Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 11, 2010 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • Fish points out that Dirk Nowitzki is among the league leaders in plus/minus, and that is impressive. But even more impressive is that Dirk is among the league leaders in adjusted plus/minus, which keeps teammate quality and opponent quality as a control. Not too shabby at all. (Interestingly enough, Shawn Marion is second on the team in APM for a one-year sample size, although Jason Kidd trumps him in two-year production.)
  • And a bonus stat: if you take a look at the players in the league with the highest defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions for an individual player), you’ll find two Mavs in the top four. Coming in at number four is the understated Erick Dampier, who does more for the Mavs’ D than he will ever get credit for. But at number three? Dirk Nowitzki. It’s an imperfect metric, but it does speak to how far Dirk has come since his early days in Dallas.
  • All things considered, this is a solid attempt at recreating Dirk’s visage through hair. Yes, I just typed that.
  • Jason Kidd has blocked more shots this season than Brad Miller.
  • Pops Mensah-Bonsu, one-time Maverick and former fan favorite, finds himself cut from yet another team. A tough break for a good guy, and one with NBA-level talent at that.
  • As predicted, the Nets waived Sean Williams today as part of the Hump-Najera swap. Could they go for the twofer and cut Shawne Williams before the stroke of midnight?
  • Josh Howard (thigh) is practicing again and Drew Gooden should be active for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, but Tim Thomas is now among the walking wounded after landing on Gooden’s foot during practice.
  • Eric Freeman (who has succeeded Bethlehem Shoals over at The Baseline) on Eddie Najera as journeyman (featuring a quote from Najera originally from Chris Tomasson of FanHouse): “‘That would be the icing on the cake to go to a championship (contender),’ said Najera, speaking by phone from New Jersey, where he had been sent home from the Nets’ road trip. ‘Of course, if this opportunity (to go to Dallas) happens, then I would be really happy. But if it doesn’t, I also would be happy.’ This says less about Najera’s specific feelings about the teams and more about the life of a journeyman. When you’ve moved several times over your career, you learn to find the good in every situation. Maybe that turns playing professional basketball into more of a job than a dream, but it’s also the best way to stay sane.”
  • Mark and Sebastian over at NetsAreScorching are getting to know Kris Humphries a little better, thanks to a little help from yours truly. Venture over and see if there’s anything I missed, and feel free to leave your own thoughts on Hump’s game in the comments at NAS.
  • Najera on the trade (via Mark Francescutti at the DMN): “I think I’m the type of player that can perform on winning teams,” Najera told New Jersey media members. “Obviously, right now, [the Nets] need playmakers and I’m not that type of guy. We need one-on-one guys and I’m not that type of guy…I’m the guy that’s going to keep his mouth shut, have a good attitude and always come to work when he’s healthy and try to help win ball games.”
  • M. Haubs of The Painted Area on the Mavs’ team rebounding: “Slightly surprised the Mavs are not a better rebounding team currently. Have a great collection of rebounders on the roster, especially above-average rebounders at perimeter positons (Marion, Kidd, Howard). Granted, Howard has been dinged up, but still think Dallas should be better on the boards. Can’t ask much more from the center positon, where Dampier and Drew Gooden have been pounding the glass this season. Coach Carlisle needs to find a way to get some better rebounding efforts outside the 5-spot. Kidd is playing the same amount minutes as last year (35.6), but averaging one less rpg than last year. Not to mention, Shawn Marion is having the worst rebounding year of his career. Also, Dirk has slowly seen his reb. production decline over the last few years. Suffice to say, Dallas has been underachieving on the boards thus far, but the raw talent is there to improve internally.”

A Fond Farewell

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | 6 Comments to Read

If today should indeed mark the official end of Kris Humphries’ tenure as a Maverick, I want to send him off in style. Though Hump’s rebounding, energy, and highlight reel blocks and slams are reason enough to lament his departure, let’s be honest here. The real reason why Kris Humphries will be missed and remembered forever: he’s a stud muffin.

I know it, you know, it and the ladies in the D/FW metroplex sure know it. It’s common knowledge that all the girls want to be with Hump and all the guys want to be Hump. Facts just don’t get more factual than that.

And as such, seeing female fans display messages to Hump via signage or try to stand next to him in the huddle wearing a wedding dress was more or less commonplace. It’s simply a part of the stud lifestyle. And in honor of the Humphries era coming to a close, I’ve collected just a few of my favorite Hump-themed signs held by members of his adoring female fan base (all photos are 100% authentic and taken in-game at American Airlines Center):

(Re: This.)

Until next time, Hump. Stay studly.

Hidden in Plain View

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

The Kris Humphries-Eddie Najera swap is still pending league approval, but one of the latent benefits of trading two players for one is the open spot on the roster the Mavs now have the benefit of filling. More than likely, they’ll fill the spot with a minimum salary guy who will play very, very little, or they’ll fill it with a string of 10-day contract players before settling on someone they like. The point of all of this, remember, is to save a little bit of coin. So the Mavs will likely wait as long as possible before making any kind of monetary commitment, and then sign an efficient, low-baggage vet for as little money as possible.

I expect more. The classic move here is to find the vaunted “locker room guy”: a player-sage with experience and leadership who has mastered the art of playing without playing. He influences the mood and effort of others by having a positive impact on team chemistry, and he’s a net-gain to the franchise without playing many minutes. That’s all well and good, but I’d very much prefer the Mavs go for someone who’s younger and hungrier. They should try looking for a diamond in the rough, or at the very least a piece of quartz. You’ll find that while there aren’t many all-stars to be had on the open market in January, rotation players can be found if you look in the right places. And though right now the Mavs are likely only looking for a 15th to fill out the practice roster, provide chemistry intangibles, and to have another live body around, wouldn’t it be nice if said 15th man had rotation potential?

Luckily, I know just the place to start looking: the D-League. Consider me an advocate of the system and what it represents, and as you may remember, I’m particularly fond of Donnie Nelson’s venture into D-League ownership in Frisco. That said, while I like to escape to the D-League for some sightseeing, I decided to enlist the help of someone a bit more familiar with the landscape: Steve Weinman of the wonderful D-League Digest. Maybe at the moment, D-League ball doesn’t quite tickle your fancy. That’s cool, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But I hope you’ll acquaint yourselves more and more with the the league and the process over the next few months, if only because I think that the new Frisco affiliate can be very fruitful if used properly. Weinman’s work at the Digest is a fine way to do that, and though the specific players, teams, and match-ups may not interest you just yet, they’ll give you a feel of what’s to come. With a firm understanding of the system and a realistic set of expectations concerning what that system can produce (specialists, hustle players, and hopefully contributing members of a rotation), the Frisco experiment should prove to be a boon for the Maverick brass.

But I digress. In the meantime, the Mavs have a spot on the bench that needs filling, and a league full of prospects they could potentially do it with.

According to Weinman, “the place to start is with Anthony Tolliver – who might well be the best all-around player in the league.” Steve honed in on Tolliver (who you may remember from short stints with the Spurs last season and the Blazers this season) following his ubiquitous brilliance in a losing effort:

I can’t find a word more descriptive of Tolliver’s performance than “everywhere.” At 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, Tolliver is a large man, even by basketball standards. But the seven threes he took weren’t typical of the 21st century pseudo-bigs who hang around the perimeter waiting for kickouts. On several sets, he facilitated the Idaho offense from the top of the circle, displaying his deft ball-handling skills and comfortably creating his own outside shot off the dribble.  That he went just 2-for-7 from the three-point line can be forgiven because Tolliver has a fine track record as a bomber from deep: He shoots 40 percent from three for his D-League career and hit a scorching 47.8 percent of his attempts in the first week of the new campaign.

But this was no post-Detroit Rasheed Wallace-type showing either.  For as much time as Tolliver spent on the perimeter, he somehow seemed to be involved in everything that went on inside for the Stampede as well.  AT routinely established position down low, delivered several great feeds to cutters from the blocks, made a couple of post moves of his own and earned himself eight trips to the foul line.  Though he didn’t finish consistently around the bucket, he seemed to constantly materialize wherever the ball came off the rim.

It was Tolliver who sprinted to the sideline to snare long rebounds from unsuspecting Dakota guards and revive multiple Idaho possessions, and it was Tolliver who fought his way to loose balls amidst the pack inside as well. Defensively, we saw more of the same. One second, Tolliver was jumping out to double a guard on a high screen-and-roll; the next, he was waiting at the rim to provide help on penetration or swat a shot out of vicinity of the basket.

There are plenty of guys on the basketball circuit who can fill up a stat sheet, and Anthony Tolliver did his share of box score-stuffing on Wednesday night: 20 points, 17 rebounds (7 offensive), 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 6 turnovers. But to borrow the type of term Walt Frazier enjoys using, I can remember few other occasions when a player seemed as omnipresent as AT did on Wednesday. Given that he posts a career D-League true shooting figure near 60 percent, to think that he is often most of what he was on Wednesday night plus a considerably more efficient scorer is scary.

Tolliver is, in many ways, the class of the D-League. And though he doesn’t fit the Mavs’ most obvious need (another big man, preferably one capable of filling in minutes at center) in an obvious way, he could still be a nice addition to a team like Dallas. AT is probably best served playing in the big leagues as a combo forward, and he could essentially offer an alternative to Tim Thomas. That doesn’t give any extra rest to Erick Dampier or Drew Gooden (unless it involves Dirk sliding over to the 5), but it does fill the last spot in the rotation with a capable, versatile player that’s just 24 years of age.

In Tolliver, the Mavs could get another spot-up three-point shooter, a capable defender at either forward position, and a good defensive rebounder. He’s not a perfect player, but he has clearly defined strengths that could be of value to a NBA team. I just hope that NBA team is the Mavericks.

Weinman also offered three alternatives in the way of big men:

Rod Benson (Reno): He of the Boom Tho movement recently announced a halt to his blogging in an apparent effort to curtail any possible reasons for NBA teams to shy away from him. Long arms make him a very good shot-blocker in addition to being a solid rebounder.  There are many out there who are bigger fans of his game than I am – there isn’t a particular part of his game that has really wowed me when I’ve watched him this year.  He has a decent offensive game, and he has started working on Tim Duncan’s bank shot from the wings, which is a work in progress.  He’s a legit 6-10, although a bit more bulk and further refinement of his offensive game would make him a stronger candidate.

Dwayne Jones (Austin): Gets pooh-poohed a bit because he doesn’t have much to speak of in the way of shot-creation skills and certainly won’t be initiating his own offense at the next level.  Doesn’t really seem to dominate games at the defensive end, though he can definitely hold his own in that realm.  All that said, we’re talking about a guy with legitimate NBA size (6-11, 250 pounds) who is posting 17 points per game on better than 60 percent shooting from the field thanks to the fact that he hammers the offensive boards (more than six per game) and does a ton on put-backs and tips.  He leads the league in per-game rebounding at more than 15 per game (and yes, it would be great if someone out there were tracking rebound rate in the D-League, though the Toros don’t play an especially fast pace – so I don’t think the figure is too misleading).  Given that you don’t call a guy up from the D-League to dominate the ball or be some kind of star, I think this may be the guy for the spot if the decision to push for a big man because he’ll be able to do much of what he already does at the next level – scrap around for rebounds and get a few garbage buckets while forcing opponents to put a body on him on the offensive glass. Plus, he has the size to guard opposing bigs.

Carlos Powell (Albuquerque): The lefty has been an offensive dynamo all season, averaging nearly 23 points per game, and knocking down more than 34 percent of his threes in addition to doing plenty of scoring inside.  Problem is, he’s only 6-7 and more of a 3-4 tweener at the next level. And while he is a serviceable defender, I’m not sure he does anything aside from scoring that will be particularly valuable from a big man at the next level – and you’re not bringing a guy up to give him 20-30 touches per game.  This is a guy who wowed people at the Showcase and is headed for an eventual call-up, but he probably isn’t the one for this spot.

That said, Rick Carlisle may not be solely interested in an additional big man. Rodrigue Beaubois found a bit of playing time in the Mavs’ last two games, but Carlisle doesn’t seem quite ready to trust Roddy as the team’s third point guard. Supposing he wants to keep Jason Terry in his natural 2-guard position, picking up another PG would seem to be an understandable temptation. I’m all for the “FREE RODDY” movement, but Carlisle is a guy who knows what he wants; if he’s not ready for Beaubois to initiate the offense, then get him a third PG whom he is comfortable with. Since you mentioned some interest in a point guard:

Dontell Jefferson (Utah): Nearly universally regarded as the top choice for the next call-up…until the Jazz made the surprising call to bring up Idaho’s Sundiata Gaines last week. There were apparently some concerns about Jefferson’s knees, but if he is fully healthy, he’s the first choice at the one: Jefferson is a dynamic scorer and distributor who shoots the three-pointer well (39.7 percent from the field), defends and has great size at 6-5.  Can moonlight at the two as well.

Antonio Anderson (Rio Grande Valley): My personal favorite player in the D-League.  Not a point guard by nature, but he’s done plenty of ball-handling for an RGV team that regularly runs with three guards, and chats with the front office personnel from RGV while at Showcase last week yielded that they expect him to be a second or third-string point guard who can also guard twos at the next level.  Anderson is a terrific passer with great size at the point (he’s 6-6), which allows him to see passing lanes nicely over his man much of the time. He’s also an excellent defender whose shooting from mid-range and beyond continues to improve.  Just received Performer of the Month honors in the D-League, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t get a look at the next level down the stretch.

If Nelson, Cuban, and Carlisle see a superior player in the free agent pool, then so be it. I’m all about meritocracy, and if a player is talented and fits well in the system, then by all means. But the Mavs are doing themselves a great disservice if they don’t explore all available options simply because of convention. Veterans can add a lot to a team, but the Mavs have already traded Humphries’ youth and athleticism in favor of Najera’s savvy and leadership. Shouldn’t they use the remaining roster spot to regain a bit of that youthful energy in the rotation?

Passing Go

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 9, 2010 under Roster Moves | 3 Comments to Read

All indications show that Monday will be Kris Humphries’ last day as a Maverick, making his time in Dallas rather short-lived. On a basketball level, the swap of Humphries for Eduardo Najera accomplishes very little. Najera counters Hump’s athleticism and rebounding instincts with experience, defensive acumen, and veteran savvy, but at best, this deal seems to be a wash for the Mavs.

Najera is not the rebounder that Humphries is nor the finisher, but I think there’s legitimate reason to believe that Eddie is a superior defensive big man than Kris, despite his 33 years of age. Hump has the tools to be a pretty decent defender, but watching him defend the pick-and-roll is just brutal. And although he puts in the effort on the low block, he simply isn’t a good on-ball defender in the post. Wrap all of that up with a “somewhat lacking in defensive awareness” bow, and you’ve got the whole Kris Humphries package. Energetic player, terrific rebounder, and a limited defender.

It’s hard to know what to expect out of Najera at this point, given his recent injury history. He had yet to be effective in his limited time with the Nets this season (just 204 minutes in 13 games due to various injuries), so it’s difficult to determine exactly what he can offer at this point in his career. But there’s definitely reason to believe that Najera should perform better as a Maverick, if for no other reason than the superior talent surrounding him and the lack of dark clouds lingering overhead. Energy guys like Eddie operate at their best in systems where they don’t need to make regular, tangible contributions; it should be more about his influence on the team’s energy level than his rebounding totals. He won’t fly around the court like Hump, but Najera is plenty capable of physical play inside, scrapping for possessions, etc. Plus, New Jersey’s record is bad enough to get into anybody’s head, and to make the jump from a dismal 3-33 squad to the 25-11 Mavs should be a breath of fresh air for a vet like Eddie.

Keep your fingers crossed that Najera can make an impact defensively. Although Erick Dampier and Drew Gooden are doing a nice job at the top of the center rotation, it would be nice to have Eddie as a situational alternative.

But in all honesty, this trade isn’t about basketball. Looking at the levels of talent on both sides, Humphries is a better talent than Najera, and though he has holes in his game, he has plenty of time to mend them. He has a reasonable contract for this season and next, but in Najera, the Mavs have found a contract that’s even more reasonable. The slight savings there compounded with Shawne Williams’ contract (and the luxury tax savings from both) make this a nice, tidy cost-cutting move for the Mavs. Though it’d be nice to see if Humphries could stick around and become a more complete player, Dallas has managed to save nearly $5 million without making a significant drop-off. Hump was having a nice season for the Mavs, but he’s still and end-of-the-rotation guy. If Cuban can save $5 million by making a slight concession, that’s just sound management.

For those of you that are curious where this $5 million number is coming from, let’s break down the salaries:

Kris Humphries$2,900,000$3,200,000 (PO)$0
Shawne Williams$2,416,067$2,41,1487 (QO)$0

Eduardo Najera$3,000,000$3,000,000*$2,750,000*

Salaries from Storyteller Contracts.

First of all, a few things to consider:

  • The second year of Kris Humphries’ contract is a player option, which he will likely accept. 2010 may be a big year for the free agent market, but I don’t see teams knocking down Hump’s door.
  • The second year of Shawne Williams’ contract is a qualifying offer, which he would not have been given by the Mavs and will not be given by the Nets (reports indicate that the Nets intend to waive Williams).
  • The last two years of Najera’s contract are partially unguaranteed; the guaranteed values are $2,500,000 for ’10-’11 and $2,250,000 for ’11-’12. So if the Mavs decide to sever ties with Najera after this season, they can cut a bit of the longer-term salary commitment.

So in terms of ’09-’10 salary, you have Najera’s $3 million vs. Humphries’ $2.9 million plus Williams’ $2.4 million. The difference in salary commitment is roughly $2.3 million, which is doubled because the Mavs are well over the luxury tax. That’s $4.6 million back in Mark Cuban’s pocket, which is pretty substantial.

However, if you’ll take a look at the Mavs’ salary commitments down the line, some of that $4.6 million is hedged by the final years of Najera’s deal. Najera’s contract runs one year longer than Humphries’, and how the Mavs stand financially could very well be dependent on their decision keep or release Najera. If the Mavs keep him and choose to pay his full salary both next year and the year after, their total financial commitment from this trade is $8.75 million. By comparison, the total obligation of Humphries’ and Williams’ combined contracts (assuming Hump takes his player option) is $8.5 million. If the Mavs choose not to keep Najera, their total salary commitment is $7.75 million. So although Cuban and the Mavs shave their salary commitments now, you can see that down the line, most of those savings end up in Najera’s hands.

This, of course, assumes that the Mavs’ total salary remains more or less the same. If Nelson and Cuban would wiggle the team under the luxury tax line in the future (which doesn’t seem likely, given the talent and contracts on the roster), any minor savings from the deal over the long-term (such as the slight margin if the team cuts Najera) are doubled. Plus, it gives Cuban’s wallet a bit of a break today, in exchange for paying out tomorrow. Given the current state of the economy, that’s something.

While I’m sure Najera wasn’t exactly what Mavs fans were hoping to net in exchange for Humphries and Williams, it’s a sound deal. It’s far from a home run, but as long as the overall savings work out in the end, the Mavs have accomplished what they were looking to accomplish. This will also likely be the last that we hear of Shawne Williams, and good riddance. While the details of his indiscretions are still held in-house, I’m glad to finally have some closure.

Goodnight, Sweet Hump

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 8, 2010 under News | 9 Comments to Read

It’s with an incredibly amount of regret that I have to announce the end of Hump Day. The Mavs have completed the deal in principle that we discussed here last week, sending Humphries and Shawne Williams (who will subsequently be cut) to New Jersey for Eduardo Najera.

New Jersey will have to use it’s trade exception ($2.4 million) to absorb the excess salary. More to come tomorrow, but a tip of the hat to Humphries for all of his hard work during his short time here in Dallas, and a nonchalant look-away for the exiled Shawne Williams.

More to come tomorrow in terms of what it all means.

Hump Day

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 6, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Photo by Reuters.

When words fail, Kris Humphries’ facial expression speaks.

Rumor Mongering: Do the Hustle

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 5, 2010 under Rumors | 6 Comments to Read

Trade season is officially upon us! While there’s been plenty of speculation concerning what the Mavs should do with Erick Dampier and his virtually expiring contract (as well as Drew Gooden and his conveniently structured deal), there’s been little in the way of whispered rumors much less substantive trade discussions. Credit the Mavs’ record and chemistry thus far for that.

But apparently, the Mavs were still actively looking to cut ties with Shawne Williams, and were willing to part with Kris Humphries to do so. Yahoo!’s Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski:

Discussions for a trade that would’ve exchanged Eduardo Najera for Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams are “on life support,” a league source said, because the New Jersey Nets have been unable to clear a roster spot to make it happen. New Jersey had hoped the Dallas Mavericks would add some money to the deal to allow them to buy out Williams’ contract, but the Nets haven’t been able to make a roster move. They tried to trade former first-round pick Josh Boone to Denver for Joey Graham and his non-guaranteed deal as a precursor to the Dallas deal, but those talks dried up, too.

Najera has fought injuries all season, but when healthy he’s certainly comparable to Humphries; Najera a bit more range, a bit less athletic, and much better defensively. But that’s hardly why the Mavs would pursue such a deal. Najera’s contract over the next to seasons is partially unguaranteed, meaning they’re likely to be on the books for less in total coin if Hump and Williams were shipped out in favor of Najera. Eddie would make his grand return to Dallas and be a free agent by summer, and Shawne Williams would likely be the Nets’ problem. But it wasn’t meant to be, and unless there’s a change in New Jersey’s roster situation, the talks are dead.

One of Those Nights

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

A rough night for the Mavs, needless to say. And to make matters worse (or just more entertaining, really), they couldn’t even properly execute a high five without some Laker interference:

Smooth, Adam. Smooth.

H/T: Ball Don’t Lie, Oh Me Oh My, The Jello’s Jigglin’

Los Angeles Lakers 131, Dallas Mavericks 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Los Angeles137.972.019.520.712.6

Life, death and rebirth are inevitable.”
-Rig Veda

So yeah. That happened.

Last night’s contest was an oh so pleasant reminder that the NBA will break you. There are simply too many games, too many hungry opponents, and too many talented players out there for a team to go through the season without being thoroughly humbled. Luckily for the Mavs, they have 82 (82+, if you count preseason) tries to get this thing right before the playoffs begin, and they’ll likely need every one of the remaining contests to tune up.

I think it’s safe to say that losing by 35 points to the Lakers is an aberration. Los Angeles is undoubtedly the class of the West and one of the best squads in the league, but to be so completely and utterly embarrassed requires a very special level of futility. So special a level that we haven’t seen anything close from the Mavs all season, and hopefully won’t again. This game was absolutely a statement for the Lakers, but the Mavs have the benefit of moving on, trying to forget, and preparing for next week’s rematch.

The Mavs just weren’t ready for the Lakers, physically or mentally. They failed to play their game, L.A.’s game, or anything resembling any type of game. And as such, they allowed the Lakers to post 137.9 points/100 possessions, which is beyond gaudy. The Lakers’ effective field goal percentage was a blistering 72%. Dallas’ offensive impotence in the first quarter gave the game an air of desperation from the very beginning, and every defensive gamble (I’ve never seen the Mavs make so many attempts at steals in the backcourt) and quick three-point attempt only added fuel to L.A.’s fire. They didn’t need Ron Artest (despite the remarkable season he’s had thus far), and they didn’t even need Pau Gasol (ditto), really. Andrew Bynum (19 points, 8-8 FG, four assists) went to work on the low block against the undersized Mavs (get well soon, Damp), Kobe Bryant (15 points, eight assists, four turnovers) and Lamar Odom (15 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) facilitated the offense to perfection, and the full cast and crew of Lakers’ role players took turns pummeling the nonexistent Maverick defense. Jordan Farmar (24 points, 6-8 3FG) had a marvelous game, and laughed in the face of the Mavs’ zone defense.

But what choice did Dallas have? With Bynum in full effect on the block, the Mavs had to adjust, and with Erick Dampier out of the lineup, they had few options. So the Lakers dumped it inside, and Bynum went to work. When the Mavs came with help, he kicked it out. It was sequence after sequence of brutal simplicity. The Mavs have the talent to theoretically hang with almost any team in the league, but without Erick Dampier in the middle, they looked absolutely hopeless. L.A. outsized and outclassed the Dallas last night, and there is absolutely no getting around that.

One can only hope that the next time these teams meet (which is the 13th, by the way), the Mavs perform at a respectable level. Hopefully the Lakers won’t be allowed to waltz down the lane for uncontested dunks and layups. Hopefully the Mavs will be able to make a damn jumpshot to save their lives, or at least execute some semblance of an offensive game plan. Hopefully the Mavs can show a little heart and a little pride, and prove that they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers. Hopefully all of these things will happen because we know that the Mavs are capable of them. Dallas is better than this. The defense is better than this. And hopefully nine days from now, they can prove it.

It’s still January, and though the Mavs’ point differential may be wrecked beyond repair, there’s no reason to panic over a game that is clearly an outlier in terms of effort and performance. Kudos to L.A. for the whoopin’, but the Mavs were a no-show.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 1, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Have you had enough of the decade rankings yet? If not, check out John Hollinger’s top ten players of the decade (Insider only), in which Dirk takes top 5 honors: “Nowitzki’s résumé lacks only an NBA title for validation; the Dwyane Wade Show in 2006 and a knee injury in 2003 eliminated his best chances. (Side note: Don’t forget that fadeaway he hit over Shaq in Game 5 in Miami before the foul call on Wade). Otherwise, he won one MVP award and had three other seasons that were MVP-caliber. He also made the All-NBA team nine years despite a surplus of quality players at his position. Additionally, Nowitzki’s teams won at least 50 games every full season this decade, capped by 67 in 2006-07; that’s a feat only Tim Duncan can match.” Hollinger also notes Jason Kidd as an honorable mention.
  • M. Haubs dubs Mavs-Spurs ’06 the most memorable playoff series of the decade, and Dirk’s 50-point performance against the Suns in the playoffs registers among the finest playoff performances of the decade.
  • Paul Swanson, the stats guy for the Minnesota Timberwolves, singled out a few “Garbage Time All-Stars,” including the Mavs’ own Kris Humphries. (via DOH)
  • Could Dirk have taken a three to potentially tie the game last night? Sure. But swinging the ball to Jason Kidd, who pump faked his way to an open look, is hardly a settling for a “contested, desperation 3.” And given the way Dirk shot the ball to close the game (Dirk had missed his last six jumpers; his last made jump shot came with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter), I was completely comfortable with his decision to give up the rock.
  • Jeff “Skin Wade” voiced his concerns over Kidd’s minutes, and while I don’t have any fears about Kidd’s durability (he’s played 80+ games over each of the last four seasons while averaging 36.4 minutes per game) I completely agree with Mike Fisher’s suggestion: “The headless-chicken nature of the Dallas offense when Kidd isn’t on the floor has occurred when [Barea] is running the point and it has occurred when Jet is running the point. But because the bulk of Roddy Beaubois’ playing time (back in the good ol’ days when he played) came at the 2, alongside Kidd. So we really haven’t seen Roddy at the 1, imposing his potentially precocious will on a defense. So are we trying to shave just a few minutes off of Kidd’s load? I’m never quite able to quantify what happens positively to a guy’s body if he plays 34 minutes a game instead of 35, but for the sake of argument. …If we’re trying to shave just a few minutes off of Kidd’s load … and if we agree that the Dallas offense doesn’t quite click when JJB or Jet are in charge … are we sure there aren’t one or two spots in occasional games in which [Beaubois] wouldn’t be helpful for one or two minutes?”
  • Dirk Nowitzki disagreed with my assessment of the zone defense’s effectiveness. I wouldn’t say that the zone was “really, really effective,” but a video review could be in order.
  • Rick Carlisle, diagnosing what went wrong when (via Eddie Sefko):  “I thought our undoing was a sluggish first quarter…They hit us with transition points and 3s, and the rest of the game was even, maybe even in our favor.”
  • What has the NBA learned this decade? Not to pay Mike Bibby $80 million, Zach Randolph $84 million, Jermaine O’Neal $126 million, and our old pal Erick Dampier $73 million.
  • Sure they can, Eddie, but they won’t.
  • In 1998, the Mavs completed one of the great fleeces in NBA history by trading the draft rights for Robert ‘Tractor’ Traylor to the Milwaukee Bucks for Pat Garrity and the draft rights to a certain lanky, German power forward. The Mavs flipped Garrity in a package for Steve Nash, and the rest, as they say, is history. As for Traylor? Well, a lot has happened between then and now, but he’s currently having a rough go of it playing professionally in Italy. (Also: a Travis Best sighting!)