The Mavs and Raptors finally agreed to terms on a deal that landed Shawn Marion in Dallas, but not before roping in a third team…and a fourth. In a bit of creative trade engineering, Toronto and Dallas pulled off a once-in-a-blue-moon four team deal that involves a signed-and-traded Hedo Turkoglu and the Grizzlies’ available cap space.
The deal is awaiting finalization from the league, but the principles of the deal include the following acquisitions:
Shawn Marion (five years, ~$39 million)
Kris Humphries (two years, $6.40 million, player option for the second season)
Jerry Stackhouse ($2 million guaranteed, expected to be released)
Quincy Douby (one year, $855,189)
Trade exception worth ~$7 million
From a Mavs-centric perspective, they flipped Jerry Stackhouse, Devean George, Antoine Wright, and cash for Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries. It’s a trade that undoubtedly makes the Mavs a better team. How much of a better team is something we’ll have to wait until the season starts to find out…or you can wait a little while to get a thorough analysis of what to expect on this very blog.
The Raptors were actually big winners here, and showed what good can come by doing right by your own free agents (even departing ones). Marion’s impending departure meant the Raps would be left with no compensation for the loss of a very good player. Rather than simply wish Shawn the best and tear up as he walked out the door, Bryan Colangelo helped to engineer a hell of a trade with the Mavs that not only helped to fill a need at shooting guard with the acquisition of Antoine Wright, but also gave Toronto an even more valuable asset: their full mid-level exception.
If Toronto had signed Hedo Turkoglu as a free agent as per their initial plans, they would forfeit the right to the mid-level exception by using up their available cap space. But by having Orlando sign-and-trade Turkoglu instead, the Raptors still have use of their MLE. A nice maneuver, to say the least.
Things were equally clever from the Mavs’ end, as Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have turned a creative out in Stackhouse’s contract into a four-time All-Star. With all of the pieces changing hands, this deal was way more complicated than it should have been, and it’s a credit to Mark and Donnie for sticking to it and getting Marion to Dallas.
Kris Humphries could be an interesting role player for the Mavs, and his presence has to make you question whether Brandon Bass and/or James Singleton really have a place with Dallas next season. I’m personally big on both players over Humphries, but the Mavs are obligated to cut the check to Kris. That gives him the edge to not only stay on the roster, but to fulfill a role as a reserve forward. With Shawn Marion also a shoe-in for minutes at power forward, this could be the nail in the coffin for hopes of Brandon Bass being a Maverick in 2009-2010. Bass wants the money and the minutes, and though the Mavs may be able to give him a competitive offer, he’ll likely be scrapping for minutes with Dirk, Marcin Gortat (supposing the Magic don’t match the Mavs’ offer), Erick Dampier, Kris Humphries, Shawn Marion, and possibly Ryan Hollins. That’s a bit of a log-jam, and likely too much of one to generate any kind of intrigue in Bass’ camp. James Singleton remains a more likely candidate, for no other reason than the commitment (in almost all senses) to him would likely be minimal.
I hope everyone’s ready for some commotion, because things could be happening very fast in Mavs Land.
First, Eddie Sefko dropped a hint in his afternoon chat, even if he later claimed the Marion deal had a 50% probability of completion:
Well, I have it on good authority that the Mavericks think they are on the lip of the cup with the Marion stuff.
Next, Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the best in the biz as far as I’m concerned, is reporting that a sign-and-trade involving Stack and Marion is warming in the oven.
The Dallas Mavericks are close to acquiring Shawn Marion in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors, league sources said Wednesday. Jerry Stackhouse will be dealt to the Raptors, who will ship his contract to another team for considerations.
Woj also notes the involvement of a third team, which I still don’t understand. Toronto can’t take back salary because of the lack of wiggle room with Hedo Turkoglu’s contract, so that means a team with cap space or a trade exception will likely be the recipient of Stack’s contract. What’s in it for that third team is yet to be determined, but I’m anxious to see what enticed them to give this deal legs.
The involvement of a third team could also mean that Kris Humphries and Marcus Banks are not part of the deal, which would be an interesting development.
The Marion-to-the-Mavs rumors clearly aren’t ready to die, but there are some considerable snags. Before the Mavs find success at the negotiating table or on the court, there are going to have to be some changes in approach.
As you, oh intelligent reader, probably already know, the Raptors are not able to sign Hedo Turkoglu until they renounce the free agent rights of Shawn Marion. The proposed deals coming from our end are centered around Jerry Stackhouse’s unguaranteed contract, but even his deal comes with a $2 million cap hold and an equal monetary commitment. It’s not much in NBA terms, but it would be enough to step on Toronto’s toes; The extra $2 million would inch the Raptors closer to the salary cap and prevent them from signing Hedo to his proposed contract.
So essentially, the Mavs have two options, which could conceivably be used in conjunction with one another:
The Mavs and the Raps re-work the deal to include another Toronto player, and said player would need to make at least $2 million in the 2009-2010 season.
The Mavs and the Raps need to get a third team in on the trade, optimally with a trade exception or cap room.
It seems like a short list, but those two factors could very well kill any dreams of Marion in Maverick blue.
First, let’s look at the players on the Raps that could reasonably be included as throw-ins in the deal, as well as their salary obligations:
Forward Kris Humphries, $6.4 million over two years (player option for the second year)
Point guard Marcus Banks, $9.4 million over two years
Shooting guard Anthony Parker, unrestricted free agent who could be signed-and-traded
Forward Joey Graham, unrestricted free agent who could be signed-and-traded (Graham would be a base year compensation player and would need to be included with another player)
Not a long list, and not a particularly appetizing one. The Raptors apparently want to get out from under the considerable weight that is Marcus Banks’ contract, but that’s a bit of an unnecessary strain on a team that looks to have pretty good cap flexibility from here on out. It’s also a bit more damaging to a team over the luxury tax, which the Mavs are likely to be. Still, it’s worth noting that if the Mavs’ are willing to take on Marion’s new contract, they’re likely ditching their plans to be actors in 2010 via straight up cap space. Any plans on the big free agent market would come through Erick Dampier’s incentive-based contract, a latent prize that David Lord broke down earlier this week. That means that taking on Banks’ deal would really only hurt the Mavs in the wallet.
Taking back Kris Humphries wouldn’t be ideal, but it’s a lighter blow to Cuban than Marcus Banks would be. Then again, all of these proposed deals floating around are laced with a few assumptions: For one, that Marion would be willing to accept an offer substantially less than the one Toronto gave him (maybe starting at $6.5 mil). Also, the Mavs would almost be required to include another player to make the numbers work, and Shawne Williams seems to be the only truly expendable candidate. That first assumption in particular could be a giant leap of faith, given Marion’s deep-seeded desire to get those dolla dolla bills, and his storied insecurities as a player. Those insecurities can be quelled with an over-sized check, a photo-op, and some back rubbing, but it’s in the Mavs’ best interest for the long-term to commit as little as possible to an aging Marion. Bargains are the name of the game, and inking Shawn Marion to a deal starting around the $8 million/year mark the Raps offered would be a mistake.
Joey Graham is pretty much a non-option due to base year compensation rules (even if the Raps give him a deal to balance the $2 mil for Stack’s cap hold, he’d only be valued at his former contract’s price tag for trade purposes…making a trade with him much more difficult than it has to be.), but Anthony Parker is an intriguing option. The Raptors (and likely Colangelo, in particular) are looking to do right by Marion and his agent, Dan Fegan. It’d also be nice to shed some of the salary guaranteed to either Banks or Humphries. But if the Raptors are truly interested in maintaining their business relationships with important agents, they might consider doing the same for Henry Thomas. Thomas happens to be the agent for Anthony Parker and one Chris Bosh, with whom the Raptors are hoping to nurture a long-standing relationship into an even longer-standing contract next summer. If we’re all trying to play nice here, the Raptors could conceivably include Parker in some kind of modified deal. It makes the numbers a bit more complicated, but the returns from the Mavs’ perspective are even more valuable.
Naturally, that assumes that Parker actually wants to come to Dallas, which hasn’t even been rumored. It also assumes that Parker would not be able to get a chunk of someone’s midlevel exception, a fact which we won’t know and can’t know until late in the summer. The Raptors clearly need to get this deal done in a jiffy in order to finalize things with Hedo Turkoglu, and waiting for Parker and his Henry Thomas to get a read on the market would not be the way to facilitate that. So while the incentives may be there for both teams to get Parker involved, it seems like a near impossibility.
If the Mavs and Raptors remain the only teams involved, it’s going to take a concession. Either Cuban will have to bite the bullet and take Banks’ contract on the books, or the Raptors will need to take a back-seat in trade talks and make the deal for Marion’s sake. Considering that their only real motivations for getting this deal done (sans shedding Marcus Banks) are professional courtesy, I’m not sure how willing the Raptors will be to play ball. I guess we’ll find out in the next few days.
But that brings up another point that’s been bugging me: The much touted answer to the stalls in trade talks has been the proposed inclusion of a third team. The Raptors clearly have some vested interest in getting Marion where he wants to go, but what incentive would a third party have in this equation? The easiest solution to the numbers game is to get a third team involved, but what reason could the Mavs give them to stay on the phone?
Trade exceptions and cap space are both valuable commodities in the NBA, and it would take quite a few favors for another GM to forfeit that commodity for nothing. If a third team took on a contract or two in the deal, what would they get in exchange? Stack’s virtually expiring contract, which is $2 million more than they would have been paying otherwise? A few second round picks, which could either bite the Mavs in the future or pan out as practically nothing? The Mavs and Raptors would essentially be asking a third team to take on salary with little or nothing to show for it, while possibly sending something to the Raptors to make it worth their while. For a GM, that’s somewhere between fiscally irresponsible and just plain dumb. Just to make matters worse, four of the eight holders of trade exceptions are Western Conference rivals (Houston, L.A., Portland, Denver). And as for the teams with cap space, I think it’s safe to say that Portland would be out of the equation, both for their vested interest in the Mavs staying right where they are and what could be some bitterness about Turkoglu’s bolt in the night. Without those teams’ involvement, the potential for finding a third team willing to cooperate declines substantially. The motivation isn’t there for a third team to get involved, so don’t expect a savior to come rushing in at the 25th hour to fly Marion to Dallas. The logic just isn’t there without a major restructuring of this deal.
Stay frosty for an analysis of where Marion might fit on this team if he does find a way to Dallas.
Phoenix has also fielded calls from other teams that have inquired about [Shaquille] O’Neal, including the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks. While getting talent in return is a priority, the Suns’ desire for financial relief is real, which means they will likely trade O’Neal and his $20 million contract this offseason.
…Dallas could send the Suns Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier, but the Suns have little interest in the Mavericks’ plodding center, especially since he has two years and more than $23 million left on his contract. [emphasis mine]
First things first: the reason why Dampier is a valuable trade chip is because that second year on his contract that Broussard cites is actually unguaranteed money. Damp is very nearly a free agent, and that’s likely the only reason why he’d turn a head in the trade market.
But I wouldn’t read too much into the O’Neal rumors regardless. Broussard makes it crystal clear that the Suns aren’t willing to send away Shaq for savings alone, as doing so would be Steve Kerr leveraging the franchise straight into the ground. He broke up the core, brought on the departure of a beloved coach, and changed the style; getting rid of Shaq isn’t just admitting defeat, but admitting that no small move can make things right. It’d send a bad message to Steve Nash, to Amare Stoudemire, and to the fanbase (including those ever valuable season ticket holders).
Damp and Jerry Stackhouse are the trade chips most often linked to O’Neal and his mammoth contract, and it’s unlikely that saving a few bucks will be enough to inspire Kerr to send his career into a tailspin. Robert Sarver may pull a lot of puppet strings with dollar signs in his eyes, but I just don’t see this one happening in the name of a few million. If the Mavs somehow included a signed-and-traded Bass, that’s a possibility. If they include Josh Howard, that’s a possibility. If they even included J.J. Barea, the Suns might pay attention for a few seconds. But Dampier and Stackhouse alone? I wouldn’t count on it.
The Mavs have been linked to the Wizards and their number 5 pick in the draft for sometime now, with Jordan Hill’s name making the rounds. Most indications point to Hill being a solid basketball player, but he’s hardly bound for stardom; Hill’s strengths are matched by sizeable limitations, indicators that Hill may be a contributor on the next level but won’t sniff the glory his price tag suggests. If the Mavs can snag Hill for a combination of expiring deals, that’s spectacular. But with Washington poised to make a run at the playoffs with a healthy Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood, how does that even seem like a remote possibility? Dumping the contracts of a player like Etan Thomas may seem like an attractive possibility, but does a pure salary dump really make any sense with the Wiz over the cap for the foreseeable future and almost certainly above the luxury tax line?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the incentive from a financial perspective. For Abe Polin and the Wiz’s ownership, saving a dollar is saving a dollar. But does it really make sense to sell out the 5th pick for only the slightest of profit margins? Unless Josh Howard or Jason Terry are involved, a swap for the no. 5 just doesn’t seem to make much sense at all for Washington.
Beyond that, what sense does it even make for the Mavs? Hill will be able to play immediately, but he can’t be expected to be an especially effective starter. Playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, and Jason Terry would seem beneficial to any rookie, but we still can’t expect Hill to make a tremendous amount of noise during his rookie campaign. Maybe the thought process is that he doesn’t have to for the Mavs to be successful. I wouldn’t be too sure. If the Mavs move either Terry or Howard for Hill, it’s certainly a step down. If they move Erick Dampier for Hill, it’s likely a lateral move for the first year at best. The only exception would be a salary dump deal centered around Jerry Stackhouse, but that seems like an impossibility given the value of such a high pick (even in an off year). Jordan Hill isn’t the type of talent that’s worth setting the team back, especially during the later stages of Dirk, Kidd, and JET’s careers. He’s likely not going to turn into an otherworldly force that could justify that commitment and that sacrifice, and trading members of the current core for him would be a pretty big mistake.
All that said, what if Hill really isn’t the apple of the Mavs’ eye? What if, in a bit of pre-draft shenanigans, the Mavs are insistent upon raising a Jordan Hill smokescreen?
Blake Griffin will be off the board, and Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet could likely be as well. The Kings have been linked to Rubio, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Jonny Flynn, and Alf. So who exactly may be left at 5? Better players than Jordan Hill, that’s for damn sure.
Personally, I’d like the Mavs (supposing a trade up in the draft can actually be had) to take one of two players.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
The first is James Harden. Harden is essentially what the Mavs crave in a shooting guard, but he’s way out of their league pick-wise. Harden’s a surefire top 5 pick in my eyes, combining a tenacious ability to score from long-range or around the basket with tough, physical defense and good size (6’5”, almost a 6’11” wingspan). He’s as close to NBA-ready as any prospect in the draft, especially those on the wings, and in my opinion he’d have a seamless plug-in into the starting lineup alongside Kidd and Josh Howard. He’s not lightning fast and he’s not oversized, but Harden’s style offensively and defensively and his size would make him an ideal candidate for a franchise 2-guard to succeed Terry.
The second, and to me the more intriguing, is Brandon Jennings. It’s dubious as to whether or not Jennings will even be available at 5 (although the same is true of Harden, who has been linked to the Thunder and even the Grizzlies), but Jennings being gone at 4 means that one of the other top prospects (Rubio, Thabeet, Harden…not Griffin) would have to fall to the 5 spot. Good news, meet good news.
Jennings is a real deal, fast as hell point guard. He’s confident, he’s skilled, and he once rocked the high top fade. He’s bold (even brash) and clearly a willing risk-taker. Jennings could be exactly the type of athlete that could usher in a new era of Mavs’ success, and I’m not alone in thinking he’ll be something truly special. He’s got the bravado and the skills to bring some serious star power to the franchise, and it’s time the Mavs start planning for life after Kidd. Whether or not that life begins this summer or in summers to come is up to the Mavs and Jason to decide, but assuming he can’t keep playing forever, a realistic successor needs to be waiting in the wings. He has the potential to be one of the league’s best point guards, and a playing style that would make him a killer off the bench in the short-term. Others may see the risk in Jennings, but from the tape I’ve seen of him, he’s a sure thing. This guy could be absolutely stellar as a NBA point guard, and I can only hope the Mavs can leap up the draft to nab him.
With either Jennings or Harden likely available, the logic behind picking Jordan Hill doesn’t stick. If you want an instant contribution, Harden is the man. He’s a cure-all at the 2, bringing the shooting that Antoine Wright lacks, the defense missing from JET’s game, and the size Barea can never fully compensate for. If you want star power, Jennings has it in spades. His game is tremendous, he’ll sell jerseys, and he’ll be your point guard for the next decade. There’s plenty to like in either candidate, and plenty to prefer over Jordan Hill. Can Hill be productive in the NBA, and, can he even compete at the center position? The Mavs already have enough of a minutes problem at the 4 with Dirk and Brandon Bass, and if Hill doesn’t pan out as a good enough interior defender (the evidence, but statistical and anecdotal, doesn’t go in his favor), the Mavs are put in quite a pickle. It’s one thing if Hill is simply a Brandon Bass insurance policy, safeguarding the team from a compensation-less departure from Bass. But it’s another entirely if the Mavs plan on making Dirk, Bass, and Hill coexist peacefully in the minutes column and on the defensive end. Why take that chance when there are better prospects available? Why force Hill to play out of position when a natural 2-guard and the point guard of the future are right at your fingertips? The answer lies either in a smokescreen or under layers of psychosis in a Mavs front office deluded into false prophecies of Hill’s success alongside Dirk. Some of that success may be found, but at what cost?
Another interesting tidbit of information coming out of the NBA Combine in Chicago revolves around the Dallas Mavericks and potential interest they may have in Arizona power forward Jordan Hill. The rumor mill indicates that Dallas is seriously considering making a move to acquire the ultra athletic junior, and views him as exactly the type of tough, active rebounder they are missing in their frontcourt rotation at the moment. Brandon Bass currently fills that role for them, but they may not be able to keep him and still maintain ample cap space for 2010…Hill’s measurements (6-9 ¼ without shoes, 7-1 ½ wingspan, 9-0 standing reach) in Chicago confirmed the notion many people had that he will have no problem seeing minutes at center in today’s NBA…One team that could reportedly help Dallas move up high enough to pick Hill is the Washington Wizards at #5, a team they already have a history with making draft-day deals…Dallas can offer either the non-guaranteed contract of Jerry Stackhouse to help the Wizards reduce payroll next year (while taking someone like Mike James or Etan Thomas off their hands) or they can help the Wizards by providing a veteran like Josh Howard or Jason Terry if it’s experience and scoring punch they are after. Either move would allow the Mavericks to stay flexible from a financial standpoint as they look towards the free agent class of 2010. They can also dangle their first round pick (#22).
Two big game sevens today, and both should be great games. Here’s to hoping for a Rockets’ upset (don’t mess with Texas) and that the Magic actually show up to play. It’s practically illegal to root for the Lakers or Celtics if you have another team.
Bethlehem Shoals of The Sporting Blog had a great post during my mini hiatus on Jason Kidd’s confusing status as quality, underrated point guard/aging star in decline: “Fine, when Dallas acquired him it was a calculated risk. Kidd wasn’t long for this league, and at first, didn’t mesh well with Dirk and especially Josh Howard. Then eventually they worked together, at least to the point where the Mavs could upset a Manu-less San Antonio and for a couple of games, trouble a Nuggets team that has “juggernaut” written all over it. Yes, it shows that Rick Carlisle is an excellent coach. But it’s also a testament to Jason Kidd’s abilities — and at the same time, quite possibly the last time we’ll get to see him make any meaningful use of them. Like Tas said, this might be the last hurrah. Why doesn’t anyone care about Jason Kidd anymore? It’s not because the media doesn’t love to dote on veterans, especially the great ones, when they’re at the tail-end of their primes. In fact, that’s when they somehow warrant the most superlatives. No, in this case, there are just too many young(er) point guards making noise in these playoffs for anyone to put on airs about an aged master. Heck, the league itself is too rich with point guards, and Chris Paul has not only already laid claim to Kidd’s mantle, but arguably has a chance to be the best ever. For Kidd, it’s just bad timing.”
Tim MacMahon of the DMN Mavs Blog: “The Great Free Agent Summer of 2010 is a backup plan at this point. Mark Cuban wants to strike now instead of letting another year of Dirk’s prime go by without the supporting cast he needs to make the Mavs legit contenders. The likelihood of convincing Jason Kidd to return also increase significantly if the Mavs can make a major deal early on this summer. The Mavs, according to Cuban, will be aggressive and opportunistic this summer. He has three significant expiring contracts to dangle: Josh Howard (team option for 2010-11), Erick Dampier (2010-11 not guaranteed) and Jerry Stackhouse, who is an especially valuable trade chip in these economic times because his $7 million salary can be bought out for $2 million.” Regardless, some salary will have to be moved around if the Mavs intend on being players in this summer’s trade market or the 2010 blowout. The numbers just don’t add up, otherwise. Damp and Stack appear to be prime candidates for relocation, but don’t be surprised to see Josh Howard and Jason Terry’s names in the trade buzz as well.
ESPN’s John Hollinger (insider): “There probably isn’t much Dallas could have done against the Nuggets, and Rick Carlisle squeezed about all he could from the Mavericks’ limited roster. But one thing he may kick himself for is not giving Brandon Bass a more extended run. Bass only averaged 19 minutes a game in the playoffs, but his production was monstrous — he ranks 11th among all players in postseason PER, right behind 10 rather prominent NBA stars. Bass closed things out with arguably his best performance, contributing 17 points and seven boards in 25 minutes off the bench. It was his third straight double-figure effort after being used sparingly in Games 1 and 2.” Here’s to hoping that Rick’s conservative use of Bass early in the series doesn’t come back to bite us in free agency.
David Stern will be looking into the possibility of more replay in the NBA, as well as a different system of stadium security for friends and family of visiting players. Obviously both are products of the Mavs-Nuggets series. Look, we’re making a difference!
Dirk Nowitzki, via AP: “After I played here for 11 years — played hurt, played sick, whatever they needed me to do, basically playing my heart [out] for the last 11 years — I don’t think it would feel the same way somewhere else,” Nowitzki said. “It’s always been my dream here to finish my career and win a championship. I think my window has not closed yet and I’ll still see what we can do.” The possibility of trading Dirk is so difficult to dissect because he really hasn’t done anything to warrant the speculation. That means that the onus is on others within the organization for failing to do their jobs. Professional sports are a strange beast in which players are asked to express undying loyalty to their teams, with no such guarantee of a team’s loyalty to a player. That said, I’d love for Dirk to retire a Maverick. I don’t know how anyone who has watched this team for an extended period could argue otherwise, given what he’s been able to accomplish as a player and a leader when given the short end of the stick.
Dirk may have made the official All-NBA 1st team, but according to a wide variety of statistical measures, Tim Duncan actually had a slight edge. Even more interesting though, is that those same statistical measures voted Jason Kidd to the 3rd team, over his playoff opponents Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups.
From Dave McMenamin of NBA.com: “‘If we could get [him] in a few different sizes, a team full of ‘Jets’ would be amazing,’ Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently told USA Today. ‘His value is off the charts.’”
From Hubie Brown of ESPN.com: “Not many folks would point to this, but the Mavericks have struggled with the loss of Jerry Stackhouse for most of the year. His absence took away the extra shooter that they needed to either start at the 2-guard position or come off the bench with Jason Terry so their bench would be productive night in and night out. That, to me, is their missing ingredient.” Umm…yeah. The problem is that Stackhouse’s production has been deteriorating in the last few seasons. A throwback Stack at full health would definitely help the Mavs, but this year’s model might just be another jumpshooting blackhole on a team overly reliant on jumpshooting. If the problem is a lack of bench contributions, I’m not so sure that the answer is lying right under the Mavs’ collective noses, Hubie.
Eddie Sefko brings up a point that I’ve tried to tackle, but ultimately remain undecided about on the DMN Mavs Blog: “I know the NBA is a fraternity and most players know each other well and even pal around in the off-season with each other, even though they aren’t on the same teams. Still, it was a little hard to swallow seeing Josh Howard, Jason Kidd and Jerry Stackhouse chatting, smiling and man-hugging Carmelo Anthony after Anthony had just torched the Mavericks for 43 points and while Antoine Wright was still trying to get at Denver’s J.R. Smith in the post-game walk to the locker room. It’s just not good form.”
Rick Carlisle on J.J. Barea (via Tim MacMahon of the DMN Mavs Blog): “‘A lot of this goes back to what’s needed from him by his national team. They need scoring. They need a dynamic leader, playmaker. He’s more of a scorer than a true point guard for that team…When you have a guy like that, my thing is always that you try to roll with things that he’s very good at and then along the way you try to get him tuned into some of the other aspects of the position. As the season’s gone on, you’ve seen him a lot less frequently get stuck in the air and have to make a split-second decision. He’s stayed on the floor. He’s more under control. He’s using change of speeds instead of all-out bursts all the time…That’s a sign of maturity, experience, and I think a willingness to adapt, because he’s played that one way most of his career.’”
Henry Abbott, on his TrueHoop piece entitled ‘The End-of-Quarter Killers’: “This is his list of 2008-2009′s (through play of 3/26/09) highest scorers on plays that initiated within the last 24 seconds of any quarter (with desperation heaves filtered out):
Chris Paul 98 points, on 92 plays (1.07 points per offensive action.)
Dwyane Wade 88 points on 106 plays (.83)
Brandon Roy 82 points on 68 plays (1.22)
Andre Iguodala 76 points on 77 plays (.99)
Devin Harris 71 points on 70 plays (1.01)
Lou Williams 70 points on 70 plays (1)
Nate Robinson 68 points on 83 plays (.82)
Vince Carter 65 points on 66 plays (.98)
Kevin Durant 64 points on 56 plays (1.14)
Jason Terry 64 points on 56 plays (1.14)
LeBron James 64 points on 82 plays (.78)
Richard Hamilton 61 points on 54 plays (1.13)
Kobe Bryant 60 points on 68 plays (.88)
Raymond Felton 58 points on 74 plays (.78)
Jarrett Jack 57 points on 56 plays (1.02)
Jamal Crawford 55 points on 56 plays (.98)
Paul Pierce 55 points on 49 plays (1.12)
Baron Davis 54 points on 70 plays (.77)
Ben Gordon 52 points on 56 plays (.93)
Randy Foye 51 points on 67 plays (.76)
Manu Ginobili 51 points on 48 plays (1.06)
Rudy Fernandez 51 points on 46 plays (1.11)
I bolded everyone who totaled more than 1.1 points per play, which appears to be a special threshold. Chris Paul just missed that cut, but at his size, and with that volume — everyone knows he’s little, and everyone knows he’s going to take the shot — he clearly has a special ability to elude the defense…the standouts here were mostly guys who play alongside superstars — perhaps they have a better chance of getting open? Jason Terry (27 on 27 plays), Roger Mason (24 on 24), Jeff Green (21 on 21), Andre Iguodala (31 on 32), Kevin Durant (18 on 19) and Fernandez (18 on 19). Superstars were less efficient: LeBron James has 33 points on 42 plays, Chris Paul 31 on 49 plays, Dwyane Wade 25 points on 46 plays (the lowest efficiency of the 19 biggest scorers in the last three seconds), and Kobe Bryant 18 points on 30 plays.”
OMG, Mark Cuban voices his displeasure with NBA refs via Twitter. Nothing about this is truly headline-worthy (Cubes not agreeing with officiating is fairly common practice, ‘new’ medium or no), but that didn’t stop everybody from running with it. In case you’re curious: yes, critical tweets are considered fine-worthy.
A fleeting thought from the Denver Game, courtesy of Tim MacMahon of the DMN Mavs Blog: “Dirk didn’t blame the fact that the Mavs were missing the NBA’s No. 4 all-time assists man for his struggles. It was just one of those rare nights when his jumper wouldn’t go down. ‘The looks were good,’ said Dirk, who had 26 points but was only 7-of-23 from the floor. ‘I just didn’t make them.’ He had an especially good look with seconds remaining and the Mavs trailing by a point. But he couldn’t hit his second game-winner in a week, as the shot he hoisted from near the left elbow went in and out. ‘I’ll take a 16-footer wide open for the game any time,’ said Dirk, who was 0-for-3 in the fourth. ‘The play was actually kind of broken up, which actually worked in our favor, because they were scrambling. We still ran our play, and I came off the double and was open. I’ve just got to make the shot.’”
After a two-game attempt last month to return from a painful right foot injury did not go well, Jerry Stackhouse has been working out twice daily on his own and said today he plans on rejoining the Mavericks Thursday in the Bay Area. That doesn’t necessarily mean Stackhouse will be ready to suit up and play Friday against Golden State. But he said his foot feels considerably better now than it did when he tried to come back earlier. “As a competitor, you’re always going to try to play sooner instead of later,” Stackhouse said. “But it definitely feels better now than it was the last time. It’s time for me to get back in the gym with the team and see where it goes from there.”…The Mavericks are trying to move up in the playoff seedings and Stackhouse said he can relate to what Josh Howard is going through now with a left ankle problem and Jason Terry went through earlier this month with a broken bone in his hand. It’s human nature to try to come back as quickly as possible. “Jet probably came back earlier than he should have and I talked with Josh and he may be trying to catch up with the team, too,” Stackhouse said. “We’re all pushing and clawing and fighting for the same thing and it’s frustrating not being able to be there to help.”
I don’t mind Stack dusting off the sneakers and hitting the floor to see what he’s got. By all means he’s earned it with his service to the Mavs. What I do mind is if playing time is handed to him at the expense of J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, or maybe even Antoine Wright, when he hasn’t earned it this year. Rick Carlisle has shown up to this point that he isn’t the type of coach to do that, but playing a vet like Stack may prove to be too alluring for even Carlisle’s will to endure. Give him some burn for appraisal reasons, but if it isn’t there, it isn’t there. Stackhouse was atrocious earlier this season, and several months of inactivity and plantar fasciitis aren’t the magic cure for offensive inefficiency.
It’s no hard feelings, Stack, but right now the team can’t afford to miss a step.
A wild, wild night in the lig. Devin Harris hit what many are calling “the shot of the year,” and I don’t think I can disagree. Nate Robinson scored 41 points off the bench, made a game-clinching layup, and has my head spinning. Carlos Boozer returned for the Jazz, and scored 2 points (technically he didn’t make a basket; it was a Josh Smith goaltend) to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. Tyson Chandler returned for the Hornets, and notched 15 points and 10 rebounds (albeit along with 5 turnovers). The Nuggets were absolutely punked by the Celtics sans Kevin Garnett. Wacky.
Jerry Stackhouse is down already…just as I was planning to publish a “What Should We Really Expect From Stack?” post. Oh, bother. I wasn’t terribly optimistic about his potential to return to his former self, and maybe these type of delays are a blessing in disguise to help us temper our expectations. Or maybe we’re just delaying the inevitable, and Stack’s eventual return will be accompanied by his blinders-on offensive mentality, only without the usual production. Fun. I’m hoping that Carlisle keeps his cool and does the same thing he’s done all season: refuse to accept the ‘given.’ It was given that Stack was going to be a contributor on this team, but he has to prove himself just as every other player on the roster did. He didn’t seem all that pleased with Stack’s play early in the season, and one can only hope that he makes stack earn his way into the game rather than handing it to him.
Jake of Mavs Moneyball compares the Mavs’ defense to the Spurs’. For most of the season, the Mavs matched up more favorably than you’d think. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that the Spurs defense isn’t quite what it once was. It does show that the Mavs have been subtly improving on that end since their midseason meltdown, but Jake is certainly right in assessing that the D doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
David Moore, with a friendly reminder on the DMN Mavs Blog: The trend extends even further. The Mavericks are 4-13 on the road against the best in the West since Jason Kidd’s arrival last February.
Tom Ziller warns you to “discount the Jazz at your own peril.”
Moore’s article for the Dallas Morning News continues with the same basic message, but goes further. Could the loss to the Rockets actually prove to be a stepping stone for Dallas’ road success to come?:”‘The formula has got to be there. You’ve got to play consistently on defense and rebound. Offensively, you’ve got to be efficient and you’ve got to score enough points.’ [Carlisle said.] That’s the problem. The Mavericks haven’t been consistent on defense on the road. Their offense has been sporadic. Their bench has been erratic. But there are signs of improvement, such as Friday’s 93-86 loss in Houston. ‘Well, look at that game,’ Kidd said. ‘We put ourselves in position coming down the stretch, but didn’t execute and turned the ball over…It’s there. We’re right there. It’s a matter of staying with it.’”