Dallas Mavericks: Brian Cardinal

OT: Catching up with '11 champions

February, 24, 2014
Keeping the powder dry didn’t pan out for the Dallas Mavericks.

Breaking up a championship team wasn't a popular decision by the Dallas front office at the time, to put it politely. And the Mavs brass’ CBA forecast is still easy fodder for critics more than two years later, with Dirk Nowitzki still the lone All-Star on the roster.

But Mark Cuban and Co. were absolutely right about one thing: Keeping that roster intact would have only guaranteed a large luxury-tax bill. All due respect to Tyson Chandler, who the Mavs will see Monday night at Madison Square Garden, but it’s delusional to believe that Dallas was denied a potential dynasty.

Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd and Brian Cardinal have retired. Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones can’t get NBA jobs. Brendan Haywood, an amnesty clause casualty in Dallas, is collecting checks in Charlotte while sitting out the season following foot surgery. Nowitzki and Shawn Marion -- who combine to make $32 million this season -- are the only 2011 champions who remain on the Mavs’ roster.

Here’s a look at what’s happened to the rest of the title team:

Tyson Chandler
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $55.4 million deal with the New York Knicks
Chandler was the finishing piece of the Mavs’ championship puzzle, but he’s an outstanding role player, not a star capable of being a centerpiece of a title contender. That’s evident by the fact that the Knicks, who feature a legitimate superstar in Carmelo Anthony, have won only one playoff series since signing Chandler in December 2011 and are a long shot to make the playoffs this season. Injuries have limited Chandler to 32 games this season, and he is averaging 8.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, numbers that certainly don’t justify a $14 million salary.

The Mavs declined to make Chandler a multiyear offer after the lockout, much less match the Knicks’ deal. That will always leave the Mavs’ front office open to a couple of second-guess hypotheticals: Could the Mavs have done a respectable job defending their title with Chandler anchoring the 2011-12 Dallas defense? By dangling Chandler, could Dallas have pulled off a blockbuster deal to land Dwight Howard instead of helplessly watching the Los Angeles Lakers use Andrew Bynum to get the league’s best big man in the summer of 2012?

Jason Terry
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $15.7 million deal with the Boston Celtics
Jet is a journeyman now, having been traded twice over the last eight months. His brief tenure with the Brooklyn Nets was an unmitigated failure, as the 36-year-old Terry averaged only 4.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting before being shipped to the NBA equivalent of Siberia. He’ll sit out the rest of the season instead of reporting to the Sacramento Kings. The hope is that focusing on rehabbing his left knee -- he apparently never fully recovered from summer surgery -- will allow Terry to contribute again next season. However, it’s painfully clear that Jet’s days as an elite bench scorer are over.

J.J. Barea
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $18 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Barea is a quality backup point guard, but that’s a steep price to pay for that type of player. Barea’s stats have dipped this season (8.7 PPG, 3.6 APG), but his contract is the primary reason Barea’s name was floated in trade rumors before the deadline.

Caron Butler
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $24 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers
This was a crazy contract to give a then-31-year-old who was coming off a serious knee injury that ended his 2010-11 season on New Year’s Eve. Butler is a high-character guy, but he’s a low-efficiency offensive player at this point of his career. The Clippers insisted on including him in the three-team deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns and Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to the Clippers. The Bucks are stuck with an expensive part-time starter who is shooting less than 40 percent from the floor for the NBA’s worst team.

Corey Brewer
Dallas departure: traded to the Denver Nuggets along with Rudy Fernandez for a future second-round pick
The Mavs dumping Brewer’s reasonable salary before the 2011-12 season made little sense, considering Dallas needed all the energy and athleticism it could find on the cheap. The Mavs made creating salary-cap space their priority, but they could have easily found takers for Brewer the next summer if need be. However, the Dallas front office didn’t see a role for Brewer after signing Vince Carter. After a couple of quality seasons coming off the Nuggets’ bench, Brewer signed a three-year, $14.1 million deal to become the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting small forward.

Ian Mahinmi
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $16 million deal with Indiana Pacers
If the Pacers were confident in Mahinmi, they wouldn’t have rolled the dice on Bynum. Mahinimi is averaging 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds and making $4 million this season.

Finals Frontier: Efficiency in the corners is key

June, 12, 2013
With the NBA Finals in full swing, the Mavericks are watching two familiar foes -- the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat -- battle it out for the chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Both teams have key components that established them as championship contenders. Let's point out those components and how the Mavericks can learn from them.

One of the most efficient shots on the floor is the corner 3-pointer. One thing that both Miami and San Antonio have in common is that they’re both strong in terms of offense and defense from that spot.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyDirk Nowitzki and the Mavs haven't been as efficient shooting and defending the corner 3-pointer since their title season.
For Miami, they were first in the league during the regular season with 309 corner 3s made. The Heat's biggest weapons were Shane Battier and Ray Allen. Battier actually led the entire league with 88 corner 3s, while Allen ranked eighth with 63. Miami maximized this strength and made sure other teams couldn’t capitalize on it as they ranked second in defending corner 3s based on percentage.

Miami ranked first in corner 3s and San Antonio wasn't far behind, ranking third with 261 makes. The Spurs had two players who ranked in the top 20. Danny Green was second with 73 corner 3s made and Kawhi Leonard had 52, ranking 18th in the league. San Antonio allowed only 156 corner 3s in the league, the seventh-fewest in the league.

Looking at Dallas, the Mavs ranked 21st in the league in corner 3s made with only 141. O.J. Mayo made the most with 26 and ranked 65th in the league. The Mavs only had two other players in the top 100 -- rookie Jae Crowder ranked 78th and Darren Collison ranked 89th. The Mavs allowed the fifth-most corner 3s in the league. They also ranked as the 10th-worst team in defending corner 3s based on percentage. Those numbers show that Dallas didn’t utilize or defend that critical zone.

Looking back at the Mavs’ 2011 championship team, there is a radical shift in the numbers between then and now. Back in 2010-11, Dallas was fifth in the league with 211 corner 3s.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle gives his take on the NBA Finals, talks about the Nets decision to hire Jason Kidd, the advice hed give Kidd about being a head coach in the NBA and more.

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The eventual champions had two players who ranked in the top 25. DeShawn Stevenson was 21st with 45 corner 3s, while Jason Terry had 44, ranking 24th in the league. Surprisingly, Brian Cardinal ranked 67th. Dirk Nowitzki ranked 96th and Jason Kidd was 99th in the league.

Like the teams in this year’s NBA Finals, the Mavs held their own defending the corner 3 during their championship run. The Mavs allowed only 158 corner 3s that season, the eighth-fewest in the league. They also ranked ninth in defending corner 3s based on percentage.

Dallas has one of the best weapons the league has to offer as a shooter in Nowitzki. They need people on the corner that can be just as dangerous of a weapon.

Bryan Gutierrez currently covers the Dallas Mavericks for The Two Man Game, an ESPN affiliate blog on the TrueHoop Network. Gutierrez, who has covered the Mavs since 2010, studied journalism and psychology at Texas Tech University.

Finals Frontier: Mavs need quality depth

June, 11, 2013
With the NBA Finals in full swing, the Mavericks are watching two familiar foes -- the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat -- battle it out for the chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Both teams have key components that established them as championship contenders. Let's point out those components and how the Mavericks can learn from them.

Both Miami and San Antonio have depth at their disposal. On top of that, their depth is versatile. Whether it is Kawhi Leonard, Ray Allen, Matt Bonner or Shane Battier, each team has multiple options who are solid at multiple facets of the game.

ESPN senior NBA analyst Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the NBA Finals and latest Mavericks news.

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Each team’s respective big three carry the load, but the role players can step up in big situations. If LeBron James has to be relied upon to bring more offense, Miami has someone in Battier who can take on a larger defensive responsibility and still be viewed as a threat from beyond the arc. San Antonio’s Boris Diaw can bring versatility as a big man if the Spurs have to adjust to a shrinking lineup Miami might throw at them.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle isn’t very fond of judging players by the old, by-the-book way of thinking. “He’s a basketball player” is a phrase that often comes out of the coach’s mouth. The game is shifting away from defined labels for players based on position. Carlisle, as well as the two coaches involved in the NBA Finals, have recognized this and often try to find the best lineups that can be placed out on the floor, regardless of the traditional positions.

[+] EnlargeDallas Mavericks
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesThe Mavs have to choose wisely with their open roster spots if they want to make a return Frinals trip.
Neither Miami nor San Antonio rely on a dominant big man down on the block. Both teams faced challenges in their respective conference finals against clubs that had menacing big men. If either team lost, that might have shifted the balance in the future in regards to teams trying to gear more towards a traditional big man down on the low post. With San Antonio and Miami in the Finals, “small ball” prevails.

Now, Dallas has to try to find the right pieces that can bring true depth. The pieces they had this season didn’t amount to much, as they were depleted at the point guard and center positions. They have a relatively clean slate to work with. You have Dirk Nowitzki as the focal point and Shawn Marion and Vince Carter as the veterans. Those two could easily be moved in the offseason, but they also work perfectly in what the Mavs would need to do if they’re building a roster based on depth and versatility.

The championship team of 2011 provides an additional example of how the depth can be advantageous. The Mavs had players such as DeShawn Stevenson and Brian Cardinal who could provide tough defense and perimeter shooting. While Tyson Chandler was seen as the major big man, Brendan Haywood was a solid rim protector who could hold his own in the rebounding department. Like the Heat and the Spurs, the Mavs’ title squad had enough depth to withstand whatever challenges came their way.

Depth has delivered success to Miami and San Antonio. It clearly delivered to Dallas back in 2011. With a roster full of holes, the front office must choose wisely with their open spots.

Bryan Gutierrez currently covers the Dallas Mavericks for The Two Man Game, an ESPN affiliate blog on the TrueHoop Network. Gutierrez, who has covered the Mavs since 2010, studied journalism and psychology at Texas Tech University.

Where do reeling Mavs go from here?

July, 6, 2012

The offseason plan Dallas Mavericks fans never envisioned has arrived with a thud.


Who will be the Mavericks' starting point guard on opening day?


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The grand plan had its merits. Owner Mark Cuban saw the new collective bargaining agreement coming, understanding that significantly harsher tax penalties and more restrictive rules for luxury violators that void sign-and-trades and devalue exceptions would be the law of the land.

Cuban strategically organized his payroll to create cap space for this summer and beyond, the weapon needed to chase elite-level free agents like Deron Williams.

But what happens when the All-Star free-agent says no?

Mavs fans are finding out, and it isn't pretty. How can you not call the current state rebuilding? Meanwhile, around the league, money is being thrown around as if a bitter lockout never happened. Will the Nets, Knicks and Lakers get caught in an inflexible financial pickle in three or four years while the cautious Mavs have the last laugh?

Maybe. But Plan A was to land that star now to chase another title in the latter portion of Dirk Nowitzki's prime.

TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr shares his thoughts on the Mavericks losing out on top free agents. Plus, Kerr says Steve Nash is the hardest-working player he's ever seen.

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So what now?

Cuban is determined to keep cap space open for next summer when Chris Paul and Dwight Howard potentially hit the market. It's why he refused to engage in a bidding war for a player such as Goran Dragic, who signed a four-year, $34 million deal with Phoenix. Still, there are no guarantees that CP3 and D12 will ever reach free agency in '13. When Cuban decided not to re-sign Tyson Chandler after the 2011 title to pursue a star this summer, Paul and Howard were set to join Williams as free agents now.

Free agency now becomes a pursuit of young talent on the cheap, players the Mavs can sign for one season, maybe two depending on price, with an eye on next summer.

Dallas has interest in point guard Ramon Sessions, shooting guard and Dallas native C.J. Miles and small forward Anthony Randolph, among others. They have four of their own free agents still unsigned in Delonte West, who figures to be a strong candidate to return unless he gets the security of more years elsewhere, backup center Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian.

The Mavs have interest in claiming Philadelphia forward Elton Brand through the amnesty waiver process, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein. Teams under the salary cap will have first shot to bid for Brand. The Sixers can't officially amnesty him until next Wednesday when the NBA resumes business operations.

It is indeed a new day for the Dallas Mavericks.

Free agents still looking for homes

July, 5, 2012
With Jason Kidd unexpectedly agreeing to a multiyear deal with the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks have seven players under contract -- officially contracts can't be signed until Wednesday. The Mavs also have three draft picks that will be given every opportunity to make the team, so add it up and that's 11 players.

Dallas has four free agents still unsigned: Delonte West, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian.

Teams must have a minimum of 13 players on the 15-man roster, so the Mavs are not done in the free-agent market, and trades also remain in play as the roster overhaul continues.

Kidd's sudden departure leaves a gaping hole at point guard. With Jason Terry headed out, the Mavs have only Vince Carter as a true shooting guard along with combo guards Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones and rookie Jared Cunningham. More quality choices exist at shooting guard than at point guard.

The Mavs have to decide how much they're willing to pay and how long they're willing to go as they work to maintain flexibility moving forward after striking out with Deron Williams.

Here's a position-by-position look at a handful of free agents still on the market:

Aaron Brooks (restricted)
Randy Foye
Kirk Hinrich
Ramon Sessions
Leandro Barbosa
Derek Fisher
Keyon Dooling
Ronnie Price
Gilbert Arenas
Raymond Felton

Ray Allen (appears bound for Boston or Miami)
C.J. Miles
O.J. Mayo
Brandon Roy
Josh Howard
Carlos Delfino
Nick Young
Mickael Pietrus
Marco Belinelli
Michael Redd
Tracy McGrady
Courtney Lee

Anthony Randolph
Anthony Tolliver
Matt Barnes
Steve Novak
Sam Young
Rasual Butler
Devin Ebanks

Kris Humphries
Kenyon Martin
Carl Landry
Ronny Turiaf
Troy Murphy
Louis Amundson
Jordan Hill

Chris Kaman
Marcus Camby
Aaron Gray
Joel Przybilla
Kyrylo Fesenko
Tony Battie
Hamed Haddadi

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs pin hopes on Deron Williams

June, 30, 2012

FRISCO, Texas -- Deron Williams is on the clock.

[+] EnlargeHeroes Baseball, Dirk Nowitzki
ESPNDallas.comDirk Nowitzki, here greeting a participant at his Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game, says he's prepared for whaterver Deron Williams decides.
The Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks will meet Monday in New York with the three-time All-Star point guard who played his high school basketball 26 miles away from the American Airlines Center.

"It seemed like last December when we made the decision to let J.J. (Barea) and everybody go and Tyson (Chandler) that we’re putting basically all eggs in one basket, and we’ll see what happens here in the next couple days," Mavs face-of-the franchise Dirk Nowitzki said Saturday prior to his Heroes Charity baseball game. " I think it’s an exciting time for this organization, the fans, just being anxious and see what’s going to happen."

No one but Williams knows for sure, and who knows if he even knows at this moment?

What we do know is that Williams' decision will alter the fortunes of two franchises for years to come. The Nets are moving into a new arena in Brooklyn, a move that has been talked about since Jason Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances. And now, Kidd, too, could be headed to Brooklyn as Williams' backup.

The Mavs are one year removed from winning it all and then dismantling a chunk of the title team to create the financial wherewithal needed to be prepared for this very moment.

"He’s got a big decision to make," Nowitzki said. "It’s been a decision that’s been brewing. Obviously it’s not like he found out he was a free agent yesterday, he’s been sitting on this for quite a while and I’m sure he has something already up in his mind. But I guess nobody knows but himself."

Nowitzki, who two summers ago took a hometown discount, saving Dallas $16 million over four years to help sign a top free agent, said he has recently communicated with Williams through text messages. But Nowitzki said he doesn't believe wooing Williams at this point will sway him one way or the other.

Heading into free agency, the Mavs have seven players under contract: Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, plus the three rookies they selected during Thursday's draft.

Haywood and Marion are amnesty and/or trade candidates to create necessary cap space, especially if Williams agrees to join the Mavs.

That's an answer we probably won't know until Monday evening at the earliest. His decision will also probably hold up other moves. Jason Terry -- who has spent the last eight seasons in Dallas -- is a free agent. So are Kidd, Delonte West, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian.

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki dishes on the Mavs' draft, Deron Williams' destination, his celebrity baseball game and much more.

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Nowitzki said he'd love to have Williams sign on, but that he won't be devastated if the Mavs have to turn in a different direction.

"If you basically put it in your head saying he’s coming, he’s coming, then you set yourself up for being disappointed," Nowitzki said. "You put it in your head that, hey, it’s a 50/50 decision and we’ll see what decision he makes. Whatever happens, like I said, Donnie and Mark always are looking to make stuff happen and making this organization as competitive as they can. Hey, whatever happens here in the next couple of days, it should be exciting."

That could be the understatement of the year.

T.O. named Heroes MVP in White Sox's win

June, 30, 2012
FRISCO, Texas -- The 2012 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game, hosted by the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, was a success as the White Sox came through with a 13-6 win over Nowitzki's Blue Sox.

The MVP of the game was Terrell Owens. The former Dallas Cowboys receiver had three hits -- his third came late in the game on a ball that rolled to the wall. He used his speed to get around the bases. Owens also made a wide turn at third thinking about an inside-the-park home run, but he slammed on the breaks and settled for a triple.

Some notes:

* Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle delivered a pair of singles for the White Sox. In Carlisle's second at-bat, Nowitzki took to the rubber for two pitches and sent a message by throwing behind his head coach. Nowitzki had two hits of his own and attempted at a diving catch in the ninth inning but came up empty handed.

* Charles Barkley toed the rubber for a couple of batters, but it didn't go like he had hoped. Former Texas Rangers player Kevin Mench hit a three-run home run over the left-field fence, but that wasn't all. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant hit a shot right back at Barkley, who dodged the ball at the last minute. Barkley got his revenge the next time they came up, getting Mench to pop one up in the infield and Bryant to ground out to third.

* The celebrities had difficulty fielding the ball, but they still flashed some leather. The best catch of the night came early in the game when Mavericks guard Dominique Jones made a diving catch in right field. Brian Cardinal and Ben Grieve also made a nice catches at third, and Barkley caught his only attempt at a ball to a big ovation from the crowd.

* Bryant, along with former Cowboys receivers Owens and Drew Pearson, showed their skills on the diamond. Bryant collected a couple of hits but also made Cowboys fans nervous sliding awkwardly into second. He got up, smiled and played the rest of the game without a problem. In fact, he felt so good that he participated and won in a dance competition before the ninth inning.

Mark Cuban's free agent HQ will be L.A.

June, 29, 2012
Plenty of Dallas Mavericks -- and soon-to-be free agent Mavs -- will be suiting up Saturday in Dirk Nowitzki's Heroes Celebrity baseball game, including Delonte West, Brian Cardinal, Jason Terry, Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle.

Will Deron Williams be a member of the Mavericks come Monday morning?


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One notable absence will be slugger Mark Cuban. And no, with free agency opening at midnight, the Mavs owner won't be waiting on Deron Williams' Manhattan doorstep with roses and a box of chocolates counting down to midnight.

Another business deal is taking him away.

"We start shooting 'Shark Tank,'" Cuban said late Thursday night after the Mavs wrapped up the NBA draft by trading out of the No. 17 pick and acquiring three players. "The show’s doing too well."

Cuban said the show is doing so well that they're shooting 22 episodes this summer instead of 13 and that he'll be in Los Angeles for the better part of three weeks.
Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson shares stories about Mavericks first-round pick Jared Cunningham.

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He said not to worry about free agency, that all bases are covered.

"Trust me, we’ve got the whole plan for free agency. We’ve got the whole plan set up," Cuban said, without divulging details. "We’ve got the first frontal attack, second frontal attack, plan A, B, C, D. I’ll be in L.A. on the phone, same as I was two years ago, same as I’ve always been, but we’ll have people on peoples’ doorsteps."

Countdown: No. 14 Brian Cardinal

May, 15, 2012
Second in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.

Look, these rankings might seem easy to put together, but it takes hours of hair-splitting internal debate. So believe me when I say there's a certain starting center that flirted with this early position in the Countdown until reality set in that big-bodied centers are just too hard to find (not that Dallas won't decide to amnesty this certain starting center anyway) to toss one, as disappointing as he might have been, into the trash bin at No. 14.

Such is the case even when talking about a hustle guy like The Custodian, the quintessential locker-room guy, a guy the coach knows is always ready, the guy who will always make the smart play and come through in a pinch and always, always works his tail off.

That described Brian Cardinal a year ago during the Mavs' championship run. This year? Eh, not so much, minus the work-his-tail-off part.

At 35, if Cardinal can't be counted on to get in the game and knock down a corner 3-pointer to go along with a jarring drawn charge, then he becomes expendable. Therefore, and it is with a touch of sadness, Cardinal's two-year stop in Dallas, as entertaining and as joyous (mostly) as it was, has come to a close.

At No. 14 in the Countdown is ...

Pos: PF
Ht/Wt: 6-8, 240
Experience: 12 years
Age: 35 (May 2, 1977)
2011-12 stats: 1.0 ppg (20.4 3FG%), 0.8 rpg
Contract status: Free agent
2011-12 salary: $854,389
2012-13 salary: TBD

[+] EnlargeBrian Cardinal
Jerome Miron/US PresswireBrian Cardinal didn't see much playing time this season even after the departure of Lamar Odom.
His story: Consider this about Cardinal: During last season's playoff run, he knocked down 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc. He made 10 overall this season, which is especially tough to swallow considering the 3-ball accounted for 89.1 percent of his total shot attempts. Cardinal dropped 42-of-87 (48.3 percent) from beyond the arc in 56 games during the 2010-11 season. The addition of Lamar Odom obviously pushed Cardinal deeper on the bench, but even after Odom's dismissal in early April, Cardinal didn't see much time. Cardinal will draw a charge or make a steal, but he's got to be able to spread the floor while he's on it.

His outlook: During the Mavs' exit interviews, Cardinal made it clear that he wants to play at least one more season. It's highly doubtful that it will be in Dallas, but surely there's a team out there that can use a steady veteran presence for spot minutes. Who knows, maybe the Mavs will have a last roster vacancy as free agency toils into August and beyond and they'll bring him back on another veteran's minimum deal. Remember, when Cardinal first arrived at training camp in 2010, he was on a make-good contract with Steve Novak. Cardinal made good, Novak did not.

The Countdown
No. 15 Lamar Odom
No. 14 Brian Cardinal
No. 13 Coming Wednesday

Countdown: No. 15 Lamar Odom

May, 14, 2012
First in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.

The offseason certainly arrived much sooner than anyone could have predicted, just like Lamar Odom's premature exit from the Dallas Mavericks.

The 6-foot-10 forward kicks off our offseason blog series that ranks the 2011-12 Mavericks roster in order of importance for the front office to bring back. Four of last season's six free agents found new homes with the exception of Peja Stojakovic, who called it a career after winning his first championship, and Brian Cardinal, who re-signed but made virtually no impact on the season.

Eleven months ago, the title team proved difficult to rank in importance and I started the Countdown with DeShawn Stevenson as the least important. It drew quite a few raised eyebrows from those wondering how I could possibly consider the defensive bulldog and surprisingly valuable 3-point shooter the least important member of the title team to bring back.

In retrospect, the choice probably violated the spirit of this series. I chose Stevenson not because I didn't think he was an asset and worthy of returning for a chance to repeat, but because the Mavs traded for shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, a move that, to me, signaled that Stevenson wouldn't be back. Who would have figured that neither Stevenson nor Fernandez would start the season with the Mavs?

This time around the lead-off man in these rankings is a no-brainer. Odom's career-worst season has to go down as the most disappointing season in the league and one of the more frustrating ones for a franchise in recent memory.

With that, on with the series:

Pos: SF/PF
Ht/Wt: 6-10, 230
Experience: 13 years
Age: 32 (Nov. 6, 1979)
2011-12 stats: 6.6 ppg (35.2 FG%), 4.2 rpg
Contract status: Signed through 2012-2013
2011-12 salary: $8.9 million
2012-13 salary: $8.2 million ($2.4 million guaranteed)

[+] EnlargeLamar Odom
AP Photo/Brandon WadeLamar Odom was a flop with the Mavs after they acquired him from the Lakers.
His story: There's a certain reality TV show on a certain entertainment channel starring a certain Kardashian sister and her basketball-playing husband that can provide the background of what went wrong in Odom's four short months with the Mavs. What didn't go wrong? Dallas thought it was getting a versatile forward who would help ease the pain of losing Tyson Chandler by supplying his unique skills that had helped the Lakers win back-to-back titles. Owner Mark Cuban says he'd make the trade all over again that brought the emotionally bogged-down Odom to Dallas for a draft pick and a trade exception. And hey, when the stunning trade went down Dec. 11, most thought the Mavs had just pulled off a coup and wondered why in the world the Lakers would seemingly just hand over last season's Sixth Man of the Year to the team that swept them out of the playoffs. Now we know.

His outlook: Odom is actually under consideration for a spot on Team USA for the London Games because of the rash of injuries that have taken out star players like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. Cuban actually said he'd love to see it, but only because he has such disdain for Olympic basketball, so he figures the two were meant to be together. Where Odom lands next season will be a far more intriguing story to follow. For starters, Dallas will try everything it can to dump him off on a team with loads of salary cap space such as Toronto or Sacramento and throw in $3 million to offset the $2.4 million guaranteed on Odom's deal next season. If the Mavs can't dump him in a trade, they'll waive him and be responsible for the $2.4 million, which will eat into their cap space this summer. Such a result will not please Cuban. No matter what, Odom will be long gone from this organization. A return to the Lakers is not likely since they can't add him to the roster for a full year after the date he was traded, Dec. 11. Could he land with the Miami Heat, one of his former teams that obviously will be a contender for years to come? Well, if he wants to sign for a fraction of his actual 2012-13 salary, then it's possible. Of course, no team might risk much more than a couple million anyway. How about the team with which he started his career, the Los Angeles Clippers? Possible. Caron Butler is signed for two more years at small forward, but Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans are free agents.

The Countdown
No. 15 Lamar Odom
No. 14 Coming Tuesday

Brian Cardinal throws 2 cents, not weight (yet)

May, 3, 2012
DALLAS -- In a series that turned chippy early in Game 2 with Oklahoma City Thunder's scowling big man Kendrick Perkins taking on the responsibility as ringleader, do the Dallas Mavericks need their own heavy to throw some weight around?

Derek Harper explains what the Mavs need to do in order to climb out of their 2-0 series hole against the Thunder.

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If they do, who other than Brian Cardinal should be called upon?

"Obviously, I’ll be ready when my number’s called, if it’s called. Who knows?" Cardinal said prior to the Mavs' morning shootaround. "The guys out there on the court know how to play, know what’s going on. They see the chippiness."

Perkins and Dirk Nowitzki scuffled in the first quarter of Game 2 in Oklahoma City with each drawing technical fouls. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle rushed onto the court with some choice words for Perkins. That it wasn't another Dallas player already on the floor sticking up for their 7-foot superstar shows some of what's missing without Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson on the roster.

Cardinal has barely stepped foot on the floor in this series, briefly entering for a possession in Game 1. His attributes don't necessarily fit this style of series, unless the chippiness escalates to a level that the Mavs must answer force with force.

"I think it’s just a matter of trying to impact the game in a legal way and the way that we can do that is by picking people up, by playing more physical, by making people catch the ball farther out," Cardinal said. "It’s by making things difficult and uneasy and not allowing pe0ple to settle in. That comes with us playing a little bit more physical. It’s us playing harder and so I think I’m expecting all those things to come to fruition tonight. Does that mean I’m going to get in? Who knows? The guys that have been out there playing have been playing great. Am I necessarily the X-factor? Who knows?"

The 270-pound Perkins certainly isn't afraid to make himself Public Enemy No. 1 around here. The Beaumont native made that known in the opening minutes of last season's Western Conference finals when he tried to pick a fight with Chandler. He's bringing the rough stuff on Nowitzki this time and the Mavs certainly don't expect Perkins to soften up with the series shifting to Dallas for tonight's critical Game 3.

"Great teams need a multitude of players of different caliber," Cardinal said. "You need your superstar, you need your tough guy, you need your glue guy, you need a variety of players and certain people relish that, certain people understand their role and embrace it and that’s what Perk is. You can go on down the list of teams, Artest, all these guys, they got guys that don’t care if they get a tech, don’t care if the other team doesn’t like them. It’s about winning, it’s about putting yourself and putting your team in the best possible position and we’ll see what happens tonight."

Do the Mavs have that type of guy on this roster?

"Tyson set a tone for us, D-Steve, guys that had a chip on their shoulder," Cardinal said of last season's unit. "I think we have guys this year that have a chip on their shoulder and we need to play more physical, we need to play harder, we need to play better."

Whether Cardinal gets a shot to put a little Mavs muscle into the series is yet to be seen.

3-pointer: Is Mavs' depth deep enough?

April, 17, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY -- The Dallas Mavericks prided themselves on their depth last season and it's been their calling card this season. Their superior depth was supposed to be they key to making an older, not-so-athletic club function at an elite level.

But that depth is coming into serious question in the final weeks of the regular season.

In Monday's triple-overtime loss at Utah, coach Rick Carlisle mostly went with a three-man bench. In a game that spanned 63 minutes, Yi Jianlian got five minutes, Brandan Wright played six and Brian Cardinal subbed in for all of 19 seconds. Meanwhile, Ian Mahinmi, Vince Carter and Jason Terry all played between 36 and 54 minutes.

In Sunday's overtime loss at the Los Angeles Lakers, Carlisle shortened the bench to basically Carter and Terry with Mahinmi and Wright combining for less than 16 minutes.

"We know who the warriors are and the roles are defined," said Nowitzki, who logged a massive 96 minutes in the last two games. "Here and there it's going to be tossed up. Sometimes Haywood is going to play more at the 5, sometimes it's going to be B-Wright, tonight it was Mahinmi down the stretch getting all the minutes. Some things fluctuate from night in, night out, but everybody is going to compete. Whoever gets the minutes is going to play hard and that's the only way to go."

A healthy Rodrigue Beaubois would have helped alleviate some minutes in the backcourt, but even Beaubois' playing time can fluctuate greatly and his rotation role in the playoffs certainly isn't settled.

The bigger issue is the front court. As poorly as Lamar Odom performed, he did average 20 minutes a night with a large chunk at power forward. Shawn Marion will be called on take some of the those minutes because there are few options beyond him. Jianlian and Cardinal aren't consistent solutions in the postseason. Jianlian got into Monday's game in the first quarter because Nowitzki ran into early foul trouble.

Wright is not considered an optimum choice at power forward and Carlisle has made that rather clear.

Here's three more areas of consideration:

1. T'd off: Delonte West earned his technical foul in odd fashion by sticking his index finger in the ear of Jazz guard Gordon Hayward in the second quarter. But the Mavs also had a couple of their key veterans get technical fouls at crucial junctures of the game. Jason Terry picked one up in the fourth quarter when he argued a no-call on a drive to the basket on which he thought he was fouled and Dirk Nowitzki was hit with one at the 1:05 mark of the first overtime.

2. Rare triple OT: Monday's 3-hour, 17-minute game marked the first time the Mavs played a triple-overtime game in more than 20 years. On Dec. 29, 1989, the Portland Trail Blazers won in three overtimes in Dallas, 144-140.

3. Streak busters: Chalk up yet another streak that has come to and this season. Dallas had won the last seven meetings against the Jazz.

Carlisle: Brandan Wright will play PF

April, 9, 2012

DALLAS – At long last, Lamar Odom is gone. Now what do the Dallas Mavericks do when Dirk Nowitzki needs to rest?

Shawn Marion essentially served as the backup power forward during the Mavs’ championship season, and that’s a possibility again, especially if Vince Carter logs significant minutes at small forward. Brian Cardinal’s playing time could increase dramatically, but “The Custodian” has struggled mightily in limited minutes this season. You can count on the Chinese media that has hung around all season to inquire about the potential for Yi Jianlian to crack the rotation.

But the best answer might be Brandan Wright, a former lottery pick whose NBA minimum salary has been a remarkable bargain for the Mavs but has rarely played power forward this season.

Coach Rick Carlisle has been hesitant to play the high-flying, 6-foot-10, 210-pounder at power forward because Wright doesn’t have the shooting range to be a perfect fit at that position in the Mavs’ scheme. But this is far from a perfect situation, and Carlisle said Monday that he plans to use Wright at power forward.

According to 82games.com, only five percent of Wright’s minutes with the Mavs have come at power forward.

“We’ve done it in certain stretches this year,” Carlisle said. “This morning we looked at the film of those stretches. There’s some adjustment, but we’re not going to reinvent our style of play. There’s got to be a few tweaks if he plays that position and we’ll go from there.”

Wright has performed well in his few stints at power forward, his primary position until this season, averaging 24.5 points and 14.0 rebounds per 48 minutes. That’s an extremely small sample size, but those numbers compare favorably to his per-48 production at center (20.5 points, 9.7 rebounds).

Regardless of position, Wright tends to give the Mavs a spark with his athleticism and energy. He has flaws, such as his limited shooting range and lack of strength, but the Mavs never have to wonder whether he’ll play hard.

That alone makes Wright an upgrade over Odom.

SAN ANTONIO – The spotlight after Friday night’s loss to the Spurs was on the Mavericks power forward who didn’t play.

Good thing for the guy who logged 37 minutes at the position for the Mavs.

“I had a brutal night,” Dirk Nowitzki said.

That description was accurate, unlike the vast majority of Nowitzki’s jumpers at the AT&T Center. The perennial All-Star had perhaps his worst performance since his early-season struggles, scoring 16 points on 5-of-21 shooting and grabbing a grand total of two rebounds.

Nowitzki missed his last 13 shots from the floor. He scored only four points in the second half, all on free throws.

“I actually felt good at the beginning of the game,” Nowitzki said. “Just during the game, I couldn’t get the ball up in there. They were short. Wide-open 3s were even short. I just didn’t have enough to get the ball up today.”

Added coach Rick Carlisle: “We have to work on getting him some cleaner looks. But he had some that he normally makes that he didn’t make tonight.”

Dirk didn’t have a rebound until the fourth quarter. While he attributed the off shooting night to heavy legs, Nowitzki made no excuses for such a poor performance on the glass.

“That’s my bad,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t care, you can always box out and rebound.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ second straight lopsided loss to a Western Conference contender:

1. Matrix’s return: Want some good news? Shawn Marion's left knee didn’t bother him in his return from a three-game absence.

“I felt good,” Marion said. “Once I got out there, I was able to stay warm and keep my body going. That’s pretty much it. I got a little winded there a couple of times, but for the most part, my wind was pretty good.”

Marion was one of the more productive Mavs, scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes. He did a more than respectable job defending Manu Ginobili, who had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and seven assists.

2. Custodian’s dirty work: Brian Cardinal made his mark on the game – or on Tim Duncan’s face, at least.

“The Custodian” was called for a flagrant foul when he inadvertently raked Duncan in the face, sending the Spurs legend sprawling to the floor. That was the only statistic recorded by Cardinal in 4:20 on the floor, during which the Spurs outscored the Mavs by 10 points.

As you might imagine, Cardinal wasn’t exactly a popular guy at the AT&T Center, drawing the wrath of the Spurs faithful. Duncan shrugged it off after the game – “That’s just basketball,” he said – but San Antonio’s Stephen Jackson had some choice words for Cardinal.

“To me, it was a dirty play,” Jackson told the San Antonio Express-News. “When you can’t play no more, I guess all you can do is go out and try to hurt people.”

3. Kidd’s birthday bummer: The Spurs spoiled Jason Kidd's 39th birthday.

For a few minutes, it appeared it might be a storybook birthday celebration for Kidd, who got the hot hand from 3-point range to briefly give the Mavs the lead in the third quarter. Kidd ended up with an unusual line in the box score for him: 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and only one assist. It’s only the second time in Kidd’s career he had only one assist while playing more than 30 minutes.

Nevertheless, Kidd did have one good reason to celebrate.

“I’m still in the thirties,” Kidd cracked.

Dirk Nowitzki leaves with lower back tightness

February, 29, 2012
MEMPHIS -- Dirk Nowitzki left Wednesday's game against Memphis at the 11:09 mark of the second quarter with lower back tightness. His return his questionable.

He started the second quarter, but quickly came out and headed straight for the locker room with head athletic trainer Casey Smith.

Nowitzki was 0-of-1 from the floor with one point, four rebounds and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

With Lamar Odom still away from the team for personal reasons, the Mavs are extremely shallow at power forward. Brian Cardinal replaced Nowitzki. Yi Jianlian was first to replace Nowitzki off the bench in the first quarter.



Monta Ellis
20.5 4.4 1.7 33.9
ReboundsT. Chandler 12.0
AssistsR. Rondo 7.0
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4