Few teams know how to rally in the wake of a plan broken like the Dallas Mavericks; the same system of contingency that netted the Mavericks Tyson Chandler in 2010 has struck again, this time with the expected acquisition of Elton Brand for the unexpected sum of $2.1 million, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com. That’s a quality get at a staggeringly low cost, and the latest in a series of moves that has returned Dallas to, if nothing else, competitive respectability. That’s miracle work considering where this team stood just a few days ago, and a strong endorsement in a front office that’s had a bit of a tough off-season. Losing out on potentially acquiring Deron Williams could still set this franchise back a few years, but the Mavericks front office has proven themselves more than capable of handling the interim with vision, purpose, and the utmost creativity.
The Mavericks may be rolling uphill, but at least they’re rolling. After adding Chris Kaman on a one-year deal that keeps next summer’s free agent hopes in check, Dallas quickly turned in a nice sign-and-trade deal for unrestricted free agent Ian Mahinmi, as first reported by Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. Mahinmi was almost certainly on his way out of Dallas, and in exchange for setting up their reserve center candidate with a four-year, $16 million deal, Dallas acquired Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. If that isn’t enough for the something-for-nothing fetishists, I’m not sure what would be.
The Dallas Mavericks can’t invest in long-term prospects and have seen the few possible short-term fixes pass them by. It’s a sad, treadmilled existence; the level of now-mandatory prudence keeps the Mavs in fine financial shape, but that alone doesn’t mean that they’re getting anywhere. The past week has demonstrated the tremendous risk involved in leveraging cap space, and yet Dallas has little option save to keep their books clear and try again.
But in the meantime, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will surely clad all kinds of rentals in Maverick blue. Dallas is very much in the running for an amnestied Elton Brand, among other targets, but the first solidified get is Dirk Nowitzki’s kind-of-German national teammate, Chris Kaman, who according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal. There’s not much flare to the pick-up, and not much potential; it’s a move designed solely to keep Dirk sane and the team’s head above water, and Kaman is a useful addition in both regards.
Video via ESPN.
I reckon it’s a good day to be a Mavs fan. Mark Cuban stopped by First Take to vent a bit about bland, diluted media coverage, and boy did he show out well. I’ll let netw3rk — one of Twitter’s few essential follows — play Skip Bayless off:
Cuban’s evisceration of Bayless would’ve been just a tiny bit sweeter if Skip actually knew enough to know his guts were hanging out.
— netw3rk (@netw3rk) June 22, 2012
It’s almost unfathomable that it’s come to this point, but Mark Cuban is fielding questions regarding whether the Mavs might cut Lamar Odom mid-season. That’s clearly not a possibility; Odom is too valuable an asset to release with closure as the only payoff. Frankly, that the idea is present and festering at all is a bit baffling, if only because it seems indicative of the clear disconnect between the organization and everyone fluttering around outside the castle walls.
Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle, for their part, have chosen their words carefully when it comes to all things Odom. They have supported him at every turn, vouched for his value, and preached patience. They’ve done exactly what they should be doing in these bizarre circumstances, as they’ve managed to embrace Odom as a member of the team and the organization without coddling him. The Mavericks have opened their offense for him, and made it their mission to establish him in his comfort zones. Carlisle has worked with Odom personally to ensure a smooth transition, only to make relatively marginal progress. It just hasn’t clicked yet, but Carlisle and Cuban appear no less welcoming than they were at the start of the season.
At risk of generalizing, most Mavs fans have adopted a far less accommodating stance in regard to Odom’s continued struggles. On some level, it’s understandable; it can be frustrating and confusing to see a player struggle for anything other than basketball reasons, particularly as we attempt to assess the game in a vacuum. But such is indisputably the case with Odom, who stands as an unfortunate example of how shadows from outside the arena can creep onto the hardwood.
Two years ago, Mark Cuban declared Rodrigue Beaubois “pretty much untouchable” in the trade market.
Now, it’s relatively notable for Cuban to say that Beaubois, who hasn’t gotten off the bench in the two games since Jason Kidd returned from a strained right calf, remains part of the Mavs’ long-term plans.
“That’s the way we see it now. Absolutely,” Cuban said.
“Untouchable,” is a fairly powerful word, and the fact that Mark Cuban used it regarding Rodrigue Beaubois some two years ago (even with a “pretty much,” semi-hedge) is still worthy of note. That was how much a solid prospect meant to this franchise at that particular moment in time, when a championship was merely a persistent aspiration. The Mavericks have obviously accomplished plenty since then, though Cuban’s estimation of Beaubois apparently remains unchanged through champagne foam and all.
Jason Kidd jumped on The Ben and Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio on Tuesday to discuss injury, age, and recovery, and ended up hitting on a familiar theme with the humble hosts:
Ben Rogers: Back in the day, everyone used to say Mark Cuban was the greatest because the players get to have a Playstation in their locker. But now, isn’t it more about — look, you guys are using cutting-edge technology to get the most out of yourselves to prolong your careers, to be fresher, to recover faster, to heal faster. Between the hyperbaric chamber and liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, are you amazed by how far things have come technology-wise from when you first got in the league?
Jason Kidd: It’s night and day. We still use ice baths and also at the game we put ice on our knees and whatever other joints are hurting, but you can see the technology of cutting-edge medicine — of being able to get in these different chambers and see your body heal, and also be able to perform at a higher level as you get older. That was a perfect example of what we did last year as an older team being able to win a championship.
Kidd’s response is all well and good, but the more interesting concept here is Rogers’ framing of medical technology and innovation as a selling point for players. If trainer proficiency has been made into a factor in recruiting and retaining free agents (as was the case with Grant Hill choosing to return to the Phoenix Suns, for example), then why can’t cryotherapy — a magical tool of rejuvenation and recovery — serve a similar function? It may not factor heavily into the decisions of young players, but as the reputation and awareness of cryotherapeutic treatments increases, these kinds of medical technologies could provide a nice cherry on top of an altogether well-run organization.
Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FTR ORR TOR
Dallas 100.0 86.0 38.1 29.8 20.0 13.6
Oklahoma City 95.0 43.8 40.7 30.6 14.3
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Not many teams on this side of the Orlando Magic have managed to put together the kind of inescapably horrendous shooting performance that sank Dallas on Thursday. The Mavs shot just 8-for-38 in the second half, with the occasional trip to the free throw line providing the only non-JET source of reliable scoring. It would be incredibly convenient if there just one element to blame for Dallas’ offensive implosion — disrupted ball movement, a lack of effort, a mere bad shooting night, or the tilt of a team missing its star. Unfortunately, the best explanation is “all of the above.” This was a true team effort, with every possible variable ganging up on the Mavs for a perfect storm of offensive impotency. (To put things in perspective: Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Rodrigue Beaubois combined to shoot 28 percent from the field. Ouch.)
- A testament to how bad things have become for Nowitzki (eight points, 2-15 FG, eight rebounds): The Thunder aggressively trapped the ball handler on pick-and-rolls involving Dirk. Nowitzki is certainly trying his best to revert back to the player we all know he can be, but the impossible fadeaway jumpers are finally starting to live up to their billing. That bouncing ball has no mercy for Dirk whatsoever, and it simply refuses to cooperate with Nowitzki’s efforts to provide his scoring talents to the Mavs’ championship defense. He’s still making some smart passes, working hard on defense, and clawing for rebounds, but Nowitzki isn’t suited to be a glorified hustle player. This is one of the greatest offensive players the NBA has ever seen, and if anyone out there has any idea how to help him find his way home, I’m sure Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle would be all ears.
One good cost-cutting move apparently deserves another.
Just days after the Mavs swept up Lamar Odom up from L.A. in order to tidy up the Lakers’ books (helpful gent, that Donnie Nelson), Dallas has agreed — per Marc Stein of ESPN.com — to send Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to Denver in exchange for a future second round pick. This isn’t an equitable trade, but it allows the Mavs to liquidate some depth for the sake of immediate salary savings and an extra chunk of cap space next summer.
Fans and analysts have done their best to read the tea leaves containing the Mavs’ off-season plans, but implicit in that process is a lot of assumption. We know that Dallas doesn’t want to sign Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler to the kinds of deals they’re able to secure elsewhere. We know that J.J. Barea was only offered a short-term, and that it wasn’t to his liking. We know that the Mavs are likely to pursue free agents on one-year contracts almost exclusively. From all of these facts — and the reports they stem from — we can try to piece together the team’s strategy, but there will always be bits of logic and nuance missing from our formulations.
Well, prepare to have the blanks filled in. On Thursday, Mark Cuban articulated Dallas’ general strategy in a must-read post by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas: