Dallas Mavericks: Peja Stojakovic

J.J. Barea's job a big one with T'Wolves

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
12:17
AM CT
Ricky Rubio meet J.J. Barea, and take good notes.

Learn about heart, sweat and guts. Learn how to deal with adversity in the no-mercy NBA. Learn how to overcome. Learn how to be a winner.

Why else do you think the Minnesota Timberwolves outbid the New York Knicks and everybody else and signed the 5-foot-10 world champion to a four-year, $19 million contract on Wednesday?

From a young spark plug on the veteran-laden Dallas Mavericks, Barea, 27, is now an elder statesman of sorts and a mentor in every way to the Timberwolves' Spanish-speaking and once-reluctant No. 5 pick.

"I think that was one of things. I also think what helps me is I came from a great team, great system in Dallas, and I was a big part of the championship team," Barea said after a long day of meeting his new teammates and coaches and beginning the process of settling into his new home of Minneapolis. "I’m going to help him as much as I can. He’s a good kid and I know, I went through it, how hard it is the first couple of years, the ups and downs of the NBA. So, I’m going try to keep him positive and help him out as much as I can."

Hard to believe that Barea, a native of Puerto Rico who had a brilliant, if not a mostly anonymous career at Northeastern, is a five-year NBA veteran, his last three seasons spent as a 20-minute-a-night backup to Jason Kidd, while at times also playing alongside the future Hall of Famer, which could become a similar situation with the slick playmaker from Spain.

"He’s a great kid, talented, but he’s a rookie," Barea said. "He’s young. It’s going to be his first year in the NBA; it’s never easy so I’m going to help him as much as I can with whatever I know."

At the same time as Barea begins a brave new world in the snowy midwest, it remains difficult for him to let go of his ties to Dallas and what might have been if owner Mark Cuban hadn't of slammed on the brakes on the old way of doing business and made a B-line toward salary cap space in this new collective bargaining agreement era.

Cuban bid farewell to free agents Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and Peja Stojakovic. Barea, who desperately wanted to return and chase back-to-back titles, said discussions with Cuban never reached a dollar figure because the owner wasn't budging from a one-year deal that Barea would never accept.

"It’s never going to be personal against Mark or [president of basketball operations Donnie [Nelson] or whoever," Barea said. "But, it’s still disappointing after you win a title and that’s all you fight for and then to break up a team like that it’s always going to be disappointing. But, that’s the direction they wanted to go and that’s what they’re doing."

Barea will participate in his first full practice today with the Timberwolves, a team so often a doormat, but this season is at least intriguing. Rick Adelman takes over as head coach. Rubio, 21, is the point guard. Derrick Williams is the 20-year-old rookie. Kevin Love, 23, is the double-double machine. There's erratic and talented and still immature 22-year-old Michael Beasley, 22-year-old Anthony Randolph, 24-year-old Wesley Johnson, 26-year-old Anthony Tolliver and just 26-year-old Darko Milicic.

In other words, the T'pups are the anti-Mavs.

"It’s weird. It’s weird, but it’s something new for me and another experience I’m going to have," Barea said. "It was great five years in Dallas. Everything about my first five years in Dallas was awesome. This is a nice, little roster. It’s young, really young, but it’s going to be fun."

Especially if Barea can help the hopeful face of the franchise find his way in his own brave new world.

Jason Kidd: 'I would like to get to 20'

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
7:24
PM CT
DALLAS -- Jason Kidd has found reason to keep playing this game.

"I got to keep playing because Jet wants to now pass Peja on the 3-point list," Kidd joked Friday. "And I don’t want him to pass me."

Jason Terry is eighth all-time in 3-pointers made and sits 90 behind No. 4 Peja Stojakovic and 145 away from the No. 3 man in NBA history, Kidd. Terry is four years younger so it figures he has the upper hand by the time both call it a career.

Not so fast. Who's saying Kidd plans on calling it a career any time soon? After completing the first practice Friday of his 18th NBA season -- and final one under contract with the Dallas Mavericks -- Kidd said he wants to play 20 seasons.

"I would like to get to 20," said Kidd, who turns 39 in March. "I think that would be a great feat through everybody forgetting my name and always just calling me old. You can call me '20' at that point. I think it’ll be something. As a kid, you just think about playing. When you look back at it if you can go past eight years than your like, 'Man I had a great career.' Now it’s going on 18, so why stop now?"

Especially after the remarkable postseason run Kidd put together in winning his first championship. He was spectacular with the ball in his hands and he received widespread praise for his defensive chops against some of the game's best offensive weapons, some of whom entered the league a decade or more after Kidd was drafted second overall by the Mavs in 1994.

"I feel great, so if I can survive this sprint of 66 games," Kidd said, "we’ll see how I feel come next year."

This season will be a unique challenge with the delayed start due to the labor strife. After a two-week training camp, one in which coach Rick Carlisle said he will tread lightly with his old-man at the point, the shotgun season takes off with an immediate back-to-back and no sympathy. There'll be 20 of those, plus a back-to-back-to-back and some wild stretches such as seven games in nine nights and nine in 12.

"You never know what happens in this league. You just play it out and hopefully my talent will stay at a respectable level that I can help a team out," Kidd said. "You know I would love to stay here and finish it out. I would like to get to 20 years. There's probably some individual goals there to be reached, some not to be reached, but we’ll see what happens."

Kidd won't get an extension this season, but there's no reason to believe that owner Mark Cuban wouldn't re-sign a still-effective Kidd for a 19th season and then even possibly to a 20th season when he would turn 41.

It would be quite a feat. Only Robert Parrish (21 seasons), Kevin Willis (21 seasons) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20 years) can claim 20-year NBA careers. This season Kidd will match Reggie Miller and Cliff Robinson at 18 seasons, and if he suits up for a 19th season he'll join Karl Malone and John Stockton.

As for individual records, Kidd is already second all-time in career assists and too far behind Stockton no matter how long he might play. He won't reach newly crowned 3-point king Ray Allen or Miller in second. However, Kidd is eyeing a move up one all-time chart and he won't need to play 20 seasons to get there. He needs just 38 steals to pass Michael Jordan for second all-time in steals. Kidd had 134 steals last season, plus another 40 in 21 playoff games.

"I have a good reference on this because I had Reggie Miller when he was 39 and at that point he was averaging 33, 34 minutes for us at Indiana and he was scoring 16 to 18 points a game and he was still big-time player," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Reggie chose to stop at age 39, he felt that was enough for him, but Jason Kidd is very similar to Reggie -- takes great care of his body, has great love and respect for the game and he’s adapted as the years have gone on, not only to the way the game has changed, but the way his skills have changed. And when I say his skills have changed, things he’s added to his game, not anything he’s lost. He’s a very unique person. You see guys like this about once or twice a decade."

Who knows how long Kidd can go? But, it is interesting that his goal of 20 seasons meshes with his 33-year-old teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who begins his 14th season with two more to go on his current contract.

"I would love to keep going," Kidd said. "I was joking with Dirk, I said we can retire together."

Different look for champs in camp opener

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
6:03
PM CT
DALLAS -- The defense of the 2011 championship officially hit the hardwood Friday afternoon as the Dallas Mavericks returned to the practice floor for the first time since winning the title, and with a noticeably thinner cast.

Ten players worked out with newly signed forward Brandan Wright the only newcomer to this point. Shooting guard Rudy Fernandez is still stuck in Spain waiting out visa issues. Jason Kidd looked to be in fit condition after a long offseason of playing some of this country's top golf courses and Rodrigue Beaubois took part in the full practice as he looks to make his way all the back this time from a second surgery on his troublesome left foot.

But, the bigger story Friday was who wasn't at camp. Tyson Chandler is gone, a free-agent signee with the New York Knicks. Caron Butler is with Los Angeles Clippers. J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic were all no-shows as they explore their free-agent options. At least Barea and Stevenson are not expected to re-sign.

It made for an interesting feel at the undermanned practice as the team leaves behind some big contributors and bigger personalities, and moves forward in this accelerated training camp period with the season opening in two weeks.

"We've got to worry about what’s in this locker room right now and wish them guys the best of luck wherever free agency is leading them," forward Shawn Marion said. "But, we’ve got to get ready for Dallas Mavericks basketball."

Coach Rick Carlisle said the roster is not complete. Currently 11 players are under contract. The Mavs will need to fill two more spots to reach the league minimum of 13 on the 15-man roster. A veteran point guard could be at the top of the list.

Carlisle, who kept the tone of the day forward-thinking, announced several obvious adjustments, starting with Brendan Haywood taking over as the starting center with Ian Mahinmi sliding in as a true No. 2 for the first time in his brief NBA career. Beaubois and Dominique Jones will both get plenty of work at point guard with the loss of Barea. The backup position will be critical this season to allow Kidd the rest he will be need to navigate through a 66-game schedule in 123 days, and with the playoffs starting on the 125th day.

"I’m big on what’s going on today and right now and getting our guys geared up to make our situation right now the best that it can be and we’re going to do that," said Carlisle, who enters his fourth season as Dallas' head coach. "We had some guys that did some great things for us here that are probably not going to be back, but that’s part of the circle of life in the NBA. And, we’re all going to adjust, guys are going to step up into some opportunistic situations and we plan on defending our crown with a lot of pride."

Mavs' plan now reality as future awaits

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
5:03
PM CT

The Dallas Mavericks' plan for the 2010-11 season came into focus last Wednesday when Tyson Chandler told ESPN.com that he didn't think he would be back. Perhaps that plan should have been identified back in July when Chandler expressed disappointment that the Mavs didn't extend him before the lockout.

But, it was easy to explain that away. With a new collective bargaining agreement yet to be hammered out, but promising a harsher set of salary cap rules, how could the Mavs possibly offer a contract without knowing the rules?

It was still assumed in almost every precinct that Chandler remained the Mavs' No. 1 priority. Or maybe he never was. Whatever, the plan looking toward the future is now in full motion. Chandler is close to an agreement with the New York Knicks. Caron Butler has agreed to three-year, $24 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. J.J. Barea will be heading elsewhere soon. As for DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic, they might be back if a one-year deal is to their liking.

The clues were there for a week week now, but today it became official: The title team will not return.

"As a player, you've won it once and you'd obviously love to have the same crew back and defend our title that way," Dirk Nowitzki said. "But, we understand that it's a business. So, we're just going to have to wait and see what happens."

Don't be surprised if Barea's departure is next.

As for key arrivals? Mark Cuban is banking that happens starting July 2012.

Rick Carlisle eager to get roster set

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
2:51
PM CT
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is waiting patiently to find out who he'll have on his roster. It's becoming increasingly apparent that Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea will be finding new homes.

When training camp opens Friday -- the same day that free agents can sign contracts -- Carlisle expects to have nine of his 10 players under contract on the practice floor. Rudy Fernandez is being delayed because of visa issues, but the club hopes he will be in town and ready to join the team Saturday.

"NBA rosters may not be settled for a while, so in a way we’re fortunate, we have 10 guys under contract," Carlisle said. "I would think that that’s in the upper tier of the league in guys that are signed. Hopefully we’ll have a couple other guys in here right away, I don’t know, we’ll see. But, we’re going to have to make the best of it and work with the situation that’s presented to us."

If Chandler, Barea and Butler leave, and DeShawn Stevenson could also be among the group, it would seem that Brendan Haywood would slide into the starting center spot he assumed when he first arrived with Butler and Stevenson in the 2010 deadline trade. Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones could be asked to step up to fill the backup point guard slot and Corey Brewer could become a key reserve behind Shawn Marion at small forward.

Those scenarios depend on who else Dallas nabs in free agency to round out the roster. They must fill at least 13 spots on the 15-man roster. Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are candidates in the Mavs' plan to acquire players on one-year deals.

"Look, this is a creative group of people here. We're going to find a way to compete at the highest level," Carlisle said. "That's just how we do business. That's one of the fun things about being involved in this organization. I'm anxious and excited about how things are going to unfold and there's a lot of things we don't know.

"The approach is going to be the same. We're not going to have the identical team back. We know that. And in time, we'll find out exactly what the roster is going to look like. In the meantime, there's a lot of anticipation. It'll be upon us very quickly."

Mavs' weekend free agency roundup

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
5:35
PM CT
Free agency begins to get serious this week as teams can talk directly with players starting at 9 a.m. (CT) Monday.

As ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Sunday, center Tyson Chandler plans Tyson Chandler plans to meet face-to-face this week with officials from the New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks Southwest Division rival Houston Rockets.

The Mavs have five other free agents that can also begin to meet with other suitors. One of those is DeShawn Stevenson, who has upward of a dozen teams express interest in signing the veteran, hard-nosed shooting guard. To begin the paring-down process, Stevenson will engage in a series of conference calls with interested teams throughout Monday, agent Mark Bartelstein said on Sunday. The Mavs have made their interest in re-signing Stevenson known through Bartelstein.

It's uncertain if J.J. Barea or Caron Butler will have face-to-face meetings with any of their suitors. Barea has drawn interest from the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings, according to a source close to that situation. Butler has interest from at least a half-dozen teams, including the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets.

The Mavs' other two free agents, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic, will both likely be veteran minimum deals. Cardinal has a strong chance of landing back in Dallas.

Free agency officially hits starting grid

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
10:28
PM CT
Rest assured that at 8 a.m. sharp Donnie Nelson will be placing a call to Jeff Schwartz, agent for unrestricted free agent center Tyson Chandler.

The NBA's free agency period is officially on the starting grid. The NBA has eased lockout restrictions and starting Wednesday morning teams can contact agents and begin contract talks. Top priority for the Dallas Mavericks' president of basketball operations is making sure that the 7-foot-1 Chandler is in a Mavs uniform on Christmas Day.

While talks can take place, no agreements, oral or written, can be made.

Chandler is considered one of the top three free agents along with Denver Nuggets center Nene and New Orleans Hornets power forward David West.

The Mavs have five other free agents: J.J. Barea, Caron Butler DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic.

Players can return to their teams' practice facilities on Thursday. They will be allowed to workout under the supervision of team strength and conditioning coaches, but the coaching staff and front office personnel will still not be allowed to be present.

The labor deal that was tentatively agreed to by the league and the players on Saturday still must be completed and ratified by both sides before the lockout will be fully lifted. That is also when teams will be allowed to sign free agents and make trades. Dec. 9 is the target date.

Countdown: Ranking the Mavs -- No. 12

July, 20, 2011
7/20/11
12:00
AM CT
The lockout continues and so does my ranking and analysis of the 16 players currently on the world champion Dallas Mavericks’ 15-man roster.

I’m ranking the guys, one a day, least to most critical to a title defense (with likelihood of being on the roster next season playing a significant role in the ranking).

So, here we go with today’s ranking: No. 12

BRIAN CARDINAL
Pos: PF
Ht/Wt: 6-8, 240
Experience: 11 years
Age: 34 (May 2, 1977)
Contract status: Free agent
2010-11 salary: $854,389

[+] EnlargeBrian Cardinal
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Cardinal quickly established himself as a favorite among his Mavericks teammates.
His story: Last offseason, the Mavs made plays for free-agent power forwards Al Harrington and Udonis Haslem but ended up with The Custodian. Who knew it would be so right? Cardinal arrived at training camp on a make-good contract along with Steve Novak. The one-dimensional Novak wouldn’t make the mid-season cut, but the blue-collar, self-deprecating Cardinal quickly won over coach Rick Carlisle -- and Dirk Nowitzki -- by craving the dirty work and being equally efficient at knocking down a corner 3-pointer, setting an immovable pick or absorbing -- and in some cases inflicting -- a charge (hello, Dwyane Wade). Cardinal filled in nicely whenever called upon during the season, typically during injury situations such as when Nowitzki missed nine games with a sprained knee. But it wasn’t until Carlisle could no longer stick with Peja Stojakovic in the NBA Finals and turned to the more rugged, defensive-minded Cardinal -- who had played in just four playoff games for a total of seven minutes before the Finals -- did he transform into something of an everyman’s cult hero. Thought of highly by his teammates, Cardinal got in on the reading of David Letterman’s Top Ten list and he was one of seven Mavs plus Mark Cuban to attend the ESPYs in Los Angeles.

His outlook: His unexpected -- and necessary -- contributions in the NBA Finals just might have sealed a second season in Dallas for the balding, 34-year-old who jokes that he's 44. It doesn’t hurt that he became fast friends with Nowitzki and that Carlisle absolutely loves fundamental, team-oriented, cerebral players. The Mavs can probably bring back Cardinal, who added a third child to the lineup early last season and moved his family from Indiana to Dallas, for the minimum salary. Last season was the first time in his career that he went into camp without a job guaranteed, and it wasn’t a good feeling. Cardinal has been enjoying this offseason (just follow the guy on Twitter) and whenever the lockout is lifted, Cardinal likely won’t have to go job hunting.

The Countdown
No. 16 DeShawn Stevenson
No. 15 Peja Stojakovic
No. 14 Dominique Jones
No. 13 Ian Mahinmi
No. 12 Brian Cardinal
No. 11 Coming Thursday

Countdown: Ranking the Mavs - No. 15

July, 15, 2011
7/15/11
8:00
AM CT
Welcome back to the Dallas Mavericks roster countdown.

With the NBA lockout paralyzing all league business at a time when teams would normally be signing and re-signing free agents and making trades to set their 2011-12 rosters, I offer you my ranking and analysis of the world champion's roster, as is. Whenever the lockout ends and teams get back to daily business, the Mavs' roster will look a bit different. The core is likely to remain intact. Others will have to go, and if Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are offered the right deal for either a player at a position of need or to take a big contract off their hands (i.e. Brendan Haywood), a trade is always possible.

So as the heat melts North Texas and the lockout freezes the NBA, let's continue as I rank the 16 players -- one each day -- currently on the Mavs' 15-man roster in order from least critical to most critical for a title defense.

Today's ranking: No. 15

PEJA STOJAKOVIC
Pos: SF
Ht/Wt: 6-10/229
Experience: 13 years
Age: 34
Contract status: Free agnt
2010-11 salary: $402,065 (pro-rated after signing with Mavs on Jan. 25)

[+] EnlargePeja Stojakovic
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezPeja Stojakovic wouldn't seem likely to return, but the door opens a little if Caron Butler leaves.
His story: Stojakovic was a no-risk, potentially high-yield signing as the Mavs tried to maneuver beyond Caron Butler's knee injury that left a gaping hole at small forward and shook up the team's early chemistry. After Dallas let Sasha Pavlovic walk following two 10-day contracts, it signed Stojakovic -- released by Toronto after being traded from New Orleans earlier in the season -- who was still nursing a knee injury that had kept him out for all but eight games. Dallas put him through a two-week training camp before playing him. When he finally got on the floor, Stojakovic instantly became a starter until a stiff neck in mid-March took him out for a handful of games and entrenched Shawn Marion as the starter. Stojakovic averaged just 8.5 points a game, but he did shoot better than 41 percent from 3-point range, the main reason the Mavs signed him in the first place. He had a couple of big games in the playoffs. His five 3s and 21 points in Game 2 against Portland helped the Mavs take a 2-0 lead, and he made 9-of-13 from beyond the arc in Games 3 and 4 against the Lakers. However, in the conference finals and NBA Finals against teams with dynamic wing players, Stojakovic's weaknesses -- namely foot speed and defense -- were magnified. After scoring 21 points in Game 4 against L.A., Stojakovic scored just 25 in five games against Oklahoma City (10-of-32 on 3s) and he played just 11 total minutes in six games against Miami.

His outlook: It could be argued that Stojakovic, who said after the season that he is not contemplating retirement, should have led off this countdown at No. 16 (but, someone please tell me where DeShawn Stevenson fits with Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones guaranteed roster spots -- therefore he became my automatic No. 16). Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson loves pure shooters and accomplished veterans. Stojakovic's skills have clearly deteriorated and injury is always a concern, but he can still shoot the rock. If the Mavs have a roster spot open, don't be terribly surprised if they look to sign Stojakovic for the minimum and use him as a spot, 3-point specialist. Small forward is clearly unsettled at the moment with Butler coming off major knee surgery as well as being a free agent. Shawn Marion can start or come off the bench and Dallas would obviously love for springy Corey Brewer to become a rotation player. Odds are Stojakovic won't be back, but if Butler does not re-sign it could crack open the door for a return.

Thursday: No. 16 DeShawn Stevenson
Today: No. 15 Peja Stojakovic
Monday: No. 14

Which Mavs player is most likely to leave?

June, 21, 2011
6/21/11
11:52
AM CT
Until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, NBA teams will be in roster limbo because they just don't know the parameters of what the next salary structure will look like.

That being said, teams must plan for the 2011-12 season as best they can. The Dallas Mavericks know they want to re-sign center Tyson Chandler. They'd love to bring back J.J. Barea. Heck, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said he wants to keep the entire 15-man championship crew.

On Monday, ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon provided a piece called Take 'em or Trash 'em, in which he followed Nelson's lead and opted to bring them all back. But, that's probably not reality. Financially, it's just not going to happen.

So, who is most likely to go?

Along with Chandler and Barea, four others will be free agents on July 1: DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic. For this exercise, let's assume -- and by no means is it a guarantee -- that Chandler and Barea return next season.

At first glance, Stojakovic would top my list as most likely to move on. While he had no place in the NBA Finals, Stojakovic did have some nice playoff games against Portland and Los Angeles. If Dallas still finds value in his 3-point shot they could probably re-sign him for the veteran minimum. Even so, if the Mavs re-sign Butler, Shawn Marion likely moves back to the bench and there's still springy, 6-foot-9 small forward Corey Brewer signed for the next two seasons.

There's some interesting debate about Butler. Do the Mavs offer him more than one season? If not, does another team risk a guaranteed second year on a 31-year-old small forward coming off a major right knee injury? The best scenario for the Mavs would be a one-year contract around $5 million or $6 million. It would allow them to re-sign the rugged veteran who inspired the team during his relentless rehab, and allow Butler to stay with the club he's fully embraced, prove his value and hit the open market in a year.

Brian Cardinal is another veteran minimum-type that would likely love to stay in Dallas. He became fast friends with Dirk Nowitzki -- which can only help his chances of staying -- and coach Rick Carlisle loves the guy's work ethic, readiness and physical brand of ball.

That leaves the heavily tattooed, defensive-minded, motor-mouth Stevenson. He made $4.15 million last season and he shouldn't expect to sniff that kind of money in an offer from the Mavs. The first issue is where does he fit? Dallas will look forward to having a healthy Rodrigue Beaubois. Jason Terry will be back, we've stated Barea will be back and Dallas has to look at developing youngster Dominique Jones.

Stevenson might have completed the most unique season of any NBA player this year. He started it at the end of the bench, became the starting two-guard, returned to the end of the bench some 50 games later when Beaubois finally came back from injury and then returned as the starting shooting guard in the regular-season finale. Finally, he became a key reserve small forward in Games 4, 5 and 6 of the NBA Finals.

As 103.3 FM ESPN's Jeff "Skin" Wade pointed out in his "Inside Skinny," the Mavs are already on the hook for $60 million in 2011-12 salary -- more than the 2010-11 salary cap -- before a new CBA comes into play and before re-signing any of their six free-agents. It would figure the Mavs could not offer the 11-year vet much more than the minimum.

Stevenson proved to be a professional throughout the regular season and his defensive work spoke for itself during the playoffs, especially in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Add that he shot the 3-ball at nearly 40 percent throughout the playoffs and at 56.5 percent (13-of-23) in the Finals and Stevenson likely earned himself a more lucrative offer elsewhere.

Still, things can change, but if narrowing it down at this moment, figure Stevenson to be the most likely not to return for the title defense.

None of the Mavs want to retire

June, 14, 2011
6/14/11
4:52
PM CT
DALLAS -- None of the Mavericks plan to ride off into the sunset with their ring.

Jason Kidd has made it clear that he has no intention to retire at the tender age of 38. In fact, he hopes to play at least another year or two after his contract expires following next season.

Peja Stojakovic and Brian Cardinal, two other Mavericks who are admittedly nearing the end of their careers, both said they hope to stay in Dallas. They're both free agents this summer.

"I haven’t thought about that yet," Stojakovic said of retirement. "I still enjoy the game. Even though I’m not the same player and I have to understand who I am at this point of my career, I still enjoy being out there. I still enjoy competing.

"Being part of something special was unbelievable for me this year."

Stojakovic signed with the Mavs for the veteran minimum in the middle of the season. Cardinal signed a nonguaranteed minimum deal last summer and earned the right to stick with the team all season. He'd be happy to get the same offer again.

“Cash in? Geez, I’m just looking to survive another year," Cardinal said. “I’d love to stay here. It’s the best group of guys I’ve been around."

Will Heat begin to physically wear on Mavs?

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
2:02
PM CT
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks' bench depth is shrinking and their starters played heavy minutes in Game 3. Will mental stress and physical fatigue become factors as tonight's Game 4 wears on, especially if the Mavs find themselves once again digging deep into then energy well to fuel one or more comebacks?

"If we get off to a good lead and we can keep them there, yeah then it starts to build, people start to get antsy," Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "Other than that we just have to play the game. We can't really worry about wearing them down."

The Mavs don' t kno w if they'll be without backup center Brendan Haywood for a second consecutive game. Peja Stojakovic is such a defensive liability that he can't stay on the floor and when he is out there he's not hitting his 3-point shot. Dallas was basically left with a two-man bench in Game 3. Jason Terry and J.J. Barea, both of whom are struggling to score, are the only Mavs reserves that played more than eight minutes.

It left Dallas' starters, four of whom are 32 or older, including 38-year-old Jason Kidd, logging significant minutes. Shawn Marion played 43 minutes, Dirk Nowitzki played 42 and Tyson Chandler logged 40 minutes.

Marion said fatigue has no place in this series.

"There should be no such thing as that," Marion said. "You rest in the summertime. You rest when it's over with. You leave out on the floor. You go out with a bang."

Mavs' smallball stats are miserable

June, 5, 2011
6/05/11
1:15
PM CT
DALLAS – The Mavericks might have little choice but to play some smallball tonight if a strained right hip flexor sidelines backup big man Brendan Haywood.

The numbers indicate that’s bad news. Really bad news.

The Mavericks never used a lineup during the regular season that didn’t have Tyson Chandler, Haywood or Ian Mahinmi on the floor. They’ve briefly experimented with four center-less lineups during the postseason – and none of them worked.

A look at those lineups, with the number provided by NBA.com’s StatsCube:

Shawn Marion/Dirk Nowitzki/DeShawn Stevenson/Jason Terry/J.J. Barea – Net rating (points per 100 possessions) of minus-9.19 in six minutes.

Marion/Nowitzki/Jason Kidd/Terry/Barea – Net rating of minus-74.81 in four minutes.

Marion/Nowitzki/Peja Stojakovic/Terry/Barea – Net rating of minus-153.49 in two minutes.

Marion/Nowitzki/Stevenson/Terry/Kidd – Net rating of minus-39.02 in two minutes.

The 103-second span without a center so far in the Finals were an epic failure for the Mavs. Miami went on a 7-0 run to increase its lead to 15 – setting the stage for the Mavs’ stunning comeback – when the Marion/Nowitzki/Kidd/Terry/Barea quintet was on the court in Game 3.

“We haven’t even done that in practice, so it kind of threw everybody off because we didn’t know which guy was going to be in which position,” said the 6-foot-7 Marion, who serves as the de facto center in those fivesomes. “At the same time, we’ve just got to play ball. We can’t worry about play calls and positions. We’ve just got to go out there and play and use our basketball instincts to get through all that stuff.”

Marion believes the smallball Mavs can take advantage of many offensive opportunities, especially if the Heat stay big. However, the Mavs’ offensive numbers without a big man on the floor have been ugly.

But the boards are an even bigger concern. Three of the Mavs’ four smallball lineups have been limited to 40 percent or fewer of the available rebounds.

“We’re going to have to scramble,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to have to concentrate on five guys rebounding the ball defensively.”

More than anything, the stats indicate the Mavs are going to have to hope Tyson Chandler stays out of foul trouble if Haywood can’t play.

Peja Stojakovic: 'I've got to stay ready'

June, 5, 2011
6/05/11
12:01
PM CT
DALLAS – Peja Stojakovic hasn’t scored a point during the Finals. He didn’t play a second during the second half of Game 2.

The amazingly athletic Heat have exposed the 13-year veteran small forward’s defensive weaknesses during his 20 minutes of playing time in this series. However, coach Rick Carlisle said it wouldn’t be wise to assume that Stojakovic’s role will be reduced for the rest of the series.

"We’ll see,” Carlisle said. “Each game is going to be a little bit different. He’s been a big part of us getting to this point. Just because he didn’t play in the second half doesn’t mean he’s out of the picture by any stretch.”

Stojakovic, a sharpshooter who signed with Dallas for the veteran’s minimum midseason, more than earned his money during the Mavs’ march through the Western Conference bracket. He played particularly well during the stunning sweep of the two-time defending champion Lakers, averaging 12.5 points while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 52 percent from 3-point range in the series, which he capped with a 21-point, perfect-shooting performance.

Stojakovic has been much more effective at home than on the road during the playoffs. He has averaged 10 points and shot 47.8 percent from 3-point range at the American Airlines Center, compared to 5.1 points and 23.3 percent on 3s in enemy territory.

Stojakovic didn't come close to getting into a rhythm in Miami. He has attempted only three shots so far in the series.

“They’re staying with me on the rotations,” Stojakovic said. “I have to try to be patient and not force any bad shots, but at the same time, I’ve got to do something to get myself involved.

“First of all, you’ve got to be ready and have my mind into the game. When the opportunities are there, I’ll step into them and try to make them.”

Carlisle and Stojakovic had a conversation about the decision to keep the veteran on the bench during the second half of Thursday night’s comeback win. Stojakovic isn’t worried about how many minutes he gets, just maximizing his effectiveness when he is on the floor.

“I’ve got to stay ready,” Stojakovic said, repeating a Carlisle mantra for the Mavs’ reserves. “I feel confident. Hopefully, the opportunities are going to be there for me. I’ve just got to be aggressive and play my game.”

3-ball must be weapon in Mavs' favor

May, 30, 2011
5/30/11
2:49
PM CT

MIAMI -- The Dallas Mavericks know the 3-pointer must be a money ball for them if they have any shot of dinging a quick and rugged Miami Heat defense.

Dallas has been dominant from beyond the arc all postseason, shooting it at 38.8 percent -- two percentage points better than the regular season -- and making 66 more than their opponents, a 198-point differential.

"Three of the best in the business in the history of the game," said guard Jason Terry, referencing himself, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic, all of whom rank in the top of eight on the NBA's all-time 3-point list. "The numbers are with us. Percentages say and history says that those guys are going to make shots."

The Miami Heat are not a good 3-point shooting team. They're hitting the long ball at 32.2 percent and have taken 98 fewer 3s than Dallas. It might not get easier for Miami to score out there. The Mavs have limited teams to 26.2 percent from downtown, while Miami has surprisingly allowed 38.5 percent shooting, a fact that should make Terry's eyes light up.

Both teams, however, suggested that the key to the 3-point battle isn't about offense, but rather reducing the good looks the other team gets during the course of a game.

"It's huge. We've got to win that battle, it's one of strengths," Terry said. "We can't let them get hot from 3. LeBron's been doing an outstanding job lately in late-game situations of taking and making big 3-point shots. They've got Mike Bibby, James Jones and Mike Miller, who obviously can get hot and have in this postseason. With the way their defense is we have to make shots.

The Heat are 79-of-245 from beyond the arc, with LeBron James, who has hit several dagger 3s to ice games, leading Miami with 21 3s on 57 attempts. Terry, Kidd and Stojakovic have combined for 91 3s. Dirk Nowitzki has 16 on 31 attempts.

Miami's best 3-point shooters have been lightweight factors in its run to the Finals. Miller is 4-of-19 in the playoffs. Jones is shooting the 3 a team-best 45.9 percent (17-of-37), but despite averaging 22.2 minutes in 12 games, he's fallen out of the rotation. Bibby is 12-of-49 (24.5 percent) and Dwyane Wade is 7-of-29 (24.1 percent)

"I need to make shots. Mike needs to make shots. All of our shooters need to make shots," Jones said. "Moreso, defensively, our aggression or our ability to run them off of shots and not give them the easy looks and the good looks and the looks off of offensive rebounds. If you can contain them from the 3-point line the burden of our team needing to make 3s is less."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2