Troy Murphy arrived in Dallas and participated in the team’s morning shootaround as they prepared for their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats. Murphy took the place of Eddy Curry on the 15-man roster. Curry was waived after playing in the first two regular season games for Dallas. Curry averaged 4.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 12.5 minutes.
After coming into town last week for workouts and participating in the team’s shootaround, coach Rick Carlisle has liked what he’s seen out of his former player. “He looks good. He’s got an idea of what we’re doing,” Carlisle said of Murphy. “It’ll take him a while to get in great shape, but he’s always in good shape. He’ll get ready to play really quick.” Murphy is a familiar player to Carlisle and assistant coach Jim O’Brien and that went a long way in bringing him on board with the Mavericks. “That’s the reason we got him,” Carlisle said. “He’s familiar with what we’re doing. He can rebound and he can shoot the ball. Those are things that are valuable things for us.”
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Things just tend to never slow down for the Mavericks this year. Veteran forward Troy Murphy reached an agreement on a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday evening, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. It was reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com that the Mavericks would waive newly acquired center Eddy Curry, not guard Dominique Jones, to make room for Troy Murphy on the 15-man roster. Things were finally made official late Friday afternoon. By letting Curry go, the new acquisition gives the appearance that Chris Kaman’s return to the lineup could be imminent.
Murphy, 32, has experience playing for coach Rick Carlisle. He played for Carlisle with the Indiana Pacers in 2006-07, averaging 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds after arriving in a midseason trade from the Golden State Warriors. Additionally, he has experience playing for assistant coach Jim O’Brien. He played 220 games for O’Brien where he averaged 13.7 points/game, 9.7 rebounds/game and shot 41.3 percent from three-point range.
In a moment where they could have gone with guys such as Brian Cardinal or Yi Jianlian (Former Mavericks who are without an NBA gig at the moment), they went with Troy Murphy. While holding career averages of 10.9 points/game, 7.9 rebounds/game while shooting 39.0 percent from three point range in his 11 year NBA career (715 games, 480 starts), Murphy has tailed off during the last two years in the league. He only averaged 16.2 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers and scored 3.2 points/game.
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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Nothing like playing against the Cavaliers’ defense to get the offense going sans Nowitzki, Butler, and Beaubois. Dallas did their part to execute, but there’s no question that playing against a defense without shot-blockers or capable defensive bigs did wonders for the Mavs’ inside game. Lots of productive cutting, driving, and ball movement, which generated good looks both inside and out. The offense was simple, but that’s fine against the Cavs, especially without Anderson Varejao in the lineup. It wasn’t a dominant offensive performance — and those expecting anything of the sort in the Mavs’ current circumstances best be scanned for brain damage — but Dallas held modest advantages in each of the four factors.
- The defense was another story. A win is a win is a win is a win, but the back line of the zone was sloppy, and the pick-and-roll coverage was generally a mess. Defensive breakdowns are inevitable, but the frequency of open Cleveland dunks and layups in their half-court offense was pretty depressing. Definitely not one of the Mavs’ finer defensive performances, and I’m not sure injuries provide a valid excuse.
- A possible caveat, though: because of Nowitzki and Butler’s injuries, plenty of Mavs are playing out of position in the zone. Those that had been manning the top of the zone are now on the wing in some cases, and while the principles are the same, the execution is different. Even those changes shouldn’t have resulted in so many open looks at the rim, but it’s something to consider.
- Butler’s absence ushered Jason Terry (18 points, 8-14 FG, four assists) back into the starting lineup, where Shawn Marion (22 points, 11-16 FG, five rebounds) also stood in for Nowitzki. Kidd-Terry-Stevenson-Marion-Chandler is a very weird offensive lineup, but JET found his jumper at the bottom of his travel bag, DeShawn Stevenson (21 points, 6-13 FG, 5-12 3FG, four assists, three rebounds) was absolutely tremendous from deep but was far more than a spot-up shooter, and Marion moved well in the Mavs’ half-court offense and on the initial and secondary break. Toss in double-digit scoring efforts from Jason Kidd (10 points, 3-13 FG, eight assists, four rebounds, four turnovers) and Tyson Chandler (14 points, 6-6 FG, 14 rebounds, three turnovers), and you have a one-game, completely unsustainable blueprint for makeshift success.
- Mavs fans should already be quite aware of Antawn Jamison’s (35 points, 14-22 FG, 3-6 3FG, 10 reobunds) scoring savvy, but games like this one bring Jamison’s creativity around the basket to the forefront, if only for a moment. Jamison has been pegged as a “stretch 4,” but I’m not quite sure why; he’s an interior player with range, not a Rashard Lewis or Troy Murphy-like talent that works from the outside in. Reducing Jamison to a perimeter threat erases the dimensions of the game in which he’s been the most successful, and as he showed against the Mavs, Jamison is still plenty capable of piling up points with an array of flips, hooks, counters, and tips.
- Dominique Jones (nine points, 2-10 FG, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks) was recalled from the Legends after Butler’s injury status became grave, and played 21 minutes as a creator/scorer. Rick Carlisle actually ran a decent amount of the offense through Jones, who proved himself a capable drive-and-kick player if nothing else. His vision isn’t transcendent, but Jones is unselfish and capable of making all kinds of passes. Jones still struggles to finish after getting to the rim — odd considering how strong of a finisher he was in college and at Summer League — but that limitation seems nothing more than a temporary hurdle. Jones will be a quality driver/slasher in time, and for now, he’s showing the quickness to get around his man, the vision and willingness to make smart plays, and a veteran knack for drawing contact.
- Marion scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 15 second-half minutes. Those buckets weren’t exactly tide-altering (though the final margin was less than impressive, the Mavs’ offense kept them in control throughout), but valuable nonetheless, particularly with such talented scorers riding the inactive list.
- None of us should expect Rick Carlisle’s rotation to be constant given his current personnel, so take the significance of Brendan Haywood’s return to semi-prominence with a grain of salt. Haywood could end up glued to the bench again by midweek, but for now, he’s playing right behind Tyson Chandler once more.
- Sneakily absurd performance of the night: Ramon Sessions finished with 19 points (9-13 FG), 12 assists, and seven rebounds. Sessions benefited from the confused Dallas defense on more than a few occasions, and got up for a couple of dunks. Still, the full volume of Sessions’ production escaped me, and the fact that he nearly registered a pretty impressive triple double seems crazy, even if it shouldn’t.
No Game Is an Island has taken a brief break, but it’s back. Check back on game days for a more detailed look on the Mavs’ opponent du jour. No match-up breakdowns here; No Game Is an Island focuses on the macro or the micro to an extreme, giving you a bit of perspective on just about anything but the individual game itself.
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Washington Wizards as we knew them have been completely destroyed. Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson, as you well know, are in Dallas, and former Mav Antawn Jamison is now a Cleveland Cavalier. But while those former Wizards are at least happy to have some separation from the mess in D.C., other talented players from around the league weren’t so fortunate. Enter Troy Murphy:
Antawn has the bigger name and the bigger game, but does that really make him so much more of a sympathetic figure than Murphy? The Arenas-Crittenton debacle was an obvious embarrassment for every member of the Wizards organization, but at the very least, it presented a scapegoat. Washington’s plan won’t work, and it’s all Gilbert’s fault. The team won’t make the playoffs again as presently constructed, and it’s all Gilbert’s fault. Grunfeld has to trade away all of the team’s best players immediately to plan for the future, and it’s all Gilbert’s fault. But in a lot of ways, Gil is the red herring; the Wizards were already 10-20 before the gun story ran wild, and that’s not only on Arenas, but also Grunfeld, Flip, Antawn, Caron, Brendan, et al. But Washington has Gil as the goat of all goats, which doesn’t make the situation any less tragic but does make the excuses all kinds of convenient.
Murphy has no one to hide behind. After all, whose fault is it that the Pacers are an awful 19-36, a full game behind the Wizards? Is it Danny Granger’s fault for refusing to diversify his game and regressing in his most valuable attribute? Is it Jim O’Brien’s fault for coaching a horrid offense? Is it Larry Bird for piecing together a mismatched, underwhelming roster? Or Mike Dunleavy for the way his body refuses to cooperate? Washington at least had the blessing (or maybe just the illusion) of certainty, whereas things in Indiana are so muddled they’re almost indistinguishable. With over $60 million in guaranteed salary for next season, little in the way of trade bait, and no prospects waiting to take the leap, Murphy is stuck in his own private hell.
Read my full piece on Murphy over at Hardwood Paroxysm.
Indiana Pacers visit the Dallas Mavericks
Fox Sports SW
The Dallas Mavericks visit the Indiana Pacers
It’s almost an irrelevant discussion by now, but as recently as a week ago, those with an eye to the Mavs pondered the perks of playoffs versus the lottery. This team almost certainly doesn’t have the chops of a championship contender (or if they have them stowed away in some secret compartment, I have yet to see them), so at best the playoffs are an extension to a season most view as an exercise in mediocrity. Sure, every team in the playoffs technically has a chance to win it all, but at what minute fraction of a fraction does it become more worth our while to try our luck at the lottery balls?
The Mavs are a veteran team, and that route isn’t exactly an appetizing one. Just making the playoffs is a bare bones accomplishment, but for a team of proud, veteran players, it could offer enough consolation to keep them from tossing and turning in bed every night for the next three months. And, of course, the financial incentives are well worth the Mavs’ while, especially when considering the team’s massive payroll and luxury tax payout.
Simply, the difference between potentially the 14th pick and the 20th pick or so isn’t worth the fuss. What the Mavs would gain in a (possibly) marginally more talented/productive player, they would almost certainly lose in whatever quantitative way there is to measure mental health. The hot line with the Mavs has always been that they lack the sort of fiery, on-court leader that forges championship mettle with his bear hands; if that’s as true as believed, then missing the playoffs with two future Hall-of-Famers, not to mention two players who fancy themselves borderline All-Stars, could be a stroke of death.
The Indiana Pacers find themselves in a similar discussion, but with a decidedly different outlook. For them, making the playoffs isn’t as much a testament to their longevity and a shallow fulfillment of their own personal expectations, but a fairly significant breakthrough for a roster that has been continually limited by circumstance. Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the team’s two best players, have battled injury all season. Almost every other rotation player has missed at least a handful of games, sometimes leaving a cast of role players to accomplish what teams at full-strength often struggle to do: win games. At their best, they’re world-beaters, a potent offensive club that overcomes deficiencies with a sense of direction. Sometimes the compass may be pointing the wrong way, but at least their direction is conclusive.
What would making the playoffs mean to the Pacers? I’d wager an awful lot; Jarrett Jack, Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy (though he’s injured) have never even tasted the playoffs, and it goes without saying that rookies Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush have yet to play their first postseason game. Something tells me that those players, Murph and Dunleavy in particular, might want to take a crack at the playoffs, even if it means nothing more than a beatdown at the hand of the Cavaliers. If it doesn’t happen this year, it would certainly be disappointing, but it’s also completely understandable given the myriad of injuries. The Pacers are in an oddly accomodating situation for a team on the playoff bubble; their injuries arm them with the perfect write-off, a playoff berth would bring a newfound sense of fulfillment and justification, and a draft pick in the lottery would only serve to help their cause next year with a healthy, matured roster.
That seems to be the theme with the Mavs in comparison to the rest of those on the fringes of relevance. These teams have been to the bottom, and they’ve seen just how dark it can get. Dallas, on the other hand, has glimpsed the summit. Though they’re stranded with no apparent means of reaching their goal, claims to fear their half-way camp much more than the fall. They could be in for a rude awakening when glorified visions of falling with style transform into the panic and fear of a freefall, but we’ll tackle that monster when we come to it. For now, the Mavs will do their best MacGyver, and try to fashion a pickaxe from dental floss, a tube sock, and a metal spork.