Behind the Curtain

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 5, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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When asked at the end of the season about his level of commitment about improving the team, Mavs owner Mark Cuban said, “If they don’t know by now that I’m doing everything I can, they’re never going to know.”

He also said that sometime in the summer that clarity would come. The clarity came on Saturday night on his blog (blogmaverick.com) with his missive about where things are now with the team and their pursuit of Dwight Howard. Whether you see it as a detailed analysis of the inner workings of the organization, rationalizing how the last three summers have played out or playing defense, this is a good way to show “how the sausage is made” or what Cuban is honestly thinking.

If you haven’t seen the blog post, you can see it in its entirety here.

The unprecedented access he gives the fans and media and his approach, in general, is so unique. Analysts around the league have already chimed in and there has been one consistent word that has popped up: fascinating. What makes him the kind of owner that he is his willingness to lay all the cards on the table for everyone to see. Cuban doesn’t hide, nor does he shy away.

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Summer Thoughts

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 2, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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With the Las Vegas Summer League over and in the rear-view mirror, the basketball activity period is officially shifting towards the hibernation phase. Crumbs will be thrown to those who can’t get enough of the NBA as there will be a few signings that will be done to fill out rosters, the schedule will be announced and we’ll start to hear about training camp information. Unfortunately, the dead time of the NBA year has to come. It doesn’t leave me with much to do (what am I going to do, try to watch TV? No, thank you).

If I’m not going to dust off my remote and actually try to watch TV shows that everyone loves, I’ll keep thinking about basketball. A lot has actually happened over the last few days/weeks and that has led me to do what I do: wonder and try to assess things. That usually leads to questions and answers. It’s been a few weeks since the Q&A format has been used.

Here is the first batch of questions and subsequent (and questionable) answers.

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Jury’s Still Out

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 29, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Handing the figurative keys to the castle to a player has always been a skeptical kind of move, in my opinion. For the Mavs, that’s one of the things with the pursuit of Dwight Howard that was kind of perplexing to me. There was one line of thinking that was suggesting that part of the pitch to Dwight Howard would be that Dwight would be able to help select the pieces to the 2014-2015 roster, once the Mavs would have much more cap space to work with in the summer of 2014.

Part of Mark Cuban’s two-year plan in regards to a superstar would be that they would have to make due with a roster with someone like Dwight in the mix and build towards 2014-2015 when the contracts of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter come off the books.

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Clearing Doubt

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 22, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made a surprise appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Galloway and Company show Monday afternoon to discuss a plethora of topics. The first one was the team’s hiring of Gersson Rosas from Houston to be the team’s new general manager. He discussed his comments a little more about how the team might be better off without Dwight Howard. He also discussed the biggest gripe he has about analysts who are downplaying the Mavs going into this coming season.

Here is the quoteboard from Cuban’s appearance on Galloway and Company.

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The Thoroughly Unremarkable Death Of Plan Powder

Posted by Connor Huchton on July 15, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 8 Comments to Read

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There is always a plan in the mind of the fan. There is always a plan in the mind of the analyst. There is always a plan in the mind of the GM. There is always a plan in the mind of the owner. There is always a plan in the mind of the player.

This much, we can know.

It is almost astonishing to consider how rarely these carefully laid plans of ours coalesce with the course of reality. Every NBA season ends with only one happy ending. The building of teams is no different. And yet, we strive forwards, expecting, hoping.

The reactions to the Monta Ellis signing, mine included, are filled with sentiments of exaggerated woe and disbelief. The Mavericks have now failed to sign Tyson Chandler (two seasons ago, and quite willingly) Deron Williams (last season), failed to sign Dwight Howard, failed to sign Andrew Bynum, failed to sign Andre Iguodala, failed to sign Nikola Pekovic, and failed to address most major team needs. They have however, signed several aging guards and now one Monta Ellis.

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Fork in the Road

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 12, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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With the Mavs deciding to pass on Andrew Bynum, many fans and analysts were wondering what the Mavs were ultimately doing. They were in a state of desperation in regards to the inability to finding a man in the middle.

Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com wrote about how the Mavs are now running on the mediocrity treadmill, the thing that owner Mark Cuban fears the most. Cuban is essentially trying to do the hardest thing in sports: rebuilding on the fly and doing it without hitting rock bottom.

In regards to Bynum, it does sound like a wasted opportunity in not just taking the gamble on Bynum. While it is a conservative approach, I can understand the logic in it. Yes, the Mavs were going to be taking a chance on Bynum, but they, mainly the team’s medical staff, decided that it was not in their best interest to pursue the option.

If they believed that his body and mind weren’t prepared to handle the season, why take the chance? I understand the concept of swinging for the fences and going for the potential reward. The way I look or perceive the situation, the organization didn’t feel there was any reward in the situation, thus not stepping up to the plate.

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Spanish Flavor

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 5, 2013 under Commentary, News | Read the First Comment

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The Mavs have made a move.

The thoughts of the NBA contracting the Dallas Mavericks based on them striking out on Dwight Howard were clearly premature. ESPN has reported that it will be a four-year deal for $29 million. This news came shortly after the news that O.J. Mayo was going to sign a three-year, $28 million deal. If you ask me for the money being equal or close to it, I’d rather have Calderon.

Calderon was ranked as the best point guard, outside of Chris Paul, on the free agent market. When it comes to shooting and protecting the ball, Calderon is about as good as it gets. The seven-year veteran has career averages of 11.3 points, 7.1 assists, .483 shooting from the field and .399 from 3-point range. His assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the best in the league, a spot where Dallas struggled tremendously at over the course of 2012-2013. He will certainly be able to direct traffic for the Mavs and space the floor with his ability to shoot the rock.

This isn’t all sunshine and daffodils for the Mavs, though. Calderon does have his warts. He struggles on the defensive end, to say the least. He has often drawn comparisons to Steve Nash due to his ability to facilitate for others, but it also rings true for his inability to stay in front of his man on defense. There is a footwork issue and that can also be seen in his lack of free throws attempted. For his career, he only has averaged 1.6 free throws per game.

That said, this was about making a move for addressing one of the weakest areas for the Mavs from last season. Calderon will take care of that issue. In addition, he will be a solid mentor for Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel as they try to find their way in the NBA.

Speaking with Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack on Twitter) covers all things hoop up in Toronto and she had nothing but high praise when it came to describing Calderon. She described him as a “true professional” and that he has “a really, really, really great presence” on the floor. She spoke of his ability to really direct traffic and put the ball in the spot that it really needs to go. It could be the makings of a Jason Kidd-like player that was at the tail end of his career, minus the defensive chops. In addition, she said that he’s “the nicest human being I’ve met in sports.” I know that doesn’t score any points, but that should count for something.

This move will likely also add years onto Dirk Nowitzki’s game on offense. It’s a given that Dirk operates better with a drive-the-bus point guard.  That is something extremely valuable for the Mavs. Making Dirk happy is always a good, good thing.

The Mavs will now need to address the shooting guard and center position. They will also need to decide what they want to do with Shawn Marion. Since free agency has been approaching, the thought was that they could trade Marion to obtain a defensive or more mobile center (like a Marcin Gortat). That still is a possibility. Either way, they’ll need to address those two positions, with center being the higher priority.

Dallas has roughly $10 million of cap space to work with. Things will clearly open up if they unload Marion for a piece or for space. Keep in mind, the years on Calderon’s deal sound a bit rich, but Mark Cuban said he would likely offer that amount of years in order to help soften the blow if they do end up using the stretch provision on players. It also shows that Cuban is sticking to his plan. If they weren’t able to get the big fish in Dwight Howard, they were going to start to bring in pieces that would help establish the new core for the Mavs.

The Mavs didn’t get Dwight, but they did address a major need. The ball is now rolling and they’ve got someone who can grab it and they know what to do with it.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

Down the Trail

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Commentary, News | 2 Comments to Read

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Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweeted that the Mavs were informed that they were informed they were out of the running for Dwight Howard.

Mark Cuban informed ESPNDallas.com and other media that they were officially out of the mix. “Got word we are out of the DH sweepstakes. We gave it a shot and it didn’t work out . It was truly an experience. At some point I will post our video and presentation we made.”

“I have no idea what team he is going to,” Cuban wrote in the e-mail. “They wouldn’t tell me.”

“We gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. It was truly an experience. … So it’s on to Plan B.”

USA Today was informed that the Houston Rockets would be the team that Dwight Howard picked as his next team to play for. Yahoo! Sports learned that Dwight Howard hasn’t informed anyone that he has made a final decision and that it is between Houston and Los Angeles. The chaos still continues.

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Audio Goodies

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 3, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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Episode 75 of the Mavericks Outsider Report is here.

For those who don’t know, MOR is a podcast entirely devoted to your Dallas Mavericks.

Judgement day is near. But first, a lot of talking and no signatures during the free-agency waiting period. Circumstances dictate that this is a make or break summer for the Mavs as it relates to “breaking up” the 2011 squad. We kick it off right with two of our favorite Mavs experts, Mark Followill and Jeff “Skin” Wade joining us.

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Under the Microscope

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 30, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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This is it. This is the moment that everyone has been waiting for. As it was apparent that the Mavs weren’t going to make the first time in over a decade, everyone circled July 1st on their calendar. They waited to see if the Mavs could really make progress on improving their team.

Some are waiting to say “I told you so” and that dismantling the championship team was a mistake. Over the weekend, I’ve looked over that roster again and the results and I still stand by my belief that that captured lightning in a bottle and Dirk Nowitzki had one of the greatest playoff runs the league has ever seen. As the Miami Heat celebrate their second championship, Dirk and those Mavs will know that they “got ‘em.”

History may or may not remember the 2011 Mavs for what they did and mainly remember what the Heat didn’t do, but there’s no way to erase the fact that Nowitzki was the baddest man on a basketball court that summer.

Last season was a disappointing one as the Mavs wandered through the wilderness of mediocrity. Nowitzki’s injury derailed the season from the get-go. Despite that, the Mavs were able to find a way to stay playoff relevant until the final week of the season. That shows that Dirk and a cast of characters can be a playoff team, but the front office must now make their move and secure more reliable weapons for their star. “We’re trying to accumulate high quality, high character, high energy, high motor, skilled players to put around Dirk Nowitzki,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft. “He’s still one of the greatest players in the game and we’ve got to enhance his ability to do what he does.

“We’ve got to enhance the opportunity to keep him playing as long as possible because he loves to play and he’s great. To do that effectively, we’ve got to get the best guys possible around him. That’s a priority and it’ll continue to be one this summer.”

Now is the time. Let’s look at everything under the free agency microscope.

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