Mark Cuban: Foes have to guard Mavs' PG now

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
3:54
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks wanted to keep Jason Kidd -- and considered it all but a done deal -- but owner Mark Cuban can see the silver lining in the gray-haired point guard getting away.

Darren Collison will never be confused with being one of the all-time great distributors, but he’s at least a point guard capable of attacking off the dribble.

“You can’t replace Jason Kidd,” Cuban said while appearing on NBA TV during the Mavs’ summer league game Friday night. “There’s just no way. But at the same time, there’s going to be a lot of things we couldn’t do. You know, J could take over a game defensively and he could help us get where we needed to go, but he was just a spot-up shooter. Now, we’ve got a lot of people who are going to force people to really defend us.”

Sound like spin control? Sure, but there’s truth to it.

Kidd’s allergic reactions to layups became a source of comic relief. At his advanced age, he doesn’t break down defenders off the dribble often, and when he does he certainly isn’t eager to finish in traffic. According to Hoopdata.com, Kidd attempted only 10 shots at the rim all of last season. By comparison, Collison averaged 2.6 attempts at the rim per game.

The Mavs have failed so far to acquire a co-star to help Dirk Nowitzki carry the scoring load. The hope is that adding scoring threats at point guard and center (Chris Kaman and Elton Brand) can ease the burden on Nowitzki during this dry-powder season.

“That takes a lot of pressure off of Dirk,” Cuban said. “Last year, you didn’t really have to defend our 5 position. You didn’t have to defend our point guard position. Now you’re going to have to defend all five, and that’s going to make life a little bit easier.”

Some other noteworthy comments from Cuban:

On the Mavs’ offseason activity: “We knew with the CBA that there was going to be a little bit of a rush early on, but then there were going to be a lot of really good players falling through the cracks. When there were, we were ready to pounce. And we think we put together a really nice team.”

On the remodeled roster: “We think we’ve positioned ourselves so that we have a young nucleus. We can keep these guys, let them jell and play together, build around Dirk and have room for hopefully someone to come or to trade or whatever happens.”

On O.J. Mayo: “He can play. He knows how to impact a game. We were looking at players and one of the things Michael Finley, who’s now kind of an assistant assistant general manager, said, you want to get somebody that the other team has got to game plan for, that the other team is afraid of at the end of the game, that they can make something happen. We didn’t really have someone who could really just create off the dribble, who we could just give the ball. Jet was a great shooter, Jet did a lot of amazing things, but we needed somebody who could get a lot younger and do a lot of the same things and then some.”

On Elton Brand: “We do a lot of advanced statistics, analytics, and Elton Brand was one of the top 10 defenders in the league in the low post. Overall, from an advanced plus-minus basis, one of the top 10 players in the league. Using that, we think we can really integrate him.”

On Chris Kaman: “Chris, once he got traded, it was an up-and-down season for him. So if you take out last year and go to the season before, there’s no question he’s going to help us. He’s a great shooter from the 10- to 15-foot range. He’ll be able to pick-and-pop and do a lot for us. You put him in a situation for Dirk, I think a lot can happen.”

On Dwight Howard trade rumors: “Every little bit of noise gets amplified. There’s just nothing there. What you’ve really got to ask yourself is, why would Orlando do something that’s not in the best interest of their team?”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9