The Difference: Chicago Bulls 82, Dallas Mavericks 77

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 21, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • In the last two games, the Mavericks have experienced contests of completely different complexion. Against the Lakers, both teams moved the ball well and poured in points with only periodic defensive resistance. Against the Bulls, neither team could score even remotely well, and the offensive struggles were far more deep-seated than players missing makeable jumpers. Neither team could set up and execute on account of the other team’s defense, and though it was an ugly product from a basketball standpoint, it’s nice to see the Mavs’ D in full effect. 90.6 points per 100 possessions is a hideous number, but 96.5 points allowed per 100 possessions? Oh so pretty.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (19 points, 6-16 FG, four rebounds) is not completely healthy. You can see it on his turnarounds, particularly deep in the post. Many of his attempts look like poor imitations of his usual routine, as Nowitzki fails to create the same amount of space that affords him time to release. You can see it on his help defense in man-to-man or when he rotates in the zone; Dirk is just a half-second slower when an opponent makes a quick pass or cut. The Mavs’ offense looks even more painful with Nowitzki out, but it’s hard not to wonder if a bit more rest would have best for Dirk. Here’s to hoping the training staff knows what they’re doing, because without Nowitzki in the mix, the Mavs are a miserable watch.
  • Jason Terry (12 points, 5-14 FG, four assists) returned to Earth, DeShawn Stevenson attempted all 10 of his shots from beyond the arc, Jason Kidd leveled out (2-of-4 shooting from three but only eight points overall, six rebounds but only three assists to six turnovers), Shawn Marion (six points, 2-7 FG, three turnovers) misfired, Sasha Pavlovic disappeared, and J.J. Barea missed each of his four shot attempts. Maverick basketball! Catch the fever!
  • It’s honestly shocking that the turnover numbers for both teams weren’t more horrendous. Both teams had a lot of trouble holding onto the ball, but in a lot of cases, it translated into wild shot attempts or recovered loose balls, but neither team was in any kind of offensive sync, and that applied on the catch as well as the shot.
  • In the game against L.A., the Lakers’ offensive rebounds were painful, but only because their misses were so few. Dallas struggled to get any stops whatsoever, so it was noticeable when they squandered the opportunity due to poor rebounding. Yet overall, the L.A. didn’t have a particularly effective night on the offensive glass. Chicago was a bit different. The Bulls pulled in 34.7% of available boards on the offensive end, with the geriatric Kurt Thomas accounting for five of Chicago’s 51 offensive boards. Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood weren’t much help on the defensive glass, and Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion alone couldn’t box out everyone. Four of the Bulls’ starters had at least three offensive rebounds. That’s a failure in rebounding team-wide, and these defensive rebounding problems have been a recurring theme for the Mavs all season.

Rumor Mongering: Counterproductive Problem Solving

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 8, 2010 under Rumors | Be the First to Comment

On TrueHoop, ESPN’s Chris Sheridan notes that Milwaukee center (and former Mav) Kurt Thomas could have a new home by the trade deadline: has learned that Thomas, the 37-year old backup center/forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, has emerged as a fallback trade option for the few playoff-bound teams (including Portland, Dallas and Cleveland) open to the idea of taking on additional salary.

Dallas owes a 2nd rounder to Indiana and has the option of sending its 2010 or 2011 pick to the Pacers, and the Mavericks are also owed a 2010 second-rounder by Oklahoma City — although the Thunder keep it if it falls between Nos. 31 and 45. Dallas also does not have a one-for-one salary match for Thomas other than Drew Gooden, who is a better player than Thomas. (The Mavs do have a $2.9 million trade exception from the Kris Humphries trade to New Jersey, but that exception is not large enough to absorb Thomas’ deal.)

As Sheridan notes, acquiring Kurt Thomas would be a tricky proposition for the Mavs. The Bucks will move him if they can score a very minimal asset — a second round pick, the standard trade chip of cap-clearing deals. But that requires Milwaukee’s trade partner to be $3.6 million under the cap, or in possession of a trade exception to trim that number.

But here’s the catch: teams that are over the cap, like the Mavs, can’t use trade exceptions to absorb incoming player salaries if the value of a single trade exception does not exceed the incoming player salary. Or, if the Mavs were to include actual players in the deal to even out the salary for trade purposes, they still wouldn’t be able to receive salary worth more than 125% of the outgoing salary. All of this is to say that the Mavs are stuck in a position where they can’t use a trade exception to acquire the player they want, which if Sheridan’s sources are correct, is Thomas.

There’s one hypothetical deal that the Mavs could throw Milwaukee’s way: Quinton Ross, Tim Thomas, and J.J. Barea for Kurt Thomas. Make no mistake: this is a horrible deal for Dallas. Ross and Thomas are great guys to have at the end of your bench, and I’m convinced that the Mavs could get back more for Barea than a 37-year-old center with an expiring contract. But if the Mavs somehow end up with additional depth via another trade (say, one involving Josh Howard) and are convinced that Thomas is the answer, there is at least one option where the salaries match. It would only save the Bucks’ a few hundred thousand dollars and wastes Barea on a team with no need for a point guard, but it can technically be done.

I can’t see how Thomas would solve the Mavs’ problems, though. He would give Dallas another traditional center, albeit one that doesn’t operate from the low post on offense and isn’t really the answer to shoring up the defense. Thomas is a fine one-on-one post defender, but why bother if Kurt won’t offer much in the way of a team defensive concept? He’s a fine player to have, but I’m just not sure he’s worth the headache of involving a third team or completing the trade mentioned above.

Thomas has averaged just 13.3 minutes per game for the Bucks this year, along with 2.6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.