Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 4, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Josh Howard (via Art Garcia): “No matter what was said about me, people never knew me.” Howard also says that he doesn’t think he was appreciated by the Mavs’ front office.
  • Rolando Blackman has joined the coaching staff of the Turkish national team as an assistant.
  • From @mavstats: Out of 173 fourth-quarter free throw attempts last season, Dirk missed only seven. That’s good for 96-percent.
  • Basketball-Reference.com is now including photos on some of their player pages. Tim Thomas’ is a classic. (Hat tip: Tom Haberstroh)
  • On ESPN.com’s Future Power Rankings (assessing which NBA teams have the brightest future overall, not merely looking to next season, Dallas was ranked 14th. About what you’d expect from a strong, but fairly old roster with just one young player of note: “The Mavericks continue to be more of a “now” team than a team looking to the future, which explains their low-ish ranking for a contender…The Mavs’ up-and-comers consist of one guy: 21-year-old point guard Rodrigue Beaubois, whose potential is still a question mark. On the financial front, the free-spending Mavs are projected to be over the salary cap until 2011 or, more likely, 2012. The good news for Dallas fans is that owner Mark Cuban is creative and has perpetually found ways to keep the Mavs competitive. After 10 consecutive seasons with 50 or more wins, this is a hard franchise to count out.”
  • Shawn Marion with Kid Rock. Just because.
  • The Mavs have a new official off-site blog called Mavs Fast Break. Looks to be more or less the same coverage from Earl K. Sneed and a few others, but with a new layout that should make everything easier to find.
  • Andres Nocioni is on crutches because of his involvement with Argentina’s national team. This is every NBA owner’s/GM’s/coach’s nightmare: players injuring themselves while doing anything other than playing for their team. Fingers crossed that Beaubois, Mahinmi, and Ajinca can avoid Noc’s fate this summer.
  • Coincidentally, the Wizards had to renounce the rights to James Singleton so that they could re-sign Josh Howard. However, even without his rights, the Wizards are still considering bringing back James Singleton for next season.
  • Dan Shanoff (via J.E. Skeets): “The NBA has done a spectacular job of turning itself into a 11-month-a-year league. Beyond the regular season and playoffs, there was the John Wall Lottery in May, the Draft in June, July’s free-agent insanity…And even into August — which should be a dead zone — the league has three things it can stand on: The schedule release (yesterday, which was big enough), the World Basketball Festival (in two weeks) and, of course, Shaq about to sign with the Celtics.” This couldn’t be more true in the wake of the free agent bonanza. The FIBA World Championships are right around the corner, and from there we’ll practically roll into training camp and media day. All of this is to say something I’ve noted many times before in this space: there has never been a better time for information-hungry basketball fans. There is so much worthwhile analysis out there to consume on a daily basis (even in the off-season), and it’s all readily available with a few keystrokes. The fact that the NBA is now relevant for so long plays a big part in that.
  • Make a note: Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle are releasing another Basketball Prospectus annual. A must-buy for serious NBA fans, particularly those of you out there that are statistically inclined.

UPDATE:

  • Mark Cuban on allowing NBA players to participate in international competition (via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, hat tip to DOH at Mavs Moneyball): “I think there is zero upside as a league. We are allocating our best players to work for another corporation. I don’t see the logic. And as far as the argument that the World Championship builds demand, find me one fan who can name the players on the pre-Redeem Team squad. The only reason we allowed Tyson (Chandler) to play is because it’s a good rehab opportunity. So I guess if we only allowed players who were coming back from injuries and needed the rehab, I would be all for it.”
  • Jason Kidd, experimenting with a new look.
  • Dirk is the all-time leader in three-point shooters made by a player seven-feet or taller. Behind him? Andrea Bargnani. Bargs has a long way to go before catching up to Dirk, but he’s only 24 and has been shooting a lot more threes than Nowitzki. No question Dirk should go down as the seven-foot shooter to date, but if we look strictly at volume, Bargnani could definitely surpass Nowitzki in 3PM somewhere down the line (Link via ShareBro Skeets).

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 30, 2010 under Commentary | 10 Comments to Read

Josh Howard hasn’t been a Maverick for five months, and he hasn’t been a real contributor to the team for a bit longer. He had supposed attitude problems, frequent injury troubles, a few run-ins with the law, admitted drug usage, turned into a bit of a black hole on offense, scaled down his defensive intensity, and became a questionable locker room influence. Josh’s exit from Dallas was anything but graceful, and yet I can’t help but root for the guy. I hope he succeeds in Washington. I hope he finds what he wants out of his NBA career, and works hard to attain it. I sincerely hope he gets himself back into quasi-All-Star form, and proves everyone who ever doubted him — because of anything on or off the court — horribly, horribly wrong. I want to be wrong about Josh. I really, really do.

I just don’t think I will be.

Howard will likely never live up to what the Mavs wanted him to be, and his persistent injuries will play a big part in that. Still, even if he isn’t an All-Star, Josh can live out his NBA days in peace. He can find a new kind of success with the Wizards, even if it doesn’t quite match up to the promise he showed in the ’05-’06 or ’06-’07 seasons, or hell, even the 2009 playoffs. The flashes are definitely still there, but I fear that Howard has too many mental and physical hurdles to overcome in matching(much less besting) the player he once was. The complexion of his game is just fundamentally different, and while it’s rather difficult to pinpoint the source of that change, it’s what currently defines him as a player.

For Mavs fans, it was never about the admission of marijuana use. It wasn’t about the drag racing incident. It wasn’t about disrespecting the national anthem. It wasn’t about throwing a birthday party during a difficult playoff series. It was about Josh not playing well because he wasn’t playing like himself. It was frustration over one of the most important Mavericks rarely seeing the floor, and sometimes struggling to produce when he did. Mavs fans formed a bond with Josh when his rise coincided with the team’s, and they feared what it meant when he finally regressed.

For $4 million, the Wizards could have done so, so much worse. They needed a good small forward, and they got one. Josh needed a team, and he found one. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Washington will be his new home, but a new deal and a nearly clean bill of health (Josh won’t be ready for training camp, but should be good to go by October) give Howard something resembling a fresh start. Now it’s on him to make the most of it.

Please, Josh. Prove us all wrong.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 29, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 20, 2010 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

  • Dirk officially signed his new contract with the Mavs yesterday, and here are the yearly values, according to Eddie Sefko: $17,278,618/$19,092,873/$20,907,128/$22,721,381.
  • Congrats to Dominique Jones, who made the All-Summer League Team in Vegas. At the beginning of Summer League, we all figured Rodrigue Beaubois would be in thie position, but Jones’ offensive efficiency and defensive excellence weren’t necessarily surprising, but they’re definitely welcome.
  • Something about this picture is just…weird.
  • Omar Samhan on his decision to play professionally in Lithuania next season (via Jeff Caplan): “I didn’t have any offers for guaranteed money [in the NBA]. A lot of people wanted me to come to training camp, but they couldn’t guarantee anything. And, if I did make a team, I wouldn’t get playing time, I wouldn’t get a chance to develop a ton…So, it’s going to give me a chance to go over there for a year or two and really develop as a player. I plan on coming back and being an NBA player for the next 10 years.”
  • Jason Kidd will help out Team USA this summer. He just won’t, y’know, play.
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News has a featureish piece on Ian Mahinmi for those that aren’t acquainted with his career in Austin and San Antonio.
  • The Chicago Bulls are considering picking up Josh Howard for next season.
  • Shocker: Brandon Bass doesn’t seem all that happy with his role on the Magic. In such situations, I recommend actually learning the playbook and rotations.

UPDATE (10:29 AM CST):

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 8, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Mark Cuban explains why he thinks LeBron James will stay in Cleveland. His thesis: “When in doubt, go for the love.”
  • Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas: “Asked his goals for the coming season, Haywood laid it out there: 12-10-2 — as in 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots a game (and he added that he’d like to get closer to 2.7 or 3.0 blocks a game). Haywood has averaged at least 2.0 blocks only in the past two seasons. So, all of his stated numbers, if reached, would be career numbers and the Mavs would be thrilled.”
  • Count Rick Carlisle among those happy to have Haywood back.
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline thinks that the Mavs overpaid for Brendan Haywood, but with Mark Cuban cutting the checks, it hardly matters. I’d definitely agree than having Cuban as the owner gives the Mavs a hell of a fall-back plan. They’re always able to survive a bad contract or two by flat-out eating it, and that’s a luxury that only a few NBA teams can afford to do regularly.
  • Drew Gooden will wear #0 for the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Wizards, Nets, Heat, Knicks, Kings, and Clippers are all interested in signing Josh Howard. New Jersey, with Avery in the saddle…seriously?

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 1, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Regardless of whether Nowitzki wants fanfare or not, the Mavs have launched DFWDigsDirk.com for fans to show support for ze German. Nothing too special, but the Mavs’ official store is offering a 41% discount on all Dirk merch as part of Dirk’s honorary week.
  • Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “…I would be shocked if the Mavericks don’t hang around the hoop and try to get a rebound in the Chris Bosh situation. People have been downplaying Bosh because he may end up being a package deal with LeBron James. But Bosh met early today with Houston GM Daryl Morey and if the Rockets are making a push for Bosh on the basis of pairing him with a perhaps-healthy Yao Ming, the Mavericks can do better than that. If the package deal with LeBron falls through, the Mavericks should be in the hunt for the 6-10 hometown kid, even if he’s a little reluctant to play in his backyard and put that extra pressure on himself. Dirk would help him alleviate it.”
    Even though the Mavs may look like a better team on paper, the Rox are far and away the more likely Bosh destination. For one, Houston has a plethora of interesting assets (their own draft picks, the Knicks’ draft picks, young talent, expiring contracts) that could tempt the Raptors in a sign-and-trade, but the bigger issue is Bosh’s willingness to suit up for Houston. He’s a far more natural fit alongside Yao than he is alongside Nowitzki, and don’t think for a second that Chris doesn’t know that. Considering how set he is on playing power forward, he may be the least attainable free agent out there.
  • Even though the summer’s premier free agents give the Mavs a nice pipe dream to chase, the far more realistic option is an Al Jefferson/Andre Iguodala style trade without the red tape of free agency.
  • The Nets have signed Brian Zoubek to a make good contract, which guarantees him a spot in training camp but not a roster spot. Bummer. Devan Downey (Sacramento) and Mac Koshwal (Detroit) have also been picked up for Vegas Summer League.
  • According to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon, the Mavs were one of the teams to contact Matt Bonner. He wouldn’t be a bad get as far as bench bigs go, really.
  • Keep this page bookmarked, it will no doubt come in handy. This one, too.
  • Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that Miami and Cleveland have legitimate interest in Brendan Haywood, which appears to be true. However, he also reported (as did Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) that there was potential for a double sign-and-trade involving Brendan Haywood and Shaquille O’Neal, which was denied by Marc Stein. It makes sense; sources with the Cavs might indicate that a trade was in the works, because it’s likely that Cleveland would initiate such discussions. However, there would be no reason at all for the Mavs to entertain the idea of bringing in O’Neal.
  • In case you didn’t hear, Josh Howard is an unrestricted free agent. Sign-and-trade???
  • Two days later, and this is still hilarious.
  • Donnie Nelson clearly prefers veteran free agents to undrafted ones, and for obvious reasons. There are a number of intriguing veteran options to be had on the market for a chunk of the Mavs’ MLE, but I can’t help but wonder: does that also open the door for a D-Leaguer or two?
  • Caron Butler on Twitter, back on Tuesday a little before midnight: “About to check out twilight ill get back and let you’ll know what’s good holla”

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 15, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Mark Cuban is surprisingly receptive to the idea of Rodrigue Beaubois playing in the FIBA World Championships this summer, but his stance is a bit less surprising after considering his qualifier (via Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas): “I’m ok with it. I’ve always said that I would be fine with participation as long as there was a 23- or 25-year old age limit.” It actually makes a fair bit of sense; Dirk has never had serious injury issues during his career, but guys like Yao Ming, Manu Ginobili, and Pau Gasol have all had some kind of significant complication as a result of international play. There is a point where allowing players to play for their home country over the summer fails to make fiscal sense for the teams that employ them, and that’s a legitimate concern as players get older and older and need more and more rest.
  • Proof that people do buy Jerry Stackhouse jerseys…even if they are of the ugliest possible variety. The teal days were dark indeed for the Pistons.
  • Jason Kidd, on Avery Johnson becoming the next head coach for the New Jersey Nets (via Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News): “I think Avery is going to help give them structure and he’s going to be a big part of their success. He’s a good coach. He got the Mavs to the Finals. So it I think they’re going in the right direction…They’ve got a great coach, they’ve got a young team and they have a young owner who wants to win. So they have some of the pieces and now they just have to get some of the other pieces to be successful.”
  • During his introductory press conference this morning, Avery Johnson said that Devin Harris would likely be given more freedom to run the offense due to his familiarity with the system and his experience as a PG. If that actually ends up being the case, kudos to Avery for taking a step back to let the players run the show. If not, well, I can’t say I’d be all that surprised. This is the kind of thing Mavs fans have heard from Johnson before, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s doomed to fall into the same patterns, no one can blame an observer for thinking he might.
  • For those looking to really deck themselves out in official merch, MavGear.com (the Mavs’ online store) is selling all jerseys at 50% off. Consider it the perfect opportunity to grab that shiny, gold Josh Howard jersey you’ve had your eye on.
  • Courtesy of Sham Sports, two essential resources: a list of the NBA players with trade kickers in their contracts (including Shawn Marion, for you armchair GM types looking to deal him away) and a breakdown of the total committed salary for every NBA team going into this off-season.
  • Spotted: Our friend Shawne Williams trying to get back into the NBA by playing in the Bobcats’ free agent “mini-camp.”
  • UPDATE: The AAC could be paid off (by the city) by next year. Considering the initial bonds issued as payment were set to be redeemed as late as 2037, I’d say that makes the payment ahead of schedule.

Auld Lang Syne

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 25, 2010 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read


“I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?”

We’re more than a month removed from the Butler-Haywood trade, and it’s already easy to forget that it was also the Howard-Gooden trade.

Josh’s exile from Dallas was long-awaited and highly anticipated by some, but for all of his struggles late in his Maverick career, his six and a half year stint with the team was undoubtedly a success. Could Howard have accomplished more as a Mav? Absolutely. Those shortcomings are well-documented, and hardly need to be revisited here. But the positives — his emergence, his All-Star appearance, his influence in the playoffs even as recently as last season — deserve numerous reminders. I can’t help but feel that his successes will always be overcast by his failures and limitations, which is a shame.

Whether we remember it now or not, there was a time where this guy meant something to Mavs fans. He stood as a pivotal component of the Mavs’ future, and he ended up that way…even if his final function as a Mav was to bring in two very good players.

Caron Butler took up some editorial space in the Washington Post to give a final goodbye to his fans in D.C. Josh Howard didn’t quite do the same, but the sentiment in a post on his blog seems equally sincere (via commenter ‘pau’):

I reflect fondly on my time in Dallas.

It was a wonderful experience. I was just talking to somebody earlier about how in my rookie year Marquis Daniels and I came in with people like Steve Nash, Dirk of course, Michael Finley, Tony Delk, Travis Best, Antawn Jamison.

Those were the veterans that I came up under so I was able to learn a lot from the jump. Then I went through my career with Don Nelson and Avery Johnson as my coaches, then the last two years with Rick Carlisle.

Coach Carlisle and I agreed on a lot of things and we had a great relationship. I wish the Mavericks the best. The trade did them good just like I think the trade did Washington good until I got hurt. I’m a fan of the game and I’m glad they’re out there playing hard, doing what they’re doing. I learned so much from playing under those coaches and with that team, so I have the utmost respect for Dallas.

I may not miss the step-back jumpers, but I will miss Josh.

Drew Gooden is a bit of a different story. He’s no stranger to being dealt, as he’s now playing for his ninth team in eight seasons. One: that’s ridiculous. Two: that’s incredibly unfortunate. Three: those of us that haven’t been in the NBA really can’t even begin to understand exactly what that’s like, to be uprooted so many times with the subtext of every move being that you’re not integral and you’re not good enough.

It’s a business. I know. I’m sure that as a player, you can feed yourself that line to make everything a little bit easier. But nine times in eight seasons? With a tenth likely on the way this summer? That’s tough. Gooden deals with it well (“But there’s been nothing bad about what happened for me, playing on a lot of different teams.”), and maybe it honestly doesn’t matter to him. Maybe he’s a true mercenary, a gun for hire that makes few judgments on the specifics of his employer.

I don’t buy it. Art Garcia of NBA.com asked Gooden about his departure from the Mavs for NBA.com (emphasis mine):

I was kind of upset because I committed myself to the team and I was so focused on winning and making a run to get in the playoffs. I knew how valuable that was and I wanted to do whatever it took to help the team accomplish that goal. I totally committed myself and bought into what coach (Rick) Carlisle was saying from the time he brought me in here. To leave that way, I was highly upset.

That doesn’t sound like “nothing bad” has happened for him, it sounds like he was leaving a situation and a team that he rather fancied. And that team, or at least its leader, fancied him too (from Marc Stein’s piece on Gooden for ESPN Dallas):

Asked if the Mavs miss Gooden’s contributions off the bench, Dirk Nowitzki said: “Hell, yeah.”

That’s quite the glowing endorsement for Drew’s service as a Mav. And he was so close to coming right back to Dallas a la Ilgauskas, but it wasn’t in the cards. Gooden’s path continues to go where it’s always taken him: around the NBA to stop after stop, with teammate after teammate, playing for coach after coach.

Gooden was only a Maverick for about half a season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what he did for the Mavs. As with Howard, I think there’s a natural inclination with Gooden to point out what he can’t do without proper respect for what he can. He was able to play some center for the Mavs, which was absolutely crucial while Erick Dampier was sidelined with various injuries. He didn’t help the Mavs to a huge win streak during that time, but he helped Dallas to tread water at a particularly vulnerable time. Pretty important.

Neither Howard nor Gooden will see their number hanging from the rafters, and frankly the thought is a bit ridiculous. Each does deserve the appropriate amount of kudos, though, even a month removed from their Maverick exits.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 13, 2010 under xOther | 2 Comments to Read

  • First of all, congrats to Kevin and Farhan, the winners of the Two Man Game Giveaway.
  • If John Hollinger is wrong about the Mavs and they win it all, what effect does that have on the progress of the statistical community at large?
  • A note on point differential/winning close games to (hopefully) wrap up the Hollinger talk: the important thing that point differential demonstrates is not whether or not a team can win close games, though that’s important. It’s whether or not a team allows itself to get into those situations in the first place. Of course there are factors that will skew the numbers — fluffing free throws at the end of a win, late surges for the losers when the winning team puts in their garbage time players — but the data seems to, somewhat counter-intuitively perhaps, better describe the team’s performance during the meat of the game than the finale.
  • Bradford Doolittle presents the Norman Dale Index, a junk stat that quantifies a team’s fundamentals. Doolittle used five criteria to calculate the NDI: taking care of the ball (turnover percentage), defensive rebounding (defensive rebound percentage), free throw shooting (straight up free throw percentage), challenging the other team’s shots (opponent’s effective field goal percentage), and ball movement (team touches per minute). It shouldn’t surprise you to know that each of the five criteria are Maverick strengths, which by this somewhat crude measure makes Dallas the most fundamentally sound team in the NBA.
  • The Mavs have the most wins in the NBA this season after trailing by 10+ points (17). (via @mavstats)
  • Checking in with long-time friend of the Mavs and former scout extraordinaire, Amadou Fall.
  • Marc Stein on the Weekend Dime: “‘I’ve heard it. I’ve never agreed with it. That’s on you guys.’ Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, reflecting Wednesday night — after a come-from-behind victory over the Devin Harris-led New Jersey Nets — on the criticism he and the Mavs received throughout last season because Harris, now 27, was the centerpiece of a trade package Dallas surrendered to acquire Kidd at the 2008 trade deadline.It’s now a near-nightly occurrence for reporters to stop by Kidd’s locker and personally withdraw those sentiments, with the 36-year-old in the midst of a renaissance that has fueled the Mavericks’ 13-game win streak.”
  • A happy birthday to Caron Butler, who turns 30 today. A 14th straight win is as good of a present as any, right?
  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post (@MrMichaelLee): “I also asked Josh about DAL winning 13 games in a row. Howard smiled & said, ‘They got a streak going. Pretty good.’”

Musings on Sloan: Yesterday

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 10, 2010 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Sometimes it’s hard to get coaches, managers, and owners to speak up concerning the current goings-on of the team. Everything is played so close to the chest, and it’s almost like the media and the team stand diametrically opposed at times. Consumers of sports media want to know how things work — what went into making this decision, why this guy and not that guy, etc. — and ask the almighty “Why?” But the members of the team itself are also somewhat reliant on keeping that information internal. After all, you never know who might hear what, and specifics are, in this case at least, a team’s worst enemy.

But I applauded Mark Cuban’s willingness to talk about some of the Mavs’ decisions in the past, if only because it helps those of us on the outside to fill in the gaps. It’s nice to know why this or that was done, even if it’s a year or two later. And then again, sometimes when talking about decisions from the past, guys like Cuban still tip their hand a bit (perhaps intentionally). Read as much into this quote from Cuban as you’d like:

Sometimes [the players] need prompting [to figure out the best play], and the ones who don’t figure it out…I mean it’s true that’s a great point theres a subset of players that don’t figure it out, that cant figure it out, that don’t think. Those are the ones that are so blessed talent-wise that you try to make it work  — like we had Gerald Green. [To the Celtics' Mike Zarren] You guys have had Gerald Green.

I just look at him and think ‘Oh my God!’ There are things that he’ll show you that are just ‘Oh my God!’ and then he just doesn’t understand the game of basketball and hopefully he’ll figure it out someday but you just keep giving him those chances. He ran out of chances (so far) this last time.

On its own, I think he’s just talking about the hyper-athletic Gerald Green and players of his ilk. But this topic was a recurring theme for Cuban in many of his panels: a guy that just can’t figure it out, that doesn’t think on the court, that isn’t a smart basketball player. Now, I could be mistaken here, but I seem to remember a lot of similar criticism being lobbed at a guy who played for the Mavs not too long ago. It would be completely unfair of Mark to take explicit pot shots at Josh Howard through media channels, but would I put it past him to perhaps offer a veiled criticism of Josh’s game? Not at all.

I’m not sure if Cuban was looking to send a message or just got stuck on a particular topic at multiple panels. But that doesn’t stop Green’s story from being any less of a condensed caricature of Howard’s career. I wouldn’t dare play team psychologist here, but from where I’m sitting, Howard’s troubles always seemed to be more mental than physical. It’s undeniable that he faced a lot in rehabbing and returning from various injuries, but the game within the game has always been to keep Josh on the same page as everyone else. He was fed shot attempts early in the first quarter, and there’s absolutely no doubt that he was treated differently than other players. That’s what it took to keep him functioning as a member of the team, and so its what the Mavericks did.

They hoped he would figure it out someday but they just kept giving him those chances. Josh just ran out of chances this last time.