After months of pondering the future of of an empty roster, there are now 15 newly christened members of the Texas Legends. Some of those 15 we know, and some of them we don’t, but with the draft now behind us, the Mavs’ D-League affiliate is beginning to come into focus.
Despite the public hiccup, Rashad McCants may be a Legend after all. His current inclusion on the roster represents more of a possibility than a certainty. Marc Stein reported for ESPN Dallas that McCants intends to pursue every possible NBA lead before reporting to Legends camp, and Percy Miller, McCants’ personal adviser, insists that there is legitimate NBA interest in the Rashad’s services.
Sean Williams is in, though. Absent are Mavs training campers Adam Haluska and Dee Brown, but in their place are a few former NBAers (yes, it’s that Antonio Daniels) and a few familiar faces (yes, it’s that Moussa Seck…as if there are others). Behold, your 2010-2011 Texas Legends:
|Name||Height||Weight||Age||Last Played for
|Sean Williams||6-10||235||24||Hapoel Jerusalem
|Rashad McCants||6-4||215||26||Sacramento (NBA)
|Antonio Daniels||6-4||205||35||Minnesota (NBA)
|Reece Gaines||6-6||198||29||Bakersfield (D-League)
|Matt Rogers||6-10||225||22||Southwest Baptist
|Justin Dentmon||5-11||185||??||Afula Israel
|Kelvin Lewis||6-4||195||22||Houston (NCAA)
|Moussa Seck||7-4||222||24||Mavs' SL
|Curtis Terry||6-5||196||25||Petro Luanda (Angola)
|Reece Hampton||6-5||195||??||Adams State (NCAA)
|Keith Clark||6-8||203||23||L.A. (D-League)
|Dar Tucker||6-4||193||22||L.A. (D-League)
|Pierce Caldwell||6-3||200||??||Incarnate Word (NCAA)
Only 10 of these Legends will comprise the actual opening day roster; in a rather cursory determination, I’d wager that Pierce Caldwell and Andre Gatlin, both products of the Legends’ open tryouts, are likely to be among the five players cut loose. Otherwise, I see McCants, Williams, Reece Gaines (whom the Legends acquired via trade), Daniels, and Seck as virtual locks to make the final roster, with Dar Tucker and Keith Clark not far behind.
It’s also worth noting that Kelvin Lewis attended the Mavs’ pre-Summer League mini-camp, but did not make Dallas’ or any other NBA team’s Summer League roster. Also, per Marc Stein, Curtis Terry is the Mavs’ own Jason Terry’s brother.
Here are some extra tidbits on the Legends, via the team’s press release:
- Matt Rogers was the Division II Player of the Year last season.
- Justin Dentmon, formerly of Washington University, was drafted in the third round. Dentmon spent last season playing for Afula Israel, where he averaged more than 20 points per game. In his senior year for the Huskies, Dentmon made 41.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
- Kelvin Lewis, who graduated from Houston University in the spring, will join the Legends after winning the Conference USA Tournament MVP during his last few collegiate games. Lewis averaged 15.5 points per game in his final season with the Cougars, and hit 39.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
- Booker Woodfox, the sixth round pick and Dallas native, also has D-League experience. After graduating from Creighton in 2009, Woodfox was picked up by the Erie Bayhawks midway through last season. The 6-foot-1 guard is known as a three-point threat, making 47.6 percent of his attempts from deep during his senior season at Creighton.
- If you’re interested, you can enter a contest to win a date with Shawn Marion via Facebook and Twitter. You’re interested. (via Jeff Weiss, Trey Kerby)
- Shawn Bradley is on Twitter. (via ShamSports)
- Dirk Nowitzki might have some bad news about Rodrigue Beaubois’ timetable for return. It’s a guess, but it’s a guess from a guy who’s pretty plugged in, no?
- Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “A strategic switch was flipped very early in the Mavs’ 99-83 win Sunday afternoon at the Clippers. It’s not the sort of thing the coaching staff will be able to take much credit for, because who is going to ballyhoo a strategic admission to failure? The original plan: Dirk was going to guard “second-year’’ rookie Blake Griffin, the double-double machine. If Nowitzki could survive that, the logic went, the domino effect would allow Dallas to win matchups at the other positions, including Tyson Chandler guarding the dangerous Chris Kaman. Dirk guarding Griffin? It lasted two possessions. The UberMan can do a lot of things, and because Griffin is an untested commodity, there was no way to know for certain whether he can do this. Now we know. After a blow-by and after a rag-dolling, now we know. He can’t. So Rick Carlisle flipped the switch. Quickly and smartly.”
- Nick Fazekas will be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s D-League draft. Don’t laugh too hard, we may see him back in the NBA pretty soon. Matt Hubert of D-League Digest has the Texas Legends slated to select Tennessee’s Chris Lofton with the No. 4 pick in his mock draft.
- Kurt Helin credited the Clippers’ poor shooting numbers to user error rather than the Dallas defense at ProBasketballTalk: “The Clippers just missed everything — they started the game 3-17, but they were outworking the Mavericks on the boards and stayed close. In the second half they just kept missing, with the team’s starters shooting 30 percent for the game. Give the Mavericks a little credit for their defense, but the Clips were just cold.”
- Tony Parker will be a Spur for the foreseeable future, until trade do they part.
- Dirk Nowitzki takes a shot at a teammate (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “We talked about making it a priority that our defensive field-goal percentage has to get better. We all know that’s what wins in this league. If you play defense consistent, you give yourself a chance every night. We’ve been working hard at it. Even Jet [Jason Terry] is trying to chase guys, which I haven’t seen in seven years.”
- Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas prodded Rick Carlisle about the Mavs’ shot distribution: “Caron Butler has led the Mavs in shots attempted in the first two games. That isn’t by design. ‘If he’s open, he should shoot,’ coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘But I don’t expect him to be our leading shot-taker. He’s going to be one of our top three or four obviously and be in the top three most likely. But, look, this is two games out of 82. Come back in two weeks and see where we are.’”
First, in case you didn’t have time to check out all of my season preview work, here’s a quick run-down so you can catch up:
Also, if I may:
- If you’re following me on Twitter, you probably already know this, but in addition to my work here, at Hardwood Paroxysm, and at ProBasketballTalk, I’ve also joined the New York Times’ Off the Dribble Blog as a contributor. Keep an eye out there for some more of my general NBA work, though I’m sure the Mavs will inevitably pop up from time to time.
- Matt Moore and I recently launched Voice on the Floor, an NBA audio blog (striving to be an NPR for the NBA, in a way) that has been a blast so far. It primarily consists of extended interviews from Moore, as well as spoken word essays from myself and various contributors. I’m very excited about the project and its potential, so I hope you guys will tag along.
Back to business as usual:
- Since 2000, no player in the NBA has had more 25 & 10 nights than Dirk Nowitkzi. Not Tim Duncan, not Kevin Garnett, not Shaquille O’Neal. No one.
- Dirk Nowitzki on Tyson Chandler (via Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com): “He’s just so unbelievably active, I’ve never seen anything like it…He’s got to be the best runner at the 5 position and one of the most athletic 5’s right now in this league…he covers a lot of ground out there and he’s plugging holes for us defensively.”
- I guess this kind of confirms something Nancy Lieberman hinted at back in July: Moussa Seck seems set to be a Texas Legend.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “Turnovers were this team’s flaw all last season, and nothing changed in the season-opener. Twenty-one turnovers led to 28 Dallas points. As a tennis guy (no double-fault is good, but some are far worse than others), I buy Larry Brown’s principle that there are acceptable turnovers (daring passes, intended to make for easy baskets, that just don’t work out), and unacceptable turnovers (lazy ballhandling at mid-court that leads to easy opponent scores). Wednesday the vast majority of the turnovers were the ones that scorch you. Especially so with a Jason Kidd pushing the ball for the other team.”
- Adventures in overstatement: According to Jason Kidd, having Tyson Chandler as a lob option “changes the whole game.” Right. It’s handy, sure, but game-changing? Play-changing, perhaps. It forces opponents to be conscious of him on the roll, but let’s not get carried away.
- The Mavs committed more money this off-season to free agents than any other team, save the Heat.
- Charlotte looked like kind of a mess last night, which prompted David Arnott of Rufus on Fire to engage in an interesting exercise: if on were writing Bobcats scouting reports based solely on last night’s game, what would they say? Follow over to RoF an leave your thoughts, but we could do the very same for the Mavs here.
- Brendan Haywood didn’t start last night, but he’s playing nice so far (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan. You just got to make the best of it.”
Donnie Nelson was so deliberate in his signing and waiving of Rashad McCants, that I and many others assumed all was going according to plan. In a sense, it was. But apparently, no one bothered to inform McCants himself of said plan.
Needless to say, he’s not too happy. Scott Schroeder exchanged emails with McCants’ agent, Lindsey Maxwell, for NBA FanHouse, and the situation doesn’t sound as certain as it once seemed:
According to McCants’ agent Lindsey Maxwell, though, McCants has not yet decided if he wants to be a (Texas) Legend after not receiving a solid opportunity to compete for a roster spot with the Mavericks. “We are disappointed that it didn’t work out with them and we look forward to Rashad getting a REAL shot at making it back into the NBA,” Maxwell wrote in a e-mail to FanHouse. “He is the best free agent in basketball that is available right now. He is in the best shape of his life and his shot making ability is better than ever.”
Since McCants is seemingly so close to rejoining the NBA, especially if he truly is in the best shape of his life and his shot making is better than ever, it would seem that a quick stint dominating the D-League would be a lay-up on his way to at least a 10-day contract. However, McCants does not seem sold that Frisco, Texas — a northern suburb of Dallas — is the right spot for him. “If he decides to go to the D-League, he will have to play for that team,” Maxwell continued. “I can’t speak as to Dallas’ motives, but (McCants) did not get much of a chance to ‘compete for a roster spot’ as Dallas had announced a couple of days ago. Right now, all of his options are open and he and his family have not yet arrived at any decisions.”
It’s hard to dole out specific blame without knowing further details of what went down between McCants and the Mavs/Legends, but Maxwell’s comments seem to indicate that the plan to land McCants in Frisco was not specifically articulated as a part of his deal with Dallas. McCants had no opportunity to compete for a roster spot, and if the Mavericks misled him in that way, this is on them, and there’s still plenty of time left for the whole plan to go a’splode.
The D-League may be the best avenue for McCants to work his way back into the NBA, but in general, I refuse to underestimate the actions of any professional athlete who feels they’ve been wronged. If the signing indeed went down as Maxwell implies, McCants may bail on Frisco out of his lingering distaste for the Mavericks organization. Regardless, this is already a far bigger mess than it should be. I’m not sure the Mavs should be faulted with if miscommunication or misinformation, but this is the kind of thing that should be squared away before pen is put to paper. Visions of Devean George’s one-man trade veto dance in my head, and now we have to wonder: did anyone bother to inform Sean Williams of his possible Frisco fate?
The Texas Legends’ brass have a blueprint for how they’d like to proceed with the team-building process, but in truth, such a schematic is no more helpful than a post-it note full of handy tips. Those at the top of the ladder know what they’re doing, but creating a D-League team from scratch isn’t necessarily a straightforward or predictable process. So much depends on what happens between now and Monday, when the final NBA training camp cuts are announced, and the pool of available players begins to take shape.
The Legends aren’t willing to wait through the weekend, though, as they’ve gotten a head start on constructing their roster thanks to a little institutional help. The D-League’s new player allocation rule allows NBA teams to effectively call dibs on up to three of their final training camp/preseason cuts, which has opened the door for a number of teams to make late camp additions in the name of securing those players’ D-League rights. It’s a terrific strategy for encouraging affiliate utilization, and the Mavs, well-run franchise that they are, have recently tabbed two prospects by way of the D-League’s new allocation system.
Rashad McCants is the first such prospect. McCants has been signed by the Mavs to a non-guaranteed deal, and he will likely play in Dallas’ final preseason game on Friday, primarily as due process for securing McCants’ rights for the Legends. He’s had a pretty strange run since being drafted with the 14th pick in the 2005 draft, and has become a bit of a league punchline for an attitude problem that he may or may not actually have. Still, McCants is an effective scorer by NBA fringe standards, and it’s not hard to envision a day in which his services are again needed. Dallas has worked out McCants before, and this recent signing is likely a product of both McCants’ NBA résumé and that particular workout. He didn’t scare Dallas off then, and could blaze his comeback trail to the NBA from within the Mavericks organization, even if he has to do so from the D-League.
The Mavs are also interested in Sean “Not Shawne” Williams, though it’s unclear if Dallas has officially added him to their preseason roster. Williams’ bad rap is a bit more deserved, as a series of off-court incidents have decorated him in warning labels. Despite his athleticism and shot-blocking success (he’s averaged 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes in his three-year career), Williams couldn’t find an NBA home last season after being waived by the New Jersey Nets. He’s apparently trying to work his way back into the league, and provided he’s willing to play nice — which should hardly be assumed, as Williams’ effort, production, and attitude were all problematic during his first tour through the D (link via Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside) – he’d be a terrific get for the Legends.
As Marc Stein noted in his report for ESPN, Adam Haluska and Dee Brown are also eligible to be allocated to the Legends should the Mavs deem it so. Personally, I’d go with Brown by default, as he’s managed to do with more his preseason opportunities than Haluska. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brown seek a bigger paycheck overseas, though.
That’s the kicker. With McCants, with Williams, with Haluska and Brown — all of these players will only play for the Legends if they want to play in the D-League at all. Maybe McCants and Williams are convinced that they can wow the Mavs in a single weekend, and have no intent on ever hitting the court in Frisco. It’s a possibility, even if it’s a bizarre one.
Regardless, the Mavs and the Legends are making an effort to take advantage of league rules to the best of their ability. McCants and Williams are legitimate NBA prospects, even if recent developments have nudged them out of their previously cozy roster spots, and the Legends will hold their rights should they get the Mavs’ stamp of approval.
- Mark Cuban. The Situation. Why not? (UPDATE: See the pairing, along with Vinnie and Ronnie, in all of their photoshopped glory.)
- Rick Carlisle, on his trip to Orlando last summer to recruit and sign Marcin Gortat (via Eddie Sefko): “I came down here and had a great recruiting trip. He let me drive his car. It could go 220 mph. At one point, he said: put the pedal all the way down to the bottom.” Carlisle wouldn’t divulge his top-end speed, although he acknowledged it may have been a shade over the local speed limits in Orlando. “It didn’t work out,” Carlisle said. “We wish him the best. He still stays in touch with me. He’s a terrific guy.”
- The Texas Legends are big time. So big time, in fact, that they’ll be broadcasting one of the Legends’ preseason games, against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on VERSUS. Not too shabby for a team that has yet to play a single game in a league that has lacked the exposure it deserves.
- Mike Prada unveils the second edition of the Watchability Scale, and the Mavs fall understandably in the middle of the pack under the header “RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE.” Hard to argue there. Dallas is rock-steady, and while their approach has gotten them 50+ wins every season for an entire decade, it does make them a bit of a broken record. Through Nellie, Avery, and Carlisle, a lot has changed, but the bread and butter of the Dallas offense hasn’t.
- In a chat with Quick DFW, Mark Cuban was asked if he ever envisioned what the Mavs would be like had Dirk left this summer. Cuban’s response? “No. I have pictures, so I knew we were safe. ” (via DOH at Mavs Moneyball)
- Tyson Chandler suffered a boo-boo in last night’s preseason game against the Magic, which has since been stitched up and will need about a week to heal. What happens next week again? Oh, yeah.
- Dominique Jones, on the difference between himself and Mavs’ assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who was the point guard for the Magic when Jones was growing up in Orlando (via Eddie Sefko): “I don’t take charges.” Well, he had better start taking them if he wants to be an effective NBA defender. Armstrong, of course, chimed in as a voice of reason: “He’s got to learn how to take charges. I think he took one in summer camp. That might have been the one that hurt his feelings and he said, ‘I don’t take charges.’ He might not know how to do it, but that’s another something I got to teach him.”
- J.J. Barea is still the back-up point guard, though Carlisle hinted the job is probably Rodrigue Beaubois’ upon his return.
- Royce Young had me over to his place to preview the Thunder’s upcoming season. OKC will be battling with the Mavs every step of the way, so familiarize yourself. Also, while you’ve over at Daily Thunder, take a peek through Royce and co.’s preview magazine. Very well done.
- A few scouts think Dallas can make it to the conference finals, and one picks San Antonio to win it all.
- Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball recapped the Mavs’ brief success in their game against the Magic last night: “The Mavericks did put up a fight in the first half, trailing by two points at halftime. A big reason for that was because the Magic’s second unit got killed in the second quarter against the 5-man combination of J.J. Barea, Dominique Jones, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler. Dallas put on a clinic offensively, running a lot of pick and pops for Nowitzki, pick and rolls for Chandler, backdoor screens for the wing players, and more. It was just beautiful to watch. Likewise, until the starters for Orlando checked into the game at the 4:37 minute mark in the period, the reserves were struggling to create for themselves on offense. That was a big reason for Dallas’ 16-2 run and six point lead in the quarter.”
- A closer look at J.J. Barea’s Under Armour kicks.
Yesterday we found out that Sonny Xiao would become co-owner of the Texas Legends, and the first Chinese owner of an NBA-affiliated team. Today brings some equally interesting news regarding the business side of basketball, as the Legends have brought in Hewlett-Packard to sponsor their court this season. Not the arena. The court. From the press release:
The Texas Legends and Hewlett Packard have partnered to build a bridge to China, and now, a co-owner will help that cause. The franchise has announced earlier today that the Chinese-born Sonny Xiao purchased a minority ownership of the Legends. The Legends and Hewlett Packard have agreed to brand the center circle with the HP logo, deeming the court “HP Court at Dr Pepper Arena.” The branding of the center circle on the court is the first of its kind in the NBA’s 64-year history. Furthermore, the utilization of the Mavericks logo marks the first time a team in the NBA or NBA D-League has placed a logo inside the free throw circle.
“The Legends are proud to team up with Hewlett Packard in this ground breaking event,” Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson commented. “They’re truly innovative global leaders that understand the value of relationships whether it’s employees here in North Texas or partners from China and abroad.”
The ground-breaking partnership with Hewlett Packard was spearheaded by Vice President of Human Resources Shawn Williams. The partnership represents a unique engagement of Hewlett Packard employees. “I am thrilled to announce this partnership with North Texas’ newest sports franchise, the Texas Legends,” Williams stated. “This is an investment in our employees, and in our North Texas footprint as it is one of the largest in our global operation. It will be a pleasure for our employees to be able to attend games at ‘HP Court’.”
We’re still a bit away from this being a viable option for an NBA team, but as top-line franchises look to get more creative with their sponsorship opportunities, this is a definite big league possibility. I was once doubtful that the sentimentalists running NBA franchises would ever allow the league’s more prestigious jerseys, for instance, to be printed up with ads, but this is an arena in which the United States is lagging behind and will likely look to surge forward. Adorning one’s court with a corporate logo at center circle isn’t exactly the same, but it’s certainly similar in principle.
- Mark Cuban owes Don Johnson $51.7 million because of Nash Bridges. You cannot make this stuff up. (via Ball Don’t Lie)
- Sonny Xiao, a Chinese “sports entrepreneur,” will be the co-owner of the Texas Legends, along with Donnie Nelson and Evan Wyly. Xiao is the first Chinese owner of an NBA or NBA-affiliated team.
- Rick Carlisle on Dominique Jones (via Earl K. Sneed): “(Jones) is a strong, tenacious type player, and I think down the road he’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna be depended on to guard the best players on a lot of nights. No question.” High praise from a coach who doesn’t dole out these kinds of superlatives easily.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas supposes that Tim Grgugrich, who served as a guest coach for the Mavs throughout training camp, could be a candidate to join the Dallas coaching staff full-time: “Marion worked with Grgurich during their time together in Phoenix. Marion praised his subtle communication with players, to teach and translate information and ideas about the game’s nuances and geometry, and to share it in a way that, like Terry, excites players. Grgurich became well-known for his partnership with Gary Payton in Seattle and today some of the game’s top talent attends his under-the-radar camp in Las Vegas every August.”
- Flip Saunders isn’t quite sure who his starting five will be tonight against the Mavericks. Also, John Wall is excited to play against Jason Kidd.
- This would be pretty big news if it were more definite: Rick Carlisle notes that the Mavs may not play Rodrigue Beaubois much at the point this season.
- Since the Phoenix Suns acquired Hedo Turkoglu from the Toronto Raptors via trade, Alvin Gentry has faced an endless stream of questions concerning Turkoglu’s position (he’s currently slated as a power forward) and what it means for the Suns’ defense. Here is his response (via Josh Greene): “Hedo will be fine. There are certain fours nobody handles in the league. I love when somebody says, ‘How will you guys guard Dirk Nowitzki?’ The last time I checked, no one else could guard him either. In those situations, we’ll do the best we can. My philosophy has always been, ‘They have to guard him on the other end of the floor.’ Sometimes that’s the best defense. The team that scores the most points wins the game. We were the best defensive team 62 times last year.”
- Brian Cardinal, glue guy on some pretty bad teams.
- Rodrigue Beaubois reflecting on Game 6 of last season’s playoffs, in which Rick Carlisle opted to sit him in favor of Jason Terry and Caron Butler (via Eddie Sefko): “It’s some tough choices for coach,” he said. “If we had won, it would have been great. It’s just a coach’s decision. I just need to be ready when they call my name. For sure it was difficult. It was a very important game and we lost it. It was tough. I was feeling great. But it’s all good. That was last year. I’m focused on this year.”
- A few other notes from the same Sefko piece: Beaubois fully intends to play for the French national team next year as they attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and though he’s no longer using crutches, he’s still in a protective boot.
- Mark Cuban, and his $100,000 donation to the city of Dallas. Cool, but as Trey Kerby noted at Ball Don’t Lie, it may not be entirely altruistic.
- Joe Crawford, whose rights the Legends selected in the D-League expansion draft, has been invited to camp with the Sacramento Kings. J.R. Giddens, who played for the Mavs’ summer league team, has also been invited. The Kings are clearly looking for a prospect to survive the intra-camp competition, as Luther Head, too, has been brought in to compete for a roster spot.
- In the latest edition of The Works, Tom Ziller and Bethlehem Shoals revisit the Z-graph, an illustrated representation of position-based skills.
- Dirk Nowitzki will do voice work for one of the worst shows on television.
- Josh Howard still dresses like Josh Howard.
Some fantastic news out of Frisco: the Texas Legends may soon add Greg Ostertag in some official capacity, and it could be as a player.
Let me say that again. Greg Ostertag may play for the Texas Legends next season. Buy your season tickets today!
According to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Donnie Nelson has indicated that there’s no chance of Ostertag becoming a Maverick, and that’s fortunate. Big O has made a few comeback attempts in the past, and to hear that the Mavs aren’t buying what he’s selling is a relief. Plus, another center (never mind one who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2006, and was, well, Greg Ostertag) on a roster with Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler, Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca would be a tad redundant.
Sefko indicates that there’s a chance Ostertag won’t play for the Legends either, but could serve in some kind of coaching/developmental capacity. That’s all well and good, but hardly as entertaining.
For those not in the know, this isn’t all that unusual. Lower profile NBA vets sometimes function as a player-assistant coaches in the D-League, as both a way to offer coaching experience in a slightly less formal capacity to the vet (keep in mind that the D isn’t just for developing players), and to provide a former NBAer in-roster as an example. That would likely be Ostertag’s aim here, and though Sefko’s report doesn’t paint O landing in Frisco as a certainty, there does appear to be some legitimate interest from the Legends’ side.