Welcome Back to Dallas, Devin

6 07 2013

The day after signing their starting point guard for next season, the Mavs bring in a former Dallas starting point that will now be their backup point guard or their shooting guard.

The Dallas Mavericks and Devin Harris are closing in on a three-year, $9+ million contract, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Harris played his first four seasons with the Mavs, averaging 14.4 points and 5.3 assists during his final season with the team in 2007-08. His best years came while in New Jersey Nets when he became a 2009 NBA All-Star and was the focal point of the offense for most of his time with the team. Well, and this happened.

While with the Atlanta Hawks last season, Harris became more of a bench player rather than the starter he had been up to that point in his career. Averaging 9.9 points and 3.4 assists in 24.5 minutes last season, the 30-year-old found himself playing more of both guard positions than just the 1 and filling that role quite nicely.

Even though Harris has bounced around between a few different teams, the Mavs have remained close with Harris, making his return to the Big D not that much of a surprise. However, things will be different this time around.

He may have some more facial hair than the last time Dallas saw him, but he is still a lightning-quick athlete that can get to the rim in a heartbeat. What also hasn’t changed is his inability to finish once he gets to the rim and make his jumpers on a consistent basis. Even though he has a high basketball IQ, Harris is clearly not an elite distributor who can be a floor general. That’s why putting him at the 2 might be useful at times. Also, just as this team learned with Darren Collison, sometimes these energy-filled point guards just aren’t made to be in starting lineups. Bringing Harris back as a sparkplug off the bench could work in Dallas’ favor.

The most glaring difference between Harris then and Harris now is his health. While in Atlanta, he just couldn’t seem to find a way to remain healthy, missing a total of 24 games throughout the season. Also going after injury-ridden Andrew Bynum and Jermaine O’Neal, this Mavs front office is clearly showing some strong faith in head athletic trainer Casey Smith and his staff.

(Also, don’t worry about Shane Larkin‘s playing time. Carlisle will find a way to work all three of these guards into his rotation.)

If anything, this is nice for Mavs’ fans to see a familiar face as the franchise has been in an identity crisis since winning the championship. Now Harris has a chance to find a role with his former team as they look to move on past Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.

Welcome back to Dallas, Devin.

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Mavs Finally Make A Move—Get Pure Point Guard

5 07 2013

They didn’t get Dwight. But the franchise got another foreign point guard with the first name Jose that is a fierce playmaker.

Calderon-MavsAfter attempting to bring him to town via trade last season, the Dallas Mavericks will sign Jose Calderon to a four year, $29 million contract, accoring to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Once free agents can officially be signed on July 10, there will be a clearer picture as to the structure of his contract. (Some are questioning the duration of this contract for a soon-to-be 32 year old; however, due to the new CBA’s stretch provision, it’s not as bad as it sounds.)

Other than Chris Paul, who decided to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, Calderon was the purest point guard available from the free agent market this offseason. The Spaniard has always been a great distributor and shooter while also being very efficient with the ball.

After being traded to the Detroit Pistons last season, Calderon put up fantastic numbers for a point guard—11.6 ppg, 6.6 apg, 52.7 FG%, 52.0 3P% and 89.3 FT%. And including his time with the Toronto Raptors, he led the League in 3-point field goal percentage (46.1%).

His most interest statistic, though, has to be his consistently high assist-to-turnover ratio. He ranked second in the NBA in 2010-11 (4.09), first in 2011-12 (4.50) and second in 2012-13 (4.11). Superstar CP3 has been the only player in the League with a better ratio the past three seasons. He may not be a flashy, high-rising, do-it-all guard that will light up the highlight reel…but he is certainly a great fit for a Mavericks’ team that had a tendency last year to allow turnovers to ruin games and turn many into blowouts. Dallas is getting a smart player that will work with Rick Carlisle to quickly learn his coaching methods and style of play.

Furthermore, this will make life much easier on Dirk Nowitzki as he now has a ball handler that won’t take long to understand who should be putting up the most shots (something last year’s squad just couldn’t figure out…yes, I’m looking at you Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo). Even though he won’t impress you with his athleticism, the guy knows how to be a floor general (see below).

Dirk works best with a guard that will take control of the offense and drive the team forward…there honestly isn’t a better free agency move for Dirk’s offense.
Calderon also gives rookie Shane Larkin a well-rounded mentor to learn the game from. They can both run the pick-and-roll with a center to be named along with the pick-and-pop with the Big German. Calderon is the first true vocal leader for the Mavs since Tyson Chandler was on the team; he will be ready to step in and work to win.

Dallas has had a good track record of bringing in point guards with high basketball IQs to run their offense. Steve Nash. Jason Kidd. He might not be as famous of a name but Calderon can be added to this list. Along with finding much more scoring (Vince Carter is currently the team’s second best offensive option), the next step for the Mavs is to get a rim protector to anchor this defense, especially with the signing of Calderon. Even though he has almost every skill you want from a point guard on the offensive end of the floor, Calderon lacks any sort of presence defensively, similar to the heavily-criticized Nash. Bringing in Andrew Bynum is a probable scenario, instead of Dwight Howard….

While being stuck in the middle of nothing and nowhere these past two seasons, Mark Cuban has played the waiting game for “big fish” to come to town as a No. 1 option for years to come. He has been working to clear enough cap space to sign a major player to a max contract to give these past few years a happy ending. Well, he missed on Deron Williams, he missed on Paul and he has now missed out on Howard. This move should remind you that Cuban is a good basketball businessman and does know how to make good signings—like making Calderon the point guard to build a team around.

I’m not excusing Cuban for swinging and whiffing on Howard after setting up a system in which he destroyed a championship team, decided to be bad (based on Mavs’ standards) and cleared space to bring a celebrity in…we can all agree it has failed. Real, alive people on a roster as assets have now shown to be much more valuable than simply cap space and more cap space…that’s a discussion for another time.

Right now, it’s time to move onward with “Plan B.” The other two Texas’ teams are clearly superior compared to anything going on in the Big D. Time to do some work, Mark.

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Top 5 Things To Take Away From the Mavs Season-Opening Win

31 10 2012

 

5. Coach Carlisle has yet again proven his worth.

No Dirk. No Kaman. No West. Rick Carlisle was forced to showcase a starting lineup that had one player (Shawn Marion) from last year’s starting lineup at the end of the season. If the Mavs had been blown out as badly as last year’s season opener, everyone would have understood. But as he has done countless times throughout his coaching career, Carlisle exploited his players strengths and easily out-coached Mike Brown to grab the victory. Let’s put it this way: Carlisle found a role for Eddy Curry. EDDY CURRY. Enough said.

 

4. Jae Crowder will have an influence on this team.

Remember when Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels emerged onto the scene as rookies in 2004? This was the last time the Mavs had rookies not only average more than 15 minutes per game in a season but also have a legitimate impact. Yeah, it’s been a while. But now this group has a tough, underrated basketball player in Crowder. Even though his eight points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal stat line from last night is nothing to slobber over, it was the way he went about obtaining these stats. Just as he has done all offseason, this 22-year-old gave one-hundred percent on every single play when he was on the basketball court… that’s something you don’t see every day in the NBA. His best play of the night might have been a personal foul. After Steve Nash lobbed the ball to Dwight Howard for an alley-oop, Crowder came from the weak side to knock Howard to the ground, taking away their potential highlight. Most defenders would have let the dunk go by so then they could play some offense. But Crowder wasn’t intimidated by Superman. Crowder wasn’t willing to give up on the play, and this attitude is invaluable for a winning team.

 

3. Darren Collison has already changed the pace of this offense.

Remember when Mark Cuban became infuriated because Jason Kidd skipped town on his team? I think Cuban’s doing alright now. Collison imposed his will on the flow of the game and never took his foot off the pedal. Already surpassing Jason Kidd’s season-high in points from last season, Collison led the team in scoring with 17 points, and even though he only dished out four assists, the Mavs could finally be described as “up-tempo” for the first time since the Lakers new point guard was in town. Being up-tempo sometimes causes a team to struggle on the defensive end, but that won’t be the case for Dallas because… (see point No. 2 below)

 

2. Scrappy will be a commonly used adjective for the Mavs.

Of the 10 guys that suited up to play Tuesday night, nine guys collected either a block or a steal. This is simply indicative of the hard work and hustle Carlisle demands from his players on the defensive side of the court. There were no pointing fingers (as is already the case for the Lakers) – only trust and communication between the teammates. They look as if they actually like to play defense. With Elton Brand grabbing 11 rebounds and Brandan Wright blocking three shots, the Mavs have servicable big men to hold their own until Dirk and Kaman come back. Because of the Mavericks relentless defensive activity, Pau Gasol already has his pouty face back and Dwight Howard has his complaining smirk. That is an accomplishment.

 

1. This team has players that will step up when their name is called.

Nine Mavericks won’t score at least seven points every game. Six Mavericks won’t score in double figures every game. Once the focal point of this offense comes back and averages around 20 points a night, they won’t need this many guys to carry the scoring load. So why does this matter? After only one game, Carlisle knows he has a team made up of nine guys that can step up if necessary. That’s what winning on the big stage is all about. When the Mavs won their championship, Corey Brewer, Peja Stojakovic and DeShawn Stevenson sporadically stepped up but stepped up in a timely fashion. When the Heat won their championship, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole did the exact same thing. I’m not trying to put this team on a championship level by any means, but I do want to clear up any doubt that they won’t be playing in meaningful games once April arrives. If they have half of the players produce like they did Tuesday night once Dirk comes back, they will become a force in the West.

 

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Your New Dallas Mavericks

10 09 2012

Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones show off their new jerseys at the get-to-know-the-new-guys Dallas Mavericks press conference.

Elton Brand

Chris Kaman

O.J. Mayo

Darren Collison

Dahntay Jones

There are only 19 days left until the Dallas Mavericks begin practicing for the 2012-2013 NBA season. You ready for these newcomers?

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The Short-Term Dallas Replacements

14 07 2012

The Dallas Mavericks went into this offseason with a distinct Plan A-Z: sign Deron Williams. I know… this story is getting redundant. However, it must be established that anything short of bringing the All-Star point guard to town should be considered a disappointment for the 2011 NBA Champions that look nothing the same in their defense of the title. And that’s the reality that must sink in.

So, they went to plan AA. Instead of trading for the next closest upper tier player and committing to someone they didn’t want or wouldn’t fit into Carlisle’s sysem, Plan “Powder Dry” went into motion as Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson loves to explain.

“Keeping the powder dry is a term that you’re going to hear a lot with a lot of teams in the NBA since the landscape is drastically changing and the future of the league is really changing before our very eyes on a daily basis,” Nelson told ESPN Dallas Radio. “Our position is we want to be players when it comes to getting star-quality talent.”

To put it simply, the Mavs will now have an offseason very similar to the last. Let Mavs that have been key contributors but are somewhat expensive walk. Hand out short-term commitments that can be dropped easily. Construct a bridge year until the 2013 free agency period comes with more superstars (the top three are Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and James Harden while Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson could also make it on to their list).

The Mavs have let four walk out the door and let four walk in. One point guard, one shooting guard and two centers exited. One point guard, one shooting guard and two centers entered. Let’s compare each ex-Mav to his new successor.

 

 

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Jason Kidd  (3-year, $9 million contract with Knicks) — 2011-2012 stats: 6.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.1 RPG

Darren Collision (1-year, $2.3 million left on contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.1 RPG

Sentimentally, this will be a tough transition for Mavs nation. Kidd came in at a time when the Mavs were reeling in the early playoff exits after back-to-back dreadful playoff experiences in 2006 and 2007. In his first full season with the team, Rick Carlisle joined his side and those two quickly established themselves into the system. The veteran leadership he brought on and off the court will be missed; however, this old group has enough of that for multiple seasons to go around. Moving forward for the minimum of one season with Darren Collision will be a solid step in the right direction that will inevitably improve the team’s quickness and offensive pace that had been lacking the previous season. Even though Collison regressed once he was traded to Indiana and ended up losing his starting position to George Hill, don’t forget the brilliance this kid had right off the bat in his 2009-2010 rookie season. When Chris Paul was forced to sit out for two months due to left knee surgery, Collison exploded onto the scene. The former UCLA Bruin went from averaging 5.4 points prior to the injury to 19.4 once he took on the starting role, including a 35-point performance against Dallas on February 28. He might not having the passing skills of J-Kidd, but he has a huge advantage in the speed and scoring category. Yes, bringing back the 39-year-old veteran would have made many – including Dirk – feel nice and nostalgic inside, but this changeover is for the best.

 

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Jason Terry (3-year, $15 million contract with Celtics) — 2011-2012 stats: 15.1 PPG, 88.3 FT%, 138 3-pointers made

Dahntay Jones (1-year, $2.9 million left on contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 5.3 PPG, 83.8 FT%, 42.9 3P%

Even though Jones was brought in to play more of DeShawn Stevenson’s role than JET’s, until the Mavs find the sharpshooter they want, this is Terry’s replacement. And a worse basketball player at that. Terry wanted to stay in Dallas and hoped the team that will eventually raise his number to the rafters would match the Celtics offer, but he doesn’t fit into Nelson and Cuban’s plan. If the team had decided to match the Celtics offer, throwing Terry that much money for that long would hinder their chances of landing a big fish during next year’s free agency when the bridge will finally be connected to Dallas’s future. The Mavs now have a huge void where many huge jumpers were taken when Dirk couldn’t get his shot off or was having an off night. Discounting the odd ins and outs of last season, Terry has been as reliable as Dirk throughout his time in DFW, which is saying a lot. There’s a reason this marksman has made the fourth most 3-pointers in NBA history. Once the Mavs have some close games with game-winning possessions, people will soon realize this team just lost a crucial 4th-quarter scorer that stretched the floor. Jones won’t bring much of this to the table but will be able to bring a certain toughness that Carlisle always welcomes to the squads he coaches. He has an attitude that Shawn Marion possesses and Tyson Chandler forced upon all of the Mavericks – every time on defense is a chance to make a play and not a time to relax. When the Mavericks lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2009 playoffs, Jones played a major role on the defensive end of the court and retained this tenacity against Kobe Bryant in the next round. His confidence is under control but at a level even greater than his actual basketball skills as he enforces his will while on the court, no matter how long that may be. He may not have the clutch gene that Terry possesses, but he surely will make it into the rotation, if not the starting lineup, very soon.

 

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Brendan Haywood – hasn’t been claimed yet — 2011-2012 stats: 5.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.0 BPG

Elton Brand (1-year, $2.1 million contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 11.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG

No question – almost any other center that has the capability to be somewhat productive is an automatic improvement from the disappointing story known as Haywood. From complaining about playing time during a championship run to being unable to have a single offensive move other than dunking right under the basket with no one around, Haywood has been anything short of a detriment to this team. When you think back to the time he came into town coming off an almost double-double season in Washington, his bar has incessantly been lowered. And lowered. And lowered. Now, the Mavs have a player that can play either the 4 or 5 while bringing the intangibles a winning team needs to be successful. He might not be the All-Star he used to be after many injuries have slowed him down, which is another problem in itself, but he certainly hasn’t lost his toughness so many NBA gurus crave. There is no doubt that his defense will be top notch, and when he spots up to take a short-range jumper, a miss is highly unlikely. On top of this, they got the 13-year veteran for an absolute steal. After making it clear to the league that they would go hard after Brand during the bidding process, Dallas claimed the former Blue Devil off waivers for a small enough contract that they still have about $4 million left over to spend for any additional moves (most likely to add a 3-point specialist to the roster). Even though Brand will most likely backup both Dirk and Kaman, he is more comparable to Haywood than Kaman. And he unquestionably offers his new team better attitude, better offense and defense, and a better contract.

 

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Chris Kaman Chris Kaman #35 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Brandon Bass #30 of the Boston Celtics at New Orleans Arena on December 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Ian Mahinmi (4-year, $16 million contract with Pacers) — 2011-2012 stats: 5.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 54.6 FG%

Chris Kaman (1-year, $8 million contract with Mavs) — 2011-2012 stats: 13.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG

Kaman has the statistical edge while Mahinmi has the potential edge. The Mavs know what they are getting in Kaman: an injury-prone veteran that is an efficient mid-to-close range scorer that unspectacularly grabs many rebounds, such as his German teammate has been known to do. The budding Frenchman still has not grown into his full NBA shell. Throughout his two years in Dallas, he showed sporadic (key word – sporadic) signs that with significant playing time, he could develop into a player worth having as a building block for the future. Since the Mavs are riding their entire future on an eventual free agent superstar signing, they let this piece go, but received much in return in Collison and Jones. Kaman might have the wear and tear that the Mavs simply don’t need with the overabundance of age already on the team, but he certainly fits in almost perfectly with his other two big men. Dirk and Kaman have played many years together on the German national basketball team while Brand and Kaman joined forces with the Los Angeles Clippers for five seasons, which included a playoff run in 2006. Just as Collison will help the offense punch in the frontcourt, Kaman will improve Dirk’s backcourt scoring like never before – and yes, that’s even considered what Tyson Chandler brought. As they have done against many teams in European play, Kaman will be able to feed off Dirk by getting the ball on the block and using his exceptional footwork to put the ball in the basket with hook-shots and short jumpers. The Mavericks actually have a center that can shoot the ball and score on his own… this is revolutionary. Yet again, the low price makes this big-man pickup absolutely worth it. He might not be Dwight Howard, but he is certainly no Ian Mahinmi or Brendan Haywood.

 

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