Photo by Getty Images.
The morning’s rumor of a potential Joe Johnson sign-and-trade isn’t likely to satisfy Maverick fans’ insatiable palates for additional stars. After months of hoping and wishing that Erick Dampier’s contract would be able to score a truly remarkable player in return, Johnson may seem rather bland.
There’s nothing wrong with Joe. He’s a fine shooting guard. One of the best in the league, in fact. He’s just not a talented enough player to radically change the way the Mavs operate. Dallas would be a better team on both offense and defense, but Johnson isn’t the kind of transformational talent some may have been hoping for.
Dwyane Wade is, and after months of internet silence concerning the possibility of him becoming a Maverick, it seems Wade may be more interested than initially thought. From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (via DallasBasketball.com):
The Miami Heat just might win a triple crown. A source close to Dwyane Wade said the Heat guard believes his team is poised to pull off a free-agency coup of landing himself, Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James and Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh.
However that same source, as well as a party inside the league, told the Sun Sentinel that Wade also plans to cover himself during the initial days of the free-agency negotiating period by scheduling interviews with the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and, in somewhat of a surprise, the Dallas Mavericks.
There are a number of reasons why Wade is unlikely to end up in Dallas, most of which I’ve already articulated. That said, the fact that Dwyane is considering the Mavs a legitimate possibility speaks to both the quality of the franchise and this opportunity. If Winderman’s source is indeed correct, Dallas has secured a spot at Wade’s table, even while other teams with cap space — New Jersey and Los Angeles being the most notable — are on the outside looking in. That’s big for not only the Mavs’ chances of stealing away one of the best players in the game, but also their viability in other trade or sign-and-trade scenarios.
Most reports concerning Wade’s future point to him staying in Miami while luring other talented players to the Heat. That seems a realistic outcome, given the ridiculous amount of cap room Pat Riley has cleared in anticipation of free agency. Supposing there is some truth to those reports — and there does seem to be, particularly to Wade’s affinity for Miami — the Mavs’ best chance of luring Dwyane would be a doomsday scenario in which Wade was somehow left out in the nuclear winter. For instance, if LeBron James and Chris Bosh go to the Bulls, Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudemire sign with the Knicks, and Carlos Boozer picks the Nets, that would put Wade in a bit of a bind. Sure, he could push for Riley to sign David Lee and Rudy Gay, but something tells me that’s not quite the payoff Dwyane is looking for.
Even if the chips fall as described, Wade coming to the Mavs would hardly be a sure thing. Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson would face the same sign-and-trade pitfalls as they would with any other free agent target, putting a lot of power in the hands of competing GMs.
Regardless, I’m still entranced by the idea of a collision between Mavs fans and the man that set the 2006 Finals ablaze. It’s something I’ve discussed numerous times in this space as the possibility of Wade playing for Dallas has come and gone throughout the last year. Still, I remain fascinated by the potential acquisition as an invaluable case study in the power of laundry.
The Spurs may be the closest thing the Mavs have ever had to a true rival, but no singular source has done more damage to Dallas as a franchise than Dwyane Wade. He denied the Mavs their best opportunity at an NBA title, the one elusive accomplishment that burns a hole in Dirk Nowitzki’s résumé. He’s at least part of the reason that Avery Johnson lost his job, that Dirk doesn’t get the respect he deserves, that the Mavs traded Devin Harris for Jason Kidd, and that Dallas remains something of an NBA punchline. I know time heals all wounds and all that, but I’m sure the thought of Dwyane’s parade to the free throw line still leaves plenty of MFFLs a little queasy.
None of that can be repaired. Nothing Dallas ever does will win back that 2006 title, or take back everything that happened in the fallout. Yet if Mark and Donnie were to somehow put Wade in a Maverick uniform, not only would he be absolved for his sins against the franchise we know and love, but he’d be revered as a pillar of the team’s present and future, regardless of his past. That’s a pretty huge reversal, and a testament to Wade’s abilities. The league’s top players are viewed in a vacuum, and regardless of who Dwyane is, where he’s been, or what he’s done, he’d be welcomed like a star to the city he burned to the ground.
- The Mavs were able to sell their second round pick to the Raptors because of Toronto’s interest in Solomon Alabi. Interestingly, he may only have slipped to No. 50 because of a health concern, a rather serious one in fact: Hepatitis B.
- Another player out of the running for the Mavs’ summer league team: Charles Garcia, who will be suiting up (supposing that wearing a practice jersey really qualifies as “suiting up”) for the Knicks.
- Donnie Nelson with a dose of realism on Dominique Jones (via Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas): “”How many rookies are going to be impact guys? Not many. The rookies that make an impact generally are on bad teams, right? So, for us to expect him to walk into significant minutes, it’s not fair to him and he’s got a bunch of really good players playing in front of him. But, I think what it does is it gives us a foundation in the backcourt for a future. You’ve got Roddy and you’ve got some building blocks that you can get excited about internally.”
- SMU’s Mouhammad Faye, Oklahoma’s Tony Crocker, and North Texas’ Eric Tramiel will be among those brought in for the Mavs’ pre-Summer League mini-camp.
- LeBron James is set to meet with representatives from six teams to determine his future: the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Bulls, and Heat. Notice any teams missing in there?
UPDATE (2:58 PM CST):
- Apparently the Mavs were offered a lottery pick for Rodrigue Beaubois last night, but didn’t even flirt with the idea. Good move; even though I think this draft class is pretty deep with contributing talent, there really aren’t many prospects with star potential. Beaubois has that, and do give that up this early in Beaubois’ career for some mid-summer excitement would be a shame.
- Dominique Jones described his game to the Dallas media after being drafted (via Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas): “Just getting in the lane, strong body, getting contact, and-1s. And, I feel like the D-Wade style, which is transition, getting out in transition, one-on-one transition, you know, basically being unguardable.” (Emphasis mine.)
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie graded the Mavs with a C, but does concede that Jones could become an immediate factor: “Jones seems like a weird fit, because doesn’t Rodrique Beaubois already provide the same services? And that’s assuming Jones’ best case scenario comes through. Even if he is a bit superfluous, Dallas can use all the depth it can get at this point, so cheers to them for paying the cash to pull in a possible rotation contributor.”
- Who knew Mark Cuban and Michael Heisley were best buds?
- Greg Auman of the St. Petersberg Times: “Jones, a 6-foot-5 guard who led the Big East in scoring as a junior, became the Bulls’ first NBA first-round pick, taken by the Grizzlies at No. 25. Barely 20 minutes later, word had spread that the Grizzlies had drafted Jones on behalf of the Mavericks. And Dallas is where his NBA career will begin. ‘The emotions come out because you’ve got your foot in the door. This is just my beginning,’ said Jones, who walked through a crowd of supporters and laid his head on the hood of his Chevy Tahoe, overcome by a dream come true. Jones could have spent draft night in New York, where picks dressed in new suits smile for ESPN cameras, but he chose to stay in Lake Wales, proud of his roots in this small town in Polk County.”
- A report that David Wesley will be a coach for the Texas Legends.
- Jones again, this time responding to the Mavs paying $3 million just to pick him (via Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas): “That must mean they have some high expectations, and I don’t like letting people down.”
- According to the tremendous @mavstats, Dominique was the only player in the country to average 21 points, six rebounds and three assists last season.
- Don’t get too attached to that 2013 second rounder the Mavs acquired in exchange for the draft rights for Solomon Alabi. Donnie Nelson thinks it could make for a nice topping for an off-season trade. I certainly hope so, because Alabi seems like the kind of project the Mavs could have used. Then again, maybe Toronto was where he was supposed to be all along.
- Mary Buckhelt has a cool feature on ESPN.com about the various LeBron anthems being written this off-season, including “The Bron Bron Song (C’mon LeBron)” by ESPN Radio’s own Ben Rogers (he of the Ben & Skin Show). In the extremely slim chance that you haven’t heard it yet, check out Ben’s ditty at LeBrontotheMavs.com.
- Per Kevin Pelton’s similarity scores at Basketball Prospectus, the player most similar to Dominique Jones (in terms of production) at his age was Chris Douglas-Roberts. Not too bad.
- Video proof that Rick Carlisle wears shorts. Oh, and a nice walk-and-talk with Donnie Nelson.
Marc Stein dropped the biggest bomb of the Mavs’ off-season thus far: barring a rapid advancement in the negotiations between Dirk Nowtizki and the Mavs over a possible extension, Dirk is expected to opt-out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
I know what it sounds like, but relax and take deep breaths. Dirk becoming an unrestricted free agent opens the door for a potential disaster this summer, but it’s far, far more likely that Nowitzki will remain a Maverick in 2010-2011 and beyond. The real motivations for Nowitzki’s potential opt-out are not to test the free agent waters or flirt with other teams around the league, but rather because of two potential economic benefits (as outlined by Stein) that Dirk can only access by signing a new deal this summer:
Opting out to sign a new deal, for starters, would lock in terms based on the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement through the life of the next contract. Under the league’s current system, Nowitzki is eligible for a four-year maximum contract from Dallas worth $96.2 million once he opts out. The most he could receive from another team is a four-year deal worth $93.1 million.
Signing a three-year extension to the last remaining season on his current contract, by contrast, would expose Nowitzki to potential after-the-fact reductions to his annual wage if league owners are successful in their attempts to lower the value of maximum salaries in the next collective bargaining agreement.
…Another motivation for Nowitzki to opt out as opposed to signing an extension is the ability to secure a no-trade clause in a new contract.
Only players with at least eight years of NBA service time and four seasons with the same team are eligible to have a no-trade clause in their contracts, but such clauses can only be added to new deals. NBA rules prevent major changes, such as adding a no-trade clause, to an existing contract or an extension to a contract, which is largely why Bryant possesses the league’s only active no-trade clause.
You can’t blame Nowitzki for wanting either of those things. It’s not necessarily selfish to act in one’s best interest, and in this case that’s exactly what Dirk is doing. By signing a new deal now, Dirk will lock himself into a more lucrative long-term contract than is likely to be allowed under the new CBA next season. It’s a no-brainer for him, and the possibility of adding a no-trade clause gives Dirk personal protection from being traded to an uncompetitive team in the future. This is how NBA players should protect themselves, and you can’t blame Nowitzki for doing just that.
Coincidentally, the move would actually help out the Mavs in ’10-’11 should Nowitzki choose to re-sign. As a player who’s been in the league 10+ seasons, the maximum salary Dirk could make in the first season of a new contract is equal to 35% of the salary cap, 105% of his previous salary, or $14 million, whichever is higher. Should Dirk re-sign with the Mavs on a new deal, his salary for next season would actually be just $20.8 million (105% of his previous salary), a bit less than his ’10-11 salary had he not opted out ($21.5 million). That’s only if Nowitzki pushes the Mavs to the max possible deal, which may not be the case. Dirk has already stated that he’s willing to opt-out and re-sign for a lower salary if it could help the team improve, and we could see Nowitzki sign for a sub-max contract this summer even if he’s worth max money.
That’s not going to clear any cap space for a team that will be well into luxury tax territory, but it does ease the burden on Mark Cuban’s wallet a bit. You’re looking at double the savings for Cuban and the Mavs next season after tax implications, which is a nice bit of financial relief for an owner already dishing some major shekels to keep the team competitive.
While there are plenty of teams around the league that would be interested in hiring Nowitzki at a competitive salary, this is a situation in which loyalty, personal relationships, and history all come into play, and Dirk’s long-term relationships with Nelson, Cuban, and the Mavs will certainly affect his decision this summer. On top of that, Dallas will likely field the most competitive roster among Dirk’s potential suitors, another factor which would give the home team the edge in contract negotiations.
This is a good thing, for both Dirk and the Mavs. Don’t neglect the possibility of the bottom falling out in this team, but signs from Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Rick Carlisle, other GMs and coaches around the league, and Nowitzki himself all point to Dirk’s return. In all likelihood, Dirk will be a Mav next season, and the implications of his opt-out will only affect his and the team’s finances.
- Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson talks Mavs with Mike Fisher of Dallas Basketball.
- After Monday’s road win against the Clippers, the Mavericks will finish with a 27-14 record on the road, good for the best away record in the NBA (Cleveland can tie with a win tonight at Atlanta)
- Mark Cuban is building something massive in South Dallas: “Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is planning a massive development of corporate offices, homes, ball fields and an indoor sports facility in a declining area of east Oak Cliff that city officials say needs the spark such a plan could create. As envisioned, the development would include the corporate offices for some of Cuban’s businesses, although it is unclear whether that includes the Dallas Mavericks.”
- The Mavs will lock up the 2 seed tonight with a either a win over San Antonio or a Utah loss to Phoenix. As for first round match-ups, the Mavs will play either San Antonio or Portland. The Mavs will play San Antonio if: Dallas wins OR Utah loses and Portland wins OR Dallas loses, Utah wins, and Portland loses. The Mavs will play Portland if: Dallas loses, Utah wins, and Portland wins OR Dallas loses, Utah loses, and Portland loses. Out of the 8 possible outcomes of the 3 relevant games, 6 result in a Mavs-Spurs series and 2 result in a Mavs-Blazers series.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas talks Mavs-Spurs: “All three meetings this season occurred prior to the Mavs shipping four players, including Josh Howard, to Washington as Dallas recast its team on the fly with Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson… The one constant in all three games? Nowitzki, who averaged 32.0 points and 9.7 rebounds and remains a nightmare matchup for the Spurs. So the final meeting at 7 tonight at the American Airlines Center ultimately is rife with the potential for another playoff series and numerous new storylines for two Texas franchises that have slugged it out for the better part of a decade.”
- Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News explores the Caron Butler-Tony Romo connection. Check out the picture from back in the day.
Maverick fans have endured plenty over the last ten years. They witnessed the rise of a Western power only to see it pale to the empires in San Antonio and Los Angeles. They grew to love and adore Steve Nash and Michael Finley, only to see both walk out the door. They’ve seen the Mavs go deep into the playoffs only to come up short. The last decade of Maverick basketball was graced with incredible successes but also unforgettable heartbreak.
The greatest shame isn’t that those heartbreaks occurred — though each instance tragic in its own way — but that too often we allow them to overshadow the greatest era in franchise history. Your Dallas Mavericks have won 50 games in 10 straight seasons, and though that may not compare to the singular joy of winning an NBA title, it speaks to the brilliance, commitment, and savvy that has marked the last decade in Dallas.
Only three teams in the history of the NBA — the classic Celtics, the Showtime Lakers, and the Mavs’ eternal foils in San Antonio — can claim such an honor, and that means plenty. Professional sports teams of any kind rarely experience this kind of prolonged success, as it takes an all-too-rare combination of terrific talent, smart management, and the right circumstances. The former two are what have allowed the Mavs to be so good for so long, but let’s not forget the important of the latter, especially since the importance of chance seems to be today’s theme. Dirk Nowitzki is no doubt the figure most central to the Mavs’ success over the last ten years, and during that period he has never played fewer than 76 games. That’s a testament to Nowitzki always keeping himself in incredible shape, but also to a phenomenal string of good fortune. He’s had no freak injuries, no lingering problems, no significant surgeries. We’re not celebrating the Mavs’ incredible accomplishment without Dirk as a nightly fixture, and thanks to his record of pristine health.
As I mentioned, though, this is a situation where the overwhelmingly influential factor is performance. Performance over a sample size so large that luck is rendered irrelevant. Nowitzki has been surreal over these last ten years, and the way he’s championed the Mavs year after year is nothing short of remarkable. This is truly an all-time great that we have the privilege of watching night after night, and watching him go to work at the elbow or in the low post should be nothing short of breathtaking. If nothing else, understand this: there’s never been anyone like Nowitzki and I’m not sure there ever will be. You’d think that if the NBA were to extend until the end of time, eventually we’d see a player in the Dirk mold, and from a strictly mathematical standpoint I can’t disagree. But the unique combination of everything that makes Dirk Dirk is so odd that I can’t imagine ever seeing it again in my lifetime. There may be a seven-footer that shoots like Dirk. There may be a seven-footer that can score like Dirk. There will not be a player who can do what Dirk does with his size, with his gifts, with his fundamental understanding of the game.
Of course it’s not just that Nowitzki has been unique, but that he’s been spectacular. Only players of certain skill sets and ability can survive as the focal point of an offense without having their game “solved,” but Dirk is one of those players. He’s never had to do it all on his own, but the Mavs have operated through Nowitzki over the last ten years, and he, and the Mavs, have performed brilliantly.
That last sentence is incredibly important, though. Dallas has experienced quite a bit of turnover since 2000, just like any other team, but Dirk was never on his own. The difference is that the Mavs are blessed with the greatest owner in sports. Mark Cuban not only is willing to invest heavily in the team, but also in finding and maintaining good coaches and good managers. Even the worst Mavs coach over the last decade — take your pick between Don Nelson, Avery Johnson, and Rick Carlisle — was excellent, and though the tenures of both Don and Donnie Nelson as managers of the Mavs were hardly unblemished, they both managed to build a contending roster year after year. Sometimes that roster included Antoine Walker or Evan Eschmeyer. Happens even to the best of ‘em. The important thing is that mistakes were always identified and rectified, as Walker was flipped for Jason Terry and Eschmeyer included in a swap for Antawn Jamison. The Mavs’ managers have always made calculated risks, and more often than not they paid off. The results kinda speak for themselves.
The last ten years have been an incredible ride. I know today is the perfect day for a trip down memory lane, and I’ll be diving pretty heavily into the nostalgia myself. The situation definitely calls for it. Keep in mind, though, today, tomorrow, and every day until the end of the Nowitzki/Cuban era in Dallas: this, what we have right now, is very rare. Cherish it. Appreciate the fact that Mavs fans have never in the last 10 years been biding their time in April waiting for the draft lottery. Appreciate that even the most dismal of the last 10 seasons have begun with plenty of hope. Appreciate that for all the times the Mavs have revamped and retooled, they haven’t missed the playoffs and they haven’t missed that 50-win mark.
In the grand scheme of things, 50 is just a number. That it may be, but 50 is also a prompt; it may not mean much on its own, but as a reminder deeply embedded in context, it means everything. It means that even without the championship, the Mavericks have been one of the most successful franchises in the NBA over the last ten years. That golden validation would have brought something special to an era of Maverick basketball that rightfully deserves it, but even with an empty spot on the shelf where the Larry O’Brien should have been, 50 wins reminds us of the heart, the hard work, and the triumphs that have made the last decade so worthwhile.
- Brendan Haywood on the differences in coverage between the Mavs and the Wizards (via Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News): “The difference for us a lot of times on a side screen-and-roll we used to call blue or icing, which means we tried to keep the ball on the same side of the court. They, I mean Dallas is more of a ‘show’ team. They’ll show on a screen-and-roll and try to impact the ball a little more. It’s a little different for me. That and zone coverages are different for me too.”
- Former Mav Jerry Stackhouse apparently reached out to Chris Douglas-Roberts to console him on the Nets’ losing ways. Stack was always kind of a complicated character; he was tough on the court and when receiving clear opposition, but by all means a caring individual capable of tremendous personal acts. It’s hard to reconcile all of that with the shot-happy near-burden he aged into (especially when considering his earlier stardom), but in spite of everything that happened at the end of Stack’s career with the Mavs, it’s important that we keep a full view of him and his exploits, both good and bad.
- SLAM’s Tzvi Twersky has a nice interview with Caron Butler up, with a lot from Caron on the Mavs and the city of Dallas itself. Here’s Butler on what he was told to do coming in by Rick Carlisle: “Coach told me to be as aggressive as possible. Told me to stay aggressive, to not switch up anything. He keeps telling me to remain aggressive at all times, to not second-guess anything. And that’s the type of encouragement you need from a coach. And we’re learning everything on the fly. I went out there and played— myself, Brendan [Haywood] and DeShawn [Stevenson]—after landing in the city and not being able to practice because of trade waivers and stuff wasn’t clear. So we just walked on the court and basically played pickup ball. So we’re learning the offense on the fly, and so far so good.”
- Mark Cuban doesn’t quite seem content with the current collective bargaining model.
- Rick Carlisle’s reaction to the news that Josh Howard will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL (via Tim MacMahon): “That’s terrible. Circumstances that happen in this sport and just the timing of things is crazy. I’m very disappointed obviously for him. He’s not deserving of that kind of luck at this point.”
- If Zydrunas Ilgauskas wasn’t determined to go back to Cleveland 30 days after his buyout is finalized, Dallas would probably have a decent shot of signing him — Z and Donnie Nelson have history from when Donnie was with the Lithuanian national team.
- Kelly Dwyer on the decidedly awful game last night: “This was one of Dallas’ worst games of the season, and somehow they still managed to win in a walk.”
Some potentially great news for those keeping close tabs on the soon-to-be Mavs D-League affiliate in Frisco: Del Harris, who was once tapped to be the GM of the Frisco team, has left his position as an assistant coach with the Nets. The very same position, you may recall, that took Harris away from Frisco in the first place. Below is the statement from Del himself, via Colin Stephenson of The Star-Ledger:
This is to announce that I have decided to return to my home in the Dallas, TX area after two months with the New Jersey Nets. Even though we have had a difficult time winning as many games as we had hoped to, I enjoyed very much my time with my good friend, GM/interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nets players, organization and the local community. All were positive and helpful. I had not experienced such a losing situation since 1983, but because the players are such good people, the losing of games did not become the chaotic situation that has happened to so many teams who were locked into a total rebuilding year.
The reason for the timing of my return is that I came to help Kiki in his first venture into team coaching. I have seen Kiki go from a man who was trying to encourage a team that was down to one who has developed a good sense of coaching. I believe in these recent games there is strong evidence that the team has gotten over the hump and will be much more competitive the rest of the way. This experience will help Kiki in his role as general manager immensely. Every GM can gain from having the coaching experience.
My sincere thanks to Rod Thorn, Kiki, the Nets players and organization for the opportunity to experience the Nets and the good people of the New Jersey area. As difficult as this year has been for the Nets and their fans, I look forward to seeing the Nets capitalize on the moves they have made that have put them in a position to develop into an elite team over the next couple of years and on into the future.
Assuming that Harris will return to work with Frisco seems perfectly reasonable. After all, he left for New Jersey on the most pleasant of terms, and Donnie Nelson has wisely decided to wait on filling the position. After all, the team has no roster and no name, so is it really that pressing to have a general manager when other capable basketball minds are already on the staff? But now the opportunity has arisen to bring Harris to Frisco, and it’s entirely likely that Nelson and Harris are already a few steps ahead of all of us.
UPDATE: Donnie Nelson is, somewhat predictably, welcoming Harris back with open arms (via Tim MacMahon): “I told him the GM chair will be open…It’s there for him. We’re fully hoping and expecting he will come back.”
- As far as shoes go, I liked the look of Kevin Durant’s KD1s, and I’m particularly fond of the inside/outside colorways. But last night, Durant and the Thunder unveiled the truly awful, traffic cone orange “Dreamsicle” KD2s. It’s a definite downgrade, and although the kicks don’t make the man, I can’t help but feel that these shoes don’t do Durant justice.
- Last night’s game didn’t sit well with Royce Young of Daily Thunder: “…I’m not going to lie, I’m a little upset about this one. Not because OKC lacked effort. Because boy howdy, these guys busted it. But when it really mattered, the seasoned, veteran team took over and made the plays. The young, inexperienced group didn’t. In areas the Thunder are normally very good, they weren’t. An uncharacteristic 14-23 from the free throw line. A couple defensive breakdowns late. Poor shooting from their best players. Maybe it was the pressure of the night, the lights of ESPN or something else. But the fact is, Oklahoma City just didn’t perform.”
- Those of us who watch Dirk Nowitzki on a nightly basis are fully cognizant of his excellence. And for national columnists, it’s easy to overlook the footwork, the pump fakes, and the jumpers in favor of the more obvious talents of a LeBron James or a Dwyane Wade. All the more reason to appreciate Kelly Dwyer, who makes note of Nowitzki’s play almost nightly in his ‘Behind the Box Score.’ His words on Dirk’s performance last night were short and sweet, but to me ring with a sincerity and appreciation that’s not as easy to find among basketball scribes as one might think: “In the end, I think my favorite part of this game was listening to Hubie Brown slowly fall in love with James Harden. Either that, or the way you keep falling in love with Dirk Nowitzki’s game. Ten years later. Night after night. So glad this guy is still around, playing at a level like this.”
- Skeets and Tas loved the Mavs-Thunder game last night, even if Tas isn’t too fond of Dirk’s headband.
- As of yesterday, Kevin Durant was shooting just 30 of 80 (37.5%) in six games against the Mavs. As of this morning, he’s shooting 34 of 98 (34.6%). That, my friends, is a bonafide trend.
- Over their next fifteen games, the Mavs play the Lakers (twice), the Celtics, the Cavs, the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Spurs, the Blazers, the Rockets (twice), the Thunder, the Kings, the Grizzlies, the Pistons, and the Raptors. The total W-L of those teams (weighted appropriately for opponents that appear multiple times) is 225-150, or a .600 win percentage. That means that for the next fifteen games, the Mavs will play an average opponent of the Utah Jazz.
- In an “impromptu dunk contest” at practice today, Kris Humphries showed off some between-the-legs dunks, while assistant coach Darrell Armstrong tried his hand at the high-flying game…by doing a between-the-legs layup. It’s a sad reminder of Armstrong’s actual dunk contest appearance, which featured one of the worst dunks (or non-dunks) in contest history.
- According to Mark Cuban, there are four factors which have been instrumental in the Mavs’ success over the last decade: a dedicated fan base, Donnie Nelson, Dirk Nowitzki, and keeping a consistent core.
- Henry Abbott goes to work debunking the myth that Kobe Bryant is the best clutch player in the NBA, and goes to the numbers to reveal some clutch Mavs: “Every which way people slice and dice crunch time numbers — field goal percentage, plus/minus, you name it — Bryant is not the NBA’s best in crunch time. A glance at last year’s crunch time numbers on 82games.com makes clear Bryant shoots more than anyone else in the NBA in crunch time, but is he more skilled at making those shots? That’s what we’re trying to judge, right? In crunch time field goal percentage, last season Bryant finished 92nd in the League, right behind Michael Beasley. Others ahead of him include Kevin Garnett, both Gasols, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Terry, Jameer Nelson, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Eric Gordon, Brandon Roy, Andre Iguodala, Jason Kidd, Ben Gordon, and Chris Bosh. You can remember Bryant hitting all those clutch baskets, stat geeks say. But you’re forgetting all the misses. (And if you are learning about Bryant from highlights, then you’re not even seeing most misses.)” Emphasis mine.
- There was supposed to be another installment of Moving Pictures up this morning, but I’m having trouble uploading it to YouTube. Stay frosty, I’ll post it as soon as it’s available.
- Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching has pieced together a fairly conclusive scouting report on defending Dirk Nowitzki. Guarding Dirk is an unenviable task and a near-impossible one, but Sebastian does a fine job of pointing out a few of the things that tend to give Dirk trouble. It’s well worth a read, even if I don’t necessarily buy the notion that Sean Williams is a disciplined enough defender to draw the Dirk assignment. I’m not sure the Nets have better options, but Williams? On defense? Against an offensive player notorious for his footwork and ball fakes? I’ll believe it when I see it.
- Donnie Nelson will play the waiting game before hiring a new general manager for the Frisco job, mostly due to a potential return for Del Harris after this season’s conclusion. It’s a savvy move by Nelson, and I have a feeling that his patience on this won’t go unrewarded. Also, check out Matt Moore’s reaction here.
- Shaun Powell of NBA.com ranked the top fifteen off-season moves…and failed to include or even mention the Mavs’ acquisitions. I guess the integration of Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden has been so seamless as to elude public perception entirely, despite the fact that both are helping their team (and looking more comfortable doing it) than just about everyone south of Jamal Crawford on that list. (link via a Fanshot by DOH on Mavs Moneyball)
- Let the Rodrigue Beaubois vs. Devin Harris debates begin!
- Chris Sheridan on the newly christened Nets coach (and acting general manager), Kiki Vanderweghe: “Like those front office folk, Vandeweghe was attending the news conference because he had to. His ambition is to run his own NBA team from the front office — not from the bench. Thorn, who noted that all three of the coaches he has hired in New Jersey — the recently departed Lawrence Frank, Byron Scott and Vandeweghe — had no prior NBA head-coaching experience, said he spoke to six people regarding the position. Note that he didn’t say he interviewed six people, only that he spoke to six people, before informing Vandeweghe that the job was his. ‘Rod is a very persuasive guy, and much smarter than I am,” Vandeweghe said. “I want to thank Rod for not necessarily making it my choice.’ Vandeweghe was asked: Did you ever want to be a coach? “‘Not until Rod called me yesterday,’ Vandeweghe said. ‘But it’s a challenge, and you embrace the challenge. I’m sure all the coaches I’ve had are laughing at me right now.’”
- Donnie Nelson, reflecting on the Mavs prior to the Kidd-Harris deal (via Tim MacMahon): “The reality is that we had a whole lot of scoring and our best passer was Dirk…He’s the guy you want taking the shots, not creating shots for other folks. That was a group that was missing a quarterback in the worst way.”