Friday, July 1, 2011
Mavs' young guards are on their own
By Jeff Caplan
Which Dallas Mavericks will the lockout affect the most? On a veteran-laden team, it's not a difficult question to answer. The young guys are the biggest losers.
Take Dominique Jones. Instead of working out right now at the American Airlines Center with assistant coach Monte Mathis and others, the little-used rookie with the freshly inked Larry O'Brien Trophy on his neck is on his own. Mathis right now would be awaiting the compilation of the roster he'd coach at the annual mid-July Las Vegas Summer League, a roster that would include Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois (had a second surgery on his left foot not been necessary) during this important developmental offseason.
Instead, Mathis -- and the rest of the coaching staff -- is barred from working with players.
Hours before the lockout became official Thursday night, the Mavs exercised the contract options for next season on Beaubois and Jones. That move to keep their 2009 and 2010 first-round picks in the fold was obviously never in doubt.
What is in doubt is if either player can make an impact next season. Jones was drafted as a rugged shooting guard that could create his own offense by fearlessly driving to the basket. He made a living doing it and getting to the free throw line at South Florida. But, a flat jumper and veteran depth kept him at the end of the bench or with the Texas Legends, Donnie Nelson's D-League team in Frisco.
The bigger mystery is Beaubois. The Mavs were so high on him following his flashes-of-brilliance rookie campaign that during the team's exit interviews, coach Rick Carlisle revealed Beaubois would command a sizable chunk of the team's game-planning. The Mavs went so far as to dub Beaubois a budding "superstar" on a billboard campaign gracing North Texas highways.
Of course, the broken left foot Beaubois suffered last summer practicing with the French national team never healed properly and after re-injuring the foot during the regular-season finale (when he was also removed from the starting lineup) required a second surgery just last week. He is expected to be out two to three months, which could conceivably take Beaubois all the way to training camp -- if the lockout doesn't wipe it out, too.
Suddenly, the offensive player the Mavs mistakenly thought they couldn't live without is an enormous question mark heading into next season, his third. Dallas, in win-now mode, acted upon its concerns on draft night when it traded first-round pick Jordan Hamilton to the Portland Trail Blazers for established shooting guard Rudy Fernandez.
At 6-foot-6, Fernandez provides the Mavs with the tall, young and athletic shooting guard they've long desired. He will have every opportunity to join the starting lineup if he isn't penciled in already. Sixth man Jason Terry isn't going anywhere and will command at least 25 minutes a game.
Even figuring DeShawn Stevenson will likely move on, it would seem few minutes at the two-guard remain up for competition between Beaubois and Jones, neither of whom have shown a readiness to back up the point on a full-time basis, another reason this summer is so critical to both players' growth.
The Mavs have been impressed with Jones' vision and decision-making in limited stints at point last year in Vegas and with the Legends. The plan after last season was to develop Beaubois as Jason Kidd's heir apparent, but clearly that plan has hit hurdle after hurdle.
So, as Beaubois again begins to rehab, this time outside of the Mavs' reach, and Jones hopefully hones his skills in a gym somewhere, questions abound during what looks to be a long, hot, quiet summer.