Old Man Look at My Life

Posted by David Hopkins on January 8, 2013 under Commentary | 4 Comments to Read

oldman_hopkins

“For all your vaunted strength, you are but a fading shadow of my cosmic all!” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

Last summer, Jason Kidd turned down the Mavs’ generous offer of three years and $9 million. Instead, he took the Knicks’ offer of three years and $9 million. On one level, the defection was a slap in the face to the organization that drafted him, the one that brought him back when some thought he was “too old” to be an elite player, and the one where he won his championship. On another level, Kidd’s frustration is understandable. He was disappointed with a front office that “blew up” the championship team (which I don’t think was entirely within their control, but whatever), and he wanted the opportunity to come off the bench for a highly talented point guard. The Mavs couldn’t get Kidd’s golf buddy Deron Williams, and Dallas just felt a little less like home.

While many were surprised to see Kidd leave, those keeping a close watch on precious cap space may have thought $9 million seemed a little too generous for a player who averaged 6.2 points and 5.5 assists in the previous season and would turn 40 this year. Clearly, it was an offer to cement Kidd’s legacy as a Maverick, possibly transitioning him to an assistant coaching position. But for a second time in Mavs’ history, Jason Kidd left Dallas on bad terms.

In hindsight, I wonder if $9 million was too low of an offer. The Knicks are in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Mavs are tied with Sacramento for the third worst record in the West. The disparity between the two teams cannot only be attributed to Jason Kidd, but his presence and veteran leadership cannot be ignored either. A semblance of continuity from 2011 might be worth something.

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Retiring 12

Posted by David Hopkins on January 1, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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“Now let the charade end!” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

When I first inquired to Rob Mahoney about joining the Two Man Game team, I made a single request. I asked Rob if I could write about Derek Harper at least once a year. In my opinion, Harper hasn’t received the recognition he deserves. It’s the start of a new year, a good time to look back on the Ye Olde Mavericks. As a gift to myself, I’m taking this day to write about no. 12, and I’m leading the charge to get his number retired.

Here’s a secret. You are far more likely to get Mark Cuban to respond to your emails if you’re a season ticket holder. Start the email with an account number (I had a ten-game package, nothing too fancy). Almost a year ago, I wrote to Cuban:

Before Dirk Nowitzki retires and a whole new generation is considered for retired numbers, I believe Derek Harper is one essential member of the early Mavs who deserves the honor. Yes, there is Aguirre and Donaldson, Perkins and Tarpley, but only Derek Harper hits all the reasonable criteria for retired numbers — (1) greatness as a player, (2) long term commitment to the team, (3) long term impact on the franchise. I’m not the type of fan who believes retired numbers should be given out liberally. Once you have Davis, Blackman, and Harper, I think the pre-Nowitzki Mavs have been appropriately represented. Are there any plans to retire #12 before we get to #41?

I then went on to complain about the red t-shirts (see my last column) and tried to defend Lamar Odom. It was still early in the season. Mark Cuban responded:

brilliant minds think alike.

we agree across the board [smiley face]

stay tuned and thank you for your support of our Mavs !!

m

No privacy footnote included. Here you go, a year-old The Two Man Game exclusive with Mark Cuban.

You have to give Cuban credit. His response was affirming. He answered my questions, and yet he was still vague and noncommittal. If he agrees that those red t-shirts are cursing the team, why launch them into the crowd? If you agree that Derek Harper’s number should be retired, why not retire it? I have a few theories on his “we agree across the board” statement. It could mean:

  1. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Get off my back.
  2. Be patient. The t-shirts will be gone once we run out of t-shirts, and we have a lot. We’ll retire Derek Harper’s number the day before Nowitzki’s.
  3. I think almost every Mav should have their number retired… but it ain’t gonna happen.
  4. I didn’t have time to give you a more honest answer.

So, why Derek Harper? A player who never played in an All-Star game, a player who wasn’t even the Mavs’ top draft pick in 1983, and a player who is often remembered for his terrible rookie error in the 1984 playoffs when he dribbled out the clock sending the game against the Lakers into overtime. If this is all you see, you’re missing one of the most important players to shape the culture and legacy of the ‘80s Mavs, one of the most dedicated and proud Mavericks (during a time when being a Maverick wasn’t always a point of pride), and yes, the greatest point guard for this franchise. Let me explain.

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Abandoning the Apocalypse

Posted by David Hopkins on December 19, 2012 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

theend_hopkins

“This is why I am here. This is the death I have foreshadowed. Mad gods have come to destroy us all.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

From what I’ve heard, the world is ending. I’m not talking about the end of the Mayan calendar and the doomsday projections for this Friday, December 21st. I’m talking about the Mavs season and apparently the future of the franchise — if the most pessimistic prognostications are correct.

In case you were wondering, the Apocalypse will look something like this: Dallas loses relevance as a Finals competitor. They get stuck in the middle. Not good enough to go deep into the playoffs, not appealing enough to win big name free agents, and not bad enough to get lucky in the lottery. And even if the team did try to “suck for luck,” this is a ridiculous strategy because it creates a culture of losing that is difficult to recover from. Also, it’s a bad idea when you consider this well-written and thoroughly depressing column by Jonathan Tjarks. Would the Mavs be able to appropriately develop high draft picks? No matter. If this is the end, it looks ugly.

If I am to believe the Mavs fans, the ones who pace and rant, who wear placards proclaiming the end, they say the signs have been here all along.

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Point Guard Help Wanted

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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As a last minute scratch, Darren Collison missed the game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained right middle finger. That led to Dominique Jones getting his second consecutive start at the point guard position. It is safe to say that the point guard situation has gotten desperate for the Mavericks. It’s gotten to the point where Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle announced shortly after the loss to the Bulls that Derek Fisher would be joining the team. The news was made official on Thursday afternoon. ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst was the first to report that Derek Fisher would likely make a decision on his new team by Thursday.

“I think (Fisher) can really help our situation with experience, defensively and really all areas of the game,” Carlisle told reporters after the loss to Chicago. “Right now, the point guard position is a challenge for us and I think Derek can help us.” To make room for Fisher on the roster, the Mavericks released Troy Murphy. Fisher (6-1, 210) is a five-time NBA World Champion and has played in 1,173 games (722 starts) with the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State, Utah and Oklahoma City. At age 38, he holds career averages of 8.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 26.2 minutes per game. Fisher was originally the 24th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and went on to win five World Championships in Los Angeles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010). He also served as President of the NBA Players Association from 2006-2012.

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Thermodynamics: Week 4

Posted by Travis Wimberly on November 23, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Fire and Ice

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

A day late (blame the tryptophan-induced coma), but never a dollar short. It’s time for our weekly breakdown of the Mavs’ three hottest and three coldest performances.

This was an interesting week for the Mavs. They were blown out by the Indiana Pacers, but then bounced back the next night in Cleveland against a bad (though young and spry) Cavaliers squad. After a fairly woeful home loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Mavs proceeded to take down the league-leading New York Knicks on the strength of a (mostly) impressive second-half comeback.

So who was hot? And who was not? I’m glad you asked….

Week 4 (@Pacers, @Cavaliers, Warriors, Knicks)

FIRE

1) OJ Mayo

Make it three in a row on the hot list for Mayo. Once again, the Mavs’ starting shooting guard was excellent offensively. He shot 32-of-60 (53%) on the week, including 10-of-21 (48%) from long range. He led the Mavs in scoring all four games, dropping 19 points in each of the first two games and 27 points in each of the latter two. His assist numbers weren’t great (3.5 per game), but they didn’t need to be. With Dirk Nowitzki still on the mend, Mayo’s primary responsibility is to score. He’s doing just that, and he’s doing so quite efficiently. Mayo is currently 8th in the NBA in scoring (22.2 PPG), and among the top 10 scorers in the league, he has the lowest usage rate (25.3%) and the the highest effective field-goal percentage (61%). In other words, Mayo isn’t racking up points by dominating the ball. He’s being judicious, taking mostly good shots, and making them at a very impressive (though likely unsustainable) clip.

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Quoteboard: Dallas 114, New York 111

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 22, 2012 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks refuse fall below .500 on the season. They used a 29-10 run from the 5:27 mark of the third quarter through the 9:16 mark of the fourth period to turn an eight-point deficit, 72-64, into an 11-point advantage, 93-82. That was the run that allowed the Mavericks to secure an impressive 114-111 victory over the hot Knicks squad. With the win, the Mavericks handed the Knicks just their second loss of the season (New York moved to 8-2 on the year).

O.J. Mayo led all scorers with nine points in the first quarter against the Knicks on Wednesday. Mayo finished with a game-high 27 points in 36 minutes against the Knicks. Vince Carter appeared in his 999thcareer regular-season game against New York on Wednesday and tallied a season-high 25 points in 23 minutes off the bench. His previous high scoring game this year was 19 at Charlotte (11/10). The most points Carter scored in a game in 2011-12 was 23 (vs. Houston 4/18/12). In a bounce-back performance, Darren Collison went 7-for-11 from the field and tallied 19 points and a team-high seven assists in 34 minutes against the Knicks. After recording his first DNP-CD (Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision) of the year, Jae Crowder recorded 12 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench against New York. He matched his season high for points and rebounds.

Here is the quoteboard for the win against the Knicks.

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Thermodynamics: Week 3

Posted by Travis Wimberly on November 15, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Ice Melting

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

Last week around this time, the Mavs were flying high. They carried a 4-1 record and possessed what looked to be one of the best offenses in the NBA. But after some poor performances and a 1-3 record this week—including the franchise’s first-ever loss to the Charlotte Bobcats—the Mavs have some work to do. But hey, at least they didn’t fire their coach five games into the season.

Let’s take a look at the Mavs’ hottest and coldest performances from Week 3. (Spoiler alert: Cold wins this week.)

Week 3 (@Knicks, @Bobcats, Timberwolves, Wizards)

FIRE

1) OJ Mayo

With a couple caveats, it was another strong week for the shooting guard affably known as “Juice” (alternate nickname: “That guy who temporarily ruined USC’s basketball program”). Mayo shot 29-of-61 (48%) in the Mavs’ four games this week, including 10-of-20 (50%) from three-point range. He was the Mavs’ most consistent and productive scorer by a considerable margin, averaging exactly 22 PPG. For the season, Mayo’s true shooting percentage (64%) and effective field-goal percentage (60%) both rank in the top fifteen in the league among guards who have played more than negligible minutes. Mayo’s turnovers (3.5 per game this week) and comfort within the offense both remain issues. But if the expectation is for Mayo to be the team’s second scorer behind Dirk Nowitzki, he’s currently showing why that expectation is entirely fair.

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Setting the Table: New York Knicks (Game 6)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 9, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (4-1) head up to the big apple to take on the New York Knicks (3-0). Though only playing three games, the Knicks remain the league’s lone undefeated team. New York has not played a game since their victory on Monday against the Phildaelphia 76ers. The realist is saying that they will be well-rested and well-scouted for their game against the Mavericks. The optimist is saying that they will be rusty for the matchup against the Mavericks.

In an update of who is in and who is out: Elton Brand rejoined the team after not being with the team for their game with Toronto so he could be with his wife for the birth of his second child. Roddy Beaubois will once again be a gametime decision due to a sprained left ankle.

Here are some notes for the matchup against the Knicks.

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A Meditation on Movement

Posted by David Hopkins on October 30, 2012 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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“I have need of a new Herald…” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

Tonight, Darren Collison debuts as the Mavericks’ starting point guard. I wrote last week about the expectations that burden and bless O.J. Mayo, and in some regards, it’s amazing how similar the fates of Mayo and Collison are. Both had standout rookie years. Both had starting-caliber production, but were moved to bench. And both have been acquired by the Mavericks to “replace” popular guards, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. However, while Mayo will be scrutinized for his ability to reproduce Terry, most people are letting Collison off the hook. After all, we know he’s no Jason Kidd. Shrug your shoulders and move on, right? It’s as if Mavs fans collectively agreed there are only two kinds of point guards — good point guards who play like Jason Kidd and then everyone else.

Darren Collison is not Jason Kidd. Kidd has this ability to make the ball magically appear in the hands of whomever he wants. If Kidd wanted the child in section 111, row M, seat 3 to get the ball, then by god, that child would have the ball. Collison can’t do that. But what Collison offers is, in some ways, just as mythic and powerful: Speed. It’s Collison’s birthright, and crucial to every bit of his NBA success.

From the 2012-13 edition of Pro Basketball Prospectus:

“Collison’s best asset is no secret. The son of two sprinters—his mom was an Olympian in 1984, representing Guyana—Collison might be the league’s fastest player from end to end.”

He carries the ball like Mercury, like Hermes, like Iris. Like a messenger from the gods, Collison can move.

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The Longer Road

Posted by Brian Rubaie on October 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

LongRoadtoGreatness

A lot can change in five years. In 2007 Josh Howard and O.J. Mayo were both on top of the world. Howard was Dirk Nowitzki’s clear No. 2 on a team that won a team-record 67 games. Mayo was the country’s premiere high school prospect. Five years later, they are journeymen at a crossroads. Howard is still seeking employment, and though the Mavericks have had plenty of roster openings, they’ve displayed no interest in their former star. Instead, they’ve placed their hopes in the hands of the enigmatic Mayo, who arrives in Dallas with much to prove in what may be his last chance to cement a starting role. Mayo weighs in at precisely the same 220 pounds as Josh Howard but many doubt his ability to hold the same weight of responsibility that once rested on Howard’s shoulders. Can Mayo fulfill his promise and become the second option in Dallas? It’s a tall order but one that Mayo can meet.

Mayo’s career arc thus far has taken a steady decline. He arrived in the NBA after a solid but unspectacular campaign for USC. Viewed as a distant draft consolation prize behind Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, he was dumped before the dance ended, traded by the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Things only got worse in Memphis. The 38 minutes a game he was afforded by the Grizzlies in his first two seasons transformed to 26 minutes a game and a sixth-man role behind rookie Xavier Henry. Asking whether Mayo has fulfilled expectations yields an unflinching “no.” The better question is where his ceiling currently stands; what should Mavs fans reasonably expect from Mayo?

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