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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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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Morrow Now; Howard Later?

22 02 2013

With less than two minutes to go in the 2013 NBA trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks made a last-second trade that not only salvaged the perception many hold about their front office but also put one more chip in their hand in terms of signing a superstar this summer.

The Mavericks picked up Anthony Morrow from the Atlanta Hawks for Dahntay Jones in the last moments of the trade deadline. This trade is both teams moving a player with an expiring contract in hopes that a change of scenery will bring out more in them.

Just how close to the deadline was this deal? Mark Cuban was talking to Ben & Skin on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM Friday morning and explained the time constraint.

“It happened with about 95 seconds left to go in the trade deadline,” Cuban said.

What the Mavs will now get in Morrow is what they’ve been desperately needing all season: a pure shooter. As former Mavs head coach Don Nelson told his son, Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, “Next to Chris Mullin, [Morrow’s] probably the best pure shooter I ever coached. You’re going to love him.”

When discussing what he’s done in his NBA career, this season almost needs an asterisk next to it. The 6-5, 210 pound shooting guard has just not gotten the opportunity to play for the Hawks.

In his first four season in the league, Morrow averaged 27.6 minutes and 12.1 points while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range and 90.0 percent from the free-throw line. This season he has only been averaging 12.5 minutes, leading to a career-low average of 5.2 points. But this makes sense due to the fact that he has over five less shot attempts per game.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this season does not give a good representation of the competitor and shooter the Mavs just obtained. Take Morrow’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 3 last season for example. The former Yellow Jacket shot 8-11 from deep, piling in 42 points on the night. He had a total of five games that season in which he made at least five three-pointers in one game. Even though he may be a “three-point specialist” that will have coaches yelling “shooter” when he catches the ball, Morrow still has an efficient mid-range game.

If there’s one thing that is certain, Morrow will help spread the floor for this team.

It is sad to see such a energetic and hard-working playing in Jones go that always gave 110 percent on both ends of the floor. But as said earlier, this acquisition is what Dallas needs. O.J. Mayo may be a fantastic shooter, but he is also the focal point of the offense. He has to do so much more for this team than simply stand outside the arc and get his feet set. Daren Collison can shoot, but his role is to be a distributor and penetrate to the hole. Dirk Nowitzki is, well Dirk. He can hit the three-pointer when needed, but he does most of his work off one leg inside the arc. Vince Carter could be considered someone that spreads the floor, but he has been the only consistent form of offense coming off the bench. Morrow could give Carter the firepower and help he needs when Mayo has to take a seat on the bench. (Cuban also mentioned on the radio that he believes Mayo and Collision being the backcourt for the Mavs’ future is “part of the goal.” Personally, I love to hear that.)

So, this may not have been the splash that gets the Mavs the “big fish” so many fans are anticipating, but it is certainly a step forward in the Mavs’ attempt to squeeze into the playoffs while keeping them financially stable in terms of signing a superstar to a max contract this summer. It may look unlikely with the 4 1/2 games that stand between a lottery pick and the eight seed, but I certainly believe the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets could slip up down the stretch. Morrow could give the Mavs just enough extra “umph” to extend their stretch of consecutive playoff appearances to 13.

 

Now let’s take a look toward this summer. With the deadline turning out to be one that had “J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks” as the lead headline, it was clearly one of the less significant deadlines. What that means is there are still a lot of players up for grabs come this upcoming offseason.

One of those players is still Dwight Howard. I know, I know… I can’t believe this is still a topic of discussion, either.

But it can’t go unnoticed that the Howard-Lakers combination hasn’t necessarily been all smiles and laughs. No, Kobe, you’re Twitter account photos can’t convince me otherwise.

There has clearly been some dissension between Howard and the Lakers’ organization. It’s always something. Not getting the ball. Not getting the attention. Not getting Kobe to talk to him.

That’s right. There were reports that Kobe Bryant gave Howard the “silent treatement” and barely talked to him during All-Star weekend. You think the most immature player in the NBA enjoys not being talked to by the guy taking away all of his shot attempts?

So, let’s say the Lakers have a short playoff run or fail to make the playoffs at all (both are likely). Once this season comes to a close, Howard will be an unrestricted free agent and get the chance to go anywhere he wants to. That has a high probability of not being Los Angeles. Everybody talked about Kobe and Howard’s attitudes not fitting when Howard’s trade happened and these two egos may never be able to work together.

If he decides to take his talents elsewhere, where will he go?

 

Looking back, The Mavs, Nets, Magic and Lakers were the only four teams on Howard’s shortlist of franchises he would join come the 2012 offseason – he said this before he signed the one-year extension with the Magic and then was traded to the Lakers in that offseason. (We won’t get into why he signed that extension in the first space because I don’t know….) The Nets have moved past Howard with their very rich backcourt in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and the Magic are obviously out of the picture. If he leaves L.A., the Mavs are the only team left on this list that have the ability to sign him.

SheridanHoops.com brought to light another factor that might give the Mavs a slight edge. In December of 2011, during a TV interview Howard did while on tour in Russia, he was asked what players he would like to have as teammates.

Chris Paul, Stephen Jackson. What’s his name, Deron Williams. And Anthony Morrow. I’ve got five, Monta Ellis, I really like him.”

Wow. Did Cuban remember this interview when accepting the trade offer for Morrow? Whether he did or not, if Morrow likes his time Dallas for the rest of this season, he could resign with the Mavericks, possibly (again, possibly) providing more incentive for Howard to sign.

 

Looking forward, the Mavs, Hawks and Houston Rockets are the teams that have the cap space and clear interest to add D12 to the future of their franchise.

Even though the Mavs don’t have a young franchise corner piece like the Hawks (Al Horford) and Rockets (James Harden), they have a owner and organization that are committed to winning along with being the only team left on his shortlist. Since Howard had such a strong desire to go to Brooklyn, though, he is showing the NBA that he doesn’t necessarily care solely about winning. That is a factor, but he also cares a lot about what will be his role on the team and where he will be playing. Dallas gives him the chance to gracefully take the “franchise player” title from Dirk while playing in a town he has said he enjoys.

And this time when the summer rolls around, Mark Cuban has already asked his Shark Tank producers for time off come late June and early July so he can be there for ever pitch to every big player. Cuban told Ben & Skin that they were pretty close during this year’s deadline to what sounds like a very big trade. He hasn’t given up on this team as so many fans believe. He is someone that will not settle and is simply waiting for the “big fish” that he wants to put on a Mavericks’ jersey.

That player could be Howard.

For now, the Mavs can enjoy a new face and a new pure shooter coming off the bench. Morrow will have plenty of chances to get significant minutes and have a significant impact on this season.

What kind of impact will he have on next season?

Only Howard knows. And based on his past decisions, that literally means – only Howard knows. Once the Lakers inevitably fall short of an NBA title, it will then be that fun time to yet again wait on hand and foot for Mr. Howard to make a decision.

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Elevating Their Game

23 11 2012

 

 

O.J. Mayo – Dallas Mavericks

2011-2012 Season: 12.6 PPG, 40.8 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 77.3 FT%

2012-2013 Season (13 games): 22.2 PPG, 50.3 FG%, 56.8 3P%, 86.2 FT%

 

 

Nicolas Batum – Portland Trail Blazers

2011-2012 Season: 13.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG

2012-2013 Season (11 games): 20.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 SPG

 

 

James Harden – Houston Rockets

2011-2012 Season: 16.8 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 31.4 MPG

2012-2013 Season (12 games): 24.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 38.3 MPG

 

 

Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats

2011-2012 Season: 12.1 PPG, 4.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 36.6 FG%

2012-2013 Season (10 games): 18.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.4 SPG, 44.0 FG%

 

 

 

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Twitter Thoughts on Mayo

15 11 2012

Here are my twitter thoughts on O.J. Mayo (and a little bit of Rick Carlisle) from earlier today.

 

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Making Mavs

24 09 2012

 

Big things should be expected from O.J. Mayo.

 

In 36 days, NBA tipoff begins. You ready for another Mavs season with more new faces to learn?

 

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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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