD BEAT UP KOBE AND LEBRON IS A CHOKER AND WADE IS SUCH A FLOPPER THE REFS AND STERN TOTALLY RIGGED THAT SERIES I WOULDNT TRADE DIRK FOR ANY OF THESE LOSERS
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Only slightly related: The Mavs are going head-to-head with the Spurs in Ball Don’t Lie’s 2-on-2 tournament. Fight the powers that be!
- We’ve talked about this so many times before, but these last few games really could be a turning point for the Mavericks’ season. For realz this time. The timing couldn’t be better; you want to start playing good basketball right around the All-Star break, giving the team plenty of time to run with it, figure things out, and gel. Of course the converse could also be true, and this could just be a three-game dream before the team falls flat on its face again. Jason Terry sums up the situation nicely, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News: ” ‘You can do something and respond and go out there and play your butt off, or you can sit back on the bench and complain,’ Terry said. ‘If you’re going to sit on the bench and complain, we’re going to leave you right on the bench. ‘We’re halfway through the season. There ain’t no turning back and thinking about what could have been. We have to play well and we have to play well now.’ “
- This article seems to suggest that Darrell Armstrong’s hiring was almost a direct result of the Celtics blowout. Huh. I always figured that D.A. joining up to coach the Mavs was inevitable, and didn’t really think twice about it at the time; since his days as a Maverick the rhetoric and anecdotes always talked about his leadership and informal coaching role. It’s hard to isolate one thing that’s cause the Mavs to win three in a row, but Armstrong’s presence shouldn’t be ignored. He knows most of this team and he knows their tendencies. He’s a great motivator, and, at the least, he’s given the team a breath of fresh air.
- This is old news by now, but after yesterday’s round table on All-Star Weekend reform, I thought it merited a follow-up: TNT will host a HORSE competition as a supplement to the weekend’s festivities. Choose your competitors wisely, TNT. If this thing blows up, we’ll never see it again.
- For perhaps the first time in this middle-aged season, the Mavericks have some legitimate hope. It’s a lot to say after a three game stretch, but I’m feeling it. They’ve had plenty of bittersweet wins and so many in-game implosions. For three games, the Mavs haven’t just been good, they’ve been dominant. The shots are falling, everybody’s cutting to the basket, and defense is more than just a word on the whiteboard. I’m cranking up the overreactionizer, and I’m putting it out there: things have changed. And now, a slightly related quote from Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “But writing them off at any time during the first 47 games of the season makes no sense — not with 35 games still left. And look at what’s happened — Andrew Bynum out 8-12 weeks in Los Angeles with a knee injury and Chris Paul day-to-day with a groin injury. The opportunity is there for the Mavericks, and so are the challenges. They have back-to-back games against playoff-level teams beginning tonight in Dallas against the Blazers and then in Utah on Thursday. Right now, you could argue that the Mavericks are playing their best basketball of the year. Then again, if we’re being consistent, it’s only a small part of a long season. There is much more to prove.”
- Don’t look now, but Dave Berri and the Wages of Wins crew have Jason Kidd ranked at 5th in the league in Wins Produced. The next Maverick on the list is Erick Dampier, at 38, and Dirk, at 44.
- A few days old, but worth a read — Stephen A. Smith defends the rumors of Chris Bosh’s discontent on his blog. Chris Bosh has denied Stephen A.’s report, but I’m not sure he had another option. No way to know for sure exactly what was said or wasn’t said behind closed doors, and it could be a long time before the truth comes to light. So everybody, let’s put down our torches and pitchforks.
- New York Knicks GM Donnie Walsh would like to take this time to remind you that nabbing a big 2010 free agent isn’t exactly a walk in the park, even for the best market in the country. From Howard Beck of The New York Times: ” “Their own teams still have the advantages,” [Walsh] said. “It’s not an easy deal two years from now to just say, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s go get one of these guys.’ ” “