- Zach Lowe names his award candidates with a quarter of the season in the books over at SI’s The Point Forward, and the Mavericks are well-represented.
- Tyson Chandler on Jason Kidd (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): ““J-Kidd, he surprises me all the time. He keeps digging into that tank and pulling out tricks. One night he’s making every single pass. (In Utah), he’s making every single three. (Against Sacramento), he’s making every single defensive play. The guy’s amazing.”
- Dirk casts his vote for the Mavs’ MVP.
- Sam Amick profiled Tyson Chandler for NBA FanHouse, and hit on some of the familiar themes of Chandler’s season: his tremendous defensive impact, his recovery from injury, his time with Team USA, and his leadership.
- Speaking of Chandler, he may end up missing tonight’s game with a stomach bug.
- Anthony Tolliver, currently of the Minnesota Timberwolves and formerly a D-League staple, threw some praise and took a bit of a shot at current Texas Legend Rashad McCants (via Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune): “I knew he could score, but…He’s amazing, really, really good. It kind of lets you know if you’re super talented and don’t do the right things, you still won’t be in this league. You have to be a professional.”
- An idea, courtesy of Noam Schiller of Both Teams Played Hard: Should Tyson Chandler be considered for the league’s Most Improved Player award? That likely depends on your interpretation of the meaning of the award, but if we’re going strictly by a difference in production between this year and last year, Chandler has to be up there. Then again, by that same logic, so does Blake Griffin.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com used a simple — very simple — measure to look at the Most Improved Player race, and Chandler’s name also came up. Also, among the “Most Regressed” players? Brendan Haywood. Burn.
- Hey, remember that Jeremy Lin guy?
- Fantastic diagrams illustrating the diversity of the league’s top assist men, including the Mavs’ own Jason Kidd.
- tcat75 of Mavs Moneyball went back through the Mavs’ win over the Utah Jazz and classified every defensive possession by the top of D (man or zone) that Dallas played for comparative purposes. The final verdict: Dallas forced a ton of turnovers in a relatively small number of possessions while in the zone, but completely suffocated the Jazz while playing man-to-man.
- See how the Dallas bench measures up in terms of cost, minutes used, and production.
- It looks like Dominique Jones will continue to play for the Legends, and this is a great, great thing. This is a crucial part of the system, and exactly the kind of thing Dallas needs to use their affiliate for.
- Shawne Williams has made 10 of his first 12 three-pointers as a member of the Knicks. What?
- 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.”
- Rick Carlisle will have no tolerance for players complaining about their minutes this season. Considering how many players have found success in roles off the bench and the token importance of starting in the first place, I still don’t quite see what the big deal is about playing the opening tip.
- Jamal Mashburn owns 34 Outback Steakhouses and 37 Papa John’s locations. He also might want to buy the Detroit Pistons, and thinks Michael Jordan’s flu game was mostly hype. Just a Chatty Cathy, that Mash.
- Gina Miller, on Caron Butler’s efforts to slim down this summer as a part of a workout program with Tim Grover: “He told me his trainer had people at his hotel spying on him. If he wanted to cheat and order pancakes from room service – not happening.”
- Bobby Simmons, once a candidate to join the Mavs’ training camp before being bypassed in favor of Steve Novak and Brian Cardinal, is in camp with the Spurs.
- John Hollinger (Insider) forecasts the Mavs’ coming season, which he predicts will bring 48 wins and the 5th seed in the West. Honestly, the relative ranking isn’t a bad as it sounds. The West’s second tier is no cakewalk, and to make matters worse, Hollinger’s qualms (reliance on victories in close games, roster shortcomings, slight drop-off due to age, player utilization, etc.) are legitimate.
- Monty Mathis has been bumped from player development coach to full-fledged assistant, and will work from the bench this season.
- Jason Kidd advised Carmelo Anthony to be wary of the Nets. Or not.
- Tuesday was the first day of training camp, and all foundational, non-contact work. Apparently — and this is news to me — teams are not allowed to hold more than one contact practice per day. Just some food for thought as the Mavs continue to conduct two-a-days through camp.
- Jason Kidd, on Dirk dropping five pounds in the off-season to make it “easier on [his] body, easier on his joints,” (via Mike Fisher): “I think he’s tired of people telling him he’s a ‘power forward.’ I think he wants to get down to 220 so he can be a 2-guard.’’
- Dee Brown, Mavs camper (via his Twitter account): “Man I see why J.Kidd has had an hall of fame career amazing player much respect big homie!”
- Shawn Marion may be shooting more threes this season.
- Tim Thomas has been officially waived.
And a few older bullets from an edition of the Grapevine that accidentally went unpublished:
- Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, with the off-handed downside of Alexis Ajinca’s upside: “The Mavericks have been intrigued by the way Ajinca has worked out the past month or so. Coach Rick Carlisle has watched some of the workouts and especially likes the fact that Ajinca is closer to 7-1.”
- The NBA has adopted some absolutely ridiculous new provisions to the technical foul rule.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas posits that Dirk Nowitzki could be in a position to win his second MVP award this season, even though he’s not the current favorite. Based on Nowitzki’s production and the Mavs’ likely success in the coming year, I’m also inclined to believe that Dirk will be a part of that discussion. He doesn’t get much further than that, though.
- An NBA player doing a tremendous amount of good.
- Shawne Williams will reportedly be joining the New York Knicks for training camp. Congrats to him, I suppose.
- Mavs fans only saw a few different shades of Shawne Williams, and none of them were particularly pleasant. However, as is the case with most NBA players, his story is a bit more lush and complex than that.
- Sebastian Pruiti breaks down the tape of Dominique Jones’ first summer league game.
- John Hollinger weighs in on Brendan Haywood’s new deal with the Mavs: “Here’s the conundrum, however, if you’re Dallas: What were the alternatives? Haywood was getting serious attention from several contenders and was likely to get an outsized contract someplace, although only the Mavs could give him a six-year deal. And in a market where he, Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal were the only true centers, and with everybody wanting size to match up against the Lakers and Magic, there was no doubt he’d command a premium. Moreover, nabbing Haywood was the key to two other pieces of Dallas’ offseason strategy — trading Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract to a team looking to shed money, and using its midlevel exception to reel in still more talent. The Mavs couldn’t do the first without keeping Haywood to have their bases covered at center, and they couldn’t do the second without signing their own player (Haywood) rather than somebody else’s. So Haywood will be overpaid in 2010-11 and comically overpaid by 2015-16. It’s a bad contract, for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad decision.”
- Gerald Green didn’t really seem to enjoy playing in Russia all that much.
- David Thorpe on Omar Samhan, specifically his performance in Game 2: “The thing I like best is that he’s emotionally engaged in the game. Everything means something to him — his teammates, how they’re playing, how he’s playing. He’s invested in the game — but not just how he’s doing. We all knew he had scoring talent and good hands, but unless he can improve his athleticism, it’s going to be hard for him to show those skills on a nightly basis.”
- Kevin Arnovitz on Rodrigue Beaubois, from the same SL Roundup: “So much of what Beaubois does off the dribble is predicated on the success of his quick release from long range. If he’s not hitting, defenders grow a lot more comfortable trying to contain him.”
When the Mavs traded resident dreamboat Kris Humphries (along with resident headache Shawne Williams) for Eduardo Najera in January, the primary motivations for the deal seemed to be financial ones. Najera and Humphries are comparable players after all, and Mark Cuban saved an immediate $4.6 million after tax implications by trading Hump for a player almost 10 years his senior and ditching Williams’ 2009-2010 salary. However, the long-term financial outcome of the move is dependent on what the Mavs choose to do with Eddie or rather, what they chose not to do prior to midnight.
Had Dallas chosen to waive Najera prior to the start of free agency (and opted not to fill the open roster spot he left behind), Mark Cuban would have saved a combined $2 milion over the next two seasons after tax. It would be tough to blame him if that’s where he elected to trim the fat; although Najera definitely has utility, Cuban will already be spending a ridiculous amount of money over the next two years (the Mavs already have over $55 million in guaranteed salary for next season, and that’s not accounting for Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood, a potential MLE signing, and whomever the Mavs fetch using Erick Dampier’s contract). Instead, this move is precisely what makes Mark, Mark: rather than cutting a usable bench player for minor savings, Cuban will foot the bill and keep a big who played almost 15 minutes per in 33 contests for Dallas last season.
There will undoubtedly be power forward options superior to Najera on the open market this summer, but the Mavs will have limited means in which to attain them. The mid-level exception should be conserved as a last resort to grab a center should both Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier sign elsewhere, and to target a backup 4 in a sign-and-trade would waste an incredible opportunity to satisfy one of the Mavs’ clearer positional needs. Keeping Eddie is the right move for a team over the cap, provided the owner is willing to pay for him to stay. Cuban is, so Najera will.
If the Mavs elect to hold on to Najera through 2011-2012 (his salary for that year is also partially unguaranteed, and waiving him next summer could save Cuban $1 million after tax), they will actually end up paying Eddie more money over his three seasons with the Mavs than they would have paid Humphries and Williams through two. That’s not the kind of move that wins championships, but it could give Dallas another big body to use during the draining regular season. He’s more than just a practice body, even if he’s not quite productive enough to be a full-time back-up for Dirk. Nothing Najera is or does makes him vital to the Maverick machine, but sometimes it’s just nice to have one of those pieces that makes everything run just a tad bit more smoothly.
Here are the updated finances of the deal, with Humphries’ accepted player option, Najera’s guaranteed ’10-’11 salary, and Shawne Williams not receiving a qualifying offer:
*Najera’s 2011-2012 salary is partially unguaranteed ($2,250,000)
Salaries are from Storytellers Contracts.
- Ryan Blake, the NBA’s director of scouting, on draft prospect Sherron Collins (via Jeff Caplan): “If Collins is down there, which he could be, he’s one of the better point guards in this draft, but it depends on how good you think he is. This is not a point-guard draft whatsoever, but the guy is tough, he’s quick and he’s proved it. He doesn’t have size, but you have [J.J.] Barea, who is very tough, comparatively, the same kind of guy.”
- Caron Butler, through his Twitter account (@realtuffjuice): “Wherever I’m at next year I’m going to be a problem. (I love dallas)…I wanna win a chip in dallas and that a realistic goal luv holla in the am…I wanna win in dallas let’s get it(chip).” He also noted that he’s trying to drop about 14 pounds for next season.
- Dwane Casey is staying in Dallas for now, but the Mavs will lose player development coach Popeye Jones to Avery and the Nets. Best of luck to Popeye in the Swamp.
- Reebok is holding a celebrity baseball game in Frisco next weekend to benefit the Mike Modano Foundation and The Heroes Foundation, and Jason Kidd, Nancy Lieberman, and Mark Cuban will all be playing.
- J.J. Barea, with a declaration that if he weren’t a Maverick, he would want to be a Net. It’s implied that it’s out of respect for newly-hired coach Avery Johnson, who coached J.J. during his first two seasons in Dallas.
- Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com, channeling Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “Speaking of Shawne: As we noted a few days ago, he’s trying out in Charlotte and we wish him well. Even Larry Brown says Williams’ ‘past is no problem.’ But in the next breath, Larry notes that Shawne showed up for his tryout 20 pounds too fat.”
- Jason Kidd, coaching consultant. It’s actually a pretty interesting idea, even if Kidd technically has no prerogative to help out another team or Byron Scott.
- Mark Cuban is surprisingly receptive to the idea of Rodrigue Beaubois playing in the FIBA World Championships this summer, but his stance is a bit less surprising after considering his qualifier (via Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas): “I’m ok with it. I’ve always said that I would be fine with participation as long as there was a 23- or 25-year old age limit.” It actually makes a fair bit of sense; Dirk has never had serious injury issues during his career, but guys like Yao Ming, Manu Ginobili, and Pau Gasol have all had some kind of significant complication as a result of international play. There is a point where allowing players to play for their home country over the summer fails to make fiscal sense for the teams that employ them, and that’s a legitimate concern as players get older and older and need more and more rest.
- Proof that people do buy Jerry Stackhouse jerseys…even if they are of the ugliest possible variety. The teal days were dark indeed for the Pistons.
- Jason Kidd, on Avery Johnson becoming the next head coach for the New Jersey Nets (via Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News): “I think Avery is going to help give them structure and he’s going to be a big part of their success. He’s a good coach. He got the Mavs to the Finals. So it I think they’re going in the right direction…They’ve got a great coach, they’ve got a young team and they have a young owner who wants to win. So they have some of the pieces and now they just have to get some of the other pieces to be successful.”
- During his introductory press conference this morning, Avery Johnson said that Devin Harris would likely be given more freedom to run the offense due to his familiarity with the system and his experience as a PG. If that actually ends up being the case, kudos to Avery for taking a step back to let the players run the show. If not, well, I can’t say I’d be all that surprised. This is the kind of thing Mavs fans have heard from Johnson before, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s doomed to fall into the same patterns, no one can blame an observer for thinking he might.
- For those looking to really deck themselves out in official merch, MavGear.com (the Mavs’ online store) is selling all jerseys at 50% off. Consider it the perfect opportunity to grab that shiny, gold Josh Howard jersey you’ve had your eye on.
- Courtesy of Sham Sports, two essential resources: a list of the NBA players with trade kickers in their contracts (including Shawn Marion, for you armchair GM types looking to deal him away) and a breakdown of the total committed salary for every NBA team going into this off-season.
- Spotted: Our friend Shawne Williams trying to get back into the NBA by playing in the Bobcats’ free agent “mini-camp.”
- UPDATE: The AAC could be paid off (by the city) by next year. Considering the initial bonds issued as payment were set to be redeemed as late as 2037, I’d say that makes the payment ahead of schedule.
- Draft profiles will begin next week, all for players that the Mavs may have a shot at taking with the 50th overall pick. As was announced earlier in the week, the 57th pick, which technically belonged to the Mavs, will be sent to the Indiana Pacers as an aftereffect of the Eddie Jones-Shawne Williams trade. Isn’t it just grand when Dallas doesn’t have a first rounder? Still, there are some interesting prospects that could fall, and there will be plenty of content here next week about the ones that could make sense for the Mavs.
- Jason Terry, expressing his Finals preference on the Colin Cowherd Show: “I had my green-and-white Boston Celtics shorts on last night. Wore them to bed. You know I’m superstitious. … I like Boston.” He also made a mini-pitch for LeBron, and wouldn’t mind having an Andrew Bynum around.
- In Kelly Dwyer’s epitaph of the Phoenix Suns’ season, he spells out a handfull of reasons why Dirk won’t be riding into Arizona atop a white horse. It’s nothing that hasn’t already been explored, but Dwyer makes everything crystal clear for the few who still think of Phoenix as a possible landing point for Nowitzki.
- Count Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun among the few, although he argues more that it’s possible that Phoenix could create the space required to land Dirk rather than it being likely. If the Suns can shed Barbosa’s contract for picks, they could use the combination of space and a trade exception to put together some kind of sign-and-trade package for Nowitzki. I agree with Seth in that’s it’s possible, but stand by my original point that it’s a virtual impossibility. Even if Phoenix gains the flexibility needed, I just don’t see Dirk bolting or Mark Cuban letting Dirk bolt.
- Danny Ferry is resigning as the GM of the Cavaliers; does he know something we don’t about LeBron’s future (or lack thereof) in Cleveland?
- Mark Cuban on whether there’s any question he won’t answer, in light of his $100,000 fine for his “tampering” comments on LeBron (from 790 The Ticket in Miami, via Sports Radio Interviews): “As long as it doesn’t get me fined by the NBA, I’m usually pretty cool about it. There is no reason to repeat the same mistakes. If you ask me about players prior to July 1, I’m not going to answer. And when I did get fined, that was one of the few times that I didn’t get fined on purpose. They caught me on a weak moment. It was the last question in an hour long interview on technology and business that went into detail. My guard was down. I tried to talk around it, but I didn’t do a good job.”
- It’s less concerning the Mavs and more concerning professional athletes in general, but Dan Devine’s piece on the mental and physiological effects of pressure situations on athletes is a great read.
- For those of you that weren’t up late watching Cavs-Jazz, you missed out. You really, really missed out.
- It was touch and go there for awhile, but Shawne Williams’ NBA career has officially flat-lined.
- Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold chimes in on the chances the Western Conference quasi-contenders have of challenging the Lakers. Here’s his take on Dallas: “They see themselves as close — they do have the second best record in the West — but serious questions remain if they could get out of the second round of the playoffs, let alone their match up issues with the Lakers. Last night was just another piece of evidence that the Lakers have their number.”
- Rick Carlisle on the new starting lineup, featuring Josh Howard in his rightful place as the starting 2 (via Eddie Sefko): “Offensively, we’ve looked at a different lineup and that’s going to come…We did a lot more good things offensively than our final numbers indicate…That group hasn’t played together that much. During Josh’s second comeback period, he was playing a lot with the second group. This is another period we’re going to have to work through.”
- Two great finds, courtesy of DOH. The first is of SLAM Online ace Lang Whitaker, who took a turn as an A Season on the Brink/Seven Seconds or Less-style embedded writer with the Atlanta Hawks. Very, very cool, and especially relevant because the Hawks happened to be playing the Dallas Mavericks during Whitaker’s time with the team. Get a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes prep work against the Mavs, just how highly other teams thought of Rodrigue Beaubois earlier in the season, and some assorted thoughts on the game itself.
- The second is a piece from NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury. Kobe Bryant was asked to reflect a bit on Dirk Nowitzki in light of Dirk’s 20,000 career points, and he had plenty to say (forgive me for the lengthy quote, but it’s good stuff): “But who sees and understands more than an opposite number in a different color jersey, the player most often regarded as the fiercest competitor in the game today? ‘He’s tough,’ said the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. ‘That’s what I like about him. He’s not a punk. A lot of superstar players don’t like to get touched. They’re kind of finicky about how they go about things. Dirk’s nasty and that’s what I like about him. He’ll take the gloves off and go at it.’ That’s a far cry from the early days of a career that had him labeled as “soft” and had Nowitzki known as Irk — no D. Over the course of his career, Nowitzki has developed into a solid team defender, become the Mavs’ unquestioned team leader and has staked his claim as the best international player to jump straight to the pro ranks in the NBA. Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon spent three years learning the ropes at the University of Houston before stepping into the NBA and Argentine Manu Ginobili honed his game for two years in the Italian League before joining the San Antonio Spurs…’It’s tough to argue that he’s not the best international player ever,’ said Bryant. ‘We’re gonna try to make a case when it’s all said and done for [Spaniard] Pau Gasol years from now. But Dirk is phenomenal right now…If you look at some of the games that he’s had against great players, it’s amazing. I think his coming out party years ago was against [Kevin] Garnett. Garnett is a phenomenal player and Dirk was putting up 35 and 20 rebounds. That’s ridiculous. I’m looking at that like, ‘Whoa, Garnett’s one of the best defensive players ever and [Dirk] torched him.’ ‘…’Dirk’s not gonna back down. I like that,’ Bryant said. ‘He’s not soft. Oh, no.’…Though he grew up trying to emulate the all-around skills of Scottie Pippen, because he’s blond and tall and white and can shoot with either hand, from the time he entered the league Nowitzki has always drawn the comparisons to the legendary Larry Bird. ‘They’re very different actually,’ Bryant said. ‘The similarity is that they’re big guys that can shoot. But I think that’s where it ends. Bird with the Celtics, they ran a lot of things through him to facilitate things for others. In Dallas they use Dirk more as a striker…Hopefully the fans in Dallas can appreciate what they watch — a 7-footer that can put the ball on the floor, can shoot it from the outside, can post. Dirk’s a rare breed, man. A rare breed.’”
- Josh Howard on the Mavs’ defense of late (via Eddie Sefko): “We’ve been slipping…It’s a matter of us willing it on ourselves and not just depending on the coaching staff to get us going. It’s all about us doing it.”
In what was supposed to be a relatively uneventful trade season for the Mavs, we know two things:
- The Mavs made a move to swap Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams for Eddie Najera, earning some short-term savings, bringing a fan favorite back to Dallas, and picking up a guy with a positive influence in the locker room.
- Before that, the Mavs tried to package Hump, Williams, and Drew Gooden in a salary-clearing deal for Carlos Boozer that would have saved the Jazz $2.5 million initially, an additional $2.6 million if they decided to waive Gooden, and possibly more if the Mavs threw cash compensations into the deal.
Needless to say, the latter would have been a complete game-changer. If the Mavs had the luxury of bringing Boozer off of the bench (and make no mistake, that’s the role that would best serve the team) instead of Gooden, Dallas immediately becomes a contender for the Western Conference crown and the title. Plus, if the Mavs could have picked up Drew Gooden on the flip side after being waived, they would have a dominant rotation of bigs capable of matching any in the league.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Rather than trade out of their luxury tax obligations by ditching Boozer for pennies (or halves of pennies, really) on the dollar, the 9th place Jazz know that right now they need Carlos Boozer. Deron Williams has quietly had a terrific season, but would he be able to fend off the Thunder, Rockets, Hornets, and Grizzlies with Kris Humphries’ production replacing Boozer’s? Hardly. Booz is absolutely crucial to Utah’s playoff hopes, and while I’m sure that on some level Kevin O’Connor would love nothing more than to rid himself of the headache, he’s well aware of his team’s dependency.
So no Boozer, for now, at least. And now that Drew Gooden’s contract has lost its value to teams over the luxury tax (his salary is now guaranteed for the season), hopefully never. As Stein mentions in his piece over at TrueHoop, the Mavs don’t gain much if they agree to swap Josh Howard or Erick Dampier in a deal for Boozer. That said, Stein cites a different line of logic than I would. According to Marc, trading Howard, Dampier, or another core piece for Boozer is troublesome in that there’s no guarantee of Carlos’ return. That’s true. But the real trouble would be what the Mavs would do this season without either one of those players. If they lose Dampier, the vaunted Mavs’ defense falls to pieces, and Damp’s minutes are ceded to a guy marked by his inability to block shots and his irrelevance as a low post defender. If they lose Josh, the perimeter defense suffers, albeit with a bit less of an overall effect on the team’s success on that end than if they were to trade Damp. Trading Josh seems like the more palatable option…but while Boozer would bolster the Mavs’ rotation in the frontcourt, the backcourt would likely be a mess. No Howard means more Terry (who for all his improvements on defense, is a merely average defender) and more Barea (who has really struggled lately and continues to be a defensive liability), which is a pretty lethal blow to the team defense.
Carlos Boozer would be an interesting addition, and the Mavs took a shot. A long shot, admittedly, but Nelson, Cuban, and Carlisle tried to offer the Jazz exactly what they need. That Utah still fancies themselves contenders for the playoffs seems to be the real complication.