Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 1, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • If you’re interested, you can enter a contest to win a date with Shawn Marion via Facebook and Twitter. You’re interested. (via Jeff Weiss, Trey Kerby)
  • Shawn Bradley is on Twitter. (via ShamSports)
  • Dirk Nowitzki might have some bad news about Rodrigue Beaubois’ timetable for return. It’s a guess, but it’s a guess from a guy who’s pretty plugged in, no?
  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “A strategic switch was flipped very early in the Mavs’ 99-83 win Sunday afternoon at the Clippers. It’s not the sort of thing the coaching staff will be able to take much credit for, because who is going to ballyhoo a strategic admission to failure? The original plan: Dirk was going to guard “second-year’’ rookie Blake Griffin, the double-double machine. If Nowitzki could survive that, the logic went, the domino effect would allow Dallas to win matchups at the other positions, including Tyson Chandler guarding the dangerous Chris Kaman. Dirk guarding Griffin? It lasted two possessions. The UberMan can do a lot of things, and because Griffin is an untested commodity, there was no way to know for certain whether he can do this. Now we know. After a blow-by and after a rag-dolling, now we know. He can’t. So Rick Carlisle flipped the switch. Quickly and smartly.”
  • Nick Fazekas will be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s D-League draft. Don’t laugh too hard, we may see him back in the NBA pretty soon. Matt Hubert of D-League Digest has the Texas Legends slated to select Tennessee’s Chris Lofton with the No. 4 pick in his mock draft.
  • Kurt Helin credited the Clippers’ poor shooting numbers to user error rather than the Dallas defense at ProBasketballTalk: “The Clippers just missed everything — they started the game 3-17, but they were outworking the Mavericks on the boards and stayed close. In the second half they just kept missing, with the team’s starters shooting 30 percent for the game. Give the Mavericks a little credit for their defense, but the Clips were just cold.”
  • Whut.
  • Tony Parker will be a Spur for the foreseeable future, until trade do they part.
  • Dirk Nowitzki takes a shot at a teammate (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “We talked about making it a priority that our defensive field-goal percentage has to get better. We all know that’s what wins in this league. If you play defense consistent, you give yourself a chance every night. We’ve been working hard at it. Even Jet [Jason Terry] is trying to chase guys, which I haven’t seen in seven years.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas prodded Rick Carlisle about the Mavs’ shot distribution: “Caron Butler has led the Mavs in shots attempted in the first two games. That isn’t by design. ‘If he’s open, he should shoot,’ coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘But I don’t expect him to be our leading shot-taker. He’s going to be one of our top three or four obviously and be in the top three most likely. But, look, this is two games out of 82. Come back in two weeks and see where we are.’”

The Chickens Have Been Counted, and Now They Hatch

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 25, 2010 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Donnie Nelson was so deliberate in his signing and waiving of Rashad McCants, that I and many others assumed all was going according to plan. In a sense, it was. But apparently, no one bothered to inform McCants himself of said plan.

Needless to say, he’s not too happy. Scott Schroeder exchanged emails with McCants’ agent, Lindsey Maxwell, for NBA FanHouse, and the situation doesn’t sound as certain as it once seemed:

According to McCants’ agent Lindsey Maxwell, though, McCants has not yet decided if he wants to be a (Texas) Legend after not receiving a solid opportunity to compete for a roster spot with the Mavericks. “We are disappointed that it didn’t work out with them and we look forward to Rashad getting a REAL shot at making it back into the NBA,” Maxwell wrote in a e-mail to FanHouse. “He is the best free agent in basketball that is available right now. He is in the best shape of his life and his shot making ability is better than ever.”

Since McCants is seemingly so close to rejoining the NBA, especially if he truly is in the best shape of his life and his shot making is better than ever, it would seem that a quick stint dominating the D-League would be a lay-up on his way to at least a 10-day contract. However, McCants does not seem sold that Frisco, Texas — a northern suburb of Dallas — is the right spot for him. “If he decides to go to the D-League, he will have to play for that team,” Maxwell continued. “I can’t speak as to Dallas’ motives, but (McCants) did not get much of a chance to ‘compete for a roster spot’ as Dallas had announced a couple of days ago. Right now, all of his options are open and he and his family have not yet arrived at any decisions.”

It’s hard to dole out specific blame without knowing further details of what went down between McCants and the Mavs/Legends, but Maxwell’s comments seem to indicate that the plan to land McCants in Frisco was not specifically articulated as a part of his deal with Dallas. McCants had no opportunity to compete for a roster spot, and if the Mavericks misled him in that way, this is on them, and there’s still plenty of time left for the whole plan to go a’splode.

The D-League may be the best avenue for McCants to work his way back into the NBA, but in general, I refuse to underestimate the actions of any professional athlete who feels they’ve been wronged. If the signing indeed went down as Maxwell implies, McCants may bail on Frisco out of his lingering distaste for the Mavericks organization. Regardless, this is already a far bigger mess than it should be. I’m not sure the Mavs should be faulted with if miscommunication or misinformation, but this is the kind of thing that should be squared away before pen is put to paper. Visions of Devean George’s one-man trade veto dance in my head, and now we have to wonder: did anyone bother to inform Sean Williams of his possible Frisco fate?

Stepping Up, Stepping In

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 21, 2010 under Commentary, News | Read the First Comment

Screen shot 2010-10-21 at 1.20.11 PM

The Texas Legends’ brass have a blueprint for how they’d like to proceed with the team-building process, but in truth, such a schematic is no more helpful than a post-it note full of handy tips. Those at the top of the ladder know what they’re doing, but creating a D-League team from scratch isn’t necessarily a straightforward or predictable process. So much depends on what happens between now and Monday, when the final NBA training camp cuts are announced, and the pool of available players begins to take shape.

The Legends aren’t willing to wait through the weekend, though, as they’ve gotten a head start on constructing their roster thanks to a little institutional help. The D-League’s new player allocation rule allows NBA teams to effectively call dibs on up to three of their final training camp/preseason cuts, which has opened the door for a number of teams to make late camp additions in the name of securing those players’ D-League rights. It’s a terrific strategy for encouraging affiliate utilization, and the Mavs, well-run franchise that they are, have recently tabbed two prospects by way of the D-League’s new allocation system.

Rashad McCants is the first such prospect. McCants has been signed by the Mavs to a non-guaranteed deal, and he will likely play in Dallas’ final preseason game on Friday, primarily as due process for securing McCants’ rights for the Legends. He’s had a pretty strange run since being drafted with the 14th pick in the 2005 draft, and has become a bit of a league punchline for an attitude problem that he may or may not actually have. Still, McCants is an effective scorer by NBA fringe standards, and it’s not hard to envision a day in which his services are again needed. Dallas has worked out McCants before, and this recent signing is likely a product of both McCants’ NBA résumé and that particular workout. He didn’t scare Dallas off then, and could blaze his comeback trail to the NBA from within the Mavericks organization, even if he has to do so from the D-League.

The Mavs are also interested in Sean “Not Shawne” Williams, though it’s unclear if Dallas has officially added him to their preseason roster. Williams’ bad rap is a bit more deserved, as a series of off-court incidents have decorated him in warning labels. Despite his athleticism and shot-blocking success (he’s averaged 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes in his three-year career), Williams couldn’t find an NBA home last season after being waived by the New Jersey Nets. He’s apparently trying to work his way back into the league, and provided he’s willing to play nice — which should hardly be assumed, as Williams’ effort, production, and attitude were all problematic during his first tour through the D (link via Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside) –  he’d be a terrific get for the Legends.

As Marc Stein noted in his report for ESPN, Adam Haluska and Dee Brown are also eligible to be allocated to the Legends should the Mavs deem it so. Personally, I’d go with Brown by default, as he’s managed to do with more his preseason opportunities than Haluska. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brown seek a bigger paycheck overseas, though.

That’s the kicker. With McCants, with Williams, with Haluska and Brown — all of these players will only play for the Legends if they want to play in the D-League at all. Maybe McCants and Williams are convinced that they can wow the Mavs in a single weekend, and have no intent on ever hitting the court in Frisco. It’s a possibility, even if it’s a bizarre one.

Regardless, the Mavs and the Legends are making an effort to take advantage of league rules to the best of their ability. McCants and Williams are legitimate NBA prospects, even if recent developments have nudged them out of their previously cozy roster spots, and the Legends will hold their rights should they get the Mavs’ stamp of approval.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Mark Cuban. The Situation. Why not? (UPDATE: See the pairing, along with Vinnie and Ronnie, in all of their photoshopped glory.)
  • Rick Carlisle, on his trip to Orlando last summer to recruit and sign Marcin Gortat (via Eddie Sefko): “I came down here and had a great recruiting trip. He let me drive his car. It could go 220 mph. At one point, he said: put the pedal all the way down to the bottom.” Carlisle wouldn’t divulge his top-end speed, although he acknowledged it may have been a shade over the local speed limits in Orlando. “It didn’t work out,” Carlisle said. “We wish him the best. He still stays in touch with me. He’s a terrific guy.”
  • The Texas Legends are big time. So big time, in fact, that they’ll be broadcasting one of the Legends’ preseason games, against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on VERSUS. Not too shabby for a team that has yet to play a single game in a league that has lacked the exposure it deserves.
  • Mike Prada unveils the second edition of the Watchability Scale, and the Mavs fall understandably in the middle of the pack under the header “RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE.” Hard to argue there. Dallas is rock-steady, and while their approach has gotten them 50+ wins every season for an entire decade, it does make them a bit of a broken record. Through Nellie, Avery, and Carlisle, a lot has changed, but the bread and butter of the Dallas offense hasn’t.
  • In a chat with Quick DFW, Mark Cuban was asked if he ever envisioned what the Mavs would be like had Dirk left this summer. Cuban’s response? “No. I have pictures, so I knew we were safe. :) ” (via DOH at Mavs Moneyball)
  • Tyson Chandler suffered a boo-boo in last night’s preseason game against the Magic, which has since been stitched up and will need about a week to heal. What happens next week again? Oh, yeah.
  • Dominique Jones, on the difference between himself and Mavs’ assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who was the point guard for the Magic when Jones was growing up in Orlando (via Eddie Sefko): “I don’t take charges.” Well, he had better start taking them if he wants to be an effective NBA defender. Armstrong, of course, chimed in as a voice of reason: “He’s got to learn how to take charges. I think he took one in summer camp. That might have been the one that hurt his feelings and he said, ‘I don’t take charges.’ He might not know how to do it, but that’s another something I got to teach him.”
  • J.J. Barea is still the back-up point guard, though Carlisle hinted the job is probably Rodrigue Beaubois’ upon his return.

UPDATE:

  • Royce Young had me over to his place to preview the Thunder’s upcoming season. OKC will be battling with the Mavs every step of the way, so familiarize yourself. Also, while you’ve over at Daily Thunder, take a peek through Royce and co.’s preview magazine. Very well done.
  • A few scouts think Dallas can make it to the conference finals, and one picks San Antonio to win it all.
  • Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball recapped the Mavs’ brief success in their game against the Magic last night: “The Mavericks did put up a fight in the first half, trailing by two points at halftime. A big reason for that was because the Magic’s second unit got killed in the second quarter against the 5-man combination of J.J. Barea, Dominique Jones, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler. Dallas put on a clinic offensively, running a lot of pick and pops for Nowitzki, pick and rolls for Chandler, backdoor screens for the wing players, and more. It was just beautiful to watch. Likewise, until the starters for Orlando checked into the game at the 4:37 minute mark in the period, the reserves were struggling to create for themselves on offense. That was a big reason for Dallas’ 16-2 run and six point lead in the quarter.”
  • A closer look at J.J. Barea’s Under Armour kicks.

Hot Iron Brand on a Hardwood Floor

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 5, 2010 under News | Be the First to Comment

Yesterday we found out that Sonny Xiao would become co-owner of the Texas Legends, and the first Chinese owner of an NBA-affiliated team. Today brings some equally interesting news regarding the business side of basketball, as the Legends have brought in Hewlett-Packard to sponsor their court this season. Not the arena. The court. From the press release:

The Texas Legends and Hewlett Packard have partnered to build a bridge to China, and now, a co-owner will help that cause. The franchise has announced earlier today that the Chinese-born Sonny Xiao purchased a minority ownership of the Legends. The Legends and Hewlett Packard have agreed to brand the center circle with the HP logo, deeming the court “HP Court at Dr Pepper Arena.”  The branding of the center circle on the court is the first of its kind in the NBA’s 64-year history.  Furthermore, the utilization of the Mavericks logo marks the first time a team in the NBA or NBA D-League has placed a logo inside the free throw circle.

“The Legends are proud to team up with Hewlett Packard in this ground breaking event,” Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson commented.  “They’re truly innovative global leaders that understand the value of relationships whether it’s employees here in North Texas or partners from China and abroad.”

The ground-breaking partnership with Hewlett Packard was spearheaded by Vice President of Human Resources Shawn Williams.  The partnership represents a unique engagement of Hewlett Packard employees. “I am thrilled to announce this partnership with North Texas’ newest sports franchise, the Texas Legends,” Williams stated.  “This is an investment in our employees, and in our North Texas footprint as it is one of the largest in our global operation.  It will be a pleasure for our employees to be able to attend games at ‘HP Court’.”

We’re still a bit away from this being a viable option for an NBA team, but as top-line franchises look to get more creative with their sponsorship opportunities, this is a definite big league possibility. I was once doubtful that the sentimentalists running NBA franchises would ever allow the league’s more prestigious jerseys, for instance, to be printed up with ads, but this is an arena in which the United States is lagging behind and will likely look to surge forward. Adorning one’s court with a corporate logo at center circle isn’t exactly the same, but it’s certainly similar in principle.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 10, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Rodrigue Beaubois reflecting on Game 6 of last season’s playoffs, in which Rick Carlisle opted to sit him in favor of Jason Terry and Caron Butler (via Eddie Sefko): “It’s some tough choices for coach,” he said. “If we had won, it would have been great. It’s just a coach’s decision. I just need to be ready when they call my name. For sure it was difficult. It was a very important game and we lost it. It was tough. I was feeling great. But it’s all good. That was last year. I’m focused on this year.”
  • A few other notes from the same Sefko piece: Beaubois fully intends to play for the French national team next year as they attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and though he’s no longer using crutches, he’s still in a protective boot.
  • Mark Cuban, and his $100,000 donation to the city of Dallas. Cool, but as Trey Kerby noted at Ball Don’t Lie, it may not be entirely altruistic.
  • Joe Crawford, whose rights the Legends selected in the D-League expansion draft, has been invited to camp with the Sacramento Kings. J.R. Giddens, who played for the Mavs’ summer league team, has also been invited. The Kings are clearly looking for a prospect to survive the intra-camp competition, as Luther Head, too, has been brought in to compete for a roster spot.
  • In the latest edition of The Works, Tom Ziller and Bethlehem Shoals revisit the Z-graph, an illustrated representation of position-based skills.
  • Dirk Nowitzki will do voice work for one of the worst shows on television.
  • Josh Howard still dresses like Josh Howard.

Ruled by Memory

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under News | Be the First to Comment

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Some fantastic news out of Frisco: the Texas Legends may soon add Greg Ostertag in some official capacity, and it could be as a player.

Let me say that again. Greg Ostertag may play for the Texas Legends next season. Buy your season tickets today!

According to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Donnie Nelson has indicated that there’s no chance of Ostertag becoming a Maverick, and that’s fortunate. Big O has made a few comeback attempts in the past, and to hear that the Mavs aren’t buying what he’s selling is a relief. Plus, another center (never mind one who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2006, and was, well, Greg Ostertag) on a roster with Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler, Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca would be a tad redundant.

Sefko indicates that there’s a chance Ostertag won’t play for the Legends either, but could serve in some kind of coaching/developmental capacity. That’s all well and good, but hardly as entertaining.

For those not in the know, this isn’t all that unusual. Lower profile NBA vets sometimes function as a player-assistant coaches in the D-League, as both a way to offer coaching experience in a slightly less formal capacity to the vet (keep in mind that the D isn’t just for developing players), and to provide a former NBAer in-roster as an example. That would likely be Ostertag’s aim here, and though Sefko’s report doesn’t paint O landing in Frisco as a certainty, there does appear to be some legitimate interest from the Legends’ side.

Selection Monday

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 31, 2010 under News | Read the First Comment

The Texas Legends participated in a peculiar one-team, ten-round expansion draft on Monday, in which Nancy Lieberman and her staff had their pick of the L.A. D-Fender litter. The Legends now own the rights to 10 former D-Fenders. Those 10 players are, according to a release from the team:

NameHeightWeightCollegeAge
Keith Clark6-8245Oklahoma23
Joe Crawford6-5210Kentucky24
Michael Fey7-0270UCLA27
Ryan Forehan-Kelly6-6195California30
Gabriel Hughes7-0240California30
James Peters6-8215UNLV29
Frank Robinson6-4220Cal-State Fullerton26
Diamon Simpson6-7230St. Mary's (CA)22
Dar Tucker6-4205DePaul22
James Wright6-1185Colorado29

For those keeping track at home, the D-Fenders not selected were: Lawrence McKenzie, Ray Reese, Rodney Webb, and Horace Wormely.

The Legends still do not have a roster. Though they now own the rights to the selected 10, not all of those players will be in the D-League next season, much less in Frisco. As Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside noted last week, Diamon Thompson, Michael Fey, Ryan Foreham-Kelly, and Frank Robinson have already signed contracts to play overseas next season, and thus will likely pass on the opportunity to play for the Mavs’ affiliate. Of the remaining six, some will at least make it to Legends camp, though it’s unknown how many of those players will actually make the final roster.

The Legends have begun to take shape. Even if, for the moment, that shape is something of an amorphous blob.

UPDATE: Here’s Schroeder’s take, again from Ridiculous Upside.

He’s Never Had an Intentional Assist

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 30, 2010 under xOther | 2 Comments to Read


Video via Ridiculous Upside.

I’m not quite sure how this slipped by me last week, but here’s the latest of the Texas Legends promo videos. Featuring: the exquisite stylings of J.R. Slagendorff, and relative newcomer on the scene, Draino.

Or, for those who can’t handle videos longer than 30 seconds:

The Shallow End

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 27, 2010 under News | 2 Comments to Read

We knew that the genesis of the Texas Legends’ roster could somehow be connected to that of the now-defunct Los Angeles D-Fenders. We also knew that an expansion draft could be an important formative step for the Legends. What we didn’t know is that those two would methods of acquiring players would actually be one in the same, as the D-League announced on Thursday. There will be a D-League expansion draft for the Legends benefit after all…with a 14-player pool comprised of solely former D-Fenders.

From the team release:

The roster for the inaugural Texas Legends season, which tips off in November, will begin to take shape by way of an Expansion Draft, it was announced today. The 14-player expansion draft pool is made up of solely of the returning players from the 2009-10 Los Angeles D-Fenders, which will be on hiatus for the 2010-11 season.  Included in the pool are guard Dar Tucker and center Michael Fey, two of the 30 players invited to the 2010 NBA D-League Elite Mini-Camp, held in June in Chantilly, VA.

…“This is another step towards our inaugural season,” Legends Owner Donnie Nelson commented.  “The D-Fenders had a number of very talented players who have a real chance to develop into NBA athletes.  The opportunity to draft their rights is the first step towards forming our team.”

Essentially, the Legends will have the right of first refusal on all of the D-Fenders, and there should be plenty of refusing. L.A. had the worst record in the Western Conference last season (and the second-worst record in the D overall), and the overall talent of the roster reflects that. I’m sure some of the D-Fenders will end up with the Legends to start the season, but don’t mistake this for anything more than the most basic of starter kits.

Available for the picking are Dar Tucker (also known as he who did this), Michael Fey, Joe Crawford, Diamon Simpson, Ryan Forehan-Kelly, Gabriel Hughes, Lawrence McKenzie, Frank Robinson, Horace Wormely, James Wright, Keith Clark, James Peters, Ray Reese and Rodney Webb. You can view all of their statistical information here, but keep in mind that someone has to produce on every team, even the second worst in the D-League.

UPDATE: Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside ranked the top 10 D-Fenders and described them in greater detail. I’m inclined to defer to him on these matters. Follow along with Schroeder as he briefly explains each of the top 10 options, their relative standing, and why it makes sense to draft the rights of some players that have already signed deals to play overseas.