The Dallas Mavericks (11-11) head north of the border to take on the Toronto Raptors (4-19). You read that correctly. The Toronto Raptors only have four wins as they move towards their 24th game of the season. Toronto has the second worst record in the Eastern Conference and in the entire league (Washington – 3-16).
Simply put, this is a game the Mavericks need to get and do so in a comfortable fashion. It doesn’t matter if they played a grueling double overtime game on 12/12 against the Boston Celtics. Just handle your business.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Raptors.
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- Chris Tomasson, NBA FanHouse: “Once again, Nowitzki has a picture of the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his locker to serve as his motivation. ‘That’s been there for a while,’ said Nowitzki, who signed a four-year contract last summer after becoming a free agent. ‘It’s going to basically stay there hopefully for the next four years. Hopefully, I’ll get one before then, and I’ll take it down. Or I’ll leave it up until I get a second one. That’s really what it’s all about now. I don’t think I personally have to prove or achieve anything (other than) just winning the ring. So that’s what I’m working on.’”
- Tom Haberstroh broke down the league’s 10 most untradeable contracts (Insider), and our very own Shawn Marion (four years, $32.2 million remaining on his deal) made the list at no. 10: “Already 32 years old, the veteran small forward will almost undoubtedly enact his $9 million player option in 2013-14, when he’ll be 36. Mavs owner Mark Cuban can probably stomach the $32.2 million outstanding on his deal, but that doesn’t mean it was a wise contract in the first place.” DeSagana Diop (three years, $20.8 million remaining) also made the list at no. 7.
- The Mavs will play an outdoor preseason game against the Suns on Saturday night, but Dirk Nowitzki won’t.
- Dee Brown won’t make the Mavs’ regular season roster, but he feels like he’s getting better year by year.
- They’re a few days old by this point, but there was plenty of Dallas love in the annual NBA GM survey. Among the most significant: 11.5% of GMs (tied for 3rd) think Dwane Casey is the league’s top assistant coach, 28.6% (T-1st) think Dirk is the best at his position (which marks the first year of Dirk’s career that Tim Duncan wasn’t the leading vote-getter), and 21.4% (1st) think that Rodrigue Beaubois is the international player most likely to have a breakout season.
- Mark Cuban doesn’t hate Don Nelson…anymore.
- John Stockton is the prototype for aging NBA players hoping to remain productive, and Jason Kidd hopes to follow in his footsteps as he continues to play on the brink of 40. Brendan Haywood chimes in: “He takes good care of his body and he’s a consummate professional. He can play forever.”
- Michael Lee of the Washington Post, on Josh Howard’s recovery from a left knee injury: “His improvement has been such a revelation that the Wizards may soon see him on the floor in the next few weeks. ‘If you watch him on the floor doing skeleton runs, you’d think that he could play that night. He’s pretty advanced. A lot more advanced than what we thought, but we’re going to take our time,’ Coach Flip Saunders said. ‘I would anticipate that he’ll probably facilitate things in the next two or three weeks. We’ll kind of take our time and see where we are at. We’re not going to push him back, but we’re not going to push him to get there. We’re going to make sure he’s back close to 100 percent.’”
Although this summer presents the Mavs’ best opportunity to make a notable roster addition, it was almost certain to be marked by a loss in the coaching ranks. Both the Hawks and Clippers had Casey very high on their list of candidates, and with so many openings this off-season and Dwane as good of a choice as any, his departure from Dallas was something of an inevitability.
Not so. According to Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog and ESPN Los Angeles, the Clippers have chosen Vinny Del Negro over Dwane Casey as their next head coach, completing their re-enactment of the Chicago Bulls’ 2008 coaching search. VDN may not be as bad of a head coach as his legend suggests, but this is still a regretful decision by Los Angeles. Casey is a masterful tactician, but unlike most of his contemporaries of similar ilk, Dwane is also something of a statesman. He’s firm without being grating, assertive without being overbearing. In fact, the only coaching asset Casey seems to be lacking is a legitimate shot. He was wrongfully ousted from Minnesota, denied plenty of jobs he would have succeeded in, and now the Mavs will continue to benefit.
As I said earlier in the summer, Dwane Casey will get a head coaching job. The only thing that remains to be determined is who he will coach and how long he’ll have to wait. That’s why I don’t feel too bad about celebrating that Dallas will retain Casey for just a bit longer. Even if Dwane is only with the Mavs for one more season, the coaching staff is stronger with him a part of it. For now, all 30 head coaches are accounted for, and though Casey’s name isn’t listed among them, he’s just as talented, just as schooled, and coaching for the home team.
- Kevin Arnovitz on the ongoing Clipper coaching interviews, which haven’t wrapped as quickly as anticipated: “[Dwane] Casey was thought to be the initial favorite, but a strong performance by Del Negro in the interview process tightened the horse race. According to sources, Del Negro surprised the Clippers with the blueprint he presented to management, specifically his level of organization and his plans for player development. Casey, who has long been on the Clippers’ radar, delivered precisely what the brass expected from a sharp, serious tactician. Despite his best efforts, Casey’s firm grasp of the game and his strong schematic vision for the Clippers weren’t enough to separate him from Del Negro.”
- From the fine creator of “The ‘Bron ‘Bron Song (C’mon LeBron)”, Ben Rogers, comes a new chart-topping number: “DFW Digs Dirk.” If you dig DFW digging Dirk, be sure to let him know @benandskin.
- Omar Samhan dispenses some Twitter wisdom.
- A flimsy suggestion that the Mavs’ pre and post-game shows on TXA21 could change for next season.
- Though Joe Johnson was seriously weighing offers from the Knicks and the Bulls before accepting a max deal with the Hawks, he apparently didn’t give the Mavs serious consideration. Even if Joe wasn’t your personal choice for an off-season score, this is not a good thing.
- Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston grades Michael Finley’s short season with the Celtics.
- Mike Miller has been thrown around as a potential MLE target, but such a signing would be very ill-advised. Though Dallas does need to clean up the shooting guard position in a general sense, signing Miller to a sizable deal makes very little sense at this point in his career. Not necessarily because he’s aging, but simply because Mike has elected to take his most beneficial skill, douse it in gasoline, and set it on fire. Tom Ziller explains: “For the first eight seasons of his NBA career, he was a great scorer, able to fill the bucket from range consistently. If you had a guard taking 10 or 15 shots a night, you wanted it to be someone as deadly efficient as Miller. But that was, essentially, Miller’s only elite skill. He was an average rebounder, an efforted but often overmatched defender and an only slightly effective passer. He shot, and well, and that’s all you really wanted. Everything changed when Miller was traded to Minnesota in 2008. He went from a deadly gunner to a … wannabe Scottie Pippen? A performance artist protesting the commodization of his pure stroke? I just don’t know.”
- 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):
Dwane Casey is too far talented a coach to stay an assistant forever, and it’s no surprise that the Clippers are interested in hiring him to run the team next season. This courtship has been expected, and though L.A.’s interest in Dwane has largely been approximated up to this point, those flirtations have been confirmed. Casey is one of two legitimate candidates for the Clippers gig, and the possibility of a 2010-2011 season without Dwane is becoming more realistic by the minute.
L.A. is also considering Vinny Del Negro for the same position, so nothing is certain as of yet. Kevin Arnovitz has a terrific analysis of both Casey and Del Negro at ESPN Los Angeles for those interested in learning more about the Clippers’ impending decision and what impact either coach could have on the most miserable franchise in basketball. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s the most comprehensive piece on Casey to date. No where else is Dwane’s style, qualification, and coaching potential more accurately and extensively described. For those who aren’t familiar with what makes Dwane such a standout among NBA assistant coaches, sharpen your pencils, open your notebooks, and turn to Arnovitz’s piece. Class is in session.
The Atlanta Hawks will promote assistant coach Larry Drew to fill the void left by Mike Woodson’s firing, which means that Dwane Casey will remain a part of Maverick family for the immediate future. This is good news, even if it means that a perfectly deserving coach was denied yet another chance to be the head coach of an NBA team.
Casey is something of a luxury for the Mavs now, but obviously one they’d hate to surrender. You can really never have too many talented coaches on the bench (and running through practices, and working out match-ups, and developing players) and right now Dallas is blessed to not only have Rick Carlisle at the helm, but a coaching staff that has to be considered one of the strongest in the league. Casey and Terry Stotts are great gets to fill out the bench, but the strength of the coaching staff extends to each assistant, to strength and conditioning coach Robert Packett, to former-player assistants Darrell Armstrong and Popeye Jones.
Retaining Casey — at least until the next head coaching vacancy — is a boon for the Mavs. I do feel for Casey, who is well-worthy of the Hawks job among many other gigs, but it’s not as if his career is overshadowed by a sense of gloom; this wasn’t the shot for Casey to jump back into the head coaching ranks, merely a shot. Dwane will be a head coach sometime in the near future, and the Hawks’ decision simply delays the inevitable. In the meantime, the Mavs will reap all the benefits.
- We already knew this was going to happen, but the Mavs have announced they will pick up J.J. Barea’s $1.8 million team option for next season. Michael Dugat of DallasBasketball.com compared Barea to other reserve point guards around the league by using base statistics, and the results show about what you’d expect: we’re all far harsher on Barea than we should be.
- The Mavs plan to bring in Brian Zoubek for a workout, likely as a prospect for the 50th pick.
- Eddy Rivera reviews Brandon Bass’ 2009-2010 season for Magic Basketball: “In retrospect, it’s fair to wonder why general manager Otis Smithsigned Brandon Bass. There’s no question that Bass is a good player but he’s the equivalent of being a round peg trying to be inserted into a square hole. Bass’ strengths as a player are completely the opposite to what makes the Magic successful. For instance, even taking into account his efficiency on offense, Bass is the lone player on Orlando that bases his game around the mid-range jumper. Add to the fact that Bass was never able to learn the Magic’s defensive schemes and there shouldn’t be a surprise that he barely saw minutes this year.”
- We should know by the end of the day whether or not Dwane Casey will be the next coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
- Andris Biedrins is a very attainable non-free agent that the Mavs could score this summer, but doing so would mean Dallas struck out on a number of fronts beforehand. If Nelson and Cuban end up using Dampier’s contract to grab Biedrins, it’s merely consolation. Still, better something than nothing, right?
- UPDATE: Jason Terry, on Nate Robinson’s performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals: “What a game from 1 6th man to another nate way 2 show up and show out town bizness”
- UPDATE: John Hollinger ranked the top 50 single-game Finals performances of all-time, and Dwyane Wade’s Game 3 and Game 6 in 2006 ranked 9th and 19th respectively.
- Mark Cuban isn’t the only owner to be fined for his comments regarding LeBron James, even if the price of Cubes’ CNN Money spot remains the most substantial. The Hawks’ Michael Gearon Jr. was fined $25,000 by the league for tampering, and according to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it was due to this remark made by Gearon to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “If somebody came to us tomorrow and said you can have LeBron for max money and it puts you in the luxury tax, I’d do it in a a heartbeat. But am I going to do that for Ilgauskas? Am I going to do it for Jermaine O’Neal? I don’t think so…”
- Question of the day: should it be considered tampering if Dwyane Wade, a free agent himself, discredits an entire franchise that just so happens to be a player this summer? How about if he sits down to have a discussion with other free agents? The NBA isn’t exactly the thought police, even if they’d like to be, and it’s always going to be an impossible task to control what players do in their spare time. That said, which has a bigger impact: Cuban’s comments on the record with CNN, or Wade having a heart-to-heart with LeBron and Joe Johnson?
- If so, is this tampering?
- I’m way late on linking this fantastic write up by Kelly Dwyer on Dwane Casey, but give it a read if you haven’t already. It’s not always easy to determine the value of a specific assistant coach, unless that coach has an outrageously public or specific role (think Boston’s Tom Thibodeau). That said, if you think the Mavs losing Casey to the Hawks wouldn’t be a loss, you’re sadly mistaken. This is a coach that’s well-deserving of a head gig somewhere, and Dallas has the luxury of having him as an assistant. That’s going to change at some point and it could be this summer. Casey deserves a team of his own, and while all Mavs fans should be happy for him should he finally get such a team this summer, it’d also be a notable off-season loss.
- Kris Humphries on Mark Cuban, to Paul Allen (no, not that one) of 1130 AM in Minneapolis: “(Mark Cuban) is so into it and so on the refs. It’s human nature, if a ref doesn’t like you, you’re not going to get calls. One thing that was funny to me is one time during the game, Mark’s riding the ref. He sits literally right on the baseline by the bench. He’s riding the refs and Dirk turns over to him and he’s like in a few choice words basically, ‘Be quiet because they’re just going to screw us more.’”
- A third baseman for Oklahoma said that his team “doesn’t want to be the Dallas Mavericks.” Ouch.
- Kiki Vandeweghe went the way of Del Harris in New Jersey, in similarly abrupt fashion.
- Slipped through the cracks here, probably because it was a given: DeShawn Stevenson picked up his $4.15 million player option for next season.
- The Spurs hope George Hill will be ready for the first round series vs. the Mavericks, and Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell breaks down why he’s the key to the series for the Spurs, and Gregg Popovich’s favorite player.
- While watching the game last night, I, like many of you, started wondering why Marion shoots so many floaters around the basket, even though it seems like he never makes them. I looked up his At-Rim FG% at HoopData, and surprisingly, he’s at 62%, 1% higher than the league average. I’m still of the opinion that he needs to lay off that floater.
- Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas writes about the respect the Mavs have for this Spurs team: “The Mavs simply have too much respect for Gregg Popovich’s team to get their britches in a bunch about Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili taking off Game 82. Plus, the Mavs are much more concerned about preparing for Game 1. “
- Angry Trey shared this video with us Mavs fans, from the 16th President of the United States
- And in case you were wondering, my first round predictions (in the West) are Lakers in 6, Jazz in 5, Suns in 6 and Mavs in 6…..which isn’t very brave of me at all.
Grapevine cont’d, by Mahoney:
- Rick Carlisle has been named the Western Conference Coach of the Month according to a release from the team. It’s the first time a Mavs coach has won the award since Avery Johnson nabbed it in February of 2007.
- From Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) on Twitter: “Ed Stefanski interviewed Dwane Casey twice last year and source close to Sixers GM says ‘He loved him.’ Philly may have to move fast should it want to hire Casey this time, because sources say he’s moved to top of Clippers search. OKC almost hired Casey over PJ Carlesimo.”
- Shawn Marion manages to crack out the “that’s what’s up” “it’s on” and “it is what it is” trinity. Not in one scrum, but one after another in a single sentence.
- Yahoo’s John Ludden has an excellent piece in Manu Ginobili: “Looking back, maybe it was foolish to question him. Through his eight years in San Antonio, Ginobili had lifted the Spurs through all those end-of-game, pressure-cooker moments. Resurrecting himself might have been his greatest comeback yet. It took five months, but he has again made believers of them all, and that explains more than anything why the Spurs decided to give him a contract extension that will pay nearly $40 million over the next three years. When Ginobili’s healthy, when he’s playing as he has over the past couple months, isn’t anything possible?”