The free agency period is pretty much over. Scratch that. The free agency period is almost over. The Dallas Mavericks announced on Tuesday the signings of Fab Melo, D.J. Kennedy and Richard McConnell to expand the current roster to 18 players. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein was the first to report in the Mavs’ interest in Melo, the 22nd pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
With 15 players under contract but 18 on the roster, it’s important to remember that they can take up to 20 to camp. They don’t have to get down to 15 until just before the season starts. Most teams like to take 15-20 players into camp to allow veteran players a little easier of a path through the rigors of camp. An added sense of competition for the end of the roster players isn’t a bad thing, either.
There may be a few more names that pop up in the next few weeks, but the next big date is Sept. 30 (media day). That means the machine is getting ready to roll again for another new season. While there is still a little time left, I wanted to take a unique look at free agency. There are nine names on the list of remaining free agents that have direct ties to the Mavs. It’s interesting to see how they joined the Mavs and what has happened to them since they left the team.
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There should be no ill will towards Jerry Stackhouse. After all, his contract ended up scoring Shawn Marion in a sign-and-trade. That’s good enough for me, even if Stack’s shot-happy and poor-defending ways made him incredibly mortal. He was a bench scorer with the confidence of a starter, and you can take that in just about any direction you wish. And though his time with the Mavs didn’t end on the best of terms, he still had four good, productive years in Dallas, and was a part of some truly special teams.
Stack and the Mavs could end up crossing paths pretty soon, as he has apparently agreed to play for the Milwaukee Bucks for the rest of the season. From Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com that Stackhouse is expected to formally sign with the Bucks on Monday or possibly Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The former All-Star guard has been looking for a new team since the summer and was targeted by the Bucks — who began play Sunday two games out of the final playoff spot in the East — after Michael Redd suffered a season-ending knee injury this past Sunday in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Foot and knee problems limited Stackhouse to just 10 games last season with Dallas, but the 35-year-old has insisted for months that he is healthy and ready to return to the league.
After an audition for the New York Knicks in August, Stackhouse rejected an invitation to Houston Rockets training camp in October to replace the injured Rashad McCants when the Rockets told Stackhouse he’d have to win a roster spot in camp to stick.
The Mavs play the Bucks in Dallas on January 26th, and provided Stack remains healthy, we should see him suiting up for the bad guys for the first time since 2004.
If the Mavs decide to fill their final roster spot with a veteran, we can only hope that they’re capable of real, on-court contributions. If the Portland Trailblazers’ season has taught us anything, it’s that your reserves (and your reserves’ reserves) need to not only be ready to play, but capable of playing. That’s the real benefit of having a deep roster, and though guys like Quinton Ross, Tim Thomas, and James Singleton are tried and true role players, the Mavs have an opportunity to add another competent body to the roster following the two-for-one trade that landed Eduardo Najera.
Jake Voskuhl, C: Voskuhl was a late cut from the training camp roster, and likely would have been offered a contract if not for the presence of Shawne Williams on the roster. The Mavs were resolved to find a taker for Williams’ contract, and now that they have, his spot on the roster is up for grabs. Voskuhl doesn’t do anything terribly well aside from sop up minutes. He has good size (6’11”) but he’s a bit slow of foot, which makes him a better defensive match-up for more traditional, back-to-the-basket bigs. Jake won’t change the game, but he hedges the damage of going to a third string center as a last line of defense by rebounding and blocking shots at a decent rate.
Rashad McCants, SG: The Mavs brought in McCants for an off-season workout, but apparently were not impressed enough to move earth to find him a spot on the roster. His defense can be a bit suspect (in both technique and effort level), and he’s not a great distributor or rebounder for his position, but McCants puts up points. He’s hovered around 20 points per 36 minutes over the last two seasons, and though he doesn’t score at a particularly efficient rate, McCants is a decent option from long range (.368 over his career). I’m not sure that a shooting guard is what the Mavs would or should be looking for, but their past interest in McCants earns him a spot on the list.
Jerry Stackhouse, SG: Yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.
Mike Taylor, PG: Mike Taylor is very much a scoring point guard, but he’s an NBA-level talent. Taylor is quick and frighteningly athletic, but his courtvision is mediocre at best. Provided the Mavs aren’t looking for a distributor, Taylor could be an interesting addition. He’s not terribly skilled defensively, but what Taylor could provide in terms of athleticism and scoring could make him a player of interest. Then again, if the Mavs are looking for athleticism and scoring at the point guard position, why not turn to Rodrigue Beaubois?
Stromile Swift, PF/C: Swift is currently playing professionally in China after playing in just 19 NBA games last season. Swift was and is a leaper; his limited success in the basketball world has been predicated almost entirely on his athleticism, and where many saw potential we know find an aging athlete with little in the way of fundamentals. Swift is not a good interior defender save for his help-side shot blocking, and his offensive arsenal mostly consists of finishes at the rim. He’s a big body, but one contribute much to what the Mavs’ are trying to accomplish defensively or offensively. The 76ers actually signed Swift to a contract in September, but waived him before the regular season began. And hey, if Swift isn’t good enough for the Sixers, he’s probably not good enough for the Mavericks.
Wally Szczerbiak, SG/SF: There was a time where Wally Szczerbiak had not only the distinction of being the NBA’s premier dreamboat, but a completely overrated All-Star. Alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, Wally chipped in around 15 points per game on decent percentages, with a couple of assists and rebounds to boot. But he was still a bit underwhelming as a player, and certainly so as a defender. That was almost a decade ago, and the years have not been kind to Szczerbiak’s lateral movement. He’s useful in a role as a spot-up shooter (most recently, he shot .411 from deep with Cleveland), but is a complete and utter liability on defense and has no other marketable offensive skill. Not a bad choice if the Mavs are looking for someone to camp in a corner, but he would compromise the Mavs’ perimeter D in ways you wouldn’t even believe.
The ESPNDallas crew put together a list of the top 10 Mavericks of the decade, and here are their rankings:
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Steve Nash
- Michael Finley
- Jason Terry
- Josh Howard
- Nick Van Exel
- Jason Kidd
- Devin Harris
- Jerry Stackhouse
- Erick Dampier
I’m a bit lost as to the criteria used, though. If it’s the out-and-out best players (talent and production-wise) to play for the Mavs in the 2000s, Jason Kidd seems slighted. If it’s based on production in a Maverick uniform this decade, Jason Terry may not be getting the respect he deserves. And if it’s based on…well, whatever metric puts Nick Van Exel (who make no mistake is one of my personal favorites in team history) ahead of Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, and Erick Dampier, then that explains that. This just seems like an exercise where you need to take talent, production, and Maverick tenure all into account, and with that in mind the order seems a bit scrambled.
It’s not an easy list to compile. We can all agree that Dirk stands at the top of the list, with Steve Nash a perfectly acceptable second fiddle. But where do you go from there? Michael Finley is the best scorer of the bunch, Jason Terry kept the Mavs afloat sans Nash and has a Finals appearance under his belt, and Jason Kidd is probably the best of the remaining crop despite his short tenure. After that, you’ve got some combination of Josh Howard, Devin Harris, and Erick Dampier, three Mavs that were absolutely instrumental to the team’s success during the most successful stretch this decade, and each contributing in unique ways that only sometimes show up on the stat sheet (scoring balance, change-of-pace potential, interior defense). Only then do I get to Jerry Stackhouse and Nick Van Exel, but with DeSagana Diop, Antawn Jamison, and MARQUIS DANIELS getting some consideration.
Sound off in the comments, because I’m curious to hear everyone’s take on this. What’s the best way to go about ranking the decade’s Mavs? And given those criteria, who’veyagot?