Heard It Through the Abbreviated Grapevine 2-27-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 27, 2009 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

  • The Rockets defense is stupid good.  Ron Artest was already the best perimeter defender in the league, with Shane Battier not far behind.  You combine those two with a shot blocker in Yao Ming and an aggressive defensive gameplan, and you’ve got quite a powerhouse on your hands.  Losing McGrady for the season and Rafer Alston via trade was supposed to hurt the Rockets’ offense, but in the process they may have also ditched their two worst defenders in favor of more minutes for Battier and bullish point guard Kyle Lowry.  (EDIT: But don’t take my word for it.  Read Kevin Arnovitz’s redonkulous breakdown of the Rockets’ defense on LeBron James in last night’s game.)
  • It can’t ever feel good to be traded.  Even though on a lot of levels I’m sure it feels good for a Pau Gasol to go from a team like the Grizz to a team like the Lakers, it’s also a team giving up on you.  Whether you’re the star, a role player, or a bench warmer, the knowledge that the general manager and coaching staff that you trusted does not believe that you can help them win games (even if it’s not the case) has to hit hard.  Antoine Wright reflects on his feelings about his trade to the Mavs a year ago (Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News): “‘I felt betrayed a little bit because I wasn’t supposed to be in the trade,’ Wright said Thursday. ‘[The Nets] said ‘Don’t worry about it. Go on vacation.’ Then I’m in Miami [during the All-Star break] and I’m looking at the bottom of the screen and I’m going, ‘Wright? Is that me?’ That was the first I heard of being traded.’ Sure enough, that was Wright’sname crawling along the ticker. ‘That’s when it hit me that I was a throw-in,’ he said.”
  • Part 3 of Dirk’s interview with Five Magazine.
  • Rick Carlisle on Josh Howard, echoing my thoughts in this post yesterday (Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News): “His spirits are better. You can just tell the way he’s bouncing around the court. The game’s a lot more fun when you’re not in some kind of pain.”

No Game is an Island: I Want to Believe

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 20, 2009 under Previews | Read the First Comment

The Dallas Mavericks visit the Houston Rockets
7:00 CST

T-Mac’s out, Rafer just got traded, and it’s doubtful that Kyle Lowry and Brian Cook will have cleared their physicals by gametime.  Trap game?  You bet.

The Mavs are playing well, and could end up getting ahead of themselves.  Yao Ming historically has done well against Erick Dampier, and shackled Damp from accomplishing much of anything.  Ron Artest is still the game’s premier wing defender, and he’ll make Josh Howard’s (and maybe Dirk’s) life a living hell.  At this point in the game, the Dallas Mavericks are a better team than the Houston Rockets.  But if you’ve watched the Mavs this season, you should know that that fact might not stop them from blowing this one.

Or maybe those were the old Mavs.  One could only hope.  Was it really so easy?  Hand the reins to Kidd, hire Darrell Armstrong, and call it a day?  The defensive problems still linger, but the rotations have been better, the individual efforts have been stronger, and the rebounds are triggering the offense.  The offense stagnates at times, but I credit that more to the absence of Terry than any serious strategic flaw.  But after months and months of deliberation about who to trade and who to blame, I’m still watching the Mavs with a cautious eye.  Good things rarely come so easy.

This may seem like a contradictory message from my morning mantra.  It is, in a sense.  It’s hard to trust this team, and so I’m left in an awkward middle ground; the Mavs have shown enough life to spark my hopes, but they’ve waffled on their potential so many times this season that I should know better.  Still, in my heart of hearts, I want this team to be great.  I want the Mavs to rise up the Western ladder.  I want them to go out tonight and punk the Rockets.  I’m even hopeful that all of those things are possible.  We won’t have a good litmus test until Terry returns, but in the meantime let’s get this party started, shall we?

Rumor Mongering: Tick-Tock, Trade Machiners

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 19, 2009 under Rumors | 2 Comments to Read

About half an hour until the deadline, and not much out of Mavs-land.  Considering the Mavs most expendable trade asset (Jerry Stackhouse’s contract) can actually be used over the summer (the Mavs have until August to turn down the non-guaranteed portion of his deal), I don’t think they’ll be panicking.  Hell, the Blazers aren’t panicking, and that’s with Raef Lafrentz’s mammoth expiring contract.  Here’s the latest chatter from around the interwebs:

  • Mark Cuban, via Eddie Sefko’s piece this morning: “‘I don’t know that there’s a whole lot more that’s going to be done,’ owner Mark Cuban said. ‘Everybody’s looking to do the same thing, save money and to save cap room [for the future]. It’s hard to do both.’”
  • Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: “‘It feels like Dallas has 100 different scenarios juggling in the air,’ one Western Conference executive said Thursday.”
  • Eddie Sefko, DMN Mavs Blog: “You never know when a rebound will fall in your lap. And the Mavericks are still working the trade grapevine to see if anything crazy happens in the last hour. Doesn’t seem likely, but you never know with this bunch.”
  • Mike Fisher, DallasBasketball.com:  “‘How many trade offers have you had?’ Donnie [Nelson] was asked on Wednesday night. ‘Today? Seventy-five. Maybe 100. A lot,’ he responded. ‘I just got five in the 45 minutes I’ve been talking to you guys.’”

Here are the completed trades of the day:

Fin.  Done.  It’s over.  These are the Mavs you’ll see for the rest of the season, folks — for better or worse.