Heard It Through the OPENING DAY Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 26, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie previews the Mavs’ season, which he pegs for 52 wins (though Dwyer notes that such a mark is easily beatable by this collective): “…as much as age sets in, and as much as a lack of depth will likely keep the Mavericks away from the ranks of the championship contender, Dallas will still field a sound rotation of basketball players that will give them a chance to beat every team – every single one of them – soundly on any given night. Even if Jason Kidd won’t be able to pop jumpers all night as a threat off of a screen and roll, and if Dirk finally does decide to not act like an All-NBA player, the core is good enough to keep this team competitive, and in the race for that distant second spot behind the Los Angeles Lakers.” Also, the Brian Cardinal picture is worth a click-through alone.
  • Check out The Basketball Jones’ season preview for the Mavs, and while you’re at it, the Jones’ first full-length episode of the season. Rejoice!
  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “I suppose there is a fine line between being ‘detail-oriented’ and being a ‘dictatorial control freak.’…let’s put Rick Carlisle and the Mavs coaching staff in the former category, shall we? Remember one of Rick’s main gripes about his players in the San Antonio playoff series: Dallas didn’t win its share of the “50-50 balls,’’ that is, the loose balls on the floor that can be gathered up to gain or retain possession, that can be fast-break starters, momentum-grabbers, game winners. On Sunday, guess what the Mavs worked on? Hustle and angles and attacking, all as they relate to loose balls. A basketball version of football’s ‘fumble drills,’ basically.”
  • Von Wafer (Celtics), Mo Ager (Timberwolves), Jeremy Lin (Warriors), D.J. Mbenga (Hornets), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Hornets), Shawne Williams (Knicks), and Malik Allen (Magic) all made opening day rosters. Jake Voskuhl, Dwayne Jones, J.R. Giddens, and Joe Crawford did not. (Thanks to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside for compiling a hell of a list.)
  • From Sports Illustrated’s “NBA Enemy Lines” feature, in which an opposing scout gives his take on a given NBA team: “Their big pickup, Tyson Chandler, is important to them because teams anticipate being able to penetrate from the top against Kidd, Terry and Barea, who all have a hard time keep anybody in front of them. So now the Mavericks should be able to bring over a big guy to meet the penetration, whether it’s Chandler or Brendan Haywood. The fundamental problem remains on the perimeter, but at least now they have some long and mobile big guys who are capable of changing shots. Haywood doesn’t excite anyone too much, but he’s serviceable as a long guy you have to shoot over. I hear people saying he’s soft, but I think that’s a bad rap. He’s effective and he has a nice right hook. Most of the time he’ll be able to turn to that shoulder and get off the shot whenever he wants.” For the record, haven’t heard much of anyone calling Haywood soft. You?
  • A handy tidbit from Jason Terry (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “We have 17 of 26 games at home to start the season, so we need to set a tone.”
  • Shawn Marion has a lot of faith in Tyson Chandler’s ability to make an impact on defense.
  • Tyson Chandler, from his official site: “To do that, we have to have strong leadership and it’s been great working with a dedicated owner like Mark Cuban. Cube, as we call him, is dope. He’s a cool-cat. He obviously loves the game and he loves to be around it. We know that we have a passionate owner and that’s always a good thing. His only motivation is to win championships…I’m so happy to get a chance to play with two of the best in the game at what they do in Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. J-Kidd is the ultimate professional. He comes in to work every day and he sees things that I don’t even know if a coach can see. But he sees them in real time, right there on the floor, in the flow of the game. He’s an incredible passer and he’s definitely going to improve my game. Dirk has always been an incredible scorer and an assassin on the offensive end and that’s coming from me being on the other side. Now, getting to watch that daily, I see why he’s one of top players in our league. He’s almost unstoppable.”
  • Mark Followill’s scouting report on Dominique Jones for DallasBasketball.com: “Jones has the strength, tenacity and desire it would appear to defend well at this level, although he has been caught reaching a few times this preseason rather than playing solid defense by using his feet. The weakest part of his game right now is definitely the outside jump shot. Improving that doesn’t appear to be a mechanical issue, but more about spending time in the gym working on it and developing confidence.   I’ve seen some good decisions from him with the ball when he drives in terms of passing. I don’t think that makes him a point guard, but its good he can make smart decisions if he is going to be getting down into the paint with regularity.”

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 10, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Rodrigue Beaubois reflecting on Game 6 of last season’s playoffs, in which Rick Carlisle opted to sit him in favor of Jason Terry and Caron Butler (via Eddie Sefko): “It’s some tough choices for coach,” he said. “If we had won, it would have been great. It’s just a coach’s decision. I just need to be ready when they call my name. For sure it was difficult. It was a very important game and we lost it. It was tough. I was feeling great. But it’s all good. That was last year. I’m focused on this year.”
  • A few other notes from the same Sefko piece: Beaubois fully intends to play for the French national team next year as they attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and though he’s no longer using crutches, he’s still in a protective boot.
  • Mark Cuban, and his $100,000 donation to the city of Dallas. Cool, but as Trey Kerby noted at Ball Don’t Lie, it may not be entirely altruistic.
  • Joe Crawford, whose rights the Legends selected in the D-League expansion draft, has been invited to camp with the Sacramento Kings. J.R. Giddens, who played for the Mavs’ summer league team, has also been invited. The Kings are clearly looking for a prospect to survive the intra-camp competition, as Luther Head, too, has been brought in to compete for a roster spot.
  • In the latest edition of The Works, Tom Ziller and Bethlehem Shoals revisit the Z-graph, an illustrated representation of position-based skills.
  • Dirk Nowitzki will do voice work for one of the worst shows on television.
  • Josh Howard still dresses like Josh Howard.

Selection Monday

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 31, 2010 under News | Read the First Comment

The Texas Legends participated in a peculiar one-team, ten-round expansion draft on Monday, in which Nancy Lieberman and her staff had their pick of the L.A. D-Fender litter. The Legends now own the rights to 10 former D-Fenders. Those 10 players are, according to a release from the team:

NameHeightWeightCollegeAge
Keith Clark6-8245Oklahoma23
Joe Crawford6-5210Kentucky24
Michael Fey7-0270UCLA27
Ryan Forehan-Kelly6-6195California30
Gabriel Hughes7-0240California30
James Peters6-8215UNLV29
Frank Robinson6-4220Cal-State Fullerton26
Diamon Simpson6-7230St. Mary's (CA)22
Dar Tucker6-4205DePaul22
James Wright6-1185Colorado29

For those keeping track at home, the D-Fenders not selected were: Lawrence McKenzie, Ray Reese, Rodney Webb, and Horace Wormely.

The Legends still do not have a roster. Though they now own the rights to the selected 10, not all of those players will be in the D-League next season, much less in Frisco. As Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside noted last week, Diamon Thompson, Michael Fey, Ryan Foreham-Kelly, and Frank Robinson have already signed contracts to play overseas next season, and thus will likely pass on the opportunity to play for the Mavs’ affiliate. Of the remaining six, some will at least make it to Legends camp, though it’s unknown how many of those players will actually make the final roster.

The Legends have begun to take shape. Even if, for the moment, that shape is something of an amorphous blob.

UPDATE: Here’s Schroeder’s take, again from Ridiculous Upside.

The Shallow End

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 27, 2010 under News | 2 Comments to Read

We knew that the genesis of the Texas Legends’ roster could somehow be connected to that of the now-defunct Los Angeles D-Fenders. We also knew that an expansion draft could be an important formative step for the Legends. What we didn’t know is that those two would methods of acquiring players would actually be one in the same, as the D-League announced on Thursday. There will be a D-League expansion draft for the Legends benefit after all…with a 14-player pool comprised of solely former D-Fenders.

From the team release:

The roster for the inaugural Texas Legends season, which tips off in November, will begin to take shape by way of an Expansion Draft, it was announced today. The 14-player expansion draft pool is made up of solely of the returning players from the 2009-10 Los Angeles D-Fenders, which will be on hiatus for the 2010-11 season.  Included in the pool are guard Dar Tucker and center Michael Fey, two of the 30 players invited to the 2010 NBA D-League Elite Mini-Camp, held in June in Chantilly, VA.

…“This is another step towards our inaugural season,” Legends Owner Donnie Nelson commented.  “The D-Fenders had a number of very talented players who have a real chance to develop into NBA athletes.  The opportunity to draft their rights is the first step towards forming our team.”

Essentially, the Legends will have the right of first refusal on all of the D-Fenders, and there should be plenty of refusing. L.A. had the worst record in the Western Conference last season (and the second-worst record in the D overall), and the overall talent of the roster reflects that. I’m sure some of the D-Fenders will end up with the Legends to start the season, but don’t mistake this for anything more than the most basic of starter kits.

Available for the picking are Dar Tucker (also known as he who did this), Michael Fey, Joe Crawford, Diamon Simpson, Ryan Forehan-Kelly, Gabriel Hughes, Lawrence McKenzie, Frank Robinson, Horace Wormely, James Wright, Keith Clark, James Peters, Ray Reese and Rodney Webb. You can view all of their statistical information here, but keep in mind that someone has to produce on every team, even the second worst in the D-League.

UPDATE: Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside ranked the top 10 D-Fenders and described them in greater detail. I’m inclined to defer to him on these matters. Follow along with Schroeder as he briefly explains each of the top 10 options, their relative standing, and why it makes sense to draft the rights of some players that have already signed deals to play overseas.