Dallas Mavericks: Delonte West
A conspiracy theory: The Rockets emerged as a rumored frontrunner to throw folks off the scent that Dwight Howard has been ticketed for Dallas all along.
Those are whispers that ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne has heard on the West coast.
|ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard. |
Start with the Shawn Marion situation. If this was a done deal, wouldn’t Fegan have convinced his client on the Mavs’ roster to cooperate and make things much easier for everyone?
The best-case scenario for the Mavs would have been Marion exercising the early termination option in his contract and then returning to Dallas on a three-year deal with a salary reduced enough to squeeze Howard’s max deal under the cap. Technically, the Mavs couldn’t have negotiated Marion’s new contract before he opted out, but we’re talking wink-wink, nudge-nudge deals here.
How can the Mavs create enough cap space to sign Howard now? Dumping Marion’s salary in a trade is the most likely scenario. If this was all a pre-arranged deal, would Fegan put another veteran client in danger of being shipped to an undesirable team? (Yes, Marion would pocket an extra $1.4 million with his trade kicker, but if this was all just a money grab for Fegan, he’d be determined to get Howard to stay in L.A. instead of bolting to Dallas.)
It’s true that Cuban and Fegan have a strong business relationship, even a friendship, and have worked together to get several deals done. Hey, maybe Fegan really does feel like he owes Cuban for that Erick Dampier contract!
But, if Marion gets dealt this summer, add that to the list of business decisions made by Cuban that disappointed Fegan clients.
*The Mavs shipped Fegan client Drew Gooden to Washington in the deal that got rid of Josh Howard and brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas.
*Jason Terry fired Fegan in part because of frustration stemming from the Mavs’ lack of interest in making a long-term commitment to him during his last year in Dallas.
*The Mavs waived Delonte West, a Fegan client at the time, after twice suspending him for conduct detrimental to the team last fall.
It helps for an owner and agent to have a good relationship, but it guarantees nothing for either side.
|Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle gives his take on the contrasting styles of the Pacers and Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, Bulls-Heat, Tom Thibodeau, the state of the West and more. |
Of course, the Mavs had no control over Fisher’s decision to leave Dallas. And Mark Cuban’s hard feelings have been well chronicled regarding Fisher’s late-season change of heart over the value of family time once a contender called.
Nevertheless, a strong argument can be made that the Mavs would have at least extended their playoff streak if Fisher would have stuck around. But he’s not even the best point guard playing for the minimum in these playoffs.
Imagine if Nate Robinson would have been on the Mavs’ roster.
Lil’ Nate is the buzz of the Eastern Conference playoffs right now – having just dropped 27 points and nine assists despite getting 10 stitches in his lip during Chicago’s Game 1 upset of the Miami Heat – but he was a journeyman desperate for a job in the offseason. He accepted a partially guaranteed minimum deal to join the Bulls.
Robinson, the 5-foot-9 former slam dunk champion, has always had a Jason Terry-like borderline irrational type of confidence. And that hasn’t always gone over well, which is part of the reason he’s played for five teams in the last four seasons.
But Robinson has the game of a hyperathletic J.J. Barea. He’s got the ability to score in bunches – as a 3-pointer shooter, off the dribble, as a pick-and-roll initiator. It’s certainly intriguing to think about how he’d fit as an off-the-bench sparkplug playing with Dirk Nowitzki.
There didn’t seem to be a fit for Robinson in Dallas last summer, when Delonte West was on the roster to back up Darren Collison and provide what the Mavs hoped would be a healthy edge. (Yeah, so much for that.)
Might the Mavs and Robinson be a match this summer? His game would definitely work in Dallas, but his playoff performance could be putting him out of the Mavs’ price range for a backup point guard.
West, waived by the Mavericks in late October after a rocky training camp, committed to join the Legends in late January but didn't actually report to the team -- coached by former Mavs forward Eduardo Najera -- until this month.
The New York Knicks, according to league sources, are among the teams that will be monitoring West, who instantly becomes the most accomplished point guard in the NBA's developmental league and will be trying to earn a 10-day callup as quickly as possible.
The Legends play Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State's D-League affiliate) and Sunday at 3 p.m. against the Maine Red Claws (Boston's affiliate) at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. Ticket information is available at 214-469-0822.
Who knows where it goes from here?
West, the colorful journeyman guard who has been out of basketball since his detrimental conduct caused the Mavericks to release him just before the season opened, has left the D-League’s Texas Legends in limbo. The Legends claimed West on Jan. 25 after he put his name in the D-League player pool, but he has yet to report to Frisco.
A source said it’s up to West whether he will play for the Legends, who are still open to having him on the team and continue to list him on the roster on the team’s website. West has complicated the process by parting ways with agent Dan Fegan.
West, 29, a valuable role player during his lone campaign in Dallas last season, had hoped to earn another chance with the Mavs via his performance and behavior with their D-League affiliate. However, Mavs owner Mark Cuban publicly declared that wasn’t a possibility hours after the Legends acquired West’s rights.
West, who has also played for the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Seattle Supersonics during his eight-year career, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While he’s been a productive player, his career has been pockmarked by off-court issues.
The odds of West returning to the NBA without a stint in the D-League or overseas are extremely slim.
|Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to talk about the Mavericks' four-day break and Delonte West signing with the Texas Legends. |
Cuban apparently isn’t willing to risk experimenting with the chemistry that it took the Mavs almost half a season to establish.
The Mavs waived West, a quality role player during his lone season in Dallas, just before the season opener after suspending him twice for conduct detrimental to the team in October. There was concern about West -- who wasn’t pleased to have signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract for the second consecutive season -- negatively influencing younger players on the Mavs’ roster.
“It’s not worth talking about at this point in time,” Cuban said. “It is what it is.”
The Mavs are comfortable with their backup point guard situation. Mike James, the 37-year-old whom the Mavs signed after his two-game stint with the Legends, is manning the position as he nears the end of his second 10-day contract. At this point, the Mavs’ plan is to sign James for the rest of the season when his deal expires Sunday night.
“So far, so good,” Cuban said. “No reason to think otherwise at this point.”
|Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to talk about the Mavericks' four-day break and Delonte West signing with the Texas Legends. |
The Texas Legends announced the acquisition of the colorful former Mavericks guard Friday. West made himself eligible for the D-League player pool this week, and Donnie Nelson’s Legends were at the front of the waiver line. West is expected to join the Legends within a few days.
The Mavs released West just before this season opened after twice suspending him during training camp for conduct detrimental to the team. The 29-year-old West was a valuable role player during his lone season in Dallas, averaging 9.6 points and 3.2 assists while playing tenacious defense at both guard spots.
However, that isn’t likely to happen with the Mavs, who dismissed West in large part due to concerns about the influence he could have on the team’s younger players. All indications are the Mavs intend to keep Mike James for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expires. The Mavs signed the 37-year-old point guard after his two-game stint with the Frisco-based Legends.
UPDATE: Mark Cuban ruled out West returning to the Mavs. "Not gonna happen," Cuban said Friday night.
|Delonte West might be hooping in DFW again, but not for the Mavericks. Ben and Skin break down the latest possibility of West playing for the Texas Legends. |
But if the Grizzlies pass, West would be eligible to join the team at the front of the D-League waiver line, which sources say is the Donnie Nelson-owned Texas Legends, Frisco-based affiliate of the Mavericks.
Sources say that West hopes to play his way back into the league just like Mike James did earlier this month, earning a call-up from the Mavericks after a brief but successful stint in Frisco. James is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Mavs and, according sources, is a strong possibility to be signed for the rest of the season next week.
A source close to West told Jeff "Skin" Wade of the Ben and Skin Show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that the guard prefers a potential situation with the Legends to the Grizzlies scenario in hopes that a good showing with the D-League team could put him back into favor with the Mavs, who released him before the regular season began.
The Legends, according to sources, made arrangements earlier Wednesday to bring back former NBA lottery pick Rashad McCants, who played for Texas in the club's debut season in 2010-11. Because the Legends still held McCants' D-League rights, they don't have to wait out the waiver process to sign him.
McCants, 28, last played in the NBA with Sacramento in 2009 and is trying to play his way back into the league. ESPN.com reported in November that the Indiana Pacers expressed interested in McCants, but the high-scoring swingman signed in China when no NBA deal materialized. He averaged nearly 20 points per game this season for Foshan before the Chinese club elected to let him go.
Well, he brought up the dearly departed 38-year-old point guard’s name without any prompting Wednesday afternoon, mentioning how important Fisher was to the Mavs. Carlisle then told a heart-tugging tale about the fuel tank in his SUV and Fisher’s brief tenure in Dallas.
“I filled it up with diesel the day he arrived and the day he left I had to go back to the gas station,” Carlisle said. "He lasted one tank of fuel in my vehicle. So, it was three weeks. And diesels get better mileage.
“It was metaphorically prophetic that as that needle was going down in my gas gauge, so was the time that he was going to be here. So that was a big loss.”
You won’t hear Carlisle say this, but his confidence in the point guards remaining on the Mavs’ roster is on E.
Of course, that was made obvious when the Mavs recruited Fisher off the couch. At this point, the Mavs’ starting point guard is a mystery.
Pressed on the issue, Carlisle sarcastically asked for my opinion Wednesday. The suggestion of Delonte West didn’t seem to go over too well.
“That’s not on the table,” Carlisle said.
Darren Collison and Dominique Jones are on the table. Rodrigue Beaubois is a wild card, or perhaps a joker.
“Look, we’ve got three guys that have all done good things,” Carlisle said, trying to put a positive spin on the situation. “We just need to keep going forward and keep getting those guys better, and I think Dirk being back on the floor certainly enhances everybody’s opportunity to play better.”
Collison and Jones have both started one game since Fisher’s sudden exit – and they both performed better coming off the bench. Carlisle indicated that he’s ready to pick one or the other to start on a regular basis, but he declined to give any hints on which one it would be.
“I would say that at this point – how many games have we played? – I’m starting to get a feel as to who the guy is probably going to be,” Carlisle said. “I’m going to give myself one more night to sleep on it.”
UPDATE: Collison started against the Thunder.
The five-time Lakers champ’s stint in Dallas lasted all of nine games, with Fisher pleading homesickness as he limped back to Los Angeles with a strained patellar tendon that would have sidelined him a couple weeks. He didn’t even play a second with Dirk Nowitzki before deciding he’d rather hang with his family -- and maybe wait for a call from one of L.A.’s teams -- than try to help the Mavs avoid their first lottery berth in a dozen years.
Now what at point guard for the post-Jason Kidd Mavs?
Feel like discussing the pipe dream of Chris Paul leaving the young, contending Clippers to help Dirk age gracefully in his golden years? Didn’t think so.
As the Mavs keep scouring the point guard scrap heaps, they’re kidding themselves if they think they have anything less than a disaster on their hands at the position. They’ve dumped Delonte West, dissed Dominique Jones, demoted Darren Collison and been ditched by Fisher in the last two months. Oh, and Rodrigue Beaubois’ third annual breakout season has been another dud.
Here’s a quick look at coach Rick Carlisle’s point guard candidates at the moment:
Darren Collison: Well, so much for the spin of Collison being mentored by Fisher. The Mavs' decision to bench Collison the week before Fisher was signed made it clear they don’t consider him anything more than a good backup, reaching the same conclusion as Indiana last season. Collison’s numbers with the Mavs (11.7 points, .446 FG, 5.1 assists, 2.5 turnovers) are pretty similar than the stats he put up as a Pacers starter. Collison’s defense and decision-making have been major disappointments in Dallas, but he is capable of scoring bursts. Collison, who left Friday’s game against Memphis after 10 tough minutes due to a reported illness, hasn’t justified the summer hope that he might be a long-term piece.
Dominique Jones: The Mavs opted not to pick up the option for next season in DoJo’s rookie deal and tried to trade him for a bag of deflated basketballs before the season, but he’s actually playing pretty well lately. He was the primary reason the Mavs didn’t get blown out in Memphis, putting up career highs of 13 points and seven assists in the loss. He’s a poor shooter (.356 FG) and finisher (.429 in restricted area) who definitely lacks polish. But Jones is a crafty-passing, physical dude with a chip on his shoulder because he doesn’t feel like he got much of a chance in Dallas.
Rodrigue Beaubois: Remember a few years ago when Roddy B’s future seemed so bright? He’s averaging 2.9 points on 31.7 percent shooting this season. Once declared by Mark Cuban to be all but untouchable in trade talks, dreams of Beaubois as a Mavs foundation piece fizzled long ago. It seems as if he’s just playing out the string of his Dallas stint.
All due respect to Derek Fisher, the proud owner of five NBA championship rings, but the fact that the Dallas Mavericks are signing him is a sign of desperation.
|Coop and Nate discuss the Mavericks' struggles and the addition of Derek Fisher. |
It’s a sign of just how much Delonte West could have contributed to this team if the Dallas decision-makers didn’t determine that his preseason conduct was too detrimental to the team to keep him on the roster.
And it’s evidence of just how disappointing Darren Collison has been since his spectacular start in Dallas.
Collison is averaging 12.9 points and 6.3 assists this season, but he has mostly struggled since playing a key role in the Mavs winning four of their first five games. The Mavs have lost eight of the past 11, and Collison has been erratic offensively and a liability defensively during that stretch.
Concerns about Collison’s performance reached the point that he came off the bench in Tuesday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He sat out Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained right middle finger.
Collison has especially struggled late in games. He is 14-of-40 from the floor with 12 assists and 10 turnovers in fourth quarters and overtime this season, and the Mavs have been outscored by 22 points in his 123 minutes in those situations.
At 38 years old, Fisher certainly isn’t a savior. Heck, he was just a good role player in his prime. The Mavs are simply hoping Fisher can provide some of that savvy and steadiness that Dallas is so desperately missing.
The Mavs need to trim their roster from 16 to 15 players by the leaguewide deadline of 4 p.m. Finding a taker for Jones would buy them more time to resolve the future of the suspended West, but sources told ESPN.com that – with no takers emerging for Jones – parting with West remains the most probable move to create a spot for Eddy Curry.
With projected starter Chris Kaman still dealing with a strained right calf and Brandan Wright (ankle) also hobbling, Curry is unexpectedly in line to start at center for Dallas in Tuesday night’s season opener in L.A. against the mighty Lakers even though he just joined the team Thursday when Dallas claimed Curry off waivers from San Antonio.
The Mavs, by all indications, have no plans to exercise the team option for the final season of Jones’ rookie contract before Wednesday’s midnight deadline, which will make the 24-year-old an unrestricted free agent next summer.
It is painfully obvious that Jones, who has averaged 2.5 points and 1.2 assists in 51 career games, doesn’t fit into the Mavs’ picture this season, either. Jones did not play in the preseason finale due to a coach’s decision when Rick Carlisle was trying out various combinations to determine who he can deploy as the backup point guard with West out.
“I guess you can say it’s a difficult situation on the outside looking in,” Jones said Friday night. “But no worries. I know I’m going to be OK with basketball, because I know I can play.”
Human nature might be the Mavericks’ toughest foe this season.
After missing on a big fish, the financially flexible Mavs put together the best possible roster without committing a penny to next season’s payroll. (OK, O.J. Mayo got a player option, but he’ll only exercise it if everything goes wrong for him this season.)
It’s a potentially volatile mix. The Mavs’ roster mainly consists of a bunch of veterans in contract years who have little if any history with each other. It’s a dangerous experiment for a franchise that prides itself so much on chemistry and culture.
“You’ve got to work harder, there’s no question about it,” owner Mark Cuban said when asked about establishing and maintaining that culture with this contract-year crew. “But it’s also been made clear that there’s more opportunity in this kind of circumstance.
“It’s not like musical chairs at the end of the roster and guys know they’re just rentals and can get cut at any minute. These are guys that have an opportunity to really contribute, really establish their careers and take themselves to the next level.”
Cuban points to the Mavs’ championship season as proof that players can thrive under these kind of circumstances. Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic and Caron Butler all made significant impacts for the Mavs that season as newcomers in the final seasons of their contracts.
Then again, the Mavs’ chemistry was a mess last year. Jason Terry made it clear on many occasions that he wasn’t happy with the lack of commitment to him from the front office, which opted to let Chandler, Stevenson, Butler and J.J. Barea go in free agency. The contract uncertainly couldn’t have helped the situation with Lamar Odom, although that was probably a lost cause no matter what.
“We had bigger issues – number one, me being too forgiving when everybody else was telling me not to be,” Cuban said. “I’ll take that one. I won’t be as forgiving this year. I’ve learned my lesson.”
These Mavs have already had some messes to clean up.
Delonte West’s one-year, veteran-minimum deal is at the root of his issues. He was happy to have the opportunity last season but believed he’d earned a long-term commitment from the Mavs. The market didn’t bear that, so West’s beef might not be logical, but it still resulted in a disgruntled player.
And that’s why West had to go.
The Mavs fired a warning shot with a one-day suspension when West blew up about playing time after a preseason rout of the Rockets. The main reason the Mavs are in the process of parting ways with West is because they’re worried about his influence on younger players, such as Mayo.
There was a blow-up between a couple of players after Wednesday’s preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. We know that because West told ESPNDallas.com that he wasn’t involved in it but is being blamed for it. That’s further proof that the Mavs’ brass recognizes that this chemistry experiment can blow up if they’re not careful.
“I learned one thing: Don’t leave your best leaders at home,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who had Shawn Marion and Vince Carter stay home to rest along with rehabbing Dirk Nowitzki. “But we’re fine. We’re fine. We’ll be OK.”
That might be wishful thinking from Carlisle, who had assistant coach Jim O’Brien meet with each player to discuss their role in detail in an attempt to avoid me-first drama.
Just ask one of those leaders. Carter’s primary responsibilities this season will be provided scoring off the bench and guidance to keep his teammates more focused on playing their roles than their financial situation.
“If you’re not focused, if you’re not committed, hey, just sit on the side somewhere,” Carter said, acknowledging that it’s his job to keep stressing unselfishness. “I think everybody is getting that message.”
Cuban’s message to the contract-year Mavs is simple: Play your role on a winning team and you’ll get paid.
Elton Brand, who is in the last year of his amnestied contract, noted before training camp that the Mavs are one of few teams that will have significant salary cap space next summer. Therefore, it’d be smart to stay in Cuban’s good graces.
As far as point guard Darren Collison is concerned, there’s one foolproof way to maintain good chemistry.
“Win games. Focus on winning games,” said Collison, who will be a restricted free agent next summer. “If you focus on winning games, everything will take care of itself. If you focus on yourself, if you focus on your contract situation, you’re going to mess yourself up.”
That’s the way the Mavs want all their players thinking. Those who don’t might follow West out the door.
Expect them to have a short stay in Dallas. They might be headed up the tollway to Frisco, where the D-League Texas Legends are located.
The Mavs' roster, which currently has 18 players, has to be trimmed to 15 by Monday. They're likely to keep center Eddy Curry as the 15th man, but that would require a resolution that officially removes suspended guard Delonte West from the team.
"Somebody that's playing good," coach Rick Carlisle said before the preseason finale. "I have no [expletive] idea."
That cloudy picture didn't exactly get cleared up during the Mavs' messy win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Asked to analyze the situation after the game, Carlisle didn't exactly exude sunshine.
"I could ... if there was anything," Carlisle said. "Our backup guard position struggled tonight, but we've just got to stay at it."
One thing is painfully clear about the backup point guard situation: Dominique Jones is at the end of the list. He got a DNP-CD on Friday night.
It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots about the decision the Mavs have to make by the end of the month on whether to exercise next season's team option on Jones' contract. The 2010 first-round pick understands that his days in Dallas are numbered.
"Whatever happens happens, and I'm prepared for it all," said Jones, who had 20 points, 17 assists and 11 turnovers in 79 minutes this preseason, shooting 25.8 percent from the floor. "I don't want to be a distraction. I'll be a good teammate, focus on the things I need to concentrate on and things I can control. I'll just practice hard."
With Jones on the outside looking in, it's a battle between Rodrigue Beaubois and rookie first-rounder Jared Cunningham for the minutes behind Darren Collison.
Neither guy seized the opportunity this preseason, to put it kindly.
Beaubois went scoreless in 16 minutes against the Bobcats. He had 21 points on 7-of-21 shooting with 10 assists and five turnovers in five preseason games.
Cunningham went 1-of-7 from the floor in 13 minutes against the Bobcats. That made him 8-of-28 in the preseason, when he had more turnovers (nine) than assists (six).
"Roddy's ankle is still bothering him a little bit," Carlisle said, referring to the injury that caused Beaubois to miss a few preseason games. "This is all new to Cunningham. ... It's a huge learning situation for a rookie, but the thing I like is he goes hard on everything. That's something we can build on."
As far as the backup point guard spot goes, the Mavs don't have much else to build on at this point.
|Coop and Nate discuss Mavs G Delonte West's indefinite suspension and how it affects the team. |
“We’re losing a competitor,” said Vince Carter, who planned to call his friend West later. “That’s just plain and simple. He’s a competitor. We all know that. You just hate to see everybody going through their differences, because that’s one guy you can rely on.”
Added Shawn Marion: “He’s a hell of a player. I wish him the best. He’s got some stuff to work out with [management and coach Rick Carlisle].”
Carlisle referred to the statement the Mavs released announcing West’s suspension and declined further comment.
“You’ve got to get over it,” said point guard Darren Collison, a Mavs newcomer. “It’s a tough business. Sometimes a situation doesn’t always fall your way. But as a team, we’ve got to look forward and move on. I think we’re ready to move on.”
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