Defining Success: The Backcourt

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 26, 2009 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Let’s get specific.  You don’t just climb into the league’s elite with broad strokes to cover all problems; the Mavs need to hone in on the specifics that limited them last year in order to go forward.  We’ve already painted what should be the Mavs’ team goals, and the same policy goes for this set of attainable standards: comment away with anything you guys feel is missing, and we’ll see if we can’t start up the ol’ amendment process.

Without further ado:

  • Prove that someone on the roster is capable of guarding quick point guards.  J.J. Barea proved that he’s capable of at least making Tony Parker’s life difficult, but Rodrigue Beaubois, Quinton Ross, and even Shawn Marion and Josh Howard will likely get a stab at manning up on those speedy 1s.  That lack of perimeter quickness proved to be a real shortcoming of last year’s Mavs, and this team will need to do a better job of both keeping up man-on-man and funneling opposing players into the help D.
  • Improve the three point shooting margin.  The Mavs have three point shooters.  Dirk Nowitzki made his name in the league with that very shot, Jason Terry kills at that range, Jason Kidd is an old dog with a new trick, and a number of other players on the roster shoot at a good clip.  And yet the team shot just 35% from three last season, good (bad?) for 25th in the league.  Youch.  That mark is made even more painful b the 37% shooting that the Mavs allowed from three, a simply unacceptable mark for a team with such lofty aspirations.  On paper, the Mavs have helped their cause by adding Tim Thomas, Shawn Marion, and Quinton Ross into the rotation, while losing Antoine Wright.  That should at least boost the Mavs’ three point attempts, but can they capitalize on the attempts given to them in the system?  Or will we see shades of Matt Carroll, a shooter looking more and more like a man defeated by himself?  Of course the margin doesn’t stop there.  The Mavs’ perimeter D will need to boast quicker and more effective rotations in order to contest those open looks outside.  Easy as pie, right?
  • Mind the children.  It’s important that the Mavs are competitive now, but perhaps equally so that they maintain some semblance of competitiveness when the bottom falls out.  Dirk can’t be this team’s safety net forever, and finding suitable rotation players would at least pad the pit of spikes and lottery balls below with pillows.  Beaubois is the key, but J.J. Barea and Quinton Ross (though he’s a bit old for this bunch) could also play important roles in the Mavs’ future at affordable prices.
  • Ch-ch-ch-changes.  Josh Howard will likely start at the 2, and his success in that transition will likely coincide with any larger gains the Mavs benefit from.  Shooting guard and small forward aren’t startlingly different positions in today’s NBA or the Mavs’ offensive system, but a position change does pose a new set of unique problems.
  • No concessions, if you please.  Last season, the Mavs faced a bit of a problem.  Playing Jason Kidd and Jason Terry together meant a potent offense, but a lacking defense.  Playing Jason Kidd and Antoine Wright together brought a limited offense but a marginally superior defense.  When faced with those two ‘evils’, what’s a head coach to do?  Ideally, the Mavs should be able to field a backcourt that’s competitive on both ends, without clear concessions through weakness alone.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 9, 2009 under xOther | 4 Comments to Read

EDIT: Some additions:

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel (via TQC): “While watching summer-league action at RDV Sportsplex, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard yelled at Marcin Gortat, joking, ‘Hey, get out of here. You don’t want to play for the Magic anymore.’ Gortat had just returned from a meeting with Magic General Manager Otis Smith and Gortat’s agent, Guy Zucker, to discuss the offer sheet he signed with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, the first day that NBA free agents can officially sign contracts with their new teams. ‘Five years, $34 million,’ Gortat said, so happy with the Mavs’ offer that he broke an unwritten rule among players who never divulge the count and the amount…The Magic could match and trade Gortat to receive compensation this season. They would have to wait 90 days from the start of the season to deal him — hoping that he stays healthy until December — but that doesn’t appear to be on Smith’s agenda. ‘It’s doable,” Smith said. “But right now I’m still thinking the other way [not to match].’”
  • Jason Kidd may have been closer to New York than we thought (transcribed by Tas Melas of Sports Radio Interviews): [Host, Dan Patrick:] Was anyone else interested in you other than Dallas and New York? [Kidd:] ‘Those were the two teams – to have the opportunity to play in New York, in the sense of the Garden.  (Host: How close were you to going to New York?)  I was very close, New York did everything right in the sense of the three-year contract, but Cuban and the Mavs stepped up, and I think we’re pretty close to competing with the Lakers, and the elite teams, Denver, in the western conference.  So, I thought it was best for me to stay.’”
  • An excellent break-down of the Mavs’ summer league team (via Ridiculous Upside).
  • If you think the Mavs are paying too much for Marcin Gortat or Shawn Marion, you clearly haven’t seen the contract the Cleveland Cavaliers just gave to Anderson Varejao.
  • This is a damn travesty.

Original links:

  • Don’t forget about Quinton Ross, who should slide into Antoine Wright’s shoes.
  • Brendan K. O’Grady, author of 2nd Round Reach, crosses paths with Dirk in his very interesting analysis of Pau Gasol’s role in the league as a “Euro” in a guest post at FreeDarko: “As the best player of the 2006-2007 season, Dirk Nowitzki was poised to become the greatest Euro in history. His Mavericks were a confluence of players with complimentary and very American styles (as presented by Stackhouse, Jason Terry, and especially Josh Howard) yet all were molded around Dirk’s singular, distinctly foreign presence. He brought an alien skill set, and altered the course of the NBA’s season with the effect that only a 7-foot white shooting guard masquerading as a power forward could have on the game…And for prolonged stretches in that year, Dirk’s Euroness was synonymous with the strength of granite mountains, and no longer spoken of with the superficial novelty that once would have come in the same breath as the words “Nikoloz Tskitishvili.” After the first such sustained period of brilliance from the caste’s greatest hero, no more demoralizing a moment could have existed for the Euro than when a shattered Dirk, all sunken-eyes and vacant smile, shook hands and posed with Stern as he accepted his MVP trophy, just a week after being eliminated from contention during the anarchic Warriors’ impossible paroxysm against reality.”
  • Anthony Parker appears Cleveland-bound, so cross him off your biannual exception wish lists.  Should be good times for the Cavs.
  • Interestingly enough, the Shawn Marion trade has temporarily stalled the Zach Randolph-to-Memphis deal.  It shouldn’t be anything more than a hiccup, but Clippernation is still holding its collective breath.  (via Clips Nation)
  • Bethlehem Shoals of The Baseline: “It’s worth noting that, before [Steve] Nash, [Shawn] Marion put up nearly identical stats with [Stephon] Marbury as the Suns point guard, which means The Matrix is either more independent than we thought or Marbury deserves a little credit for something. He’s also 31, which matters more for him than Dirk since his game is premised on athleticism. But it’s not like the Mavs have an option other than to load up now, try the best they can to win a championship in Dirk’s later years, and then start over. While Marion’s far from ideal, with a more up-tempo offense he might get some of his groove back, and it doesn’t hurt that he once played with Kidd (and Kidd’s good at making life easy for his kind of player).”
  • Marcin Gortat, on advice he’s received regarding his first big contract (via Eddy Rivera of Third Quarter Collapse): “Yeah, I’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of guys. They all told me that I have to stay humble and just don’t forget about the stuff that I was doing the last two years. I’m talking about being the first in the gym, working on my game, improving every part of m y game so like I said, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for me. I believe I’m going to get more playing time and my role might be bigger next year so I’m just going to try to show that I’m a better basketball player.”  More with Gortat here.

Antoine Wright, Meet Yourself

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 8, 2009 under News, Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

The Mavs have signed Quinton Ross to a contract, the official terms of which have not been disclosed.

Ross is a good pick-up provided his salary commitment is minimal, which in all likelihood, it is.  He’s essentially an Antoine Wright clone, though he’s probably a little quicker on his feet.  It’s also worth noting that Ross shot the three at a markedly better rate last season (37.5% on 1.3 attempts, vs. Wright’s 30.5% on 2.3 attempts), despite playing for a Grizzlies team that didn’t have the defensive draw of a Dirk Nowitzki or a Jason Terry.  Ross played his best days with the Clippers in their 2005-2006 moment of glory, during which he was a teammate of James Singleton.

Donnie Nelson’s take, as per the press release: “Quinton has been part of the Dallas basketball fabric for many years…We are happy and proud to bring him home [Ed. note: Ross played his high school ball at Kimball and in college at SMU]. His athleticism, defensive versatility and experience will add depth to our backcourt.”

Heard It Through the Bare Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 2, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

More to come in some separate posts, but here’s a little bit of link food for the junkies out there.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 1, 2009 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • The Mavs have been in contact with all of their free agents (yes, that means  you, Gerald Green), as well as Marcin Gortat and Quinton Ross.  Gortat was to be expected; the Mavs need help in the middle and they need it bad.  Ross, on the other hand, is a bit of a wild card.  He bears a pretty close resemblance to Antoine Wright on the court, which isn’t that bad I guess.  He also serves as evidence that the Mavs are looking to assemble the entire cast of role players from the 2005 Clippers (Wilcox and VladRad, ahoy!).
  • According to Woj at Yahoo! Sports, Gortat’s agent is spreading word that he’s already received one offer for the full midlevel (speculated to be from the Houston Rockets).  The gauntlet has been thrown.
  • Marc Stein, ESPN: “There’s no question that the idea of signing with New York holds some real appeal for J-Kidd. He loves the city and is equally fond of Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who is said to covet Kidd badly and apparently believes the Knicks have a legit shot at luring him out of Dallas. Plugged-in sources insist, however, that Kidd has no interest in one-year offers, especially since a one-year offer from New York would start at only the $5.6 million midlevel. Offering more than one year, however, would slice into the cap space the Knicks have set aside for the 2010 free-agent bonanza … unless they’re sure that they can shed the contracts of Eddy Curry and/or Jared Jeffries. ‘The Knicks can’t give Jason more than one year,’ said one rival executive, ‘unless they think that signing him gets them LeBron.’”
  • Though I’ve done my fair share of supporting Jason Kidd, I tend to agree with Kelly Dwyer: Kidd has no place on the New York Knicks.  If Kidd is the selling point for LeBron to come to NYC, there’s been a bit of a miscalculation.  Kidd’s not long for this league, and regardless of what LeBron or Bosh or Wade thinks of him, he won’t be around to build a new empire.  Portland makes a tad more sense (Steve Blake is no Kidd), but the situations that make the most sense for Kidd remain Dallas (we need him for fear of slipping further into irrelevancy), Cleveland (LeBron and Shaq, why not another great player?), and Los Angeles (though the dollars don’t make sense).
  • Dave ponders the possibility of Kidd on the Blazers.
  • A little ditty about the ethics of free agency.
  • Chris Sheridan, ESPN: “During a casual conversation with reporters during Team USA’s camp in Las Vegas in the summer of 2007, the discussion was about the new NBA trend toward fiscal responsibility. [Kobe Bryant noted,] ‘Damp ruined it for everybody, eh?’”
  • Word is that Ron Artest wants to stick around in Houston.  This is why you don’t try to anticipate Ron; his combination of pride, talent, self-worth, and outright zaniness should have us expecting the unexpected by now.  After hearing the news that Yao Ming may never play professional basketball again, Artest seems as fiercely loyal as ever.