- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie previews the Mavs’ season, which he pegs for 52 wins (though Dwyer notes that such a mark is easily beatable by this collective): “…as much as age sets in, and as much as a lack of depth will likely keep the Mavericks away from the ranks of the championship contender, Dallas will still field a sound rotation of basketball players that will give them a chance to beat every team – every single one of them – soundly on any given night. Even if Jason Kidd won’t be able to pop jumpers all night as a threat off of a screen and roll, and if Dirk finally does decide to not act like an All-NBA player, the core is good enough to keep this team competitive, and in the race for that distant second spot behind the Los Angeles Lakers.” Also, the Brian Cardinal picture is worth a click-through alone.
- Check out The Basketball Jones’ season preview for the Mavs, and while you’re at it, the Jones’ first full-length episode of the season. Rejoice!
- Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “I suppose there is a fine line between being ‘detail-oriented’ and being a ‘dictatorial control freak.’…let’s put Rick Carlisle and the Mavs coaching staff in the former category, shall we? Remember one of Rick’s main gripes about his players in the San Antonio playoff series: Dallas didn’t win its share of the “50-50 balls,’’ that is, the loose balls on the floor that can be gathered up to gain or retain possession, that can be fast-break starters, momentum-grabbers, game winners. On Sunday, guess what the Mavs worked on? Hustle and angles and attacking, all as they relate to loose balls. A basketball version of football’s ‘fumble drills,’ basically.”
- Von Wafer (Celtics), Mo Ager (Timberwolves), Jeremy Lin (Warriors), D.J. Mbenga (Hornets), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Hornets), Shawne Williams (Knicks), and Malik Allen (Magic) all made opening day rosters. Jake Voskuhl, Dwayne Jones, J.R. Giddens, and Joe Crawford did not. (Thanks to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside for compiling a hell of a list.)
- From Sports Illustrated’s “NBA Enemy Lines” feature, in which an opposing scout gives his take on a given NBA team: “Their big pickup, Tyson Chandler, is important to them because teams anticipate being able to penetrate from the top against Kidd, Terry and Barea, who all have a hard time keep anybody in front of them. So now the Mavericks should be able to bring over a big guy to meet the penetration, whether it’s Chandler or Brendan Haywood. The fundamental problem remains on the perimeter, but at least now they have some long and mobile big guys who are capable of changing shots. Haywood doesn’t excite anyone too much, but he’s serviceable as a long guy you have to shoot over. I hear people saying he’s soft, but I think that’s a bad rap. He’s effective and he has a nice right hook. Most of the time he’ll be able to turn to that shoulder and get off the shot whenever he wants.” For the record, haven’t heard much of anyone calling Haywood soft. You?
- A handy tidbit from Jason Terry (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “We have 17 of 26 games at home to start the season, so we need to set a tone.”
- Shawn Marion has a lot of faith in Tyson Chandler’s ability to make an impact on defense.
- Tyson Chandler, from his official site: “To do that, we have to have strong leadership and it’s been great working with a dedicated owner like Mark Cuban. Cube, as we call him, is dope. He’s a cool-cat. He obviously loves the game and he loves to be around it. We know that we have a passionate owner and that’s always a good thing. His only motivation is to win championships…I’m so happy to get a chance to play with two of the best in the game at what they do in Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. J-Kidd is the ultimate professional. He comes in to work every day and he sees things that I don’t even know if a coach can see. But he sees them in real time, right there on the floor, in the flow of the game. He’s an incredible passer and he’s definitely going to improve my game. Dirk has always been an incredible scorer and an assassin on the offensive end and that’s coming from me being on the other side. Now, getting to watch that daily, I see why he’s one of top players in our league. He’s almost unstoppable.”
- Mark Followill’s scouting report on Dominique Jones for DallasBasketball.com: “Jones has the strength, tenacity and desire it would appear to defend well at this level, although he has been caught reaching a few times this preseason rather than playing solid defense by using his feet. The weakest part of his game right now is definitely the outside jump shot. Improving that doesn’t appear to be a mechanical issue, but more about spending time in the gym working on it and developing confidence. I’ve seen some good decisions from him with the ball when he drives in terms of passing. I don’t think that makes him a point guard, but its good he can make smart decisions if he is going to be getting down into the paint with regularity.”
Tim Thomas officially re-signed with the Mavericks almost a month ago, but today Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reported that Thomas will not be a Maverick in practice this season, even if he’s currently one in name. Thomas’ wife’s health again demands his attention, and he will not be playing for Dallas (or conceivably any NBA team) this season without a substantial change in her status. Sefko also noted that it’s possible Thomas could retire from basketball altogether.
First order of business: my thoughts and prayers go out to Tim, Tricia, and the rest of the Thomas family.
In terms of how this will affect the team, the specifics of what will happen with Thomas’ deal (and roster spot) have yet to be determined. According to Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas, the Mavs are currently working with league officials to void Thomas’ contract.
It’s a pity. Thomas functioned well with Dallas, and he gave the Mavs a solid reserve last season during his limited time with the team. In Thomas’ stead, the Mavericks could find more playing time for Ian Mahinmi, who brings size, athleticism, and rebounding to any lineup he’s in. Mahinmi’s skills aren’t ideal if he’s playing alongside Brendan Haywood or Tyson Chandler rather than behind them, but he can defend opposing bigs and produce a bit without using many possessions. Considering that we’re talking about a candidate for leftovers, I think Rick Carlisle can live with that.
Another option is for Dallas to bring in another big for a look in training camp. Many of the more promising fringe NBA prospects have already found training camp homes, but should Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle feel compelled to add another big to the roster, there are still a few candidates available. Recently added to that bunch of available big men is former Maverick Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and while Pops doesn’t have any concrete (or even rumored) links to the team at present, he’s the cream of the remaining crop. Otherwise, you’re looking at a pool of D-Leaguers (though keep in mind that some have already accepted training camp invites from other teams), barely productive vets, or candidates for playing time in Europe.
Video via Angry Trey’s Blog.
Why yes, that is Gerald Green. And Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Tearing up the 2010 Russian Cup. Some sweet dunks by both, although Green and Pops eventually lose to a guy who basically just does slight variants of the same dunk over and over. Remind you of anybody?
Some pretty creative dunks in there, though, and even the basic slams are impressive. I’d take this crew over the 2010 NBA Dunk Contest field any day.
- Fish points out that Dirk Nowitzki is among the league leaders in plus/minus, and that is impressive. But even more impressive is that Dirk is among the league leaders in adjusted plus/minus, which keeps teammate quality and opponent quality as a control. Not too shabby at all. (Interestingly enough, Shawn Marion is second on the team in APM for a one-year sample size, although Jason Kidd trumps him in two-year production.)
- And a bonus stat: if you take a look at the players in the league with the highest defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions for an individual player), you’ll find two Mavs in the top four. Coming in at number four is the understated Erick Dampier, who does more for the Mavs’ D than he will ever get credit for. But at number three? Dirk Nowitzki. It’s an imperfect metric, but it does speak to how far Dirk has come since his early days in Dallas.
- All things considered, this is a solid attempt at recreating Dirk’s visage through hair. Yes, I just typed that.
- Jason Kidd has blocked more shots this season than Brad Miller.
- Pops Mensah-Bonsu, one-time Maverick and former fan favorite, finds himself cut from yet another team. A tough break for a good guy, and one with NBA-level talent at that.
- As predicted, the Nets waived Sean Williams today as part of the Hump-Najera swap. Could they go for the twofer and cut Shawne Williams before the stroke of midnight?
- Josh Howard (thigh) is practicing again and Drew Gooden should be active for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, but Tim Thomas is now among the walking wounded after landing on Gooden’s foot during practice.
- Eric Freeman (who has succeeded Bethlehem Shoals over at The Baseline) on Eddie Najera as journeyman (featuring a quote from Najera originally from Chris Tomasson of FanHouse): “‘That would be the icing on the cake to go to a championship (contender),’ said Najera, speaking by phone from New Jersey, where he had been sent home from the Nets’ road trip. ‘Of course, if this opportunity (to go to Dallas) happens, then I would be really happy. But if it doesn’t, I also would be happy.’ This says less about Najera’s specific feelings about the teams and more about the life of a journeyman. When you’ve moved several times over your career, you learn to find the good in every situation. Maybe that turns playing professional basketball into more of a job than a dream, but it’s also the best way to stay sane.”
- Mark and Sebastian over at NetsAreScorching are getting to know Kris Humphries a little better, thanks to a little help from yours truly. Venture over and see if there’s anything I missed, and feel free to leave your own thoughts on Hump’s game in the comments at NAS.
- Najera on the trade (via Mark Francescutti at the DMN): “I think I’m the type of player that can perform on winning teams,” Najera told New Jersey media members. “Obviously, right now, [the Nets] need playmakers and I’m not that type of guy. We need one-on-one guys and I’m not that type of guy…I’m the guy that’s going to keep his mouth shut, have a good attitude and always come to work when he’s healthy and try to help win ball games.”
- M. Haubs of The Painted Area on the Mavs’ team rebounding: “Slightly surprised the Mavs are not a better rebounding team currently. Have a great collection of rebounders on the roster, especially above-average rebounders at perimeter positons (Marion, Kidd, Howard). Granted, Howard has been dinged up, but still think Dallas should be better on the boards. Can’t ask much more from the center positon, where Dampier and Drew Gooden have been pounding the glass this season. Coach Carlisle needs to find a way to get some better rebounding efforts outside the 5-spot. Kidd is playing the same amount minutes as last year (35.6), but averaging one less rpg than last year. Not to mention, Shawn Marion is having the worst rebounding year of his career. Also, Dirk has slowly seen his reb. production decline over the last few years. Suffice to say, Dallas has been underachieving on the boards thus far, but the raw talent is there to improve internally.”
Ol’ buddy, ol’ pal Pops Mensah-Bonsu was recently waived by the Spurs (in order to clear the roster spot that will be filled by Drew Gooden), and appears to be headed to the Raptors. For a fast-breaking team that could use some front-court depth, Pops seems like a perfect fit. I wish them a long and prosperous marriage.
According to fellow TrueHoop Networker Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell, the Spurs’ NBDL affiliate, the Austin Toros, have picked up former Maverick Pops Mensah-Bonsu. I’ve always loved watching Pops play, and seeing him jet off to Europe at the beginning of this season was a bit depressing. So welcome back, Pops, even if it is for the Spurs.