Secret Weapons

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 7, 2010 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

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“The Mavs really have their stuff together and they understand that we’re the x-factor. They’re keeping us quiet until the playoffs where we will be unveiled.”
-Steve Novak, on his and Brian Cardinal’s importance to the team in this mini interview for the Mavs’ Facebook page.

Diamond in the Rough

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 2, 2010 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

The Mavs’ email newsletter has a regular feature entitled “INSIDE DISH,” in which Mavs’ staffer Danny Bollinger interviews various members of the team for the usual personals. It’s a great place to find the latest breaking news on Jason Terry’s favorite foods or Shawn Marion’s greatest basketball memory, but occasionally, they yield gems like this one from Steve Novak:

[Bollinger]: Who is the most famous person’s number in your cell phone?
[Novak]: I don’t really know any Hollywood celebrities. But you know what, this will be appreciated. In L.A., I was neighbors with The Most Interesting Man in The World. The Dos Equis guy, I swear. I had lunch with the guy. Him and his wife and me and my wife.  Okay, this is what happened. My wife was at the gym one day and he was there. You know –the little condo gym with four elliptical machines a couple treadmills and some weights. This guy is in there working out. By coincidence my buddy from Milwaukee, who owns a steakhouse named Mo’s in Milwaukee, calls me a couple of weeks later and tells me about this great idea he has for his new restaurant that he opening in Houston. He is going to find The Most Interesting Man in The World and get him to come to his restaurant and hang out, smoke a cigar in the lounge…whatever. I said that is a good idea since I am his neighbor! He was like you are kidding me. Long story short, we all meet at Cheesecake Factory in L.A. and set the deal up. Jonathan Goldstein is the guy’s name. Isn’t that crazy?

Two for the Road

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 21, 2010 under News | 2 Comments to Read

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Per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, a team source has confirmed that the Mavericks will keep both Steve Novak and Brian Cardinal for the coming season. After all, why choose between them when you can have the set?

Additionally, the Mavs announced that they have waived Dee Brown and Adam Haluska. Sorry, fellas.

Novak and Cardinal filled out the Mavs’ roster, leaving no room for Brown, Haluska, Rashad McCants, or Sean Williams to latch on. None of those players were expected to make the Mavs’ regular season roster, but the confirmations for Novak and Cardinal made the exclusion of their fellow training campers a certainty. There’s hope for those four yet, provided hope comes in the form of an invite to play for the Texas Legends.

That’s up for them and the Mavs to decide. As I discussed earlier today, Dallas has the ability to designate up to three of those four players in order to secure their D-League rights for the Texas Legends. We’ll know more as the Mavs keep cutting, but Brown, Haluska, McCants, and Williams are all realistic possibilities to make the Legends inaugural roster.

UPDATE: The Mavs announced this afternoon that they have also waived McCants and Williams, which means that at least one of the four players won’t be playing for the Legends next season. Considering that both of those players were signed explicitly for the purpose of being waived and for the Mavs to procure their D-League rights, I’d bet on McCants and Williams both landing in Frisco.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 18, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Art Garcia profiled the ’05-’06 Mavs in spectacular fashion for NBA.com. Among Garcia’s collection of quotes and anecdotes from that season was those Mavs’ little-known team motto: “Know when to party.”
  • This is a fantastic highlight mix of last season, complete with very high quality video. Questionable music choice, though…but then again, you’re asking this guy.
  • Rick Carlisle on the use of advanced stats in basketball (via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com): “Statistical analysis has gone two or three generations and now it’s at an extremely high level. So more teams are using that for everything, from performance of combinations to individual performances, to probability of injuries and everything else you can possibily imagine. It’s unbelievable. At a certain point, it’s making sure you don’t have too much information. In most cases, what you believe in your gut is 80 percent right. There might be another 20 percent where the data will make you say, ‘Hmm, I didn’t realize that.’ Whatever that might be. Sometimes it’s a subtle thing, sometimes it’s pretty severe.”
  • Jason Terry, on the prospect of taking over Rodrigue Beaubois’ (if you can rightfully call it his) starting spot (via Eddie Sefko): “Maybe I’ll just keep it warm. Or maybe I won’t give it back.”
  • Shawn Marion’s value to the Seven Seconds or Less Suns is already well-established among NBA diehards if not the casual basketball fans of the world, but Tom Ziller takes everything a step further in saying that without Marion, playing Amar’e Stoudemire at center would never have worked.
  • Marquis Daniels drains a three from half-court. As is everything with ‘Quis: no big deal.
  • The Mavs could up keeping Steve Novak and Brian Cardinal. Or they could end up keeping neither. News! Either way, I think it’s safe to say that Dee Brown and Adam Haluska are dust in the wind.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “[DeSagana] Diop has been a punchline the past year. On performance, he deserved it, but let me tell you something: If there’s a better guy in that locker room — and this is the best locker room I’ve covered in 21 NBA seasons — I don’t know who it would be. You don’t think Gana knows people ridicule him? If he became bitter and surly and introverted, who could blame him? But even when he never got a uniform, when he wasn’t activated for the playoff series to give fouls on Dwight Howard, he was gracious and classy.”

Missing a Boat

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 23, 2010 under Commentary, News | 7 Comments to Read

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Ike Diogu has spent five years in a bottle. During four of those years he was a natural force waiting to be unleashed; Diogu played limited minutes for multiple Warriors iterations, landed in Indiana, was sent to Portland, and wound up in Sacramento, all without regular playing time or a role worthy of his talent. He’s been around, and yet in spite of impressive per-minute production, Diogu has yet to find a proper gig. He wasn’t a starter. He wasn’t a sixth man. He wasn’t even a utility big, really. He has filled in minutes here and there, but his career hasn’t been more than a series of sublets.

Now, despite being linked to the Mavs as a training camp prospect, it’s seems Diogu will have no lease in Dallas, either.

In some ways, it’s hard to blame the Mavericks’ brass for passing on a chance to sign Diogu. He is, after all, coming off a season lost in its entirety. The dreaded microfracture surgery saw to that, and it’s on such a note that I hope the Mavericks hesitated. When healthy, Diogu was a contributor. In better days, he was everything that Mavs fans found so endearing in Brandon Bass, but with sharper interior scoring and superior rebounding. He was capable of having that type of impact, on good teams or bad, on fast teams or slow. Ike Diogu was a player, and yet because of a few bad hands, this post reads like an obituary.

If Ike’s injury really has grounded him, Dallas was right to pass. However, should Diogu show for another team in another camp? I won’t quite understand the Mavs’ logic. Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak (among others) will be joining the Mavs on unguaranteed deals, but both are niche players. Each has a role and fills it well, but if Dallas is looking for a candidate to play consistent frontcourt minutes, I fail to see Diogu’s (non-injury) downside.

He obviously has weaknesses in his game (Defense and court sense, ay, caramba!), but Diogu can hit the boards and create on the offensive end, even if he often does so with blinders on. That’s something otherwise lacking among the Maverick reserves. His game offers more than a neat little trick, or token court balance; Diogu is a certifiable low-post option, particularly against second-string bigs. He’s capable of being something the Mavericks need, whether they acknowledge that to the public or not.

Or at least he was capable of being something the Mavericks need, last we saw him. Back then, Diogu was dropping big-time double-doubles in meaningless games, a plea for observers to raise his projected ceiling. The proper headroom does give the Diogu estate the appropriate character, but now, right or wrong, that very ceiling’s structural integrity has come into question. Diogu’s career marks of  17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per 36 minutes should speak for themselves, and I hope they do. More importantly, I hope that the Mavericks listened. I hope they honestly and truly considered Diogu, only to find him slowed to the point of ineffectiveness by his injury, unfortunate though that may be. I hope that there is something going on here aside from a determination that “Ike Diogu is no Brian Cardinal.”

There has to be.

…Right?

Across the Pine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 20, 2010 under Commentary | 4 Comments to Read

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Tim Thomas won’t be playing for the Mavs this year after all
. In his place, Dallas is apparently looking to fill the void with a cartoon character capable of fulfilling what would have been Thomas’ most basic function: spacing the floor.

Maybe I’m the only person who still views Thomas as a three-dimensional talent, but his value for Dallas last season really did stretch beyond his ability to hit the three. Thomas wasn’t as bad as advertised defensively. He showed off off some of his post-up scoring ability. He displayed a great sense of court spacing that went beyond parking himself in the corner or rotating around the perimeter; Thomas found spots behind the defense and dug up free scoring opportunities. He even rebounded a little bit, and kept his turnovers in check.

Shooting from the perimeter was undoubtedly one of Thomas’ strengths last season, but he was far more versatile in his season as a Maverick than many of the free agent bigs left on the market will likely be in the coming year. Namely, the three candidates that Mavs are currently considering to slide into Thomas’ proposed role, according to Art Garcia of NBA.com: Brian Cardinal, Steve Novak, and Bobby Simmons.

Oddly enough, Cardinal, as the seasoned veteran of the trio, has somehow become the headliner and “early favorite” in spite of his limited athleticism and abilities. Perhaps this view of Cardinal’s game is overly simplistic, but I fail to see what he can offer any team that Steve Novak couldn’t; both are pretty poor defenders both in the post and on the perimeter, and find their strength in scoring from the outside. Though while Brian Cardinal has posted impressive three-point shooting averages in nearly every season he’s been in the league, he’s never really had the in-season volume to validate those percentages.

In his 10-year career, Cardinal has shot a total of just 517 three-pointers. Novak attempted 286 in a single season, and hit 41.6% of them. Cardinal has proven himself as a reliable deep threat, but Novak seems like a superior three-point shooting option, and is six years younger, to boot. Novak has shown that his shot holds up even when his attempts skyrocket, and that in a jam, he can use up minutes without taking anything away from the Mavericks offense. Novak isn’t leaps and bounds better than Cardinal, but if the Mavs are looking for a token three-point shooter, why settle for anything less than the best one left on the block?

We’ll conveniently neglect to discuss either player’s defensive abilities. They’re end-of-the-bench candidates for a reason, folks.

In fact, Simmons may also be a more attractive candidate than Cardinal to fill the roster vacancy. Simmons, too has a terrific career mark from the three-point line (.401 in eight seasons), is a few years Cardinal’s junior, and at least has a tinge of utility beyond three-point shooting. Novak and Cardinal are pure specialists, but Simmons does have some aptitude as a slasher, and a bit more defensive versatility. His absolutely absurd contract has made Simmons into a bit of a laughing stock over the last few seasons, but Dallas could do far worse for a 14th or 15th man.

In all likelihood, neither Cardinal, nor Novak, nor Simmons would really come into play (they’d come in to play, but not come into play, if ya dig) for the Mavs, so debating this issue too much is just splitting already-split hairs. There would have to be notable injuries at the top end of the roster for any of these players to register consistent minutes, and in that case, Dallas will have far more to worry about than the relative shooting abilities of these gents.