Monta Ellis and Mavericks closing in on a three-year deal that could rise to as much as $30 million. Deal on course to be completed today
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 12, 2013
The Mavs had their introductory press conference for rookies Shane Larkin, Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel, but everyone was wondering where things were in regards to their reported meeting with free agent center Andrew Bynum. He met with Cleveland on Monday and traveled to meet with the Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson spoke to the media in regards to the free agent big man.
It was reported that Bynum would be in Dallas today for a meeting and Nelson confirmed that they met with Bynum and his agent. “They had a nice visit with our doctors, we had a lunch,” Nelson said. “Beyond that, the negotiations are ongoing.” It was reported that Bynum would not work out for teams prior to signing a deal and Nelson confirmed that the center did not work out for the Mavs on Wednesday.
The Mavs came up short in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, over the weekend. The quickly shifted their focus to plan B (or whatever letter), and have made moves to give a little more insight for what the Mavs are looking to do this offseason.
Questions lead to answers and answers lead to more questions. It’s a vicious circle. Let’s go over some key notes as we head into the next phase of free agency.
For those who don’t know, MOR is a podcast entirely devoted to your Dallas Mavericks.
Judgement day is near. But first, a lot of talking and no signatures during the free-agency waiting period. Circumstances dictate that this is a make or break summer for the Mavs as it relates to “breaking up” the 2011 squad. We kick it off right with two of our favorite Mavs experts, Mark Followill and Jeff “Skin” Wade joining us.
This is it. This is the moment that everyone has been waiting for. As it was apparent that the Mavs weren’t going to make the first time in over a decade, everyone circled July 1st on their calendar. They waited to see if the Mavs could really make progress on improving their team.
Some are waiting to say “I told you so” and that dismantling the championship team was a mistake. Over the weekend, I’ve looked over that roster again and the results and I still stand by my belief that that captured lightning in a bottle and Dirk Nowitzki had one of the greatest playoff runs the league has ever seen. As the Miami Heat celebrate their second championship, Dirk and those Mavs will know that they “got ‘em.”
History may or may not remember the 2011 Mavs for what they did and mainly remember what the Heat didn’t do, but there’s no way to erase the fact that Nowitzki was the baddest man on a basketball court that summer.
Last season was a disappointing one as the Mavs wandered through the wilderness of mediocrity. Nowitzki’s injury derailed the season from the get-go. Despite that, the Mavs were able to find a way to stay playoff relevant until the final week of the season. That shows that Dirk and a cast of characters can be a playoff team, but the front office must now make their move and secure more reliable weapons for their star. “We’re trying to accumulate high quality, high character, high energy, high motor, skilled players to put around Dirk Nowitzki,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft. “He’s still one of the greatest players in the game and we’ve got to enhance his ability to do what he does.
“We’ve got to enhance the opportunity to keep him playing as long as possible because he loves to play and he’s great. To do that effectively, we’ve got to get the best guys possible around him. That’s a priority and it’ll continue to be one this summer.”
Now is the time. Let’s look at everything under the free agency microscope.
With seven days until free agency begins, it’s time to officially start naming names as ideal targets for free agency. This week, The Two Man Game will go through each position and determine who appears to be ideal fits for the Mavs.
Money is always an issue, but the Mavs will have their share of cap space to work with. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard will not be mentioned on these lists because it’s blatantly obvious that they would be on the top of their respective lists, but they’re still long shots to come to Dallas.
Meshing all the pieces together is just as important of a part of deciding on the pieces. The number one option at shooting guard might not be an ideal match with the number one option at small forward. These rankings will be solely on my own projections. A quick blurb from Editor-in-Chief Rob Mahoney’s free agency primer on the SI.com’s Point Forward will be mentioned for each player.
It’s apparent that the point guard position is the most important position the Mavs will need to take care of this summer. There were countless amounts of times over the year where they looked disorganized on offense and couldn’t execute the simple task of getting Dirk Nowitzki the ball. Getting a point guard who can handle the offense is an extreme priority this summer.
Let’s look at the free agent options at the point guard option.
There have been a lot of positive remarks about the questions and answers series that has started during the offseason. I think people are just thirsty for Mavs information or debate, but we’ll continue running with the series. If you ever have questions you want tossed into future a batch, you can always send them through Twitter or through the comments section.
This batch provides a good mixture of looking back, looking ahead and evaluating who the true gambles are this offseason with free agency. If Dirk and Carlisle were your kids and you had to pick one as your favorite, who would you pick? Wait, parents don’t have to pick a favorite child? Oh, that’s good to know for the future. Anyways, a variation of that topic is brought up.
For now, here are 10 more questions and answers about the Mavs.
Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
It wasn’t the worst week of the Mavs’ season, but it was arguably the most excruciating. It started off with a solid win in New Orleans, then slid rapidly from frustrating (against LA) to inexcusable (against Milwaukee) to downright comical (against Memphis).
Let’s hit all those points in a bit more detail as we wrap up the best and worst of the week.
Week 18 (@Hornets, Lakers, Bucks, @Grizzlies)
1) Elton Brand
Brand’s production this week was impressive across the board. He scored well and efficiently, averaging almost 13 points per game on 22-of-40 (55%) cumulative shooting. He pulled down almost nine rebounds per game (despite averaging just 25 minutes and conceding many of his boards to Dirk, discussed next), including an impressive 14-rebound performance against the Bucks. He also defended the post well for most of the week, matching up at various points against Dwight Howard, Larry Sanders, Drew Gooden, and Marc Gasol. Brand didn’t exactly shut any of those guys down (although Howard did have a pretty pitiful game in Dallas), but he worked very hard to make things difficult for them. That segues nicely into the most impressive thing about Brand this week: his effort. Brand played exceptionally hard the vast majority of the time he was on the court. Nowhere was that effort more apparent than against Milwaukee, where Brand repeatedly beat multiple Bucks players (with position, no less) to loose balls and free rebounds. He was a disruptive force in the middle, which is something the Mavs have sorely lacked for most of the year. Sure, Brand’s in a contract year, but the pride with which he plays is palpable. At the right price, I personally would welcome him back next year.
Just when it appeared that it couldn’t get worse for the Mavericks, they found another way to lose the game. The turnover bug found its way to Dirk Nowitzki as he had two key turnovers in the final three minutes of the game. The Milwaukee Bucks were able to convert on both of the turnovers and secured a 95-90 victory over Dallas. The Mavericks had a total of 20 turnovers, leading to 19 points for the Bucks.
The Mavericks spoiled a rare 20/20 game for Dirk. He recorded his sixth career 20-point, 20-rebound game with 21 points to go along with a season-high 20 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday. It was his first 20/20 game since Apr. 3, 2003 vs. the L.A. Lakers (25 points and 22 rebounds). It was his seventh career game with 20-plus rebounds and his first since Dec. 27, 2007 (20 rebounds). Oddly enough, the Mavericks are now 3-3 in games where Dirk has scored at least 20 points and grabbed at least 20 rebounds in the same game.
Nowitzki, who had a season-high 30 points and a then season-high 13 rebounds against the Lakers in their previous game, recorded his second consecutive double-double (second of the season, 371stcareer). Nowitzki is averaging 25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds over his last three games. He is shooting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the field and 70 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range in that span. Nowitzki is averaging 21.5 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last six games. He is shooting 53.4 percent (47-of-88) from the field and 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from deep in that span.
Monta Ellis spoiled Dirk’s night as he ending up having a game-high 22 points. He scored 11 of his 22 points in the final quarter. He also added a game-high nine assists and a season-high-tying six steals in 44 minutes. It was his fourth game with six thefts this season.
Some notes before the quotes:
- Nowitzki pulled down 11 first-half rebounds against the Bucks on Tuesday. It was tied for the second-most rebounds he’s recorded in the first half of a game in his career (he had 11 in the first half on two other occasions, and recorded 12 in the first half twice). The most rebounds Nowitzki recorded in any half in his career was 13 in the second half (twice).
- Elton Brand recorded his seventh double-double of the season (403rd career) with 12 points (6-8 FGs) and a season-high 14 rebounds (7 OR) in 25 minutes off the bench. His previous high rebounding game was 13 on two occasions. Brand is averaging 14.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last four games. He is shooting 57.1 percent (24-of-42) from the field in that span.
- Dallas went 1-of-17 from 3-point range.
Here is the quoteboard for the Mavericks’ loss to the Lakers.
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- There aren’t a lot of positives to take from a loss like this, except for the fact that it’s probably not all that representative of anything. The reality: the Mavs are now the third team this season to lose all three games of a back-to-back-to-back. At 23-20, they’ve dropped eight of ten and would occupy the West’s final playoff spot if the season ended today. Fortunately, the season doesn’t end today. This brutal stretch of nine games in 12 nights is over and I’m closer to the Mark Cuban “these losses are meaningless” school of thought than the “Dallas is a disaster” stance that clean-shaven Sam Mitchell took on NBA TV Friday night. Brendan Haywood will be back soon, Delonte West after that, and we’ll look for incremental improvements over the next month or so.
- Oh, Jason Kidd will be back soon, too. He was a late scratch. No need to play the soon-to-be 39-year-old on three straight nights. This meant we were treated to a starting backcourt of Jason Terry and Dominique Jones, with Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter theoretically adding scoring punch off the bench. For JET, it was his first start since last January. For Jones, it was the first of his career. Also, this was Terry’s 1000th career regular season game.
- For the second night in a row, Dallas looked old and slow and fell behind early to a non-playoff team. The Warriors scored the first six points of the game and Rick Carlisle took his first timeout with 6:31 left in the first, down 11-5. The Mavs’ legs were dragging from the opening tip, while the Warriors, who hadn’t played since Wednesday, were full of energy, even if it wasn’t always channeled correctly. The Mavs started the first quarter shooting 2-13 and finished it 6-22.
- That energy I talked about? Much of it came from Ekpe Udoh, who was running and jumping and contesting shots all over the place. Early in the first, he challenged a Dirk Nowitzki jumper, then blocked Ian Mahinmi’s follow attempt. He blocked a Nowitzki shot a few possessions later. He should become a Serge Ibaka-like league-wide fan favorite as soon as the Warriors are relevant.
- The first quarter wasn’t all one-sided and it wasn’t just the Mavericks being sloppy — both teams had six turnovers in the opening frame. After that timeout with 6:31 left, Rodrigue Beaubois and Lamar Odom checked in. Both immediately hit threes and tied the game at 11. But in the last 3:31, Golden State went on a 13-2 run. For the rest of the game, Dallas was playing catch-up.