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Mavs Reloaded: Championship Resemblance?

by Michael Lark on July 31, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Mavs2011

The Dallas Mavericks are wrapping up what looks to be their best offseason since hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2011. We all remember how that offseason began; the Mavs utilized the well-known DUST (Dampier’s Ultimate Sign Trade) Chip for Tyson Chandler. The Mavs were hoping to somehow flip the DUST Chip for cap space in order to sign then free agent, Lebron “I’m Coming Home” James, but instead ended up with the often injured Chandler who was better known for his alley-oop dunks with Chris Paul then his defensive fortitude. Without a big name free agent the Mavs were forced to build with role players around Dirk Nowitzki.

The 2011 edition of the Dallas Mavericks were one of the most unique teams in NBA history. They weren’t a team comprised of individuals, but rather a group of individuals (See: Heat, Miami) working together as a team. All 15 players on the roster had a role; and while some roles were bigger than others, each person played a valuable role in the collective goal of the team - win a championship.

Three seasons later, the Mavs offseason looks eerily similar. Lebron chose to take his talents and ego elsewhere while the Mavs utilize their Euro Chip, Jose Calderon, to bring Chandler back to Dallas. While fans are excited about the move, it doesn’t thrust the Mavs into the discussion for a title and they still didn’t land a big fish. Instead, they still have Nowitzki and have added key role players around him following the same blueprint from 2011.

So how do the players on this team fit into their roles compared to the 2011 Championship team? Let’s take a look.

 

The Leader

2011 Rick Carlisle vs. 2014 Rick Carlisle

Four years later, Carlisle is still around and remains highly regarded as one of the top coaches in the NBA. He’s a smart coach who has made a name for himself as a coach that can get the most out of any player. Carlisle has continued to get better each year and remains the number one strength, aside from Mark Cuban, of the Mavs organization.

 

 

The Superstar

2011 Dirk Nowitzki  vs. 2014 Dirk Nowitzki

Now 36, Dirk is four years older and a half step slower. His season averages have dropped slightly from 2011 (23.0 ppg, 7.0 rebs, 2.6 asts) to his 2013 numbers (21.7 ppg, 6.2 rebs, 2.7 asts). After an injury riddled 2012-13 campaign, Dirk came back to his usual form and earned a trip to the NBA All-Star Game in 2014. Since 2001, when trailing by 3 points or less in the final 30 seconds of a game, Dirk has the highest field goal percentage of any player in the NBA at 45.2% (19 of 42) when shooting for a tie or a lead according to Basketball-Reference.com.

 

The Sidekick

2011 Jason Terry vs. 2014 Monta Ellis

Last year, Monta Ellis stepped into the role of Dirk’s sidekick. He proved many critics wrong who labeled him an inefficient, volume shooter by utilizing the “Dirk Effect” to get open opportunities and improve his shot selection. The Dirk and JET two-man game was resurrected and ultimately proved to be an enormous success. On paper, Monta’s 2013 numbers (19.0 ppg, 3.6 rebs, 5.7 asts) demonstrate that he can easily fill the role of 2011 Jason Terry (15.8 ppg, 1.9 rebs, 4.1 asts). However, it’s JET’s intangibles as a leader and clutch shooter that may have Monta falling short.

 

Tuff Juice

2011 Caron Butler vs. 2014 Chandler Parsons

Caron Butler was the forgotten Maverick on the 2011 Championship team. During the regular season before a torn patella tendon ended his season, he averaged 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He was a reliable option every night that could provide a little bit of everything. In 2014, the Mavs struck gold with Chandler Parsons (16.6 ppg, 5.5 rebs, 4.0 asts) who they hope can be the reliable second or third scoring option this season, playing the role of Caron Butler.

 

The Defensive Anchor

2011 Tyson Chandler vs. 2014 Tyson Chandler

Chandler is perhaps the most valuable piece of the puzzle. Just as in 2011, (10.1 ppg, 9.4 rebs, 1.1 blks) he’s in a contract year. His season averages have dipped (8.7 ppgs, 9.6 rebs, 1.1 blks) and the tag “always injured” still haunts him. After a down year in 2013, the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year believes he can be even better than he was in 2011.

 

Ole Reliable

2011 Jason Kidd vs. 2014 Jameer Nelson

In 2011, 37 year-old Jason Kidd (7.9 ppg, 4.4 rebs, 8.2 asts) was “Ole Reliable” in the Mavs backcourt. He provided the Mavs with a backcourt leader who could facilitate and consistently knock down open three-point shots (35%). At 32, Jameer Nelson looks poised to do the same as a facilitator (7.0 assists per game in 2013) and three-point shooter (35%). Though, he lacks the size on the defensive end that made Jason Kidd so unique, who was even able to guard Lebron James in the Finals at times. But hey, it’s ok because we started from the bottom now Jameer.

 

The Defensive Stopper

2011 Shawn Marion vs. 2014 Jae Crowder/Al Farouq-Aminu

Shawn Marion was the Mavs most versatile player in 2011. He was the team’s defensive stopper, often guarding the opponent’s top players while boasting solid numbers on the offensive end (12.5 ppg, 6.9 rebs, 1.4 asts). This year the Mavs fall overwhelmingly short of the 2011 Matrix. In 2014, The Matrix Reloaded presents a double feature of players with solid defensive abilities in Jae Crowder (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rebs, 0.8 asts) and athletic sensation, Al Farqou-Aminu (7.2 ppg, 6.2 rebs, 1.4 asts). Both are just what you’d think: they’re comparable, but the original Matrix is better.

 

That’s Penetration Holmes

2011 J.J. Barea vs. 2014 Devin Harris

Mr. Drive and Kick at 5”8’ J.J. Barea (9.5 ppg, 2.0 rebs, 3.9 asts) supplied the 2011 Mavs with a player who could break down defenses, get to the basket and score or find the open man on the wing. The 2014 Mavs have a similar player in Devin Harris (7.9 ppg, 2.5 rebs, 4.5 asts), but this time with a lot more size. Now, the only question that remains is, can he stay healthy?

 

The Marksmen

2011 Peja Stojakovic vs. 2014 Richard Jefferson

In 2011, Stojakovic (8.6 ppg, 2.6 rebs, 3.9 asts) had one role and one role only: to make three-pointers. And that’s exactly what he did, shooting 41% from behind the arc while providing little else, finishing his career with the ninth most three-pointers made. Jefferson (10.1 ppg, 2.7 rebs, 1.6 asts) is 109th on that same list, is three years younger and has the athleticism to get to bucket and convert at the three.

 

The Back Up Big

2011 Brendan Haywood vs. 2014 Greg Smith

As much flack as Haywood got as a member of the Mavs, he was actually one of the top backup centers in the league in 2011 (4.4 ppg, 5.2 rebs) who embraced his role as the lace clogging big man. This year’s Mavs feature a little known center, Greg Smith (3.5 ppg, 2.5 rebs), who comes to the team with little experience and a history of injuries.

 

Hey Youngster!

2011 Roddy Beaubois vs. 2014 Gal Mekel

Roddy B was last seen in the 2014 Vegas Summer League. In 2011, Beaubois’ roll was virtually non-existent.  Expect Mekel role to be the same.

 

“Hey Lebron! How’s my Dirk taste?”

2011 DeShawn Stevenson vs. 2014 Raymond Felton

DeShawn Stevenson (5.3 ppg, 1.5 rebs, 1.1 asts) was a significant, multipurpose role player for the Mavs in 2011, capable of hitting big time three-point shots and guarding players like his good buddy Lebron James. While Raymond Felton had a down year in New York (9.7 ppg, 3.0 rebs, 5.6 asts) last year, he at least appears to be working on his shooting, albeit illegally.

 

Born Ready

2011 Corey Brewer vs. 2014 Brandan Wright

With one of the deepest benches in the league in 2011, the Mavs didn’t always have enough playing time to go around.  When his name was called, Corey Brewer was ready to go and even helped saved the Mavs  in a pivotal game against the Lakers in the playoffs.   The 2014 Corey Brewer will be Brandan Wright, who may be not play a significant role for several games at a time, but when his name is called he’ll be ready to provide the energy the Mavs need with his length and athleticism.

 

The Custodian

2011 Brian Cardinal vs. 2014 Eric Griffin/Ivan Johnson

The Custodian was there to clean up the mess.  Brian Cardinal was Dirk’s best friend, capable of knocking down big shots, setting picks and providing all-around toughness.  Newly acquired forwards Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson are just as capable of stepping into that role, while providing much more skill and athleticism on the offensive end.

 

The Replica Fadeway

2011 Ian Mahinmi vs. 2014 Bernard James

Third string center Ian Mahimi is most remember for his replica one-legged fadeaway in the closing second of the third quarter in the 2011NBA Finals (http://youtu.be/Z657Q1NcNF8) despite being regulated to the teams 14th man.  In 2014, Bernard James, who is expected to re-sign with the Mavs, will provide the same role as a practice body and bench leader.

 

The Future

2011 Dominque Jones vs .2014 Ricky Ledo

DoJo was supposed to be the next starting point guard for the Mavs, but his development never really materialized and he was last seen playing for the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball League (30.6 ppg, 5.8 rebs, 6.5 asts).  The Mavs are hoping Ricky Ledo, the #6 prospect on Rivals 150 for 2012, will and should have more potential the Jones.

If things come together as they did back in 2011, this Mavericks squad will be one to reckon with even in the ultra competitive Western Conference.

Why Not Us?

Credit: Basket4us.com (DeShawn Photo); ProSportsBlogging.com (Marion Photo); TotalProSports.com (Dirk Photo); CBSSports.com (Tyson Photo)

 

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Dirk’s Act Of Humility, Generosity And Loyalty

by Michael Lark on July 15, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

DirkFeature

While the big story around the NBA this offseason has been centered on the “Chosen One” deciding to “come home,” a more humble story was developing for the player who never left.

12-time NBA-All Star Dirk Nowitzki officially signed off on a $25 million deal to remain with the Dallas Mavericks for the next three seasons. Following the last year of a 4-year, $80 million contract, Dirk made it clear that he intended to come back to the Mavs on a discounted price in order to allow the team to go out and get other big time free agents.

The Mavs courted LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency, but ultimately took a free agent gamble and successfully landed restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, after trading for defensive stalwart, Tyson Chandler. Put those Chandlers Bings together and you have a team ready to compete for another championship.

The best 7-footer to ever play the game began his career with Dallas in 1998 as a skinny, awkward kid out of Wurzburg, Germany with uncertain expectations.

In his first season, he led the Mavericks to a mediocre 40-42 seasons and missed the NBA playoffs after averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He continued to improve every season and successfully led the Mavs to their first-ever NBA Finals trip in 2006, before ultimately losing to the Miami Heat, 4-2.

The bitter end to the season didn’t have Dirk looking for the exit, and he didn’t need to collude with other free agents in order to win an empty championship, in a random town of bandwagon fans.


He instead chose to believe in his city and his owner. In Dirk’s eyes, if he was winning a championship, it was happening in Dallas.

In 2007, Dirk won the league’s Most Valuable Player awards after averaging of 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists, while leading the his team to a franchise record 67 wins – but fell short of an NBA championship yet again.

Finally in 2011, Dirk hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a parade in front of his town with the same fans that were there with him from the beginning.

In 16 seasons, Dirk has never had an NBA agent. He’s made over $200 million in his career and reportedly left max offers in the $60 million range from the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets to remain with the only franchise he’s even known.

When the free agency period began at midnight on July 1, the Mavs never questioned his desire to compete for another NBA championship in Dallas. Dirk realizes the landscape of the NBA. He desires winning over money. Loyalty over royalty.

Dirk Nowitzki is Dallas Mavericks basketball and when he’s ready to retire, Mavs fans will remember this sacrifice that he took, because the one-legged fadeaway statue in front the American Airlines Center won’t have one ring on it. It will have two.

Photo credit - AP Photo/LM Otero

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Historic Title Run: A Look Back

by Greg Higgins on June 1, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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The 2014 NBA Finals are all set with the San Antonio Spurs facing off against the Miami Heat. This time of year is a little bitter-sweet for me as a Mavericks’ fan. It’s bitter because I want Dallas to be competing for a championship and they’re not. It’s sweet, though, cause it’ll always reminds me of the 2011 NBA Finals.

As a Mavs fan, who could ever forget that epic title run by the Mavericks. Dallas finished the postseason 16-5 that year. Over the next few week, we are going to bring back the memory of the six games with the Heat.

It started in the first round when they played the Portland Trail Blazers and defeated them 4-2. Dallas fans everywhere didn’t expect this at all. Even though the Mavs were the higher seed (No. 3 seed. They finished tied with the Lakers but the Lakers held the tie-breaker), everyone thought LaMarcus Aldridge and company would take care of the Mavericks.

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The Mavericks hadn’t won a playoff series in a long time. After going 67-15 in the 2006-2007 season, the Mavericks were knocked out of the first round by Golden State. Why would this year be any different than the previous four or five?

The Mavs even blew a 23-point lead in game 4 after having a 2-1 series lead. After that game, everyone felt like the same Mavericks were back. This team for whatever reason couldn’t win a big game when they needed to. That changed in the next two games as the Mavericks closed out the Blazers and moved on to the semifinals.

Round two was going to be tougher, though. I couldn’t imagine a possibility of how the Mavericks would get by the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant was on a mission to show the world why he was the best player on the planet. The Lakers had been to three straight NBA Finals, winning the last two. I didn’t think they could do it.

Something happened in that series, though, that would define the Mavericks for the rest of the playoffs. The Mavericks, who fell behind in game 1 against the Lakers in the fourth quarter, came back to win the game. Dallas would use that trick to win six games from here on out.

Dallas took the next game at Staples Center before returning home to finish the sweep. The most impressive part of the sweep was Game 4, in which they blew out the mighty Lakers on Mother’s Day. It was the first time Phil Jackson had ever been swept in his coaching career.

After sweeping the Lakers, the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder was next up. The only hiccup for the Mavericks in that series came in Game 2 when the Thunder stole a game in Dallas. Dallas won that series in five games. The Mavericks had finally returned to a place that had haunted them for five years.

Dallas, who blew a 2-0 series lead to the Heat in 2006, would finally get a rematch with Miami. This time, though, it would be more than Dwyane Wade they would be facing as LeBron James and Chris Bosh had joined forces. That didn’t matter for now. The Mavericks were in the Finals and that was something spectacular in and of itself.

Photo credit to StreetBall.com, DeviantArt.

 

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Dallas’ Role in the Carmelo Drama

by Michael Lark on May 22, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

MeloToDallas

Madison Square Garden – it’s February 24, 2014 and the Dallas Mavericks are tied at 108 with the New York Knicks, with only 10.6 seconds left in the game. Vince Carter inbounds the ball from the left sideline to Jose Calderon, who quickly feeds the ball to Dirk Nowizki at the top of the key. Only seconds left, Dirk awkwardly makes his move (in only a way that only Dirk can), and just before the buzzer sounds he heaves a shot at the rim.

The Mavs win.

Carmelo Anthony’s face following that memorable shot says it all. He had one of the best offensive performances of his career, finishing the game with 44 points. But the end of the night, it was his lackluster defense that told the story.

MeloDirk

Now, I’ve never claimed to be any sort of expert when it comes to telling people how to play defense, but I’ll have to bet that putting your hands behind your back as the 10th ranked scorer in NBA history goes up for the game-winning shot is probably not the way to play defense.

Clearly, the Knicks superstar forward still has some room for improvement.

This summer “Melo” will arguably be the biggest name in free agency (Hint: Lebron James is not opting out). The 11-year veteran is known around the league as an offensive juggernaut who essentially considers defense optional.

Anthony is a 7-time NBA All-Star, 2-time All-NBA second team and 4-time All-NBA third team player. He’s the 2013 NBA scoring champion.

Nevertheless, it’s reasons like Carmelo’s lackluster performance in the final 10.6 seconds on February 24 that have many fans questioning the idea of adding him to the Mavs roster this summer.

I’m here to give you a big wakeup call.

Whether you like it or not, the Mavs will be going after Mr. Anthony when free agency commences July 1. Here’s one thing you should know about the NBA, when talent is available, teams will go after it – and there’s no question the Syracuse product is one of most talented players in the league.

But, is the feeling mutual?

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports the Mavs are quietly optimistic they will be on the short list of teams that will be granted a face-to-face visit with the Knicks’ small forward. While the Mavs only have about $27 million locked up in guaranteed money next season, they also have a ton of holes to fill.

Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports the Mavs will only be interested in adding Carmelo if they are able to sign him at a deal that pays him less than the $22 million annually he’s able to get on the open market.

Convincing a superstar athlete in his prime to leave millions of dollars on the table sounds difficult enough, so let’s take a look at what the Mavs can arm themselves with in their potential face-to-face meeting.

The Monta Ellis Case Study

 

Monta Ellis was a disgruntled Milwaukee Bucks employee in the prime of his career. According to Steve von Horn of SB Nation, Ellis was free to sign anywhere he wanted or accept a three-year contract extension worth $36 million. Ellis left money on the table and chose to sign with the Dallas Mavericks.

Why?

“For me it was more important to be in an environment of winning, and to be on a team with a great group of guys,” Ellis said.

Speaking of winning, that also might entice the 29-year-old Anthony to come to Dallas. After all, he’s playing with a New York Knicks franchise that has 10 losing seasons since 1999 which just happens to be the last time the Mavs actually had a losing season of their own – and they’ve had nothing but a winning culture since.

Let’s also not forget the Larry O’Brien Trophy lassoed in 2011 by having the best owner in sports and one of the smartest front offices in the NBA.

In his 11 NBA seasons, Carmelo has never played with a star anywhere close to Nowitzki’s caliber. Melo is often criticized publicly for being an inefficient, volume shooter.

Sound familiar? That’s because the same label that was given to Monta Ellis before he came to Dallas. That’s now a long forgotten characteristic for Ellis.

So what changed? Two words – Dirk Nowitzki.

For the first time in his career, Monta had the opportunity to play with a respected NBA All-Star and future Hall of Famer who opened up opportunities for him. In a March 2014 article, Grantland detailed the evolution of Monta Ellis’ shooting production with and without Nowitzki. [Also see 'The Evolution of Monta Ellis' by Howard Beck]

The graphic above provides an incredible representation of Ellis’ improved efficiency just by playing alongside the “Tall Baller from the G.” That’s a lot of red and orange! Simply put, the “Dirk effect” allowed Ellis to get open opportunities, which improved his efficiency because defenses were paying so much attention to Dirk.

Imagine how this scenario could work with Carmelo in the fold. Teams around the league would be scrambling to defend the new “Big 3 in Big D” of Carmelo, Dirk and Monta.

The Melo Concerns

 

The Melo to Dallas scenario, however, doesn’t come without major concerns.

While convincing him to take less money is an already particularly difficult proposition in itself, there will be several other viable teams including the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers that will be providing plenty of tough competition for his services.

Secondly, on the defensive end for the Mavericks, Nowitzki and Anthony would be a nightmare for head coach Rick Carlisle. Neither player is particularly known for their defensive prowess and there’s definitely a good reason for it.

While this may be an immediate red flag for the Mavs, it’s also important to note that the probability remains high that there will be several defensive centers that will be available this summer, including Larry Sanders, Anderson Varejao, Tyson Chandler and Marcin Gortat that could help.

NOTE: Shawn Marion, the Mavs best defensive player and starting small forward, is a free agent.

Then, there’s Carmelo Anthony’s wife, Alani Vasquez Anthony or simply “La La” as she more commonly known in Hollywood circles. La La and Dallas Mavericks fans have a history of bad blood dating back to Anthony’s days with the Denver Nuggets.

In May 2009, during the Western Conference Semifinals, while attending a game in Dallas, La La was alledgedly the subject of racial slurs and threats by a couple of Mavs fans sitting behind her in the stands that evening, according to her issued statement.  

It is unclear how she feels about Mavericks fans today and whether or not this 2009 incident could sway Carmelo away from Dallas. Either way, I say it’s time to put that situation behind us and move on. Rumors say the “reality TV star” (if there’s such a thing) has a desire to stay in New York to pursue her career in…whatever it is she does.

Despite several contending issues, the fact remains the Mavericks should have a legitimate shot at landing Anthony this summer. In 2011, it was reported that Mavs attempted to trade for Carmelo Anthony’s services before he was ultimately traded to the Knicks because of the Mavericks refusal to include the “untouchable,” (gasp) Roddy Beaubois in a trade.

Unlike the mess that was Dwight Howard last summer, this time around, the Mavs will be dealing with a mature, NBA veteran who is hopefully focused on winning titles and not watching cartoons. So if the Mavs are able to put the pieces together to swing a signing of Anthony, you can bet I’ll be first in line to say, “Get the parade route ready!”

On second thought, never mind, we’ll just use the same parade route we used in 2011.

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Mandatory photo credit to Colorado Sports Desk; Yahoo! Sports/Screencap via @Jose3030

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Just A Thought: Dallas’ Case for Kevin Love

by Greg Higgins on May 20, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

KevinLoveFI

Kevin Love – a name synonymous around the NBA with rebounding. Love, who has averaged 12.2 rebounds for his career and had three years with at least 13 rebounds per game is much more than just a rebounder though. Love has averaged 19.2 points per game over his six-year career.

Let’s forget about the career numbers, though, and let’s look at his performance this past season. Love averaged 26.1 points per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Only Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James averaged more points this season.

His 12.5 rebounds per game were only surpassed by DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. Did I mention he’s only 25 years old as well? That’s right; the great Kevin Love hasn’t even entered the prime of his NBA career.

Why all the attention on Love, you ask?

Reports have surfaced in which Love has informed the T’wolves he isn’t happy with all the losing. He wants to contend; therefore he has informed the team that he will not be resigning with them after his contract ends in 2015.

This ultimately forces Minnesota’s hand into listening to offers and eventually shopping the 6’10” power forward before next season’s trade deadline or they risk the thought of losing him with no compensation.

Sources told ESPN that Love finds the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls very desirable and he would be open to joining either organization. However, if they are looking to deal the big man, they’re going to do what’s best for the team and not for Love.

That being said, would Love be a good fit for the Dallas Mavericks?

The Mavs still have Dirk Nowtizki and as he showed this year, is still their number one option. At 36, though, it’s hard to keep Nowitzki in that burdensome position for the next couple of years. Love and Dirk are very similar except Love is a better rebounder and defender.

Could Love become the heir apparent to Dirk in Dallas?

With Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson calling the shots, I wouldn’t put anything past them. As they do each year, you know they will be going after the big-name free agents and top players available in trade.

There’s no telling who tops the Mavericks priority list of offseason targets. You can bet, though, if there’s a chance they could add Love to the rotation of Dirk, Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon they will.

Check out this piece by Mike Fisher and David Lord on the various paths the Mavs could take towards a Kevin Love trade, with financial insight of both pre and post July transactions:

The asking price will be high for a player like Love. I can imagine you’d have to put together a package that would include a mixture of valuable players and several future draft picks.

I’m not sure the Mavs will have a chance to work out something with the T’wolves, but it’s a guarantee they will try and this is one fan who hopes they do so successfully.

Transitioning from Dirk to Love would be fun to watch. Perhaps we’ll get that chance or maybe we’ll have to watch him try and succeed in another uniform.

Either way, let the Kevin Love sweepstakes begin.

Mandatory photo credit to AP Photo/Eric Gay

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About…Jeff “Skin” Wade

by MavsFanatic on May 19, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

10 Things

Being a MFFL is something to be proud of. It’s a community of hardcore Mavericks fans dedicated to one thing and one thing only: Supporting the Dallas Mavericks. This tight knit group has long been recognized as one of the better fan bases in the NBA, and any time you have a group that is recognized, you are going to come across some key individuals who help drive that fan base.

Jeff WadeFor our 3rd segment of “10 Things You Didn’t Know,” we wanted to let you all become a little more acquainted with a true talent in Jeff “Skin” Wade. Jeff was hosting the Mavs Post Game Show with long time friend Ben Rogers, when Mark Cuban and the Mavericks organization invited him to join the in-game broadcasts midway into the 2008-09 season. His lively personality has been well received in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, and to everyone else that is a part of the Mavs Nation. He can also be heard on 105.3 The Fan with Ben Rogers weekdays from 2 to 6 pm.

 

Here is what he had to say:

1. Favorite Movie: 

Depending on the day – Goodfellas or City of God or Rushmore or Being John Malkovich

2. Favorite Song:

Dude…seriously? “Naima” by John Coltrane moves me but I can’t dance to it. I couldn’t even come up with my favorite James Brown or De La Soul song. Or Radiohead song…actually “Weird Fishes” by them. Do people really pick just one?
 

3. Favorite thing to eat:

Sushi and other Japanese cuisine

 

4. How did you get your current job with the Mavericks? 

At gunpoint. Well, not initially. That’s how I keep my job. Cuban and the folks that run the broadcast were very familiar with me from when Ben Rogers and I were hosting the Mavs Post Game Show on the Ticket and when they wanted to add a new element they felt that I’d be a good fit. That was midway through Rick’s first season here and I’ve been in the mix ever since.

Derek Harper5. What do you love most about the job?

To be near the action for my favorite team ever in any sport is beyond special. To broadcast while sitting next to my favorite Mav growing up in Harp is just too cool. Followill is a good friend and Dirk is a Man God. There’s a lot to love.
 

 

6. Favorite Mavericks Moment:

Tyson Chandler shoving his close friend and “brother” Chris Paul into the scorers table in the final home game against the Hornets right before the playoffs started in 2011. It was so epic and amazing and emotional and inspiring. I truly believe they don’t win a championship without that moment.
 

 

7. What’s the most memorable Mavericks game you’ve been a part of?

Three stand out: 

1. January 8, 2009 – Mavs hosting the Knicks. That was the first game I ever called with Mark and Bob. Had no idea what I was supposed to do, what the long-term plan was, or how to do what we were doing. But I did make several Eddy Curry jokes so that was important.

2. Saturday afternoon March 30, 2013 against the Bulls. Dirk dropped 35 to keep their playoff hopes alive. It was spectacular. I remember running down the hall after the game to do post game interview and high-fiving everyone along the way. It felt like the playoffs – really amazing. So many full beards…

3. Game 4 against Portland in 2011 first round after Brandon Roy went nuts and they collapsed. I distinctly remember our post game hit. I was emphatic that this wasn’t the same old Mavs and that they would rebound. It wasn’t just “rah-rah” $h!t neither. We believed it. Obviously the team did too. 

 

 

8. Favorite Sports Team not named the Mavericks:

Meh…

 

 

9. Most embarrassing thing that happened on the job?

Each game is a new chance to humiliate my entire family. It’s tough broadcasting when you’re not a good broadcaster and have the voice of a 13-yr-old boy. 

 

 

10. A hobby that you have/do that people may not be aware of:

I really enjoy coaching my daughter and son’s basketball teams. It’s an exhilarating feeling when the kids see the floor and make the right pass. I can hardly contain my excitement over those types of things. Makes you feel like they care about it as much as you do and it’s a pretty indescribable feeling. As for something more “hobby” like, I used to collect records cuz I’m pretty nerdy. I had to scale back quite a bit but I’m still sitting on about 3500 mostly jazz and soul records. 
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To find out more about “Skin”  and his awesome radio personality, check out him on Twitter and find him on his radio show at 105.3 FM The Fan weekdways from 2:00-6:00 pm.

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Could Gortat Be Marcin From Washington to Dallas?

by Michael Lark on May 19, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Gortat

Spurned by Otis.

Otis Smith that is; a name that will live in infamy among the Mavs faithful for his role as the then General Manager for the Orlando Magic who helped ruined the Mavericks’ free agency plans to sign coveted free agent big man Marcin Gortat. Smith shocked Mavs Nation in the summer of 2009 by matching the Mavs five-year, $34 million dollar offer sheet to the restricted free agent.

Fast forward five years.

It’s the summer of 2014 and the Mavs once again have the financial flexibility to go after some of the biggest names in free agency, including Carmelo Anthony and Luol Deng. If the Mavs strike out on their top targets, unrestricted free agent center Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards may once again be high on their list.

So, what’s there not to like about the 30-year-old Gortat?

At 6’11”, 240 pounds, the “Polish Hammer” can clog up the lane on the defensive end of the floor for a Dallas Mavericks team that ranked 20th in the NBA in points allowed (102.4) last year. Meanwhile, the Wizards ranked 9th in the NBA in points allowed (99.4), with Gortat at the defensive helm.

This would have been a valuable asset in the first round of the playoffs earlier this month against those hated San Antonio Floppers, who seemingly got to the basket at will.

Now that’s a real foul.

The Mavericks front office has made it no secret they’d like to boost their defensive efficiency this summer for a team that continually juggled match ups at the center position with Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair and Brandan Wright in an effort to rectify their defensive woes.

Offensively over the past four seasons, Gortat has been an effective force in the middle. He’s averaged 13.2 points per game and remained efficient by shooting nearly 55%. He’s a quality mid-range shooter who can play with his back to the basket and run an effective pick and roll with excellent agility for his size.

Gortat’s also an improved free throw shooter which is a rare commodity among centers these days (see: Howard, Dwight). And, as an added bonus, he shot 100% from the three point line last year too – albeit only on one attempt.

Without a question, Gortat (32.8 mins, 13.2 pts, 9.5 rebs in 2014) would be an instant upgrade over Dalembert (20.2 mins, 6.6 pts, 6.8 rebs).

While on paper it’s easy to argue Gortat helps upgrade the Mavs roster, it creates as many questions as it does answer. Will upgrading the center ultimately fix the defensive shortcomings of this team? What would happen to Dalembert, Blair and Wright if Gortat came to Dallas?

But, most importantly, the biggest hurdle in the Gortat sweepstakes will be luring him away from Washington while keeping his wallet happy. After signing his extension with the Magic in 2009, Gortat has struggled to solidify his role on an NBA roster.

In December 2010, he was traded to the Phoenix suns in a deal that included Vince Carter for a 2011 first-round draft pick. Then in October 2013, Gortat was traded to the Washington Wizards where he started all but one of the 81 games he played in; recording a career high in minutes played.

The Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs a week ago, but the future in Washington is bright with young, emerging stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Gortat has seemed to finally have found a place where he fits. Gortat could likely command an annual salary of $10-13 million, a price that may be too steep even for a Mavericks team that has historically overpaid centers.

 

The main goal for the Mavs in free agency this summer remains the same: to bring in a “superstar” who could help provide Dirk Nowitzki with the Robin he needs. Monta Ellis’ signing last summer became a blessing, but Dallas still wants that player who could eventually become Batman and take over the reins as the main man in Gotham as Dirk rides into the Hall of Fame sunset.

If that doesn’t happen, the Mavs front office will again be scrambling to put the remaining free agent puzzle pieces together to maximize their cap space and bring in players that fit with Dirk, utilizing the blue print that helped bring the Mavs a 2011 championship.

Look, the Mavs don’t want to have a Ben Affleck situation here in Dallas. It gets awkward. We’ll just have to see how free agency pans out. Timing is everything when it comes to free agency; so while Gortat would look great in a Mavs uniform, his decision to cash in on a well deserved pay day and lure him away from Washington could have the Mavericks on the outside looking in.

Photos courtesy of Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports; Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

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Position Grades – Power Forward

by Damian Jackson on May 12, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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Power forward has been the Dallas Mavericks longstanding position of strength because of one man – Dirk Nowitzki. The NBA game at the position has been forever changed by Dirk and he continued to defy odds at age 35, turning in one of his most efficient seasons to date. The position was rather thin in terms of natural fit this year, but we’ll also take a closer look at DeJuan Blair, a five-year player from Pittsburgh.

Dirk Nowitzki:

A season ago Dirk labored through one of his toughest years in the NBA. The combination of knee surgery, missing 30 games and playing alongside an overload of one-year contracts snapped his 12-year run at playoff basketball.

Many questioned Dirk’s ability to return to star form. This only fueled the former league MVP who worked hard as ever to bounce back.

Let’s take a glance at Dirk’s 2013-2014 highlights:

- Averaged 21.7 points in 80 games played (10th player in NBA history to average over 20 points at age 35 or older)

- Returned to the All-Star Game for the 12th time

- Efficiency (23.68) ranked 12th in the NBA, shot 49.7% FG/39.8% 3PT/89.9% FT

- Became 10th on NBA All-Time Scoring List – passing legends such as Jerry West, John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson.

 

Dirk played a major role in earning a trip back to the postseason, only to play the rival San Antonio Spurs. Outside of Dallas, no teams knows the Mavs franchise player better than Gregg Popovich’s Spurs. It showed throughout the series as the Spurs took away much of what Dirk wanted to do and forced other Mavericks to be the difference makers.

The first four games saw Dirk fail to reach 20 points in such a stretch for the first time in his playoff career. Dirk had plenty of help in the series to push the league-best Spurs team to seven games in the 1 vs. 8 seed matchup.

Dirk would finished the final three games of the series averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, but eventually lose the series battle in a lopsided Game 7 defeat.

Over the course of the season, Dirk showed he’s still an elite level player, especially at his age. Dirk doesn’t drive as much anymore which results in fewer trips to the free throw line, but his game as a whole exemplifies he can remain highly effective for several more years.

He played 32.9 minutes in the 80 regular season games and one should expect that to drop some going forward. While never a legit defensive player, Dirk has regressed to simply a very poor product on that end with opposing players scoring with ease when matched up with Nowitzki.

Now there were spots in the season where it seemed Dirk would disappear and it didn’t feel right. Whether the box score resembled it or not, we witnessed nights in which Dirk was a complete non-factor in both team wins and losses. Then again, it speaks loudly of how amazing his statistical end result on the year played out.

Dirk more than makes up for his defensive woes in other areas, but expect Mark Cuban and company to pursue a defensive anchor in the paint to pair with Dirk this summer. The Mavericks have plenty cap space and flexibility to explore options from a Tyson Chandler reunion, taking a chance on the Larry Sanders project or safe play with another veteran such as Marcin Gortat.

When it’s all said and done, Dirk’s year was one to remember for sure.

Grade: A

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DeJuan Blair:

After spending his first four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, DeJuan Blair chose to sign with the Dallas Mavericks who could only offer him the veteran minimum contract.

Most viewed it as a value signing at the time because Blair likely could have received more elsewhere, but down the line we’d understand why the ACL-less Pitt Panther product would choose the Mavs.

Blair was on the Spurs team that blew an opportunity to win the NBA championship last season. He wasn’t given the chance to be a difference, riding the bench behind Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter. This didn’t sit well with Blair who made it known he had all Spurs game marked down after signing with Dallas.

It’s not as if Blair completely blew up and shattered seasons past, he actually had better statistical years in his first three seasons as a Spur.

Blair’s lone Mavericks season was more a bounce back from his last year with the Spurs. In Dallas, Rick Carlisle utilized the physical forward in his rotation almost the entire season. Blair had some ups and downs with DNP-CD based on opponent match ups.

Dallas’ need for a hustling rebounder who played with reckless abandon was filled nicely by Blair. Blair more than makes up for his lack of height with effort and it showed throughout the year with his ability to keep possessions alive.

His impact was felt most in the first round series against his former club. The combination of motivation and determination ignited Blair’s play and made him one of Dallas’ most important pieces.

In four games of meaningful minutes, Blair posted 9.5 points and 9.3 rebounds with three steals in 18.5 minutes. Blair was suspended Game 5 for the kick to the head of Tiago Splitter. His energy was missed and it was evident how big an addition Blair truly was for Dallas this season.

Grade: B+

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Projections:

The question isn’t whether Dirk will be back next season, but rather at what cost. Dirk has joked he won’t get Kobe money (2 year/$48.5M), but would like something where he still feels respected for his time in Dallas while leaving room to hopefully bring in star free agent help.

Early into the offseason, it appears the Mavericks have no interest in Chris Bosh, but will pursue Knicks’ star forward Carmelo Anthony who is set to opt out his final year with New York.

As for DeJuan, he’s one of four key Dallas free agents whose return isn’t set in stone. Blair is only 25 which makes him more attractive to keep on board. It’s possible the Mavericks could use an exception on Blair, but several things will need to play out first before Dallas likely makes a decision of his future.

Images via Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty; Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports; AP Photo/Eric Gay; Video via Phenom Clips (YouTube); 

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Mavs Game Plan Shows Promise, Needs Revisions

by Ryan Wilson on May 5, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

dallas31

The Mavericks 2013-2014 season came to a conclusion Sunday afternoon in San Antonio, and while it may not have been the type of performance we were expecting, we should still remember that many didn’t have them even getting this far. The Mavericks now head into a summer that will prove to be plenty busy for Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson. Questions that need to be immediately addressed our whether Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, or Devin Harris will return. Also, how low in salary is Dirk Nowitzki willing to sign for. These are questions that need to be answered in order to know what the overall game plan will be moving forward.

In terms of offense, the Mavericks were one of the best teams in the NBA. Defensively, they were on the other end of the spectrum. The Mavericks roster is full of players who play well on offense or defense, but not many who can do both. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon are threats with the basketball, but in terms of being lock down defenders, they aren’t even close. Shawn Marion remains an excellent defender, even at 34 years old, but he isn’t a huge threat on offense as much these days. This is something they will need to address this off-season if they have any hope in becoming a serious threat in the dangerous Western Conference.

Something that was very clear in Sunday’s blowout loss was that the Mavericks have to find a big-time player to complement Nowitzki. Right now, Nowitzki still remains the Mavericks’ best player. While Ellis proved many of his critics wrong this season, he is just not capable oDirk and Montaf leading this team, and Dirk is only getting older. When Ellis is hitting those midrange jumpers, he is as big a threat as there is. When those shots aren’t falling, teams go underneath that screen and force him to hurt them from outside. The Spurs did that all day yesterday, and limited Ellis to only one basket in the paint, while he ended up shooting 8-21 from the field.

Look for the Mavericks to address some of these major concerns this off-season. While it is always difficult to see players go elsewhere, it’s going to have to be something the front office and the fans experience this summer. This was a team that overcome a lot of odds throughout the season, and almost delivered one of the greatest first round upsets this league has ever seen. However, in the end, this team was just not built to keep defying those odds. Cuban and Nelson will get back to the drawing board and figure out a way to give their aging superstar a couple more shots at it.

— Bryan Gutierrez (@BallinWithBryan) May 4, 2014

One thing is for sure. It will be awfully busy for the Mavericks this summer, and we will be right here to cover all of that crazy action for you!

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Owner to Owner: Mark Cuban Says No Excuse for Support of Racism

by Greg Higgins on April 28, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

cuban

Over the weekend, recordings were leaked that had some very racist comments made by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling was talking to his girl friend and made comments regarding a picture posted on her Instagram in which she was with Magic Johnson.

Prior to Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, media personnel gathered around Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to ask him his thoughts on the Donald Sterling situation.  Cuban was reluctant to address the topic before Game 3, but he took questions and spoke for nearly 20 minutes Monday night.

“There’s no excuse for his positions,” Cuban said. “There’s no excuse for what he said. There’s no excuse for anybody to support racism”

Cuban was reluctant to jump on the topic fully though, making note that the subject is a “very, very slippery slope.”

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has called for Sterling’s removal as an owner. When asked about it, Cuban wasn’t sure if he supported that choice.

“I think there’s a constitution for a reason, right?…What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.”

Cuban pointed out other problems with jumping the gun on this situation though.

“If it’s about racism and we’re ready to kick people out of the league, O.K.? Then what about homophobia? What about somebody who doesn’t like a particular religion?”

 

“In this country, people are allowed to be morons. They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts. Within an organization like the NBA, we try to do what’s in the best interest of the league and that’s why we have a commissioner and a constitution and I think Adam [Silver] will be smart and deal with Donald with the full extent available.”

 

“But, again, if you’re saying a blanket, ‘Let’s kick him out?’ I don’t want to go that far because it’s not about Donald, it’s not about his position, it’s about his mess and what are we going to make a decision on.”

Cuban said he’s maybe talked to Sterling five times in the 14 years he’s been here. He also said he supports the idea of a maximum fine being given out by commissioner Silver.

We’ll wait and see what ultimately happens, in what will be Silver’s first major decision as Commissioner of the National Basketball Association.

 

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