Dallas Mavericks: Earl Clark

The fourth in ESPNDallas.com’s position-by-position series previewing the free agency market that opens July 1:

The only certainty about the Mavericks’ roster next season is that Dirk Nowitzki will start at power forward.

That means the Mavs aren’t in the market for established power forwards such as Josh Smith, Paul Millsap and David West. (No, they aren’t interested in Smith as a small forward. Especially not for the kind of money that he wants.)

The Mavs will explore budget-friendly possibilities to back up Nowitzki, preferably a guy with pick-and-pop ability. Some potential fits:

Matt Bonner: He’s an elite 3-point shooter, shooting 41.7 percent from long range in his career and better than that during his last three seasons in San Antonio. He’ll never be described as athletic and certainly isn’t a one-on-one defensive stopper, but he’s better than you might think on that end of the floor because he grasps team concepts so well. As a rebounder, he makes Dirk look like Dennis Rodman. The Spurs need to make a decision on Bonner by Saturday. That’s the deadline for buying out his $3.95 million salary for next season. He might be a fit for the Mavs in the $2 million range.

Tim MacMahon joins Galloway and Company to discuss the NBA draft and the possibility of Dwight Howard joining the Mavericks.

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Andray Blatche: He was a renowned knucklehead in Washington, prompting the Wizards to dump Blatche via the amnesty clause, but the 26-year-old was productive as a minimum-salary guy in Brooklyn, averaging 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. He could also serve as a backup center. The Mavs have shown some interest in the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Blatche in the past. He could make sense for the room midlevel ($2.65 million).

Earl Clark: The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Clark has decent size and athleticism and showed the ability to at least be a streaky 3-point shooter last season. But the chances of him coming to Dallas are awfully slim. The Mavs don’t have enough interest in him to pay more than what the Lakers can give Clark.

LOS ANGELES – Coach Rick Carlisle cited “embracing our imperfections” as one of the keys to the Mavericks’ 11-5 March.

Perhaps their biggest flaw bit the Mavs hard as they opened April with a lopsided loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mavs, who rank third to last in the league in rebounding differential, got absolutely dominated on the glass by the longer, more athletic Lakers. L.A. had a 57-37 rebounding edge and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds.

“That’s really the game,” Carlisle said. “I know they’re big, but our persistence has to make up for our lack of size.”

That definitely wasn’t the case in Tuesday night’s critical loss. NBA rebounding leader Dwight Howard grabbed a dozen boards in addition to his game-high 24 points, and he was one of four Lakers to post double-doubles. Actually, Kobe Bryant (24-11-11) had a triple-double, with Earl Clark (17-12) and Pau Gasol (14-10) contributing to the Lakers’ paint domination.

“Ain’t no excuses” said Shawn Marion, who led the Mavs with seven rebounds. “If you really want it, you’re going to get it done. All the loose balls went to them. All the 50/50 balls went to them. It’s frustrating, man.”

Added Vince Carter, who grabbed just a lone rebound in 27 minutes: “We had our moments where we just let them take advantage of us.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ crushing loss:

1. Dirk’s dud: Coming off his best week of the season, Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t keep it going against the Lakers.

The Mavs’ superstar was held to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. He even looked like Dwight Howard from the free throw line, making only 2-of-6 attempts.

The Lakers simply never let Nowitzki, who had 33- and 35-point performances last week and scored 30 in the Mavs’ last meeting with L.A., establish a rhythm. He was more effective as a distributor (six assists) than a scorer.

“They had long bodies on him. They were physical with him,” Carlisle said. “When we got him a lot of touches, a lot of times he was forced to pass. Unfortunately, we were unable to hit a lot of the shots where he kicked out. Getting him quality shots is always going to be tougher against better teams and experienced teams.”

Added Nowitzki: “I didn’t have a lot of easy ones tonight. I had to work for it. The ones I did have, I’ve just got to knock down.”

2. Kaman’s contributions: Chris Kaman, the 7-footer with the $8 million salary, led the Mavs in scoring with 14 points after making his first start since March 20.

Kaman, who refused to speak to reporters after the game, made 7-of-10 shots from the floor and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. That came on the heels of playing a total of 12 minutes in the Mavs’ previous four games, including two DNP-CDs.

“I think Kaman is a good player and he’s a guy we need,” Carlisle said. “I thought coming into tonight, our best chance to get something out of him was to start him because he can get open looks, he’s a big body, he can use some of his fouls on Howard early. I thought he did a really solid job out there.”

The Mavs didn’t get much out of their two big men who had been playing the vast majority of the minutes. Brandan Wright and Elton Brand combined for only six points and six rebounds in 30 minutes.

3. Love for Shaq: The Lakers retired Shaquille O’Neal’s number at halftime, giving Mark Cuban an opportunity to reminisce about his days as verbal sparring partner with the legendary big man.

“He was a beast,” Cuban said. “But forget the player. Everybody knows who he was as a player. He's just a great guy. He brought so much fun and attitude and energy to the game. That's what makes Shaq special then and now.

“Plus he was a nice foil. He would come at me and I think when he realized I wouldn't back down from him, that I'd come right back at him, then it got fun for both of us. And we've stayed friends. We're good friends now.”

Mavericks never could get over the hump

April, 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Full of optimism after Saturday’s phenomenal comeback win, Dirk Nowitzki compared that stunning rally against the Chicago Bulls to the story of the Mavericks’ season.

Just when you think you can count them out ...

Unfortunately, Nowitzki’s comparison was probably a few days premature. Their 101-81 loss in Tuesday night’s critical game against the Los Angeles Lakers truly sums up the Mavs this season:

They manage to beat the odds by making things interesting, but this patchwork roster is just not good enough to get the job done.

Maybe you can’t count the Mavs out quite yet, but the math sure as heck looks hellacious as far as their playoff hopes go. They now trail the Lakers and Utah Jazz by 2 games and don’t have tiebreakers against either of their competitors in a three-team fight for the West’s final playoff seed.

“We knew we were behind the eight ball all season,” said Nowitzki, whose bushy beard will keep growing after the 36-38 Mavs failed to seize an opportunity to hit .500 again. “We were battling, battling back. To think we were going to win them all down the stretch is tough, but this is a game we needed to have if we really wanted to make it interesting.”

For a few moments in the third quarter, it appeared that the Mavs might pull off another comeback, kind of like Game 1 in the 2011 West semifinals, a shocker that set the tone for that Dallas team of destiny’s sweep of the two-time defending champion Lakers and title run.

Alas, fate doesn’t smile on a team this flawed.

It took one possession for the Mavs’ momentum to disintegrate after they went on an 11-0 run to trim L.A.’s lead to five. Lakers reserve forward Earl Clark scored five points in the possession after a timeout, making a layup despite being fouled, missing the free throw and canning a corner 3 after Pau Gasol pulled down one of the Lakers’ 19 offensive rebounds.

“We never could get back over the hump,” said Shawn Marion, who joins Nowitzki as the lone Mavs on the active roster who remain from the title team.

We never could get back over the hump. That sentence seems destined to sum up this disappointing Dallas season, which will snap a dozen-year postseason streak for the Mavs, barring a miracle.

The Mavs, a team comprised primarily of temporary pieces, surprised a lot of people just by having hope as the calendar flipped to April. After all, it’s been 16 years since a team battled back from 10 games below .500 to punch a postseason ticket.

It’ll be at least one more year before that happens again, barring a miracle.

The Mavs landed in L.A. with legitimate hope. They boarded their flight to Denver, the toughest place in the West for NBA visitors, with the baggage of harsh reality after being thoroughly dominated on the boards (57-37 Lakers edge), struggling to get good shots (42.0 field goal percentage) and allowing Kobe Bryant to post a triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) and three other Lakers to record double-doubles.

“We have to win out,” Vince Carter said, “and hope that it’s good enough.”

The Mavs will keep hoping to get over the hump, but it looks more like a mountain after losing to the Lakers.



Monta Ellis
19.4 4.4 1.9 33.8
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.7
AssistsR. Rondo 6.0
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksB. James 1.8