News all around this afternoon.
First, the Mavs have taken a step towards resolving their roster quandary. Nathan Jawai has been shipped to the Wolves for a future second round pick, though the year and protection on the pick have yet to be unveiled.
It makes sense from all angles. Despite the Mavs’ lack of depth at center, Jawai’s inexperience and defensive limitations made him expendable. Shawne Williams, on the other hand, while likely less attractive to the Mavs than Jawai, has a NBA rap sheet and a larger deal. Unfortunately for Jawaibberwocky (and possibly Jake Voskuhl), those two factors make Williams an awfully difficult sell to opposing GMs.
But the news of greater import: According to Marc Stein and Chris Sheridan, the referee lockout could be coming to a close. There’s nothing concrete as of yet, but any movement between the league and the refs is a cue for smile time. The replacement refs have done their jobs admirably, but if every regular season game turns into a television miniseries with periodic journeys to and from the foul line, things could turn dour.
The Mavs are in a funny place. They’ve got a boat full of third wheels and mouths to feed, but the stone bird in the hand place isn’t worth two roster spots in the bush. Don’t argue, just nod.
Sixteen players, fifteen roster spots. Waiving Greg Buckner moved the Mavs one step closer to roster equilibrium, but that was the easy part. Parting ways with Buck was a no-brainer considering the savings involved, but unless the Mavs can find a trade partner willing to do a 2-for-1 swap, they’ll be paying a player’s full player salary for naught. No prospect, no practice squad filler, no D-League assignment, and no donut runner.
Most of the players are safe. The Dirks, JETs, and Kidds of the world hardly have to worry about being cut before training camp, and even the Tim Thomases and Matt Carrolls can sleep easy knowing their roster spots are likely safe. But if the league-imposed guillotine comes down to enforce the roster limit, there are three guys in particular that may want to consider alternative arrangements:
- Shawne Williams – one year, $2.4 million: Williams has long been out of the Mavs’ plans. Brought in as a gamble and a project for Rick Carlisle, Williams never cracked the playing rotation and only turned in a few solid efforts. Shawne has been held at arm’s length for some time with no clear indication of exactly when things went sour between him and the Mavs. But “personal reasons” is the new “back spasms” is the new “plantar fascitis” (I kid), and the team’s apparent lack of interest in Williams could never be more pertinent. If Carlisle, Nelson, and Cuban are convinced that they’ve seen all they need to from Williams (and that outcome seems likely), Shawne could be on his way out.
- Kris Humphries – two years, $6.1 million: Kris Humphries is one of the new kids, but his role on the team is certainly ambiguous. The Mavs have already filled their high-energy undersized big slot with a familiar face in James Singleton, and Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion would seemingly make all of Humphries’ skills redundant. Can Humphries defend centers? 82games.com seems to answer that question with a conclusive “Meh.” Humphries’ substantial price tag may be enough to keep him a Maverick (though only from some bizarre logic that keeping him forces validation, regardless of the fact the price is paid regardless)
- Nathan Jawai – one year, $736,420: Nathan Jawai is still a man of mystery, and Mark Cuban himself admitted in his chat with the Dallas Morning News that even he hasn’t had a chance to see Jawai and evaluate him properly. I can’t claim to be any more knowledgeable, as I admit that most of my insight into the Jawaibberwocky is based off of second-hand judgments and footage of limited game action. But his contract is slim and there’s no built-in obligation, making him easy to sever ties with.
Phoenix Suns 95, Dallas Mavericks 90
Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images.
While wins in Vegas Summer League are the NBA equivalent of funny money, the minutes played are not without consequence.
For one, this is real, NBA basketball. It’s not played in big arenas or with the brightest stars, but these are representatives of real NBA teams playing other potential competitors with the NBA logo on their unis. It’s damn sloppy and a huge step down talent-wise from what we see in the NBA, but it’s not a bad meet-and-greet for players and the fans. It lets us get a decent first look at the Mavs’ draftees, and proves that Nathan Jawai(bberwocky) is, in fact, a real person.
But basketball wouldn’t be basketball without the harsh reality of injuries. Rodrigue Beaubois was treated first-hand to that experience last night, as he suffered a left knee contusion in the waning moments of the game. It’s apparently nothing serious, and Beaubois isn’t expected to miss any Summer League time. Whew.
But even when Beaubois’ wasn’t making headlines (well, let’s be honest: footnotes) with his injury, he was catching plenty of eyes. So far we’ve seen three very different games from Roddy. Game one was an adventure, to put it kindly; Beaubois clearly needed time to feel his way into NBA basketball. Game two was a demonstration, a Beaubois-led clinic exploring what he could develop into as a point guard. Game three was an organic, yet controlled attempt by Rodrigue to show his skills as a point guard. Three very different looks, two of which are very promising. Strong play in Summer League is hardly indicative of future success, but Beaubois has the look of a stud. He knows his way around a basketball court, and even it takes him a few years to fully grasp everything going on around him, his instincts and natural talents are pretty swell.
Rick Carlisle came on the broadcast for awhile to talk about a variety of the topics, Ahmad Nivins among them. Rick gave the usual “WE COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW FAR HE FELL, I MEAN, HE WAS OUR GUY ALL ALONG!” speech, which I’d usually dismiss as lip service. But after watching more of Nivins in real game action, I would be incredibly disappointed if he wasn’t on the Mavs’ opening day roster. There are clearly some holes in his game, but I’m still waiting for the reason this guy was a second round pick. Nivins is fundamentally sound, he has some range, and he’s a solid defender (at this level, anyway). While it’s difficult to say just how well he’d perform against the big boys, he could really help provide some depth at the 4.
Nathan Jawai had some serious troubles. Even when executing the most basic of post moves, Jawai seemed to be in slow motion and often came up short. Having Robin Lopez on you doesn’t help, but from his single performance in a Maverick uniform, I see no reason for optimism. One point (0-5 FG), five rebounds, six fouls, and still one sweet nickname for the Jawaibberwocky. Give me Ryan Hollins, or give me death!
Shan Foster’s shooting finally came around, but even in his most impressive effort yet, he was decidedly mortal. The Mavs will be waiting a long time if they expect Foster to develop into a useful player; For now, he clearly needs the ball in his hands to be effective at all, and even in that capacity he’s no particularly good at anything aside from shooting. Consider Foster’s stroke isn’t pure enough to be counted on night-in and night-out, that doesn’t bode well for his NBA prospects.
The other notable names remain the same, but no one has stood out in a way that would command your attention. It’s become abundantly clear to me that Luke Jackson’s only role in the NBA would be as a spot-up shooter, but his defense would likely limit his effectiveness. Mickael Gelabale works really hard on the basketball court, but probably shouldn’t be anything more than a third-string wing player. Aaron Miles had his best game of the SL, and yet I still can’t convince myself that he’s an NBA player. Instinctively, my eyes turn to Beaubois and Nivins on the court, and there’s a reason for that. Not only are they the Mavs’ draft picks this season and hope for the future, but they remain the only players on the Mavs’ summer league roster capable of holding your attention.
A footnote on the Shawn Marion acquisition was added acquisition of center Nathan Jawai, fondly dubbed by one Matt Moore as the Jawaibberwocky. There was some issue with the availability of Memphis-bound Quincy Douby, so Jawai was sent to Dallas in order to balance the incoming and outgoing contracts for Toronto.
While we should all beware the Jawaibberwocky, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch, he could very well be off the team by season’s start. Or perhaps the Mavs favor his guaranteed money to the added cost of re-signing Ryan Hollins. Regardless, Jawai looks to be a relative non-factor buried deep in the rotation behind the Mavs now relatively crowded frontcourt.