Garnett-Pierce Will Be Brooklyn Nets

27 06 2013

On a night that was supposed to be about the NBA Draft and David Stern’s last draft before he retires, Garnett decided to change the importance of the night. And the Nets’ future.

The Boston Celtics have agreed to trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce after Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause to the Brooklyn Nets, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The Celtics will be receiving Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and three first round picks (2014, ’16, ’18). Nets will also do a sign-and-trade to send Keith Bogans to Boston.

Along with KG and Pierce, the Nets will receive Jason Terry in the blockbuster package.

Some of these details may change by the time the trade is allowed to go through on July 10, but the main part of this trade isn’t changing: KG and Pierce are about to be Brooklyn Nets. This quickly-changing franchise gets two veteran players as new Head Coach Jason Kidd will look to take his team deep into the playoffs. (Also—Kidd will now be coaching former teammate Terry. Sounds weird, right?)

The Celtics now have some cap space cleared along with a great chance to rebuild as the years move along. Those three future first round picks could be huge for Boston. Even though it is sad to see the face of the franchise from the past 14 years disappear so quickly, this was much needed by the Celtics. Doc Rivers left and the championship core from 2008 was no more. Now they can focus on their young pieces and building a future.

Good to see you, NBA offseason.

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Clippers-Celtics Blockbuster Trade (Step 1)

23 06 2013

Before the NBA Finals even had a chance to make its way onto NBATV, the first blockbuster trade of the 2013 NBA summer is upon us. Lob City just became Destination City.

It seemed to be an impossible dream of swapping pieces. Then it suddenly became something actually happening that was only a few pieces from successfully occurring. Then it all died away due to a mutual interest for a certain backup point guard. Then we seemed to be on the doorsteps. Then the Clippers backed off because they felt like they were giving up too much. Then Los Angeles’ star point guard stepped in, said to continue the trades talks and scared his organization half to death. Then the league had questions about the proposed deals and the connections between the two since there can’t be trades with contingencies or side deals. But now, we have a deal. Partially.

The Boston Celtics have begun the destruction of their “Big 3+Coach” core and traded head coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 unprotected first-round pick, according ESPNBoston’s Jackie MacMullan.

Coach Rivers isn’t technically a part of a trade since teams can’t trade coaches involving players. These two organizations came to an agreement that will give L.A. the coaching rights to Doc after Boston has released their coach and then give Boston draft pick compensation. MacMullan says the length of the deal is still being worked out.

The original deal was for the Celtics to trade Rivers and power forward Kevin Garnett to the Clippers for center DeAnde Jordan and two first-round draft picks. The league intervened, though, because certain contingencies and side deals (which is what Rivers, a coach, would have been) can’t be accounted for under the league’s cap rules, making the trade illegitimate. For the deals to take place, the NBA would have to be convinced that the Rivers deal is completely separate from any player discussions. Well, they were sold.

So that’s where we stand. We’re halfway there…or so we’re not supposed to think. But since the Rivers deal has been completed, we must play dumb and play the waiting game for Garnett to be traded to L.A. If a third team has to join in on the trade, it will happen. The Clippers will do what they must to snatch KG. Trust me—it’s inevitable.

Doc-Garnett L.A.

(With Doc leaving Boston, other than Gregg Popovich, the NBA now has no coach that has been with his team for more than five years. Erik Spoelstra and Rick Carlisle were each hired in 2008. The NFL has nine coaches and the MLB has ten managers that have been with their team more than five years. In terms of security of a job, I would not want to be a coach in the NBA at the moment.)

The Clippers first didn’t want to give up rising guard Eric Bledsoe, and then once he was taken out of the picture, they didn’t want to give up two first-round draft picks. So talks were supposedly “dead.” But once unrestricted free agent (emphasis on unrestricted) Chris Paul twisted his team’s arm to make this idea a reality, the organization started talking to the Celtics again and made the trade discussions start to move forward. And they’ll probably still get to keep Bledsoe.

My initial reaction to all of this is “how long before Garnett is traded and Paul Pierce is bought out by the Celtics and joins his buddies?” (Answer: very soon.) My second is realizing the impact this will have on two All-Star point guards.

Lucky Paul. Poor Rajon Rondo.

This most assuredly guarantees that CP3 will re-sign with the Clippers as he now got his way and his superstar coach of choice. Once the next step of this trade goes through (Garnett), Paul will have a supporting cast ready to seriously compete for a championship right away. (Just look at how quickly the C’s core meshed in 2008 in order to win a championship during their first season together.) Sorry Dallas and Atlanta, looks like CP3 is staying home.

It will also be interesting to see the impact Garnett can have on Blake Griffin once the nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team player heads on over. Will the highlight of all highlight reel dunkers find a way to finally become a defensive force due to the guidance of one of the best team defenders in the league? Or will he shut out Garnett’s serious influence due to his desire to have fun and make KIA commercials?

And on the other end of this trade, you have to feel somewhat bad for Rondo. Not only has he been given the raw end of this deal since he will soon be the sole leader of a team in full rebuilding mode (LaMarcus Aldridge feels his pain), he will likely have one of his worst NBA seasons since his play—and assists per game—is bettered with a strong cast around him. No. 9 isn’t the type of player that can take over a game, team and season without quality help from his teammates.

It is mind-blowing what one free agent signing—CP3—has done for this Clippers’ franchise. Once a place that every budding star wanted out of has transformed into the landing spot for players/coaches who want one last shot at a title. (Well, the city hasn’t changed. The franchise has.)

Doc, Garnett and Pierce will soon get that shot in L.A.

And the Lakers will just have to watch.

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Beards Be Gone

27 03 2013

Take a good look at the image above. This face will look a little different very soon.

From starting out the first third of the season without their superstar, to having six different starting centers at different points, to losing seven straight overtime games, the 2012-2013 NBA season has not been kind to a Dallas Mavericks franchise that is so used to it being nicer the past 12 playoff-filled seasons.

Nothing has come easy. This isn’t to say that the blame shouldn’t be on their shoulders, especially since they have allowed plenty of games to slip right by them countless times. However, the basketball gods have made it clear they want the Mavs to work for their 13th consecutive playoff appearance.

The Mavericks showed that they are willing to work for that milestone Tuesday night. And they showed it in a big way.

The Dallas Mavericks inched past the Los Angeles Clippers 109-102 in overtime as Dirk Nowitzki not only pushed his way past Patrick Ewing for 17th on the all-time scoring list but also pushed his team one win away from a .500 record and from some clean-shaven faces.

American Airlines Center clearly had a playoff atmosphere right from the opening tipoff. It started with the ceaseless boos for LamLam Odom and ended with the chants of “Air Ball” after Matt Barnes air-balled a wide-open three-pointer with 22 seconds to go in overtime that would have tied the game.

In between these two events was a game filled with plenty of cheering for the home team. The Mavs and Clippers simply put on a fantastic basketball game that remained close throughout. If you haven’t heard at this point, Chris Paul is pretty good at basketball and is statistically one of the best clutch players in the game. The Clippers opponent had a player just as clutch with a completely different array of skills. And much, much more facial hair.

Paul and Dirk played some of their best basketball of the season, each setting season-highs with 33 points. Chris Paul made two different shots that could have been game-winning shots. However, due to O.J. Mayo finally deciding to show up when it matters most and Dirk scoring the Mavs first eight points in overtime, Paul had to settle for two pretty good shots and another loss.

This big-time offense from the Mavs stars was clearly a huge reason they came out on top, but the defense down the stretch was just as important. And it started with Elton Brand and his never-ending motor. Not only did he collect eight points, five rebounds and four blocks in 25 minutes off the bench, but the 13-year veteran shut down All-Star Blake Griffin.

BrandGriffinIn the first five minutes of play while Brand sat on the bench, Griffin went 3-for-3 from the field, 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and had eight quick points. Once Brand entered the game, Griffin had no field goals until late in overtime when the game was already over.

It may be in a completely different way, but Brand has found a way to replicate the type of energy off the bench that Jason Terry brought to the floor and hard-nosed defense Tyson Chandler has made a living off of. When he guards big men on the block, he rarely is sucked into pump fakes and firmly holds his ground. This intelligent defense kept the Mavericks in the game when the offense couldn’t find a rhythm on the other end of the court. No other Dallas big man can do what Brand does night in and night out.

There’s one more old man that has to be mentioned. (That’s not counting Vince Carter, who simply needs to forget about this horrible night filled with a multitude of mistakes.) This is the old man that had one more assist and six fewer turnovers than Chris Paul. That’s right – Mike James.

After making a worst first impression than Manti Te’o did on the NFL, James (10 points, six assists, four rebounds, one turnover) has figured out his role, and the team’s 9-3 record since he became a starter is proof. No longer do people have to wince when James begins to dribble; instead, they can become excited for what he’s going to do with the ball. He is playing smart basketball and creating for his teammates as a starting point guard is supposed to do.

Now, we can’t forget about the man that goes by the name Dirk. Tuesday night showcased a vintage Dirk that reminded the nation why he is so unguardable. Head coach Vinny Del Negro threw Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and even a smaller Barnes at the bearded power forward in order to find some way of stopping him. Dirk and his one-legged fadeaway jump shot gladly showed all of these players just why he can still play at an elite level. There’s no question.

Nowitzki performed this way during the Mavericks’ biggest regular season win since last year when they took down the San Antonio Spurs in overtime. This one is even bigger due to the fact that the playoffs are less than a month away and because this is the Mavs first win against a top 4 Western Conference opponent (Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets) in 12 tries this season.

“It’s a good time to be playing your best basketball of the season,” Nowitzki said.

So, even though it’s nice to see this team playing so well and coming into form, why would they want to push for a playoff spot when they will inevitably be bounced in the first round just like last year?

Pride. Pride in the Maverick and what it represents.

At three different points this season, Dallas had a record of 13-23, 20-28, and 25-32. Tanking could have been initiated at any of these points and Mark Cuban could have started watching March Madness to see what lottery-bound player would be coming to his team. This isn’t an outlandish idea as NBA teams will commonly do this once they realize there’s not much more to play for.  But the Mavericks aren’t finished.

“Our work is not done. … The motivation is clear. This has been a winning franchise for a long time,” Rick Carlisle said.

As a Mavericks fan and a sports fan, I find very few things more respectable than the grit and grind this team has shown in order to get to where they are now and where they will end up. There were plenty of excuses they all could have given in order to mark this season as a lost cause. I mean, this was a team that had Eddy Curry start a basketball game…. Eddy Curry. Yeah.

But through it all, they never gave in and never gave up. And this attitude starts right at the helm with their head coach and franchise player. Carlisle and Nowitzki have made it clear to the media with their interviews throughout the season that they believe in their team. They will always believe. Because of this relentless optimism, they find themselves on the doorsteps of basketball in late April…again.

No matter the outcome of this season and possibly postseason, the Dallas Mavericks have given DFW sports fans a reason to not lose all hope in pride for their sports teams. The Cowboys seem to be obsessed with mediocrity and collapsing at the end of the season. The Rangers…let’s not even go there.

The 2011 NBA Champions have shown that they will not give up on their city. They will not give up on their franchise. They will not give up on Dirk.

The Los Angeles Lakers may seem like the logical choice to grab the eighth and final playoff seed with their star-studded roster. The Utah Jazz may also seem like the more probable choice with their strength of schedule and amount of home games they have left to play. But with the Lakers losing their last three games and the Jazz losing nine straight on the road and nine of their last twelve, the surging Mavs can see the playoff-light at the end of the tunnel. The path is filled with difficult playoff teams as opponents, but it’s there.

The Mavericks are clearly a team that will continue to fight for their lives and improve their chemistry until they have no more games to play, but this murky path will still be difficult to follow and conquer; however, with a healthy Dirk leading the way, this team is about to prove their doubters wrong one more time.

Get out those razors, Mavs.

And get ready for the playoffs.

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More Mayo, Please

16 07 2012

And just like that, the Mavs at least have a respectable team that has a shot at making the playoffs for a 13th straight season. Why did any of us second guess this Mavs front office, again?

The Dallas Mavericks and O.J. Mayo have agreed on a two-year deal with the second being a player option, according to sources ESPN Dallas’s Jeff Caplan and Mayo’s Twitter account. He tweeted Monday night, saying, “I will be signing with dallas! #Mavsnation.”

Mayo joins the other four new Mavs as this roster begins to completely transform into a team that being constructed from the ground up (again). All five players that have joined this roster will be directly implemented into Carlisle’s system and receive significant minutes.

The young 24-year-old spent the first four years of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies before they opted not to extend his contract, sending him to free agency.

Unfortunately, he regressed in each successive season while with Memphis. After storming out of the gates his rookie year by averaging 18.5 points and following that up with 17.5 points in his sophomore campaign, he has since then only averaged 11.9 points while every single one of his shooting percentage numbers have decreased. This might have been due to the fact that he become a bench player these latter two years and played around 12 less minutes. Even though he has this glaring problem that you never want to see in a young player, Mayo has always had a soft touch and had a spectacular shooting percentage when he is open. He could very easily grow back into his early form with the right role.

What will be his role with the Mavs? Oh, it’s pretty simply – be the JET.

Since Dallas decided to part ways with the clutch 4th quarter scorer, their long-distance shooting became completely shot with Shawn Marion being their best option from deep. Uh-oh.

Well, with the insertion of the 2008 third overall pick into this squad, they now have the 3-point specialist that every competitive team needs – just look at the Miami Heat’s bench from last season. He might come off the bench to provide a necessary offensive spark when newcomer Dahntay Jones needs a break from playing hard-nosed defense or start (since that’s when he’s played his best) right away in order to fit into this new offensive system led by Collison.

Not only does Mayo come in as Terry’s successor, he also joins as a player the Mavs might actually be interested in long-term. Up to this point, every single signing this summer has been for one year. Clearly, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are ready to do yet another overhaul next summer for a big-time free agent (I’m getting the gut-feeling it will be James Harden). Mayo can be a part of this plan. He has the age and specific skill set that fits into any system, no matter what pieces move around.

I won’t back down from this – the 2012 offseason should be considered a disappointment for the Mavs. It can’t be forgotten that they failed to sell their franchise to a premier point guard in Deron Williams that would have changed the entire outlook on the organization’s future. They gambled and paid the price.

Yet, things have now gone from dire to acceptable.

With Daren Collison and Mayo replacing Kidd and Terry, youth has been infused to a team that hasn’t had that in what feels like decades. Actual youth from quality players. Furthermore, improved quickness can go right alongside these two players.

With Chris Kaman and Elton Brand replacing Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi, they simply got two better basketball players. The new big men might be older and more injury prone, but they are certainly athletes that can score, rebound, block and pass the ball at a higher level.

So, with almost all of the money and roster spots being used up (they’re not done, yet), where do the Mavericks stand right now? Title contender? No. Playoff contender? Absolutely. That is what needs to be established with this team – the bar has been lowered. It is simply a realistic approach people must take with this team. They have improved interior scoring and offense in general, but lack the necessary pieces to be make an honest-to-goodness push to go all the way. The main piece had to be Deron Williams.

No matter where this team will be predicted to finish up prior to the season starting, which will be difficult to do with the many new, crucial players, this is a (somewhat) compelling time for the Mavericks. Watching how all these new players will fit into an established system that Carlisle can twist and bend to fit his players strengths will simply be fun to watch. Oh yeah – and they will get an entire training camp unlike last season, which will inevitably be very valuable to such a transforming team. (If you noticed, the two team’s in the NBA Finals were the teams that didn’t have to deal with barely any roster changes.) How successful this team can be will rely heavily on how efficiently they can implement their many new pieces during this time.

This team is not better than the 2011 championship squad that put all the right cogs together at just the right time, but it is certainly better than that odd group of basketball players that got embarrassed in the playoffs last season. Will they be closer to the championship team or the swept team? That is something that we can watch unfold as Dallas closes JET’s runway and allow Mayo’s 3-point guns into the American Airlines Center.

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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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Mavs Playing Possum

8 07 2012

Remember this team? Remember Jason Kidd playing quarterback for the team that drafted him and having the foresight to make unexpected passes and lobs? Remember J.J. Barea and his ability to dribble through defenses as if he was weaving on a semi-circle loom?  Remember Jason Terry coming in off the bench only to look like a starter who is ready to dribble to his right and pull up to make a 3-pointer when the ball arrives in his hand? Remember the emotion and defensive presence of Tyson Chandler who provided the last key piece that this team needed in order to truly become elite? Remember Dirk Nowitzki putting together one of the best playoff runs ever seen on a basketball court? Remember that feeling when a team built around winning for 11 straight years finally achieved greatness when they became world champions?

Yes?

That is all gone.

After making it to the top, owner Mark Cuban had a tough decision to make: should he commit to many of his champions by signing them to long-term contracts or should he roll the dice by letting them go and creating salary cap space? Obviously, if you watched this team play last season, it was apparent which direction he went in.

So, they got through the 2011-2012 season, barely squeezing into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed with the hopes of another championship run.

But something was missing. What was missing were pieces that championship teams possess. Simple as that. Instead of attempting to find the right guys that fit into Rick Carlisle’s successful system – or bring back the players that proved their worth and wanted to stay in Dallas – Mavericks management went out and found (old) players that would accept short-term contracts, proving their insignificant worth to the team. The only thing that mattered was cap space for the upcoming summer.

All of this led to a 36-30 season in which they were eventually swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

This is all that needs to be said about last season. Why? It was a bridge year. It was a season that didn’t matter to anyone apart of the Mavericks organization. The entire city of DFW was waiting patiently and faithfully to see Mark Cuban reel in the big fish he promised Dirk when No. 41 took a pay-cut in his contract. Dirk put his absolute trust in Cuban to make use of the cash he was simply giving him to use for the team.

Deron Williams Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets smiles on the bench after scoring a game-high 29 points against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Nets defeated the Bulls 97-85. 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.Part of that money was supposed to be given to Deron Williams to come back home. With the insertion of Williams, the Mavericks would shoot right back up to the upper tier of the West as other pieces would consequently fall their way. They would be the next big thing to discuss in the sports media world as Cuban would only bolster his reputability as a connoisseur in the world of business and sports management.

Since D-Will narrowed his choices down to either the Mavs or the Brooklyn Nets, the pressure was on these two teams. The two organizations shared the same basket which couldn’t hold all of both of their eggs. His decision would alter the direction each team would be headed for the next year of basketball and beyond.

Well, he chose Brooklyn. He valued the extra year and $25 million more that the Nets could offer along with playing alongside All-Star guard Joe Johnson. In fact, Williams was actually close to choosing Dallas before Johnson trade swayed him in the other direction. (Just don’t think too much about this Mavs nation. It’s over.) This duo will soon become the most dynamic starting backcourt in the league – ahead of even Russell Westbrook and practically starting two-guard James Harden. Complimenting each other is vital in becoming a quality backcourt combo, and spot-up shooting Johnson will finally not feel obligated to be the orchestrator of his offense as D-Will will happily accept this role.

There is no point in discussing how Cuban was filming his television show “Shark Tank” and Dirk was at Wimbledon watching some tennis instead of attending the team’s sit-down meeting with Williams. That doesn’t matter. The two meetings on Monday was more of a formality than anything since the ever-so-talked-about point guard knew what each franchise could offer him; he understood his options.

So, now we are at the point where every Mavs fans goes out of their way to tweet at Mark Cuban or complain to their friends about how he shouldn’t have gambled with what worked. He shouldn’t have played with cap space. He should have made the smart decision.

Even sports journalist Israel Gutierrez seems to agree.

As Gutierrez pointed out on “The Sports Reporters,” the “safer” approach to the 2011 offseason would have been to “bring back the family.” Yet, has Cuban ever been about the “safe” way? He has become who he is today by making dicey decisions and bold moves, eventually turning himself into a multi-millionaire. Deciding to risk everything he had built in Dallas by aiming for a splash this summer was a distinct choice by Cuban that went along with every other step he had taken up to this point in his profession. But finally, Cuban’s way caught up to him.

Instead of making a splash, he is sinking. Fast.

Not only did the Mavs miss out on D-Will, they have now said goodbye to their two Jasons as they both sting for their own reasons.

After having one of his most inefficient seasons, many suspected the Mavs would let JET go. His time in town was appreciated and he would most likely have his number lifted up to the rafters later on but his time was up, according to management’s supposed intentions. To put it simply, “business is business.”  The Boston Celtics jumped on the opportunity to bring in this sharpshooter, and with Ray Allen’s departure from Boston to South Beach, Terry will now become Allen’s comparable replacement.

Even though this exit might have been more expected than the other, this isn’t good for Dirk. These two established a system in the Big D where they played off each other’s strengths and ran the pick-and-pop two-man game in countless waning moments of close games. Again. And again. Before Terry was with the Mavs, Dirk had an even craftier guard running this exact scheme with him night in and night out. It’s a part of Dirk’s gameplay, and he hasn’t played a season without it.

They have also been in business together for eight years while creating countless hardships and triumphs. To put it simply – they are best friends. Having that partner in crime has helped Dirk up to this point in his career since Terry took on this role right after Nash – the man formerly known as his best friend – skipped town. There is more that will be missed than what he brought off the bench.

J-Kidd might be 39 but he sure holds a special place with the Mavs. Coming back to Dallas in his elder basketball years, he instilled a valuable demeanor unlike any other. Similar to Terry, it would be good for Dirk to have a familar face to go to war with him yet again. These two have similar humble personalities and as a result, have grown close in the 4 1/2 years they have played together.

It came down to two teams for Kidd: The Mavs or the New York Knicks. They each offered him practically the same contract. All reports were leaning toward Kidd coming back to finish his career with the team that he wants to stay with once he retires.

How does this look?

Then, out of nowhere, he decided to go to the Big Apple instead of staying in the Big D. After coming extremely close to signing with the Mavs (isn’t that becoming a prevalent theme), he did some deep contemplating while working on his golf swing. In the end, it came down to the fact that Kidd felt he had a better chance of doing big things in the latter part of his career with the Knicks than with his now former team. He looked at the rosters and simply gave the Mavs a slap to the cheek (though a polite one) in saying that they weren’t good enough for his last few years in the NBA.

Dirk even understands the Mavs dire situation.

“When we talked, [Dirk] said to go to New York,” Kidd said.

Even though this proves yet again Dirk’s genuine nature and care for his teammates even if that means losing them, this is a slap to the Mavs other cheek. Dirk couldn’t even muster up enough confidence in the only team he has ever played for to try and sway Kidd back to Dallas. When this devoted man’s faith has gone away, it is evident that Dallas has gone to a grave state.

Oh yeah, the Mavs also were going to try and convince Steve Nash to come back and play some basketball with his pal Dirk… that failed. He will be evolving Andrew Bynum into an even better center and taking a lot of pressure off Kobe Bryant’s shoulders. There’s no point in harping on the Mavs’ backup plan since it was quickly dashed before they could even consider it a viable option.

Now the Mavs must attempt to salvage their dignity and attempt to put together a respectable team for the next NBA season. They want to be successful – right?

It appears that would be partially incorrect. With the apparent players that have caught their interest (Ummm, yeah, Ramon Sessions and Anthony Randolph are clearly high-quality pieces…) and the length they want to offer them, the Mavs are about to expand and enlarge their bridge. Bridge season version 2.0 will soon be coming to an NBA season near you. They are going to have another year in which they will simply await for that big-time free agent to walk into town. Next season, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the three main names that stand out from the rest of the free agents, and Cuban has his eyes set on signing one of these All-Stars to a lucrative contract for years to come.

However, why would these three players want to come to Dallas? If the Mavs end up with an even worse season than this last one and end their streak of 12 consecutive playoff appearances, what becomes the enticing part of playing for the Mavericks? (Having no state income tax can only go so far.) The biggest ploy for Williams to come home was the fact that he would have been coming home to a winning franchise from the past decade in its entirety. Since Cuban has taken this risky route and won’t give in until a major – and I mean major – player commits to his team, he is hurting the Mavs chances of being successful until (or simply if) this happens.

And here’s where it gets personal: this is unfair to Dirk. Using Tyson Chandler’s words, “I feel sorry for Dirk.” He has given everything to this organization. Literally. He came over to America from Germany to play for the Mavericks and has devoted his entire life to playing the absolute best possible basketball so his team can be their absolute best. He never has put himself before the team and even put the Mavs before a major paycheck during an era of professional sports when most negotiations are solely about the big payday. This level of commitment from a superstar is a foreign concept to most fan bases and only a dream to many franchises’ owners.

As Dirk begins to head down the latter part of his career, he doesn’t want to go through many struggling seasons. He even said himself that he’s too old to rebuild. He’s right. (Also, he has been spoiled with only being a part of winning teams every year he has been in the NBA, so he knows no other way.) Cuban now will throw yet another wasted year at Dirk as the owner becomes irrationally hopeful that they can ultimately land something special even though he has something special right in front of him that will be gone before he knows it.

So here we are. It has only been 13 months since the Mavericks reached the top of the NBA world and became the reigning champs for 12 months. What about now? Their future has become the unknown. Their identify has become the undetectable. The plans for next season are in uncharted territory as free agent after free agent takes their talents to anywhere but Dallas. So far, the players that are somewhat tempted to play for the Mavs only show interest because they know they can get significant minutes with the team’s depleted roster. That is the sign of a struggling NBA franchise.

The Mavs now will play possum. They will play possum as the the rest of the top teams in the West continue to improve their squads. They will play possum in hopes of yet another breakthrough summer of free agency. They will play possum as Dirk wonders where all his teammates went once training camp beings. They will play possum as the thought of Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea providing the ideal spark can only be that – a thought.

When will the possum wake up from this grueling state of nature? Once Mark Cuban realizes Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are not going to be joining his team.

Remember that.

Ignite the Site!





2012 NBA Free Agency: Day 1

2 07 2012

 

This is a list of NBA contract agreements and rumors that I have put together after reading what many reputable journalists (mainly Marc Stein, Chad Ford, Chris Broussard, Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc J Spears or their sources) have reported throughout the first day of free agency. July 11 is the first day new players can actually sign contracts agreed upon for the 2012-2013 season.

 

 

 

 

Deron Williams:  Honestly, there are more “sources” and “people close to the situation” in regard to D-Will than Dwight Howard’s demands from the Magic. Here’s the thing: Deron Williams has not made a decision yet. That’s the information you can trust. Williams has shown he’s his own man, and when he says he will visit with the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets on Monday and then make a decision, that’s what he will do. If you’re expecting to find a leak to a decision before a player makes his official statement, you’ll need to look toward another superstar who forced one of his coaches to be fired (Oh Dwight…).

 

Joe Johnson:  This one’s a little tricky. Even though it is clear that the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks are attempting to move Johnson out of Georgia, how they will exactly do this is still up in the air. Even though the six-time All-Star is obviously overpaid as he is finishing up the last year of his 6-year, $119 million contract, he still has put up 18 or more points the last seven seasons and can score in isolation. The Hawks deserve quality pieces (or simply several expiring contracts) in return. The problem? The Nets don’t have attractive players, both on the court and on the paper. Furthermore, Brooklyn is struggling to give up their one somewhat decent piece that the Hawks desire – 23-year-old MarShon Brooks. The most recent story claims the Nets have offered the Hawks Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson (via sign-and-trade) and a future first-round pick just for Johnson. That would leave Brooklyn with four players on their roster – Johnson, Brooks, Gerald Wallace, and Ilkan Karaman. As is the case with most deals this off-season, this move will rely heavily on Williams’s decision he will soon be making.

 

Gerald Wallace:  Well, even though General Manager Billy King has to figure out how to put together the contracts of Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and possibly Joe Johnson, there’s one man that he knows he will be paying and knows will be crashing down the lane in the Northeast. The Brooklyn Nets and Wallace have agreed on a 4-years, $40 million deal for the slasher. Even though this signing needed to happen so King would not regret everything he has given up for this almost All-Star (but not), it could hurt his chances of bringing in higher level players if Williams decides to stay with his organization.

 

Omer Asik:  His first two seasons may not impress any “numbers crunchers” with 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds; however, the restricted free agent played with a high level of energy for every single one of his 13.2 minutes he averaged on the floor. The ever-changing Houston Rockets roster might soon have the Turkish 7-footer on their squad after verbally agreeing to a three-year, $25.1 million contract. This deal is done. If the Chicago Bulls have any common sense (which they do), they will not match this extremely lucrative deal for a offensively handicapped big man.

 

Ray Allen:  He might be on the downhill of his career, but don’t let that fool you: this man with the quick release will still have a major impact on the game. His many suitors prove this. The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets all have reached out to the all-time 3-point scoring leader to convince him to join their winning squad (or in the Nets’ case, potentially winning squad). Whichever team ends up enticing Allen the most will be getting a player that can fit in perfectly with an already established system. Expect him to be a vital contributor wherever he lands next season.

 

Roy Hibbert:  After a breakout season in becoming an All-Star for the first time in his four-year career, Hibbert established himself as one of the very few centers in the league that can legitimately hold his own offensively and defensively. Now, he will soon bring in a huge paycheck because of this ability. The Portland Trail Blazers offered the former Georgetown Hoya the maximum amount he can receive – four years, $58 million. Even though the unrestricted free agent has value with the dearth of commanding big men, the Indiana Pacers will need to think long and hard if they want to match this grand offer.

 

Eric Gordon:  The New Orleans Hornets just drafted the No. 1 overall pick (Anthony Davis) and No. 10 pick (Austin Rivers), setting themselves up with a solid two-man game; however adding the 23-year-old that was the main counterpart to the Chris Paul deal to this duo would take them to another level. Gordon was only able to play nine games last year because he aggravated a pre-existing knee injury. The previous season, though, he averaged 22.3 points in the shadow of super superstar Blake Griffin. The Hornets can match any offer sheet signed by the unrestricted free agent and the teams looking to make an offer include the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, and Phoenix Suns along with the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats, who are at the bottom of the totem pole. This 4-year pro that has a knack for getting to the free throw line has may not be the focus of many NBA offseason storylines. Don’t let this fool you – this kid can play. He is the top shooting guard in this year’s free agency and will most likely earn every penny of his inevitable max contract.

 

Lavoy Allen:  Last year’s postseason allowed the entire nation to see the impact this one-year pro can have on the game without stuffing the stat sheets. He still hit double-digits in scoring three times and grabbed six or more rebounds four times against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. His energy is invaluable. Well, he has decided to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers on a two-year, $6 million contract extension even though the Sixers wanted a four-year commitment. Head coach Doug Collins has constantly praised Allen’s relentless attitude on the court and will be happy to have him back on his squad.

 

Josh Howard:  The man that contributed to the fallout of the Devin Harris/Avery Johnson era in Dallas might be coming back for some redemption. Along with grabbing the attention of the Dallas Mavericks, the 9-year pro might see offers from the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics. Howard had flashes where the one-time All-Star looked to be inching closer to his former self but it never really became a consistent level of play. If he could produce anywhere close to the 15-20 points he gave the Mavs for four straight seasons, he could be a financially sound pick-up for any type of team. That possibility, though, looks to be very slim.

 

Steve Nash:  Staying in Phoenix doesn’t seem likely for the 16-year pro. Even though he has a lot of miles on his career, he is coming off an efficient season in which he shot 53.2 percent from the field – the best percentage of any point guard that year by far – while still averaging a double-double (12.5 points, 10.7 assists). Even though the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, and Dallas Mavericks have all shown interest, the Raptors are the only one with a concrete offer. They put a three-year, $36 million contract on the table. However, the Knicks are also planning to offer a sign-and-trade that includes Landry Fields in order to bring the passing wizard to Madison Square Garden. Nash knows the Mavs’ main concern revolves solely around Deron Williams and will wait to see how that situation pans out before making a decision. Since Magic Johnson retired, no player has made his teammates better like Nash has throughout his career. Yes, he might be 38, but he can still have this paramount impact.

 

Jose Calderon:  If the Los Angeles Lakers find a way to hold onto Pau Gasol, which might be easier than it seems since they have attempted and failed to trade him away more than the Suns attempted to get rid A’mare Stoudemire, Jose Calderon could be coming to Hollywood land if the Toronto Raptors amnesty his contract to create salary-cap space for Nash. Being in Toronto for his entire seven-year career, Calderon has not received much national attention. Yet, he has put together a solid career so far by averaging at least 10 points and eight assists three of the past five seasons. Also, you can always count on a man that has shot 87.5 percent from the line for his career. If he does in fact go to L.A., as long as expectations don’t rise too high, he will be effective at the point and much more dependable than Ramon Sessions.

 

Brandon Roy:  Retired one day, unrestricted free agent the next. After calling it quits at the end of the 2010-2011 season due to serious knee problems, Roy has decided to give the NBA another shot after receiving the same procedure as Kobe, who has continually discussed how amazing this operation has made his knees feel. Roy has reported that he will only be joining the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves or Golden State Warriors. With the low financial cost that will go right along with Roy, the risk to sign him is extremely low. If this knee surgery turns out to have turned a corner for Roy, one contending team will have a back-up point guard able to hold his own with any other starting guards. If he fails to completely come back and can’t find his touch, his new team can let him go once his short contract ends.

 

Marcus Camby:  He’s 38 and still attracting NBA teams his way. Why? The ever-so-talked-about “intangibles” comes in a Camby man package everywhere he goes. Why else would six teams be interested in a veteran that averaged career lows in points (3.8)? The unrestricted free agent has made a list consisting of the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. Since the Knicks and Rockets are included in this group, it is difficult to figure out what Camby is looking for in a team. No matter his factors, he will be an excellent veteran presence on and off the court.

 

Kyle Lowry:  The Houston Rockets don’t envision this point guard being a part of the new future that will soon begin for this franchise and Lowry knows it. He has asked the Rockets to remove him from the team as long as unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic remains on the team – which they most likely will. They have already begun talking with the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic as possible takers. However, don’t be surprised if the Rockets suddenly change their tune if Dragic ends up going elsewhere. Lowry averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals during last season, and as these numbers show, he brought superior diversity to his Houston team. Even though he only stands six feet off the ground, he makes up for it with his pure strength and quickness – a deadly combination. He will take his game to another level next season.

 

Jamal Crawford:  Even though he may be shooter-happy, this man knows how to put the ball in the basket. A lot. The Los Angeles ClippersBoston CelticsMinnesota TimberwolvesPhoenix SunsPhiladelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers quickly became interested in the one-dimensional swingman right when free agency began. The Clippers look to be closest to finalizing a contract. Even though he has a tendency to play even better in crunch time, it’s always risky bringing in Crawford since his style of basketball (little passing, little rebounding, little defense, too much shooting) will only fit in with certain coaches and certain teams.

 

Andre Miller:  After becoming a pure sixth man for the first time in his career last season, Miller has decided to keep this role. He has agreed to re-sign with the Denver Nuggets and will most likely continue to mentor budding point guard Ty Lawson. Miller might not the most athletic, most savvy, most fast-paced guard you can find out there, but this veteran certainly brings an attitude and grit every winning team needs that he has possessed his for 13 years in the NBA.

 

Jason Terry:  It seems as though the JET has to be playing in the Big D or else things just don’t seem right; however, as is the case with every Mav not named Dirk Nowitzki, there is no guarantee Dallas will offer him a contract worth agreeing upon. Along with the Dallas Mavericks, he has already sparked the interest of the Boston Celtics (he might be Ray Allen’s replacement), Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, and Phoenix Suns. Yes, he might have had his worst season in eight years, but that is still an average of 15.1 points and plenty of clutch, 4th quarter buckets. Don’t sleep on this unrestricted free agent because he will still take the crucial shot on any stage in any city.

 

 

Ignite the Site!