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Center Focus: Dalembert’s Minutes

by Damian Jackson on April 3, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

sammy_Fotor

The Dallas Mavericks play yet another “BIG” game tonight. It’ll be on the road in Los Angeles after concluding the franchise’s record 8-game home stand with a meager 4-4 record.

Before we delve into the fourth and final meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers, let’s focus on Dallas’ starting center Samuel Dalembert.

Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban had this to say to 103.3 FM ESPN about Dalembert in December:

“Actually, I think Sam is the key to our game more than anybody else. One of the things about Tyson [Chandler] when he was here is that he only averaged 28 minutes a game because of foul trouble. Sometimes he’d get into early foul trouble and we had [Brendan] Haywood to back him up.” 

“Our backup center isn’t as strong this year as it was last year. [Brandan] Wright is more of a forward playing center than a true center, and so Sam staying on the court and staying healthy and being aggressive and not being afraid of fouls but not getting fouls will be one of the main indicators of how we go.”

Sammy D labeled as your team’s most important player? At times this season, any fan could be worried at that notion, but over time it’s evident Dalembert’s impact is as great as any Mavericks player.

Dalembert logged just seven minutes in Tuesday night’s gut-wrenching, yet controversial 122-120 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Prior to the Warriors game, the 13-year veteran center averaged 8.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.3 minutes in the previous seven home games.

The Mavericks own a 14-15 record when Dalembert plays less than 20 minutes; their record when he eclipses the 20-minuete plateau – 29-15.

Rick Carlisle expected the Warriors to possibly go small Tuesday with Andrew Bogut and David Lee inactive. Golden State’s backup center, 37-year-old Jermaine O’Neal put in 33 minutes and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Check out this Inside the NBA clip where Shaquille O’Neal talks Dallas’ playoff chances and who he feels will be the key:

The Mavericks leap-frogged the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns last night and rest in the Western Conference 7th seed once again.

Perhaps when it’s said and done, Dalembert is the Mavericks key to success this season. His minutes simply need to stay north of the 20 to make it happen.

______________________

Video courtesy NBA.com/Turner Sports; Photo via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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Wrap Up: Dirk Delivers in the Clutch at MSG

by Terence Huie on February 24, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Wrap Up Mavs Drop Rough One

The Dallas Mavericks (35-23) walk out of the historic Madison Square Garden in a 110-108 victory versus the New York Knicks (12-19). Dirk Nowitzki delivers in the closing seconds, hitting a midrange contested jumper at free throw line sealing the game. The Mavs finish their 3-game road trip with a 3-0 record.

How it went down:

It was a sloppy game from the beginning of tipoff, as both teams recorded a combined 20 turnovers in the first half. Dallas, gaining capitalizing off turnovers, jumped out to a 31-21 lead in the first quarter. But from then on, the Knicks started to gain ground, led by Carmelo Anthony’s 17 points in second quarter alone. The Mavs would somehow hold a 60-59 lead at halftime after a clutch three-pointer from Monta Ellis at the buzzer.

The Knicks fought hard resist Dallas from pulling away in the 2nd half. Monta Ellis redeems his 33% scoring first half, scoring back-to-back baskets to give the Mavs a 6-point lead late in the final quarter. Carmelo Anthony would answer back with crucial three-pointer, tying the game 108-108.

The Mavs played their best defense the entire game forcing a shot violation turnover. With 10 seconds left, tightly guarded by Carmelo Anthony, Dirk sinks the game-winning shot thanks to a lucky bounce on rim.

Inside the Numbers:

The Mavs shot 41% from behind the arc tonight (15 of 36 from the three-point line). Jose Calderon and Vince Carter made their presence felt tonight, combining for 12 made shots from deep.

Impact Play of the Game:

Let’s just allow the video to do the talking…

Step-Up Mav of the Night: Monta Ellis

You look at the box score and think, “This was not one of Monta Ellis’ best games”. But he made a major impact in the Mavs’ win tonight. Ellis finished with 9 points off 3 of 9 in field goals in the first half. He would bounce back, penetrating to the basket more instead of settling for jumpshots in the second half. Monta Ellis finished the game with 22 points and 6 assists.

Vince Carter and his 23 points need mention here as well. He made seven 3-point baskets and all played out huge in this one.

Quotes:

“I love this building. Unfortunately I couldn’t play a little better than I usually do.”

– Dirk Nowitzki on The Garden

 

“It’s the great Nowitzki, man. He’s done it so many times. What an incredible shot.”

- Rick Carlisle on Dirk’s winner

 

“But he’s done. He can’t play anymore”

– Mark Cuban makes light of media’s opinion Dirk had reach Father Time.

 

On Deck:

The Mavs finish their 3-game road trip and return home to face the Pelicans on Wednesday night, followed by another home game Friday night against the Bulls.

GO MAVS!

______________________

Quotes courtesy of Dwain Price, Bryan Gutierrez and Ed Sefko

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Wrap Up: Knicks Outplay Mavs Start to Finish

by Greg Higgins on January 6, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

WrapUpReport18

The Dallas Mavericks (19-15) have to be wondering what is going on as they dropped another game to an opponent they should beat. This time the New York Knicks (11-22) came into the AAC and defeated Dallas 92-80. It’s the fourth consecutive home loss for a team that was nearly unbeatable at home just a few weeks ago.

How it went down: Carmelo Anthony dominated the first quarter, Kenyon Martin took care of the third and Tim Hardaway Jr. locked down the fourth for the visiting Knicks. Carmelo had 15 of his 19 points in the first 12 minutes of the game as the Knicks took a 29-17 lead after one. Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire each had seven points in the second quarter to lead New York while Dallas had one player reach five in the frame as they would trail by 17 at the break.

Dallas only scored 35 points in the half after putting up 39 in the first quarter against the LA Clippers on Friday. Their shooting was horrendous, too. Dallas shot 36.1% from the field in the half, including 0-8 from three-point range. Dallas also shot 17 free throws and only made nine of them, including four misses from Dirk Nowitzki.

Dallas made a run at the Knicks in the third quarter, though. Dallas, after trailing by 19 points cut the lead down to eight in the quarter. Martin, though, made sure the Knicks maintained a double-digit lead after the period was over, though. Martin scored 10 points in the frame. The rest of the team combined for five points in the quarter. DeJuan Blair did his best to match Martin, though, as the Mavs’ Center put in eight points during the frame.

The fourth quarter once again belonged to the Knicks as they shot 52.9% during the period. Hardaway Jr. came off the bench and only played 6:11 during the quarter but led the team with eight points. The Mavs couldn’t match the intensity of the Knicks as they played sluggish.

What has to be more disappointing for Dallas is the fact that Knicks’ big man Tyson Chandler left the game early in the first quarter with an upper respiratory infection and didn’t return. The Mavs allowed an undermanned team to walk all over them in their home building in front of the home crowd. That’s the most disappointing part of the game.

Inside the Numbers: Dallas was outrebounded by New York 47-34. For the game, Dallas shot 41.0% from the field (32-78) and only 23.1% from beyond the arc (6-26). Dallas finished 10-18 from the free throw line as well (55.6%)

Impact Moment of the Game:

With 5:51 left in the first quarter, Dallas had a 13-12 lead. The Knicks went on a 17-4 run to end the quarter and never looked back.

Step-Up Mav of the Night: DeJuan Blair

Rick Carlisle kept Samuel Dalembert out of the lineup because he was late to a team practice on Saturday. In his absence Blair stepped in and played well for the Mavs. Finishing with 11 points, he also grabbed five rebounds and had one steal.

Quotes:

“I marvel at the job [Woodson] is doing with this team right now, given the circumstances, given all of the ridiculous rumors about his job security and all of the nonsense being stirred up in New York City. This is a man who is one of the top coaches in the league and a man of great integrity and substance. He proved that tonight. They easily could have swept this road trip and this is supposedly a team that is dysfunctional.” – Rick Carlisle

 

“We weren’t very good tonight. I mean, you can blame everybody all the way around. We weren’t very good,”

– Dirk Nowitzki

On Deck: The Mavs will conclude the home stand as they play the host to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at 7:30 Central. The game will be shown locally on FSSW.

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Mavs Pre-Season 1 Day Away – A Look At Dirk Nowitzki

by Ryan Wilson on October 6, 2013 in Mavs 09 comments

Dirk

One day Mavericks fans. One day remains until pre-season tip-off. While the number #41 has been engraved into Mavericks fans brains forever, he will always be the best Maverick of all time. He has stuck with this franchise through the good times and bad. He came from overseas a young boy, and has turned himself into a legend, a Champion, and a future Hall of Famer. He has arguably the most un-guardable shot in the history of the NBA, and work ethic that can’t be beat. Ladies and gentlmen, Mavs fans everywhere, I give you Dirk Werner Nowitzki.

Nowitzki was born in Wurzburg, Germany. He came from a very athletic family, and despite having in interest in tennis and handball, his height caught the attention of a former German basketball player, Holger Geschwinder.  He took Nowitzki under his wing, and put him through a very different type of training regimen.

Nowitzki played for multiple German basketball squads. He was an impact player for a couple of years, but never really caught any attention back in the States. That was until 1997, when he played in a Nike event with NBA Legends, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen. He sure caught Barkley’s attention, which you can see in the video below.

The summer of 1998 would bring new life to the Dallas Mavericks and begin the legendary career for Nowitzki. The Mavericks were highly interested in acquiring Nowitzki, so they worked out a deal with Milwaukee Bucks. The Mavericks drafted Robert “Tractor” Traylor(Desired by Milwaukee) and traded him to the Bucks for the rights to the 8th pick, Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks would also land Steve Nash in that summer, and would now piece together the new “Big Three” in Dallas, made up of Nowitzki, Nash, and Michael Finley.

While the hopes of a revitalized franchise was in the near future, it wouldn’t be the 1998-1999 season. Nowitzki struggled with the faster and more physical NBA league, and was often called Irk, instead of Dirk, because players thought he lacked the defense in his game.

“I was so frustrated I even contemplated going back to Germany”

After the nightmarish rookie season, the 1999-2000 season brought a new sheriff to town. Mark Cuban purchased the Mavericks franchise for $280 million. Cuban brought to the Mavericks an energy that would quickly be displayed in their effort on the hard wood. Nowitzki’s second season was a major improvement over his first. He was runner up in the NBA Most Improved Player Award, and averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds per game. Despite the successful individual accolades, the Mavericks failed to reach the playoffs yet again. The Mavericks front office knew they had the right ingredients, so it was only a matter of time.

Dirk_6The 2000-2001 season was the year that marked the Mavericks new found relevance in the NBA elite. Nowitzki continued his stellar play along with Finley, but it was Dirk’s best buddy Steve Nash who began to find his niche with the team. The new “Big Three” in Dallas led the Mavericks to a 53-29 regular season record, and their first playoff appearance since 1990. The Mavericks would defeat the Utah Jazz in the opening round, but would eventually lose to the San Antonio Spurs. One thing was for sure. The Dallas Mavericks weren’t going to be going anywhere. They were legit and would be around for a long time.

Dirk and the “Big Three” would spend a couple more seasons together, but could never get over the proverbial hump. They would continue to win but would fall short each and every season. In the summer of 2004, Steve Nash signed with the Phoenix Suns. A year later, the Mavericks had to waive Finley to avoid luxury taxes. Dirk was now the lone member left of the “Big Three”.

The 2005-2006 season would be historic for the Mavericks. Dirk continued his All-Star play and led the team to 60 wins and the longest playoff run in the history of the franchise. They stormed through the Western Conference, and found themselves facing Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, and the Miami Heat. The Mavericks jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, and would never win another game, falling to the Heat in 6 games. For a competitor like Nowitzki, it was a crushing blow that many feared he would never overcome.

The 2006-2007 season would bring both good and bad to Nowitzki and the Mavericks. They would win a franchise best 67 games, and cruise to the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, those playoffs would be cut short, because Dallas would become the first #1 seed to lose to an #8 seed(Golden State Warriors) in the history of the NBA. Dirk would still be honored with the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, but it paled in comparison to what had just happened in the playoffs.

The Mavericks would tinker around with their roster for a few more years. Leading up the 2010-2011 season, the Mavericks had now acquired some pieces that could make a run. With guys like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks seemed poised to prove doubters wrong. They finished the season the #3 seed in the Western Conference, where many NBA analysts picked them to lose in the 1st round to the Portland Trail Blazers. That would never happen. Nowitzki was playing at a Hall of Fame level, and led the Mavericks past Portland, Los Angeles, and Oklahoma City to win the Western Conference Finals. They would once again find themselves in the NBA Finals taking on the much hated Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade would still be a member, but this time was teamed up with Chris Bosh and Lebron James.

DirkNowitzki and the Mavericks found themselves in a 1-0 hole in Game 2, and were trailing by 15 points in the 4th. The Mavericks stormed back and won, capitalized with a Nowitzki drive by finger roll to close the game out. The Mavericks would eventually take out the Heat in Miami in Game 6, and win their 1st ever NBA Championship. Nowitzki was crowned the Finals MVP. He had now established himself a true NBA Legend in every sense of the word.

Following the historic season was the NBA lockout. The Mavericks had to retool and get rid of some of the players that made up the championship roster. They would make the playoffs, but get bounced by Oklahoma City in the 1st round.

Last season, the Mavericks once again found themselves with a completely new roster. Dirk had to get off-season surgery, which forced him to miss 27 games. The Mavericks battled throughout the season, but finished 42-42, and missed the playoffs for the 1st time since 2000.

The Dallas Mavericks head into the 2013-2014 season with fresh faces, but it should be a team that compliments Nowitzki quite well. What is in store for the remainder of Nowitzki’s career is unknown, but one thing is for sure…he’s a rare breed of NBA player. He doesn’t look to join the super teams, or try to market himself. He’s a man who plays for his city, his country, and does it with dignity and grace. He’s a true legend in every sense of the word. He is Dirk Nowitzki. All Star. Champion. Hall of Famer.

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Mavs Pre-Season 6 Days Away – A Look Back At Tyson Chandler

by Ryan Wilson on October 1, 2013 in Mavs 09 comments

Chandler

Your Dallas Mavericks are now only 6 days away until the start of the pre-season. Today marks the opening day of training camp. To continue along with our pre-season countdown, who else can you really place at #6, other than the man who made a lasting impression on the Mavericks franchise in only one season. Yes, we are talking about the man in the middle for your 2011 NBA Champions, Tyson Chandler.

ChandlerThe Mavericks’ history at the Center position has never really been a strong point, or anything to be that proud of. On July 13, 2010, that would all change. The Charlotte Bobcats and the Dallas Mavericks organized a trade that would send Alex Ajinca and Chandler to the Mavericks, and Eduardo Najera, Erick Dampier, and Matt Carrol to the Bobcats.

This was a move that expected great reward, IF and only IF he could find a way to remain healthy. This would be Chandler’s 10th season in the NBA, and in three of those seasons, he failed to play at least 52 games. In the two years prior to his arrival in Dallas, he had missed 68 games due to back issues and a stress fracture in his foot. It was a small risk by the Mavericks that would pay huge dividends.

Chandler would quickly show just how big those dividends were. His hustle on both ends of the floor, and his presence in the paint would provide Dallas the kind of “edge” that analysts said had been missing for quite some time. He fit in perfectly with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, and finally gave the Mavericks a guy who could finish at the rim. He averaged nearly a double double that season(10.1 pts, 9.4 rebs) to go along with 65% from the field.

Chandler 1The Mavericks finished that season with 57 wins and headed into the playoffs as the #3 seed in the Western Conference. They would go on to take down Portland, the L.A. Lakers, Oklahoma City, and Miami Heat en route to their first ever NBA Championship.

The Mavericks then had the unfortunate task of dealing with the new Collective Bargaining Act, which lead to multiple players from that championship roster going to different teams. Chandler would head to Madison Square Garden and play for the New York Knicks. He has thrived in New York, and even won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in his first year. However, despite his success in New York, he has always believed that the Mavericks could have had even more success had they kept a few of the players from that team.

“I’m very happy with this situation, but to speak past tense I definitely think that we had an opportunity to go back-to-back and unfortunately things were blown up”

Through it all, it must be said that no player in Mavericks history has ever made such an impact on a team in only one season. Tyson Chandler did it with hustle, energy, and an overall will to win. That is exactly how he went out as a Maverick, a winner.

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The TC Report: Setting The Record Straight

by Ryan Wilson on January 7, 2013 in Mavs 09 comments

There’s a lot of panic amongst the fan base and within the Mavs organization these days.  Social media has been interesting as fans are arguing amongst themselves on Twitter/Facebook and sports Radio/TV personalities all have their ideas as to what’s hurting this team.  The worst part about it all, other than the fact that our team is losing, is that Jean-Jacques Taylor is looking more and more right about his pre-season predictions after every game the Mavs let slip away.  Not fair when a mediocre journalist that gets paid to be negative 95% of time, is proven right.

Let’s move on.

There are a lot of questions people have about this team.  Questions about what the Mavs should’ve done in the past and what their next moves should and could be.  I’ve seen many comments from fans and even media that just aren’t true and are uneducated opinions.  I don’t blame the average Dallas sports fan for having the thoughts they do on the Mavs.  They simply don’t know all the comprehensive details regarding the struggle of this team.  But there’s absolutely no excuse for a media member to make some of the ridiculous comments about the team or its future.  The media’s full time job is to research the facts before putting something in print or saying something in radio.  This creates credibility.  It’s pretty astonishing that I can know more about this team and its direction even though I write about the Mavs MAYBE once a week.  That’s if I’m lucky and can find the time between my regular full time job and being a husband and a father to 2 toddlers.

All I’m asking is for the media to just be smart.  So maybe I can help.  In the grand scheme of things I’m just a utility infielder in “A” ball trying to make it to the big leagues.  I write in my free time with aspirations of something bigger. We will see where that road will lead.  In my mind, I’m getting called up for one at bat in the big leagues to help clear a few things up for those common fans that are confused about the Mavs current struggles and are looking for some answers moving forward.  I’m stepping up to the plate to break it down for us in a way in which we can all understand.  So I’ll try and to hit a “Sac Fly” here and take one for the team, because major media just isn’t getting it done.  Then, like “Moonlight Graham”, I’ll jump across the line and head back to my normal job and life resumes as usual.

1: The Mavericks current struggles:

Contrary to popular belief, the current problems are not rebounding and turnovers.  Yes, they were an issue early on but they have been focused on (Minus the Denver game when we gave up 60 rebounds).  The Mavericks have been much more competitive on the glass and are turning the ball over significantly less.  If you guessed this is because of Dirk coming back, you would be correct.  Half court sets are running a little smoother now but it’s a work in progress.

The main problem with the team now is defense, of course.  But a HUGE problem that hasn’t been addressed much is the pure lack of shot making.  Seems pretty simple right?  Put the ball in the basket more than the other team and you win.  But in the last 10 Mavericks’ losses, the team has shot an average of 42%.  This is bad.  To put that in perspective, the Wizards hold the league low in shooting percentage for the season at 44.2%.  OJ Mayo is struggling with making clutch baskets as it showed in overtime versus the Hornets on Saturday night when his wide open jumpers weren’t falling.  Even Dirk joined in by missing a crucial free throw in regulation.  The Mavs shot a somewhat commendable 46% in Saturday night’s game but couldn’t buy a basket when they needed it.  Call it bad luck or call it tired legs, but they have to make shots.  The defense has disappeared in clutch situations as well.  In typical Mavericks style, career nights by opponents are surrendered on almost a nightly basis.  Greivis Vasquez nearly had a triple double against us.  Other games saw players like Danny Green hit an absurd amount of 3’s against us on his way to a career night.  Gallinari of Denver dropped 39 points on us and hit 7 three pointers.  Players like Linus Kleiza are scoring 20 points on us as our defense in the paint is virtually non existent as well.  Shawn Marion said it best, “We Cant guard nobody”.  You’re right, Shawn.

2. Dirks Recent Comments:

“We knew that coming in, that eight or nine new guys on one-year deals is not really an ideal situation, but what else is there to do?” Nowitzki said. “So either you  break the whole thing up and trade me, or you get a bunch of one-year deals and try to be a player next summer. That’s the decision we made, so now we’ve got to fight through it.”

“The only reason I would leave — or would have left — is if we wouldn’t have won the championship, and I would have been like a Karl Malone and (Gary) Payton going to join Kobe and Shaq in L.A. like they did at the end,” Nowitzki said. “But now I’ve got a ring and obviously want to finish my career here. But I also want to be competitive.”

“I always liked to think you don’t want to build your franchise on hope.

It’s very frustrating to me to read tweets or comments from national media that try and flip this into Dirk asking for a potential trade.  This isn’t even close to what he’s saying in his quote.  Dirk is basically stating that before the championship season, he had considered maybe moving on at some point if the team wasn’t headed in the right direction.  Dirk has said plenty of times that he wants to retire a Maverick.  In his quote he also states that he’s questioning the moves that the Mavs have made the past 2 years and wondered aloud about any future moves (CP3 and Dwight Howard).

First of all, I feel that his comments were mostly out of frustration.  Seriously, the guy hasn’t played on a losing NBA team in…..forever.  His last losing season was his first full season in the league when the Mavs went 40-42.  So coming off of missing a career high amount of games due to his knee injury and also the fact that team is playing so badly, I’m sure there are some concerns he has about the team.  I’m sure it hurts having to watch the same franchise that he’s helped bring to the top of the mountain, slip and fall almost all the way down in just less than 2 years.  Heck, it damn near makes me cry thinking about it, imagine what is going on through his mind.

But in reality the Mavs don’t need CP3 to win.  And they most surely don’t need trouble like Dwight Howard on the team that will not only create a media circus, but will most likely break the bank come contract time.  Dirk has to be smarter in analyzing the future of the team.  With the new CBA, which I will address later, teams can’t be stacked full of star players.  Payrolls and budgets just won’t allow it.  Dirk has to realize that it’s going to take a team of role players and a few great/good players to get it done.  Just because the team didn’t sign DWill or won’t sign Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, doesn’t mean the franchise should just throw in the towel.  The media just needs to tap the breaks here.  No need to blow Dirk’s comments up for the sake of a story.

3. CBA, starting NBA season of 2013-2014.

I won’t spend much time here as I have already written a column about the details of the new CBA.

But what I will say; is that it’s on the horizon and that most of the casual NBA fans have no idea of what it means for their team.  Basically it’s a tool to create parity amongst the league and to avoid the “Super Teams” that we’re forced to hear about on ESPN every night.  This will keep more teams competitive and smaller markets interesting.  NBA general management and ownership has  been one way for a long time.  Just money-whip other teams and pay more for players and max contracts.  If a team was in a major media market, they had the advantage.  It wasn’t fair.  And our precious Dallas Mavericks were one of the major market teams taking advantage of this.  Mark Cuban has said as much.

Ownership and roster building was Checkers.  It’s about to be Chess.

Teams will now be forced to build teams based on quality drafts and the growing and grooming of players that aren’t necessarily “superstars”.  They will need to do this and do their best to stay under the salary cap of $58 million or suffer severe and stricter penalties than ever before.  As much as I hate to admit it, the Spurs are a perfect example of this.  They’ve kept a core of players but have also drafted brilliantly.  Not to mention that Coach Popovich is a great coach that gets the absolute best of EVERY player that’s ever stepped foot on that court.  That being said, even the Spurs payroll currently stands at $70 million.  Meanwhile, teams like the Lakers are doing it all wrong.  As are the Nets and Knicks.  Those teams are throwing Hail Mary’s as the clock expires in order to bring in a ring before the CBA starts regulating.  It’s going to be real interesting to see the team that gets it this year as the 2013 off-season will see a ton of roster movement across the league.

4. Tyson Chandler

I’m a little tired of reading about how letting Tyson Chandler go was Cuban’s worst move of all time.  It’s simply not true.  Yes, Tyson Chandler was the best center the franchise has ever seen.  But rather than blame Mark Cuban and the Mavericks for not offering more money to him, you need to understand something.  In the off-season of 2011 after the lock out ended, the Mavs offered Chandler a 1 year, $20 million contract.  He declined and signed with the Knicks for 4 years, $60 million.  He wanted years.  The Mavs couldn’t do that knowing that the approaching CBA storm would make it tough to build a roster around Dirk and Chandler if the two of them would account for $35 million of a $58 million pay roll.  That only leaves the team with $23 million to build a roster to compete. Chandler left while the money was good and the Knicks kindly paid him the money he wanted.  The Mavericks made a proactive business move.  It sucks that it came to that.  But it’s good for the team in the long run.  End of story.

5. Moving Forward

The Dallas Mavericks 2012-2013 season is looking bleak.  There’s no question about it.  We could easily miss the playoffs and it’s a tough pill to swallow given all of our past success.  It’s been a strange season considering that, on paper; I really thought we had a strong team.  I always personally thought that “time to gel” was over rated.  But maybe that’s exactly what’s happening.  The team just isn’t comfortable with all the new personnel.  No trust on defense or on offense and new starting line ups every night.  Even the brilliance of Rick Carlisle is tested every night.

All we know now is that the Mavs are in a spot to compete moving forward, IF, they make the right basketball moves in the off-season.  That doesn’t mean signing a bunch of big name free agents, they’ll cost too much.  It means sitting down in a room and playing Billy Beane.  They have to find players, much like the 2011 title team, that bring something to the court to create a cohesive unit.  They need consistency.  They need players that can be coached.  They need players with low turnover rates and that can play smart defense.  They don’t need to be superstars.  All NBA teams will be forced to get much more cerebral in their roster building.  My hope is that the Mavericks front office can find talent as well as they manage their finances.

MFFL

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Mavs Game Night: Knicks (8-1) @ Mavs (6-6)

by Ryan Wilson on November 21, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

The Dallas Mavericks will once again face the point guard that helped lead them to the team’s first NBA title. Jason Kidd makes his return to Dallas when he and his New York Knicks will play the Mavs for the second and final time this season. In the previous meeting Carmelo Anthony had his way offensively and led the Knicks to a 104-94 victory.

Rick Carlisle and the Mavs come into this one at an even 6-6 record and fresh off an awfully brutal home OT loss to the Golden State Warriors. Warriors’ star guard Stephen Curry picked apart the Mavs defense, besting O.J. Mayo’s valiant effort to pull the win out for our guys.

The Knicks meanwhile continue to cruise through their early schedule with an 8-1 record. The latest victim was the New Orleans Hornets last night who played without rookie sensation Anthony Davis.

Success for the Knicks isn’t a fluke. New York has been superb on the defensive end. No team surrenders fewer points (88.3). Already with DPOY Tyson Chandler in the middle, the addition of Kidd and Ronnie Brewer on the wing adds grit. Melo has made it a point himself to work harder and get better defensively too. The Knicks also do it offensively with the 3-point shot. They lead the NBA in attempts and makes.

As evident in the first meeting, this will not be a barn-burner as in years past. The halfcourt game will be important. Dallas needs to value the basketball and limit unforced turnovers because the Knicks excel on the break.

Another key factor for the Mavs will be on the defensive end. Shawn Marion wasn’t active last time the two teams met, which left only Dahntay Jones and rookie Jae Crowder to cover the elite scoring Anthony. It didn’t work as Melo got what he wanted and dropped 31 points with relative ease. Marion has been very effective in slowing down Melo in the past, but with an achy knee we will see what transpires.

In New York, Mayo started the game scorching from deep, but got himself into foul trouble. He was also a mess turning the rock over eight times. That’s absurdly poor and since then he’s toned the careless giveaways somewhat, but still needs to improve on protecting the ball better.

Darren Collison really wants and needs his confidence to return. He hasn’t resembled the player he was in the first few games this year, but I still believe he’ll bounce back. The Mavs are much better when DC elevates his play by creating opportunities for his teammates.

What’s going to be the response for Jason Kidd when he’s introduced as the starter for the visiting New York Knicks tonight? I think there will be a mixed result with plenty ‘Boos’ and plenty cheers. I would cheer because he was a huge piece in winning the championship and I believe both the Mavs and Kidd benefited from the split over the summer.

Everyone is happy, well maybe everyone besides Mr. Cuban!

Game tips tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT and airs on both FSSW and MSG.



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Mavs Game Night: Dallas Mavericks (4-1) @ NY Knicks (3-0)

by Ryan Wilson on November 9, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

It’s been a week of reunions for the Dallas Mavericks. They already welcomed home former top assistants Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts. Tonight they visit the Big Apple and will see two integral players to the championship run two seasons ago.

Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd now wear the blue and orange for the New York Knicks. Chandler is in his second year with the Knicks and has changed the defensive culture almost single-handedly. His efforts did not go unrecognized as he took home the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Kidd’s exit from Dallas in the offseason came as a surprise. The original plan was to lure Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams home and employ Kidd as his backup. When Kidd bolted back to the New York area (Kidd played for the New Jersey Nets from 2001-2008) it caught Mavs’ star Dirk Nowitzki off-guard and didn’t sit well with owner Mark Cuban.

“I was more than upset,” Cuban said. “I thought he was coming. I was pissed…

“J. Kidd is a big boy; he can do whatever he wants. But you don’t change your mind like that. That was … yeah. I’m sure I’ll get over it at some point, but as of now, I wouldn’t put J. Kidd’s number in the rafters.”

It was somewhat frustrating as a Mavs fan simply because we didn’t have another natural point guard on the roster. Personally, I wasn’t too hurt by the news. I love J-Kidd for all he did as a Maverick, but paying him $9 million for three more years until he’s 42-years-old would have been a poor investment.

We know how it all played out. Mavs went a different direction and quickly turned a signed-and-traded Ian Mahinmi into Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. Mavs now have their starting point guard, a 25-year-old with speed, scoring ability and a high basketball IQ.

Kidd and his undefeated Knicks will be up against a vastly new-look Mavs squad. The Mavs will once again be without key players when Dirk and Marion sit out. Roddy B will be a game-time decision with a bum ankle.

A key for the Mavs in this game with be keeping Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony in check. Well, at least try to without top wing defender Marion to handle those duties. One would expect Rick Carlisle to go with both Dahntay Jones and Jae Crowder.

When the Mavs let their best impact center in franchise history, Tyson Chandler, walk to ‘keep the powder dry” it left fans dumbfounded and infuriated. Chris Kaman temporarily has eased those concerns and helps some move on. Kaman is by far Dallas’ best offensive center EVER. It’s only been a handful of games, but it’s that obvious.

Kaman looks natural out there on the offensive end. He can shoot, he can post and he can create problems for opposing big men. He will certainly make Chandler work tonight.

O.J. Mayo and Collison will need to push the tempo and create opportunities for one another as well as the rest of their teammates. Mayo is averaging 28 points per contest in November, but is finding other ways to impact the game.

This game should have plenty of storylines and excitement.

New York’s local broadcast network ‘MSG’ has had two Knicks promo posters pulled for possible inappropriate meanings (Check them out below). Both were clever and hilarious in my opinion. One other TV ad though for tonight’s game said, “Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler will show Dallas how basketball’s played in New York.” No problem, the Mavs will see how they play.

In the end we just want to also show them our new brand of Mavericks ball and hope it’s better than theirs. Another result to place in the standing’s left column. Go Mavs!

Actions tips at 6:30 p.m. CT and airs on Fox Sports Southwest and MSG.

Knicks Ad #1 “Kidd and Dimes” | Knicks Ad #2 “Real Men Fly”

Follow me @thedfactor on Twitter

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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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Cuban Has Mavs Set Up For Future Run

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

Hours before the Dallas Mavericks‘ title defense fizzled in a first-round sweep, a first in Mark Cuban’s dozen seasons, the outspoken and out-of-the-box owner of the dismantled champions chastised sports writers, demanding the know-it-alls digest the new collective bargaining agreement before questioning his suddenly scaled-back spending approach to team building.

For the many fans who didn’t find the enthralling document on the best-sellers shelf at their local bookstore, a perception surfaced that the new fang-bearing CBA, with its harsher luxury tax penalties, scared the billionaire Cuban from re-signing Tyson Chandler this past December and into becoming cheap.

Mark CubanWhat other explanation could there be for an $88 million payroll — in the top three in the league and $18 million over the luxury tax line — during the championship season and a payroll today that stands to top out at about $61 million, $9 million below the tax line?

In actuality, Cuban doesn’t fear the larger luxury tax hammer the CBA starts swinging in 2013-14 nearly as much as the roster handcuffs it will slap on luxury tax offenders.

This is not about being cheap versus spending extravagantly, as Cuban unabashedly had done throughout his ownership and as the Brooklyn Nets did this summer in an attempt to put a competitive team around prized free agent Deron Williams, who spurned the Mavs and sent them scrambling for contingency plans. This is about differing interpretations as to how to best build a team under the new rules.

The Nets and Mavs have emerged as a fascinating case study in opposing approaches to the new CBA that will play out over the next three to five years.

Brooklyn, boasting a payroll approaching $82 million next season with five projected starters each earning at least $10 million and a slew of long-term deals, is locked into restrictive luxury tax territory through 2015-16. The newly fiscally self-restrained Mavs, with only Dirk Nowitzki ($20.9 million) scheduled to make more than $8.5 million next season and no one locked up beyond 2013-14, are flush with cap space for the foreseeable future.

“The money is secondary to the team-building strategy,” Cuban said. “Once you get above the tax apron [the $70.307 million luxury tax plus $4 million], there are limitations in player movement that I think have a big impact on how to build a team.”

If the Nets manage to land Dwight Howard in a midseason trade, their high-dollar offseason maneuverings — signing Gerald Wallace to a $40 million contract and trading for Joe Johnson‘s enormous contract, which ultimately enticed Williams to stay — will give Brooklyn a roster it can love long term and a luxury tax bill that Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov will pay as if checking his luggage on a flight home to Moscow.

 

Darren CollisonBut if Brooklyn doesn’t acquire Howard and the Nets aren’t contending in two or three years, they will be locked into the current roster, limited to making only minor adjustments. It’s why Cuban ultimately decided that sacrificing a true title defense in favor of trimming the payroll and creating future cap space was a wiser bet than backing the franchise into a corner with an aging, potentially unmovable roster.

Two key CBA restrictions are at the center of Cuban’s 180-degree philosophical change.

In the past, he would pursue trades and take back bloated salary that added to his luxury tax bill. He was happy to pay the phasing-out dollar-for-dollar luxury tax in the name of acquiring the player or players he wanted in order to keep his teams consistently competitive. It’s a strategy Cuban believes is no longer sustainable under the new rules.

It has little to do with the coming luxury tax that grows larger for every $5 million spent over the cap and a one-time crushing hit for taxpayers in any four out of five seasons.

Starting next summer, and more pertinent to Cuban, teams above the tax apron can no longer receive a player in a sign-and-trade. If the rule had been in place this summer, the Lakers would not have been able to deal for Steve Nash. Next summer, the Lakers and Nets will be prohibited from making sign-and-trade proposals for Dwight Howard, if he has yet to be dealt, or any other player. They also won’t have the cap space to sign Howard outright as a free agent.

The Mavs, one of three teams along with the Nets and Lakers on Howard’s original trade list, will weigh heavily in both potential discussions.

“It will be interesting to see what happens next summer,” Cuban said, “when we hear lots of talk about teams not being eligible to receive free agents in sign-and-trades due to being over the tax apron.”

Teams over the luxury tax apron also will not have access to the full midlevel exception of $5 million, instead relegated to the taxpayer exception of $3 million, a significant blow when trying to sign a quality veteran player.

Cuban’s strategy is obviously not without risk, as the all-or-nothing pursuit of Williams proved. The Mavs then lost Jason Terry and Jason Kidd to free agency, and Cuban and company were getting ripped for a grand offseason failure that threatened to plunk them in the lottery.

They responded with a show of resourcefulness in acquiring five interesting players, and all at low cost and with short-term contracts. The moves might not make the Mavs bona fide contenders, but they should be entertaining and make the playoffs. And, unlike the Nets, Knicks and Lakers, they will be flush with cap space to either sign a max-contract free agent next summer or potentially nab one at some point from a team that wants out from under a weighty contract.

That’s the plan, anyway. Of course, Howard might not reach free agency next summer. The same goes for Chris Paul and Andrew Bynum. The Mavs’ strategy won’t change. They’ll remain patient and seek creative trades for players on expiring deals (such as Darren Collison) and players who slip through the cracks (such as O.J. Mayo), and sign them to reasonable, short-term deals.

At some point, the Mavs believe, their ability to absorb contracts with cap space will facilitate a major trade, or being a rare big-market team with cap space will ultimately land a big fish in free agency.

If either occurs, be sure that Cuban won’t be afraid to cross the luxury tax line on a year-to-year basis to build a contender around a superstar with an eye on only the four-in-five chronic taxpayer crackdown.

“I expect to go into the luxury tax in the future,” Cuban said, although declining to specify the obvious scenario in which he would. “I’m not going to lay down my cards in public.”

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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