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Should Mavericks Take Chance On Stephenson?

by MavsFanatic on June 6, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Stevenson

When the Eastern Conference Finals tipped off a couple of weeks ago, Lance Stephenson took it upon himself to try and become the kryptonite to the super hero, LeBron James. He would relentlessly harass James throughout the series, and even go so far as to blow in his ear. While his plan ultimately fell short when the Heat eliminated the Pacers in six games, his actions may have also had an impact on Stephenson’s value heading into free agency, which leads us to the question: Should the Mavericks take a chance on Stephenson? Staff writers Michael Lark, and Terrence Huie dive into the difficult question and give their thoughts. As the world watch the Eastern Conference Finals this year, all eyes were glued feud between Lance Stephenson and Lebron James.

Yes, Bring Stephenson to Big D

Terence Huie, Staff Writer

A “MFFL” might say, “Well, Lance Stephenson isn’t a guy we would want in Dallas because of his immaturity on and off the court”. But let’s reflect back to the 2011 Finals of a fellow Maverick who feuded with LeBron James. That man is DeShawn Stevenson. That Stevenson-Lebron James rivalry dated back to almost 2008. It all started during the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards. DeShawn StevensonNo DeShawn didn’t blow air in Lebron’s face, instead he created a “diss track” about James. In the 2011 Finals, took quite a few jabs at Lebron via talking to the media. One in particular relates to Stevenson telling the press that Lebron “checked out” in Game 4 of the Finals. But eventually, Lebron would get the last laugh now as he currently sits at being a two-time NBA champion. Lance Stephenson has undoubtedly made some noise in the 2013-2014 season. The 6’5” Pacers shooting guarding averaged 13.8 points per game off 49% shooting, 4.6 assists per game, and 7.2 rebounds per game (all career highs). Stephenson will be 25 years-old and is heading into his fifth NBA season, which is impressive given that he is performing at such a high level. Indiana Pacers GM and Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird will make re-signing Stephenson a priority. “I always want him back. You just don’t let talent like that walk away”, quoted Bird. Larry Bird is absolutely right. It’s not often that you find a special gifted player like Lance Stephenson, who is the regular season league leader in triple-doubles. Shot ChartIf we dig deeper and look at the stats, Lance Stephenson’s behavioral stunts overshadow how well he performs on the court. Looking at the shot chart for Stephenson in the regular season, majority of his points come from scoring in the paint. With his speed and athleticism, he’s easily unguardable when it comes to scoring in the paint similar to Monta Ellis. His double-double total of 20 is ranked first at the shooting guard position. On the defensive side, Stephenson is a big reason why the Pacers were arguably the best defensive team in the NBA this season. Looking at the shooting guard position alone, the Pacers held shooting guards to just 19.57 points per game (best in the league). Also the Indiana led the league in opponent field goal percentage amongst shooting guards with 39%. So we know that Lance Stephenson is a great player offensively and defensively; but how would he fit in with the Dallas Mavericks organization? At his height of 6’5, it is uncertain if he could possibly start at the small forward position. What we do know is that he can guard some of the tall 6’7-6’8 guys in the league. As for his crazy trash-talking and on-court frolics are concerned, Coach Carlisle and his staff can take care of that. We’ve seen players who have played under Carlisle and displayed great progression during a season. Monta Ellis is a perfect example of this. If it hasn’t happened already, at some point Stephenson will look back at the Eastern Conference Finals series as a learning experience. He’ll realize the way he behaved during that series, it was ultimately a detriment to the Pacers’ journey to the NBA Finals. Once he comes to that realization, Lance Stephenson will become an elite basketball player.

The Mavericks Should Pass On Stephenson and His Antics

Staff Writer Michael Lark

Haven’t we seen this type of player before? Oh yes, that’s right he was the artist formally known as Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) as a member of the Indiana Pacers. They are eerily identical players – young, rugged and talented, born in New York, full of athleticism, versatility and the potential to be NBA All-Stars. They can shoot the three just as well as they can play the role of defensive stopper against the NBA’s elite. So, let’s recall how “Mr. World Peace” overstayed his welcome for the Indiana Pacers. Ron ArtestIt was November 19, 2004, with less than one minute left in a game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers, Artest fouls Piston’s center Ben Wallace hard in a play that results in a shoving match between the two players. In the heat of the moment, both benches spilled onto the court into a physical confrontation between the teams that seemed to come to a quick resolution.  Then, as Artest lay on his back on the scorer’s table, a Detroit fan throws a cup at Artest’s chest. Artest immediately gets up and runs into the stands and complete insanity ensues, erupting into one of the most embarrassing, scariest moments in the history of the NBA known as the Malice in the Palace. This little incident seemingly derailed the promising, young career of Artest, who never appeared to quite reach the potential many believed he would. And today, at the age of 34, Artest isn’t even worth a roster spot for the lowly 37-win New York Knicks (or any team for that matter) and now finds himself out of the NBA.  Stephenson seems to be headed down the same path. While Stephenson isn’t quite the same guy, there are some obviously alarming similarities. Only four years into the league, Stephenson has already created a reputation for himself as a bad locker room guy. Before first round of the playoffs this year, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Stephenson and fellow teammate Evan Turner had to be separated after being involved in a physical altercation in the Pacers locker room. Before that, on March 31, David Aldridge of NBA.com quoted Pacer’s center Roy Hibbert as saying, there are “some selfish dudes” in the team’s locker room, a statement many believed to be targeted at the polarizing shooting guard. Apparently, Hibbert is so upset that after falling just two games short of the NBA Finals he is “open to a trade” from Pacer’s Nation. Then there’s the Pacer’s star forward, Paul George. “I mean, I don’t know,” is what George said following Indiana’s season-ending loss to Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, when asked about whether he felt that the unrestricted free agent should return next season. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a guy who supposedly has played a pivotal role in the success of the Pacers this past season. Apparently, his play on the court hasn’t been good enough to encourage George to publicly declare his support for the enigmatic Brooklyn native. So, what makes Stephenson such a polarizing player that has owners and general managers around the league reluctant to sign him this offseason? D StevensonStephenson seems to be more concerned with making headlines and drawing personal attention rather than focusing on playing basketball. Before the beginning of the ECF, Stephenson made headlines for saying he hoped to run Dwyane Wade to the point his balky knees flared up.  Before Game 4 of the ECF, he told reporters that LeBron James’ response to his trash talking was “a sign of weakness.” While he did go on to play well, averaging 14 points, 5 assists and 5.8 rebounds against the Miami Heat, his performance was overshadowed by the stats that truly mattered: two fines for flopping, one special blow into the ear of Lebron James, a flagrant foul on Norris Cole, and the continuous foolish and outrageous antics done in an attempt to take Lebron out of his game. Lebron averaged 22.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and shot 56% from the field. Sorry, Lance but I don’t think the “buffoonery,” as Ray Allen of the Heat called it, worked There is no mistaking Stephenson’s talent, but it’s the actions and bizarre behavior that has created the head case known as “Bad Lance” that is just not a fit for the Mavericks. With Shawn Marion set to hit the free agent market, the Mavs will be on the hunt for a new defensive stopper. At 23 years-old, Stephenson ranked 14th in the league in defensive efficiency, which will most certainly peak the interest of the Mavericks’ front office for a team that clearly needs to improve defensively. Perhaps, the Mavs decide to ignore the immaturity of Stephenson and decide his talent alone is worth the risk, and that he could benefit from being in an organization with a better culture just like Monta Ellis. While the Ellis case study may provide reasons for fans to think that the Mavs organization could rehabilitate his erratic behavior as a bad locker room guy, there has to be a willingness on his part to buy into what the Mavs and Mark Cuban are selling. Remember Lamar Odom, Delonte West and Josh Howard? Those situations didn’t exactly end well despite the opportunities the Mavs organization provided. Thankfully, the Mavs weren’t locked into long-term contracts with any of those players, so there was little risk on their part. However, locking up Stephenson in a long-term contract could spell complete disaster for the Mavs in the final years of Dirk’s career. Sometimes players just do not mature over time, despite being given a good opportunity to succeed. Even seven years later after the Malice in the Palace, World Peace was the same classless player he has always been, but this time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. With 24.4 seconds left in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks, for no apparent reason, Artest decided to clothesline Mavs point guard J.J. Barea in a play that resulted in a one-game suspension. What a poor representation of yourself and the organization. It has already been reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, that the Mavs front office “doesn’t see Stephenson as a fit, particularly since they’d probably have to offer near max contract.”  Stephenson is not a fit simply based on finances alone – plus, the Mavs already have a great starting two-guard in Ellis and have plenty of other positions that are of higher priority. While Stephenson has the potential to become a mature, All-Star several years down the road, the Mavs are still looking to maximize the career of Dirk and the “win now” motto should suffice to say thanks but no thanks to Lance Stephenson.

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Mavs Game Night: Mavs(11-10) @ Celtics(11-9)

by Ryan Wilson on December 12, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

Another triple roadie waits on the horizon and begins with the a trip back to the Northeast. The Dallas Mavericks face the Boston Celtics and a very familiar player tonight – Jason Terry. Terry bled Maverick blue for eight wild years. The ‘JET’ was born in Dallas. He and the rest of the 2010-2011 NBA Champion Mavs squad achieved the ultimate goal. JET spent one last abbreviated season defending the title before signing with Boston this summer.

The Celtics have used Terry more as a starter than the 6th man role he owned all to well in Dallas. It could be due in part to the lack of offense provided by Courtney Lee, another offseason addition to replace the void left when Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat. The statistical numbers have dipped for Terry who averages 11.5 points in about 30 minutes each night.

Aside from Terry the Mavericks will have Rajon Rondo as the primary defensive focus. Rondo isn’t going to hurt you with his scoring, but he’s dangerous in just about every other aspect of the game. Just two games ago Rondo posted 16 points/14 assists/13 rebounds for his 18th career triple double (He also had 3 steals and 3 blocks). On the season he’s averaging 13 points, 12.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

The Mavericks enter this game winners of three straight for only the second time this year. Dallas defeated the Sacramento Kings 119-96 Monday night in one home game sandwiched between two three-game road trips. Six Mavs scored in double figures led by O.J Mayo’s 19 and Chris Kaman’s 18.

Mayo continues his all-star caliber play for the Mavericks in the absence of superstar power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Many have compared Mayo’s role to that of Terry in his time here. After a somewhat slow start and a brief slump, Juice has left very few Mavericks fans disappointed, if any.

Dallas has had recent success in Boston, winning all three trips in as many seasons.

1) 2009-2010 – Dirk scores 37 on MLK Day

2) 2010-2011 – Jason Kidd’s Clutch Game Winning 3

3) 2011-2012 – Dirk wins the game on this go-ahead And-1

Now obviously the Mavericks will not have the services of either Dirk nor Kidd, but that doesn’t matter to this group. Mayo has shown he’s more than capable of coming through in the clutch.

NOTES:

Since the addition of Derek Fisher the Mavs have won 4 of 5 games. The Mavs and Celtics each sit in 7th place in their respective conferences. Shawn Marion is a game-time decision with a groin strain. Rookie Jared Cunningham has been assigned to the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate Texas Legends. Rajon Rondo has recorded at least 10 assists in every game he’s played and finished this season.

Tonight’s game tips at 7:00 p.m. CT and airs nationally on ESPN. Also can be seen on CSNE (Boston).

Let’s go Mavs!

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NBA Releases Schedule: 5 Games To Circle

by Ryan Wilson on July 26, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

Perhaps not since the 2003-04 season when Mark Cuban brought in Antawn Jamison and Antoine Walker have the Dallas Mavericks been a bigger mystery than they are entering the 2012-13 season.

With the roster now appearing to be finalized – barring any trades before the start of training camp in late September — the re-tooled Mavs now know who and when they’ll play as the NBA released the full 82-game regular-season schedule Thursday.

There’s no Christmas Day game and no Martin Luther King Jr. day game. Dirk Nowitzki and his new pals won’t be on national television at the rate that they were a season ago as defending champs. Still, the Mavs will have eight games on TNT — including the opener at the Lakers — seven on ESPN, seven on NBATV, one on ABC and two on ESPN Radio.

None of it means this won’t be one of the more intriguing seasons of Cuban’s ownership. At the moment, just about anything — from being lottery bound to a top-four finish in the Western Conference — seems possible.

We take a look at five games to circle, and why not start with the opener?

No. 1: Mavs at Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 30
Not only will it be the first real game for a Mavs club that features five new key players around Nowitzki, but it will also be Steve Nash‘s debut with the Lakers. And for that matter, since we’ve already mentioned Jamison, he’ll also be wearing the purple and gold for the first time. The big question as of July 26 is if Andrew Bynum will still be calling the Staples Center home or if Dwight Howard be manning the rim and playing alongside Pau GasolKobe Bryant and Nash?

No. 2: New York Knicks at Mavs, Nov. 21
Coach Rick Carlisle predicted that Jason Kidd would receive a standing ovation when he returns to the American Airlines Center. We won’t have to wait long to find out if he’s right — and he probably is. Two-fifths of the Mavs’ championship starting lineup will suit up for the Knicks as Tyson Chandler makes his second trip back to Dallas since the title. Kidd’s last-minute departure to the Big Apple was stunning, but in retrospect it’s allowed the Mavs to add a bit more shake-n-bake to their backcourt with Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo.

No. 3: Mavs at Boston Celtics, Dec. 12
A trip to the Garden is always special, but now that Jason Terry will be writing ctc on his green and white sneakers, it’s extra special. And don’t think that Terry, who played eight seasons with the Mavs, won’t want to drill about 15 buckets from downtown and send his former team out of town with a loss. Terry never wanted to leave Dallas, but he knew he was no longer in their plans. He’ll try to fill the very large shoes of Ray Allen, who took his talents to South Beach. Terry won’t make his Dallas return until March 22.

No. 4: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Mavs, Jan. 18
It’ll take a few months for the Western Conference champs to make it Dallas, which isn’t a bad thing since the Mavs will need some time to break in the new rotation. Although Dallas is a drastically different team than the past two seasons, consecutive playoff series have elevated the Thunder to the top of the Mavs’ rival list, or at least just notch below the Spurs. This game will show the Mavs how far they’ve come or how far they still have to go.

No. 5: Mavs at Brooklyn Nets, March 1
Who knows if the Nets will have Dwight Howard by this first meeting of the two teams, but this game is all about Deron Williams, who spurned his hometown Mavs to re-sign with the Nets as they move to Brooklyn. In the grand scheme of things, this game will mean little, but the free-agent process was emotional for Williams and the two teams, and that could make this the most intense Mavs-Nets game of all-time. Less than three weeks later, Williams will make his return to Dallas. He won’t be staying.

Jeff Caplan

ESPNDallas.com

Jeff Caplan joined ESPNDallas.com in December 2009. Jeff covers the Mavericks, Rangers and colleges. He has a wealth of experience in the area, covering multiple beats in his 11-plus years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Heat Defend Home Court

by Ryan Wilson on May 31, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

The biggest postseason comeback in Miami Heat franchise history wasn’t enough.

The Heat needed more — and got it, digging deep to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 23 and the Heat rallied from 15 down to beat the Boston Celtics 115-111 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Mario Chalmers scored 22 for the Heat, who won despite an unbelievable night by Rajon Rondo. The Celtics guard played all 53 minutes and scored 44 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds. The Heat expected Boston’s best — and the Celtics didn’t disappoint.

“This group had resolve,” Wade said of the Celtics. “They came out and played a great game. It was physical early. They brought the game to us. That can’t happen. We used our crowd and the energy to get back into the game and we had to play better.”

Paul Pierce scored 21 points, Kevin Garnett added 18 and Ray Allen 13 for Boston.

Rondo finished 16 of 24 from the floor, 10 of 12 from the foul line and made both his 3-point tries.

“He was absolutely phenomenal,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Put us, put the whole team at times on his shoulders. … We had a lot of opportunities to win the game.”

Allen’s 3-pointer with 34.3 seconds left tied the game at 99-all. James missed two shots, first a layup — he got the rebound of his own miss — and then a jumper on the final possession of regulation, and to overtime they went.

“We had to do it the tough way,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Game 3 is Friday in Boston.

The Heat had come back to win from 14 points down in playoff games twice before, first in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA finals — their title clincher — and again last season against Philadelphia.

And this one was slipping away, more than once. James missed two free throws 21 seconds into overtime, and Miami looked in trouble. But the Heat held on, in a game where they took 47 free throws — 24 by James — to Boston’s 29.

The scoring dossier in overtime began like this: Rondo scored, Heat tied it, Rondo scored, Heat tied it, Rondo scored, Heat tied it.

When Rondo missed a layup — he thought he was fouled, and the Celtics agreed — with 1:33 left, Miami took advantage, with Udonis Haslem getting a dunk to put the Heat up 105-103. And after a turnover on the next Boston possession, Wade drove the lane, hit the deck and watched as his layup bounced on the rim and dropped through.

Garnett stood over Wade and glared, to no avail. Wade hit the free throw, and Miami was up 110-105 with 59.7 seconds left.

On a night where the Heat missed 16 free throws — including at least four by James in crucial situations — they would survive.

“Now we’re going home,” Boston’s Mickael Pietrus said. “Our jersey is going to be white. They got two. Fine, good for them. But we’re going home now and you know what that means.”

Miami was down by 15 in the first half and by as many as 11 in the third quarter, before a pair of 3-pointers by James started a comeback. Wade made consecutive jumpers midway through the third to shake off a slow start to his night and get the Heat within three both times, and the 2006 NBA finals MVP set up Haslem for a three-point play with 2:55 left that gave Miami its first lead since the opening minutes, 73-71.

As Haslem’s shot dropped, Wade spun at midcourt and punched the air. More highlights followed.

Miami’s lead got to as much as seven in the third after James blocked Pierce’s shot near the rim, sending the ball high into the air and starting a sequence that was capped by a three-point play from Wade, pushing the margin to 78-71. It capped a 12-0 run for the Heat, who took an 81-75 lead into the fourth.

It was the fifth straight game where Miami outscored its opponent by double-digits in the third quarter. In each of the previous four of those outings, Miami never trailed in the final period.

That streak ended in this one.

And a call that Boston argued against played a big role in the Celtics getting the lead back.

James stole the ball from Rondo early in the fourth, drove down the court and got wrapped up by Pietrus, who was assessed a clear-path foul, meaning Miami got two free throws and the ball. James missed both foul shots, Mike Miller missed a 3-pointer later in the possession, and the lead stayed at 85-81.

Barely a minute later, it was gone. Pietrus hit a 3-pointer, Rondo followed with a steal and layup and Boston led 86-85. The Celtics led by five with 3:50 left after a jumper by Pierce, and the Celtics looked to be in control.

It was temporary. The Heat scored the next nine points, Haslem’s jumper with 1:08 remaining put Miami up 98-94. So of course, back came Boston — Allen’s 3-pointer tying the game a few moments after Pierce fouled out.

Early on, it was all Boston. Over the first 15-plus minutes, Boston was shooting 65 percent (15 for 23), Miami 27 percent (7 for 26). By halftime, Rondo had 22 points, the most anyone had scored in the first half of a playoff game against Miami since 2004.

“An incredible game,” Spoelstra said of the Celtics’ point guard.

Miami’s point guard did his best to keep the Heat close.

Chalmers had 12 in the second quarter and seven in a 14-6 Miami spurt to end the half. He hit a pair of 3-pointers during the flurry, Wade got his first points of the night on a falling-down layup with 27 seconds left and the Heat closed the margin to 53-46 by halftime.

 

Game notes

Celebrities in attendance included UCLA coach Ben Howland, rapper Flo Rida and former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, a regular in the Heat crowd. … Celtics F Greg Stiemsma had four fouls in the first quarter, the first NBA player to do that since 2009. … Rondo’s other 22-point first half was Feb. 22, 2009 at Phoenix. … Allen, considered one of the game’s absolute best shooters for many years, said he’s been getting plenty of unsolicited advice lately on how to get rolling again. “I’ve only been doing this for 20 years,” Allen said at the morning shootaround. … Haslem (6) had more rebounds than Boston (5) in the third quarter. … Heat C Ronny Turiaf started, played the first 4:51 and did not return. Joel Anthony started the second half in Turiaf’s place.

 

 

 

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Ray Allen To Play In Game 2

by Ryan Wilson on May 30, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

 Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers broached the idea of giving veteran shooting guard Ray Allen a game off in order to rest his ailing right ankle. But after consulting with the team’s training staff, Allen pleaded his case to stay on the floor.

“My trainers and I discussed [taking a game off],” Allen conceded, “but I really, really do not want go that route. Just put me out there and let me do the best I can.”

In an interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan on Tuesday afternoon, Rivers said the team was considering giving Allen a potential game off to allow the painful bone spurs in his right ankle to calm down. But after consulting with the player and the training staff, Allen might have talked his way into staying in the lineup.

“Not yet,” Rivers told reporters later in the day when asked about a potential move. “We’re good. Ray is Ray. We’re going to just keep rolling him out there and see what we can get. When we feel like he can’t give it to us, we’ll go with someone else. But I think right now, you have to give Ray a fighting chance.”

Rivers admitted it’s not an easy decision to make, particularly with Boston already staring at a 1-0 hole in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.

“It’s just a decision you make in the game,” Rivers said. “It’s a tough one, but you go into the game and you watch. It’s just going to be that way. It’s not the easiest thing to do. It’s obviously hard for Ray. I’m sure there will be a time when I take him out and he’s going to be feeling great. It’s just something you see.

“I don’t think he has his balance. You could see it on his [missed] free throws, or he’s falling forward or kicking his leg out on every shot. When you watch Ray, he’s up and down — if you drew a square box, usually Ray always lands in the box. Right now, he’s all over the place — leaning, going sideways, falling forward. It’s somewhat of a balance issue, but it’s all created by the [ankle] issue.”

Allen said Tuesday he hasn’t taken a cortisone shot in recent weeks, but said the ankle had regressed, noting, “The last three or four days have been pretty painful.”

Allen, a creature of habit, said the biggest pain is simply not being able to go through his typical workout routine. Allen has been forced to lounge by the pool instead of hitting the exercise room.

“I can deal with contusions and soreness, but this is a different challenge for me,” he said. “I do miss [working out]. I was driving down the street yesterday, talking to my friend and I told him, ‘Normally, I’d be running outside, getting that good sweat in … Now, I’m sitting by the pool.’”

Of course, sitting by the pool isn’t so bad if it helps him avoid sitting on the bench come Game 2.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

  • Covered Celtics since 2007
  • Emmy award-winning videographer
  • Joined ESPNBoston.com in 2009

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