This week, The Two Man Game will start looking at what the Mavs could do as another pivotal summer is upon them. Mark Cuban has said there are different ways or “permutations” to ensure the Mavs won’t have a failure of a summer if they are unable to land a big fish acquisition.
Dirk Nowitzki said Cuban is “all-in” on this summer, and committed to bringing the franchise back to where it belongs. There are traditional ways to do that but there are also outside the box ways of doing that. We’ll look at five potential angles the Mavs could work that would be considered outside the box.
Times are tough for many teams around the league in a new CBA world. There are two teams in the Eastern Conference who find themselves in a bit of a bind but in two very different ways.
The Boston Celtics are a team with a bloated payroll (giving Jason Terry a three-year, $15.675 million dollar deal is an example of how money can add up in a hurry). They did hit an unfortunate break in terms of an injury during the month of January as it was announced the Rajon Rondo suffered an ACL injury and would be out of action for the duration of the season. Boston is getting older and teams around them are getting better.
The Toronto Raptors are also a team with a bloated payroll. To make their situation worse than Boston’s, they flat out stink. The Raptors tied for the worst record in the Atlantic Division. They have just over $27 million committed between Rudy Gay and DeMar Derozan. They also still have someone impersonating a basketball player in Andrea Bargnani as he is collecting a salary of $10.7 million this coming season. The only thing worse than being in a cap bind: being in a cap bind and being terrible.
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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- It’s probably a good thing that Jason Terry missed a potentially game-winning free throw with a second and a half remaining in regulation; Dallas had only played about 10 minutes of high-energy basketball up to that point, and for the sake of playoff readiness, an extra five minutes in which the Mavs were forced to run and rotate and execute certainly couldn’t hurt. The win still doesn’t excuse Dallas’ lethargy through the first three frames, but victories do have their own inherent worth, even if this one should and could have been significantly easier for the Mavs. I know there’s an element of mental fatigue involved when facing an opponent perceived to be inferior at this stage of the season — particularly an opponent missing two of its three best players — but Dallas has to be better at every turn. There are precious few tune-ups before the playoffs commence, and regardless of opponent, the Mavs can’t allow themselves to be convinced that this kind of effort is conducive to winning. Each empty victory may be nice for other reasons, but such games nonetheless condition Dallas to accept performances like this one, even when a comparable showing would surely result in a less favorable outcome against a playoff opponent. Tick tock, Mavs. Get it in gear.
- Don’t let the defensive numbers fool you. Houston only scored at a rate of 89.2 points per 100 possessions, but Dallas’ D wavered from possession to possession, and looked particularly vulnerable to high post action executed by Chuck Hayes (10 points, 5-12 FG, 12 rebounds, four assists) and Brad Miller (12 points, 5-13 FG, eight rebounds, three assists). In its natural state, the Rockets’ offense is a beautiful thing; Rick Adelman’s system facilitates offensive flow like no other, and rewards hard cutting with smart passes. It’s the Mavs’ job to take the Rockets out of that natural element, and in that area they failed. The shooting and overall scoring numbers don’t reflect that, but Dallas’ defensive letdowns — many of which led to wide open layups and dunks — were pretty horrendous. The Mavs showcased the diametric opposite of their defensive struggles during the fourth quarter and overtime, but don’t overrate the significance of their clutchness; as nice as it was that Dallas finished strong, they should never have been in a situation where that was necessary.
- Dirk Nowitzki (23 points, 8-22 FG, 12 rebounds, three assists) struggled with his shot a bit, but his jumper was the least of the Mavs’ offensive problems. For large portions of this game, Dallas had little or no offensive structure whatsoever. Some players wandered around the three-point line, but having bodies on the perimeter with others inside does not constitute spacing. Just…blech. Here’s to better days when the Mavs actually elect to run sets.
- The offense wasn’t without that ever valuable silver lining, though. Shawn Marion (21 points, 10-14 FG, four rebounds, four assists, three turnovers) was the most efficient Mav by a considerable margin, despite the fact that he threw away two cross-court passes in the extra period. Marion on the left block is a credible offensive option, and a pretty interesting counter to Dirk’s operation on the opposite wing. (A quick aside: Marion also might be among the best in the league in his ability to discern shot fakes from legitimate attempts; Kevin Martin [28 points, 10-24 FG, 3-7 3FG, seven turnovers] is a wizard with the ball, but Marion stays on the floor and contests Martin’s shots without fouling as well as any wing defender out there.) Additionally, Jason Terry (21 points, 9-15 FG, four assists, six turnovers) had a lot of success driving to the basket, and fully exploited Houston’s lack of shot-blocking inside. Chuck Hayes is a fantastic post defender, but his options in rotation are limited by his height. Once Terry makes an aggressive move toward the rim, Hayes can contest the shot or try to maintain good position between JET and the rim, but he’s unable to put a lot of pressure on Terry’s attempt at its most vulnerable points.
- Mavs fans have now witnessed the other side of Corey Brewer’s coin. The effort is always there for Brewer, but he played nine largely fruitless minutes. Nothing wrong with grabbing four boards (and his one offensive rebound was heavily contested), but Brewer just isn’t a consistent scoring threat. He’s skilled and works relentlessly on both ends, but Brewer isn’t productive enough to tip the scales nightly.
- This definitely registers as a curiosity, but count me among those who hope to never hear about Terry’s possible miscalculation again. Honestly it doesn’t really matter to me if JET knew the score or didn’t. Awareness is certainly preferred, but he’s shooting to make free throws at that point, and I’m fairly positive he intended to make his second one. It’s a non-issue, really.
- How Dallas struggles to rebound in a game like this one baffles me. Tyson Chandler is among the top rebounders in the league. Dirk Nowitzki has historically been a solid defensive rebounder, even if he doesn’t attack the offensive glass. Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd both do terrific work on the glass relative to their positions. Yet the Mavs allowed the Rockets to grab an offensive board on 28.3% of their rebounding opportunities, despite the fact that Chuck Hayes (16.3% total rebounding rate for the season) was Houston’s only decent rebounder on the court. Dallas typically does a decent job of securing defensive rebounds, but this won’t fly.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“There’s such a thin line between winning and losing.”
-John R. Tunis
Sometimes a game flows like the scripted word, with a rhythm, climax, and resolution that unfold seamlessly. All is right in the world as the good guys win and the bad guys falter, with no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who was the victor. Heroes are born, legends are written, and everything fits neatly into archetypal form.
But others are written like a biting satire. They make mockery of everything we think to be true, and rely on that defiance and a departure from the expected to prove some kind of point. There may be heroes, but winning the day is hardly an assumption.
From a Maverick perspective, the game would certainly be described as the latter.
After just ten minutes of play, a collision between Dirk Nowitzki and Carl Landry left Dirk with a deep laceration on his arm and Landry minus three teeth (according to Marc Stein, pieces of two of those teeth were actually in Nowitzki’s arm). Neither returned, and the game’s narrative structure had set a prime opportunity for the Mavs to prove their Rocketsesque mettle; Dallas would have to win without their primary scorer, their undisputed best player, and their leader. The cast of characters included: Jason Kidd (the wise sage), Jason Terry (the sidekick with an iron will), Josh Howard (the returning hero), Erick Dampier (the rock, the guide), Shawn Marion (the unwavering defender), J.J. Barea (the seemingly overmatched hero), and Tim Thomas (the rogue with a heart of gold). The stage was set for an epic tale of loss and redemption and triumph in the face of adversity.
And though the game lacked any kind of rhythm or pacing whatsoever, it seemed bound for the fairytale ending. With the Mavs trailing by four points with just over a minute remaining, Shawn Marion stripped Trevor Ariza on what looked to be an easy bucket for the Rockets. After running the floor in transition, Marion was left wide open by the scrambling Houston defense, and Jason Kidd rewarded his efforts with a feed for an easy bucket. And once Aaron Brooks missed one free throw to plant hope in the Maverick huddle, Rick Carlisle drew up a doozie of a play. After some misdirection by Jason Kidd and Jason Terry and a nice shot fake, Tim Thomas was left with a wide open look from the corner. Nothing but net, and the Mavs had one shot to make a defensive play and send the game into overtime.
Shawn Marion, who had been terrific on defense all night, demanded the assignment of guarding the red-hot Aaron Brooks. According to Kidd, Marion insisted that with his height and length he could bother Brooks on the drive or on the shot, and he couldn’t have been more right. Brooks passed up a shot attempt with a taller defender in front of him, and Marion forced him into an out-of-control dive toward the basket that ended with Shawn standing triumphant and a Rockets turnover with .4 seconds to play. The stage for the miracle had been set, but Jason Kidd’s lob was a bit off the mark, and Shawn Marion’s alley-oop layup attempt a bit short as a result.
But in most cases, overtime periods carry only false hope for short-handed teams. With Dirk nowhere in sight, the Mavs certainly qualify, and what had been a tremendous run by the remaining Mavs quickly spiraled into an emotional explosion. Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry continued to run their offense with confidence, and the Mavs provided themselves no opportunity for catharsis by missing jumper after jumper. Ultimately, the game’s defining sequence featured the Mavs down six with a minute to play, and a bit of hope as Erick Dampier began to elevate for a dunk attempt. But rather than rise and finish with a momentum-shifting slam, Dampier was pulled down by the shoulders by Aaron Brooks, who made no play on the ball whatsoever. Brooks was assessed a flagrant one, and in the ensuing video replay aftermath, the officiating crew also assessed a technical foul to Erick Dampier. It was Damp’s second tech of the night, and despite the fact that the elbow is virtually invisible on video, it warranted Damp’s automatic ejection. From then on, finishing the game was a mere formality.
It was a bizarre sequence, and according to Mark Cuban, one that doesn’t follow the letter of the rulebook (only flagrant two fouls are eligible for video review, and Brooks was assessed a flagrant one). But such a sequence only illustrated the value of a single basket in a close game. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong in their assessment of whatever it is that happened on that play, the Mavs had wasted two and a half quarters worth of opportunities. With no Dirk Nowitzki to balance the offense and no cohesion to the team defense, the Mavs looked beyond helpless. Kyle Lowry (a career high 26 points, 10 assists, and a career high-tying five steals) and Aaron Brooks (23 points, six assists) were simply too proficient, and with both on the court, the Mavs lacked the speed to combat their penetration into the lane and separation for jumpers. Meanwhile, Jason Terry struggled from the field (6-15 FG) and didn’t have command of his usual basketball savvy. Josh Howard started the game terribly before finally getting his act together in time to help the Mavs mount a run. And though Erick Dampier’s work on the glass and on defense was, frankly, game-changing (three blocked shots, seven offensive rebounds, and 14 total rebounds), his reinforcements (Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries) failed to defend or produce in any meaningful way. After Dirk left the game, the odds were not stacked in the Mavs’ favor, and until the final run of the fourth quarter, the responded with lethargic D and sloppy offensive execution.
The finale was poignant and demonstrative. It was a sign to the Mavs that coasting isn’t acceptable, and that refusing to play to your potential will only end in heartbreak. Dallas’ efforts were all for naught, and though Dirk’s absence provides a convenient scapegoat, the message here makes no mention of fighting valiantly. Rather, the point is this: Although the Mavs have come so far in terms of their defense and clutch execution, this is still a work in progress. This is still a team that has plenty to learn from a game that has plenty to teach, and regardless of just how high you’ve climbed, every game has the potential to be a humbling experience.
- J.J. Barea was instrumental in keeping this game competitive. He finished with 23 points on 8-15 shooting, with his couple of turnovers balanced by some pretty timely shots.
- The Mavs and the Rockets shot an identical 8 of 20 from three, but you would have never guessed it based on their impact. Each Maverick long ball was powerful, but the Rockets’ makes were of monumental importance. Brooks’ final shooting numbers (8 for 20 from the field) may not be sterling, but that man is a master of the momentum-killing three-pointer.
- Jason Kidd didn’t have a great defensive night, but he does so many things for the Mavs when he’s on the court. His work out of the post against Brooks gave the Mavs a fighting chance in overtime, and though the Dallas offense was anything but smooth, Kidd still contributed with 11 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, and two blocks.
- The Rockets killed the Mavs with their ability to quickly shift into the transition game, and only when the Mavs began to counter the fast break did they make any headway whatsoever.
- Kyle Lowry was sensational. Seriously.
- The Mavs tried their hand at some zone, with mixed results. It seemed to at least slow down the Rockets, but the Mavs surrendered too many offensive rebounds because of the lack of box-out accountability. On top of that, David Andersen (16 points) and Luis Scola (19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) have the range to be zone busters, and Lowry and Brooks were able to lure away chunks of the zone to leave jumpers open for the taking.
- Emotions were running high as the Mavs put pressure on the Rox late in this one. A tech for Jason Kidd and David Andersen for a little scuffle, two Ts on Erick Dampier (one for the alleged elbow, and another for Damp breaking his usually stoic demeanor to argue a non-call), two Ts on Rick Carlisle, and one T to the talkative Josh Howard.
- Shawn Marion really put the shackles on Kevin Durant the other night, but this may have been an even more impressive defensive performance. He wasn’t quite as consistent, but he made huge defensive plays with the game hanging in the balance.
- Dirk Nowitzki is considered questionable for Sunday due to the deep lacerations in his elbow, and Carl Landry will see a surgeon tomorrow.
The Mavs don’t have a very good track record when it comes to finding value late in the draft, though selecting Josh Howard with the final pick in the first round back in 2003. But the stakes have never been higher, with the Mavs’ few young assets weighing their options in free agency and the Mavs’ 2010 pick in the hands of the New Jersey Nets. This one counts big time, and it’s up to the management and the scouting team to find the diamond in the rough.
It’s tough, but hardly impossible. Quality players pass right under the noses of many a team year after year, leaving latent value late in the draft. The Mavs pick at 22, which is just a shade closer to the lottery than to the Mavs’ customary position at the draft’s tail.
Here are the picks at 22 this decade:
2008 – Courtney Lee
2007 – Jared Dudley
2006 – Marcus Williams
2005 – Jarrett Jack
2004 – Viktor Khryapa
2003 – Zoran Planinic
2002 – Casey Jacobsen
2001 – Jeryl Sasser
2000 – Donnell Harvey
Three of those players (Courtney Lee, Jared Dudley, Jarrett Jack) have shown rotation player chops. Lee is the most notable as the starting 2 guard of an impressive Orlando team just one win away from the Finals. In fact, if the Mavs could magically re-draft Lee this year, they’d be in pretty good shape.
Just for fun, here are picks in the late first round (20+) :
Courtney Lee (22)
Nicolas Batum (25)
Wilson Chandler (23)
Rudy Fernandez (24)
Aaron Brooks (26)
Renaldo Balkman (20)
Rajon Rondo (21)
Kyle Lowry (23)
Shannon Brown (25)
Jordan Farmar (26)
Jarrett Jack (20)
Nate Robinson (21)
Francisco Garcia (23)
Jason Maxiell (26)
Linas Kleiza (27)
David Lee (30)
Jameer Nelson (20)
Delonte West (24)
Kevin Martin (26)
Boris Diaw (21)
Travis Outlaw (23)
Kendrick Perkins (27)
Leandro Barbosa (28)
Josh Howard (29)
Tayshaun Prince (23)
Nenad Krstic (24)
John Salmons (26)
Brendan Haywood (20)
Gerald Wallace (25)
Jamaal Tinsley (27)
Tony Parker (28)
Morris Peterson (21)
It’s certainly worth noting that even the 2005 draft, predicted to be a weak draft class among pundits and largely looked at as a failure in comparison to its contemporaries, still produced productive players late in the first round. Blake Griffin is no Tim Duncan and the consolation prizes may have their flaws, but that doesn’t mean true commodities can’t be found late in the first.
Next week I’ll start examining potential picks for the Mavs, starting with those rumored and confirmed to have scheduled workouts with the team. Some of those players seem poised for success on the pro level, and others may not even be top competitors in the D-League. As fans, we can only hope that MGMT not only makes the right decision in assessing the talent of a potential pick, but also in picking talented players to fill holes in the Mavs’ rotation.
Photo by AP.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“This is how we do it.”
Congratulations to your Dallas Mavericks, ladies and gents, who have posted a 50 win season in every year this decade. Maybe 50 is just an arbitrary marker, another number in a game of numbers, but it does represent a prolonged greatness that can be matched by just one other current team. That other team just so happens to be the Mavs’ first round playoff opponent, the San Antonio Spurs.
For the Mavs, this game was as much about climbing as high as possible in the standings as it was about beating a pretty damn good team in a meaningful game. Both squads had plenty to play for, but it was the Mavericks, largely considered the inferior team, who came up with the right mix, the right sets, and the right strategies. Rick Adelman is a Coach of the Year candidate in his own right and I’m actually very fond of this bunch of Rockets. But last night, Rick Carlisle taught Adelman a thing or two about in-game adjustments, and the Mavs held a hands-on workshop in crunch time execution.
The Mavs’ big names showed up. Dirk (30 points, 13-23 FG, 15 rebounds) was fantastic, and balanced a fantastic first quarter with a superb second half. Jason Kidd (11 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, 3-3 3FG) had another day at the office, and notched a triple double. Every rebound and assist was impactful, and Kidd’s three-pointers were heartbreakers for the Rox. The JET took the torch in the fourth quarter, overcoming a trying first half to finish with 23 points on 10-17 shooting. As a team, the Mavs outscored the Rockets 30-14 in the fourth, a success fueled by Terry’s heroics and aggressive, physical team defense.
Yao Ming (23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers) gave Erick Dampier fits once again. Oddly enough, the real defensive success came when Ryan Hollins and Brandon Bass did their best to make Yao’s life hell. Hollins initially had some trouble, but eventually used his length to front Yao and limit his attempts. Brandon Bass used every ounce of his strength to make Yao uncomfortable. Holding, pushing, pulling, and generally ensuring that whatever Yao did was difficult. As a result, the Rockets’ best player on the floor managed just one shot attempt. Erick Dampier can do a lot of good against a lot of centers in this league; Yao Ming is not one of them. I’m glad to see that at least one Mav can have success against him, even if that success doesn’t come with a wow-worthy statistical line. Bass and Hollins only turned things around with the help of some very aggressive double-teams, and that’s a credit to the Mavs’ entire defensive scheme and Rick Carlisle. It made too much sense for Yao to pass the ball out and hope for a re-post, and often the interior feed didn’t come. Single coverage wasn’t working for Dampier or the zone, but the added pressure was enough to significantly limit Yao’s attempts in the fourth.
Aaron Brooks wasn’t the killer he was last time out against Dallas, but Kyle Lowry (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 6-7 FT) didn’t mind stepping in to assume the role. Lowry pulled out every trick in the book on J.J. Barea and Jason Terry, and the Mavs simply didn’t have an answer for his penetration. The double teams left the defense in a constant state of rotation, and as a result the lane was wide open for dribble-drives. Lowry took full advantage of that, but simply failed to capitalize on that penetration aside from drawing a few fouls.
But where was Josh Howard? He was virtually invisible in the first half, and though he managed to chip in 15 points on 4-13 shooting, his offensive contributions were nonexistent outside of a third quarter parade to the line. 8 free throw attempts in a quarter is impressive, but where was he otherwise? I know he faced two hellish defenders in Ron Artest and Shane Battier, but Josh uncharacteristically failed to get off to a high-scoring start. But this tells you just how important Josh Howard is to this team: he had a sub-par game and didn’t shoot effectively…and yet he keyed an 11-0 third quarter run that essentially kept the Mavs in the game. He’s going to have bad games, but if his bad games can come with the silver lining of a one-quarter blitz, the Mavs will be pretty tough to stop. Dirk in the first, Josh in the third, and JET in the fourth: that’s one hell of a relay. On top of that, Josh came up limping after hitting the floor hard in the fourth quarter. Even if you didn’t cherish his in-game exploits, you’ve gotta appreciate the fact that he continued to play on that sore ankle and didn’t say one word about it. Plenty have questioned the head on Howard’s shoulders, but he doesn’t seem mixed up or confused in the slightest: he’s here to play, and he’s here to help the Mavs win. Josh, you didn’t have a great game, but I’m still tipping my hat to you.
The Rockets’ offense disappeared when their 7’6” center did. Say what you will, but it’s not an easy task to cloak a guy like that. He doesn’t quite fit in the closet. Part of that was the ridiculous number of close-range shots that simply refused to find the net. Some people call that an inability to finish and others may call it a series of unlucky bounces, but for last night’s game I call it the difference between a win and a loss. The fourth quarter was, for the most part, a dog fight, and if you factor in the impact of the half dozen rim-outs the Rockets blew within five feet of the basket, you’re looking at an entirely different ballgame. Maybe the Mavs did just enough to bother a few of those shots, maybe the Rockets shorted them, or maybe the now deceased brother of a Maverick haunts the arena, altering the game in unexplainable ways. I just don’t know. What I do know is that those misses were awfully costly.
Dallas has won five of six. They overcame a 14-point deficit and beat a Western favorite. The Mavs have confidence and momentum in spades, but it’s up to them to harness that into something tangible against San Antonio.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Brandon Bass, who played the entire fourth quarter and held Yao Ming to just one attempt over an eight minute stint. He didn’t have the line, but he had all the impact, especially in comparison to Erick Dampier. Damp’s heart was in the right place, but he racked up the fouls while Yao racked up the points. Bass used every weapon he had against Yao in the post, the most effective of which were those two massive guns on his arms. Maybe there were some fouls in there, but when any player is able to limit an elite center the way that Bass did, help defense or not, it deserves some props.
- The Rockets defense is stupid good. Ron Artest was already the best perimeter defender in the league, with Shane Battier not far behind. You combine those two with a shot blocker in Yao Ming and an aggressive defensive gameplan, and you’ve got quite a powerhouse on your hands. Losing McGrady for the season and Rafer Alston via trade was supposed to hurt the Rockets’ offense, but in the process they may have also ditched their two worst defenders in favor of more minutes for Battier and bullish point guard Kyle Lowry. (EDIT: But don’t take my word for it. Read Kevin Arnovitz’s redonkulous breakdown of the Rockets’ defense on LeBron James in last night’s game.)
- It can’t ever feel good to be traded. Even though on a lot of levels I’m sure it feels good for a Pau Gasol to go from a team like the Grizz to a team like the Lakers, it’s also a team giving up on you. Whether you’re the star, a role player, or a bench warmer, the knowledge that the general manager and coaching staff that you trusted does not believe that you can help them win games (even if it’s not the case) has to hit hard. Antoine Wright reflects on his feelings about his trade to the Mavs a year ago (Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News): “‘I felt betrayed a little bit because I wasn’t supposed to be in the trade,’ Wright said Thursday. ‘[The Nets] said ‘Don’t worry about it. Go on vacation.’ Then I’m in Miami [during the All-Star break] and I’m looking at the bottom of the screen and I’m going, ‘Wright? Is that me?’ That was the first I heard of being traded.’ Sure enough, that was Wright’sname crawling along the ticker. ‘That’s when it hit me that I was a throw-in,’ he said.”
- Part 3 of Dirk’s interview with Five Magazine.
- Rick Carlisle on Josh Howard, echoing my thoughts in this post yesterday (Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News): “His spirits are better. You can just tell the way he’s bouncing around the court. The game’s a lot more fun when you’re not in some kind of pain.”
About half an hour until the deadline, and not much out of Mavs-land. Considering the Mavs most expendable trade asset (Jerry Stackhouse’s contract) can actually be used over the summer (the Mavs have until August to turn down the non-guaranteed portion of his deal), I don’t think they’ll be panicking. Hell, the Blazers aren’t panicking, and that’s with Raef Lafrentz’s mammoth expiring contract. Here’s the latest chatter from around the interwebs:
- Mark Cuban, via Eddie Sefko’s piece this morning: “‘I don’t know that there’s a whole lot more that’s going to be done,’ owner Mark Cuban said. ‘Everybody’s looking to do the same thing, save money and to save cap room [for the future]. It’s hard to do both.’”
- Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: “‘It feels like Dallas has 100 different scenarios juggling in the air,’ one Western Conference executive said Thursday.”
- Eddie Sefko, DMN Mavs Blog: “You never know when a rebound will fall in your lap. And the Mavericks are still working the trade grapevine to see if anything crazy happens in the last hour. Doesn’t seem likely, but you never know with this bunch.”
- Mike Fisher, DallasBasketball.com: “‘How many trade offers have you had?’ Donnie [Nelson] was asked on Wednesday night. ‘Today? Seventy-five. Maybe 100. A lot,’ he responded. ‘I just got five in the 45 minutes I’ve been talking to you guys.’”
Here are the completed trades of the day:
- The Kings trade Bobby Brown and Shelden Williams to the Timberwolves for Rashad McCants and Calvin Booth. The motivations for this deal are largely financial, although Bobby Brown showed potential in the summer league and I’m confident Rashad McCants can be a solid rotation player. Shelden Williams may still have a few tricks up his sleeve, but Calvin Booth’s deal expires this summer.
- The Knicks trade Malik Rose and cash to the Thunder for Chris Wilcox. I don’t get this one at all. It’s a no-brainer from the Knicks perspective; both players have expiring deals, and their production levels aren’t even comparable. I doubt Wilcox will re-sign with NY, but they’ll get a free look at a much better player. If you can figure out what’s in it for OKC, please, by all means.
- The Bulls trade Larry Hughes to the Knicks for Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson, and Jerome James. Jerome James is likely to retire after this season, meaning most if not all of his 2009-2010 salary will be covered by insurance. This could be the Knicks trying to consolidate their deals into one neat little package, or maybe D’Antoni seems some real value in Hughes. Either way, if for whatever reason the Knicks do decide to play the trade market next year, Hughes’ expiring deal will be worth more to teams than Thomas’. The Bulls can plug Thomas into Nocioni’s role, and on top of that they should save some coin if Jerome James retires as planned. Anthony Roberson’s a freebie.
- The Bulls trade Thabo Sefolosha to the Thunder for a nondescript future first rounder. More on this as it’s confirmed; I haven’t seen a release yet.
- The Kings waive Mikki Moore. The Cavs and the Celtics are the early favorites to bid for his services (each has at least part of their midlevel exception remaining).
- Three-team deal: the Magic acquire Rafer Alston, the Rockets acquire Kyle Lowry and Brian Cook, and the Grizzlies acquire Orlando’s first round pick. Rafer’s got the experience and did a surprisingly good job during that 22-game win streak last season, so why risk changing point guards with T-Mac already on the shelf? Even if Lowry is younger and a marginal upgrade, aren’t the Rockets hinging an awful lot on the shoulders of a young point guard that has shown little to no improvement in his first NBA seasons and has looked shaky as a starter. Magic fans are in for quite the headache, and the Grizz are saving up their lunch money.
- Another three-teamer: the Raptors get Patrick O’Bryant, the Kings get Will Solomon, and the Celtics get a virtually nonexistent second round pick that’s as conditional as fine print. No comment.
Fin. Done. It’s over. These are the Mavs you’ll see for the rest of the season, folks — for better or worse.