Dallas Mavericks: Jeff Van Gundy

Schedule frustration starts to show

January, 6, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- Prior to the start of this hastily scheduled, 66-game regular season, ESPN broadcaster and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy called the league's rush to start the season on Christmas and salvage its big TV payday a "total money grab."

He then joked that the NBA should have just went ahead and scheduled day-night doubleheaders. After playing six games in eight nights, culminating with Thursday's ugly 93-71 loss at the San Antonio Spurs, some players were perhaps starting to question the wisdom of this condensed and rugged schedule on the heels of a two-week training camp.

Dirk Nowitzki was asked if the league would have been better served by playing fewer games and allowing teams more time to prepare for the season following the lockout.

"We know this league is about money, so the more games they get the more money they make," Nowitzki said. "So it's really not about the product that much to them, but it is what is. It is a lot of games, but I think every team has to deal with it now and we just have to get better."

Shawn Marion said to expect more sloppily-played games around the league. The NBA started training and free agency on Dec. 9, so most teams did not have their full rosters set for at least a few days into training camp, some longer.

"Yeah, definitely, you've seen it already," Marion said. There's going to be some games that don't go our fans' way. There is going to be nights where it is just not going to go in, but it is what it is."

While the Mavs were playing a sixth game in eight nights and fourth in five nights, the Spurs were playing a fourth game in six nights and third in four nights. Both teams were on a back-to-back. The Spurs started the game hot and finished 16-of-33 from beyond the arc. However, overall they shot just 39.5 percent, while Dallas managed just 35.1 percent.

It's only just begun. The Mavs are four games into a franchise-high 18 games in January.

Jeff Van Gundy on season: Let's play two

December, 13, 2011
Part II of the Jeff Van Gundy interview from Monday's media teleconference focused on the compacted 66-game schedule. I asked him about the challenges facing Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, particularly in handling a mostly veteran roster and especially a point guard, Jason Kidd, that will turn 39 during a particularly brutal stretch of March.

Van Gundy was coach of the New York Knicks during the lockout-out shortened 1998-99 season. His club finished the regular season eighth in the Eastern Conference and advanced to the NBA Finals, eventually losing to the San Antonio Spurs, who got a big shot from the corner from a smallish guard named Avery Johnson.

Van Gundy, though, didn't stick to the script of talking about the rapid-fire schedule. No, he used it as a platform to rail on the NBA for starting free agency and training camps on the same day, basically assuring that teams wouldn't have their full rosters completed for several days into training camp, and for rushing to start the season on Christmas Day, less than two weeks from when the majority of teams would have a full roster.

Here's Van Gundy's take:
Think about it, we’re less than two weeks from playing and people are saying, "Who’s on my team?" This absolute hurry for this cut-off day of Christmas Day, it’s absurd. I’m thinking to myself, they should have just played all 82 games and just played day-night doubleheaders. No, seriously, like why not? Let’s just call it what it is, a total money grab, and let’s just get it all in. Let’s make the fans stay there for like 10 hours and watch two games.

But, I think Rick will do what’s in his best interests, or the team’s best interests, and they rested Kidd at times last year as well, but they could do that because they had quality behind him. You can’t play people in games and try to win and have homecourt advantage -- they had the first and third rounds with homecourt advantage [last postseason] -- so you want to have as much homecourt advantage as you can, but you also have to have your team healthy and energetic for the playoffs. He’ll tiptoe around it like he did last year. I thought he did a marvelous job last year.

Van Gundy and ESPN broadcast partner Mike Breen will be at the American Airlines Center on Christmas Day for the Mavs' season-opener against the Miami Heat. Both participated in a media teleconference on Monday.

Jeff Van Gundy sounds off on Mark Cuban

December, 13, 2011
ESPN's lead NBA broadcast team of play-by-play man Mike Breen and analyst Jeff Van Gundy will call the Christmas Day season opener at the American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks will raise their championship banner and then take on the team they beat in six games in the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat.

Breen and Van Gundy will then hop on a jet plane and fly to Oakland, Calif., to call the final of five gift-wrapped televised games (on ABC and ESPN) when the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors.

On Monday, Breen and Van Gundy took part in a media conference call and the former NBA head coach who once, while the head honcho of the rough-and-tumble New York Knicks, clutched for dear life to the lower leg of Alonzo Mourning, a man more than 14 inches taller and 80 pounds heavier, in the middle of a full-on donnybrook, was at his open-mic best.

Van Gundy absolutely destroyed the NBA for interfering in the Chris Paul deal that would have sent the All-Star point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers and brought a nice little haul to the struggling New Orleans Hornets franchise as well. Mike "No Holds Barred" Van Gundy then called the league's rush to start the season on Christmas a Day a pure "money grab" (more on that in a later blog).

When I asked the unequivocal color man for his impression of Mark Cuban, from the owner's stunning vow of silence during last season's championship run to the his philosophical shift in accordance with the new collective bargaining agreement, the rambunctious rambler did not disappoint. Here's his extended take -- and interruption free -- to my one simple question:
I don’t think you could ask for a better owner than Mark Cuban. If you’re a coach or a player and you’re a serious coach and serious player about winning, he’s committed to that process. Now, are there certain instances along the way you would say, 'Hey, I wish the guy would take a backseat?' I’m sure there is if you worked for him. But, you have to take the whole package and his entire package is unquestionable, one of the top owners in all of sports, not just basketball.

I don’t believe, though, that him not speaking last year had anything to do with them winning it all. When they were down 15 in Game 2 [to Miami] to go down 2-0, I don’t think him not talking for a while had anything to do with them coming back. Down 2-1 and going into Game 4, I don’t think that had anything to do with him not speaking along the way.

He did hire the right guy in Rick Carlisle; Rick Carlisle’s been an outstanding coach. They made great personnel decisions, getting [Shawn] Marion and Tyson Chandler, keeping [J.J.] Barea to form that nucleus; and now I give them a lot of credit where they’re under pressure to overspend for their own free agents, to quote, defend their title -- which there really isn’t anything like that, this is not WWE wrestling, although in the last week or two it appears that we’re [the NBA's] inching that way – I would say that I like their basketball courage to stay disciplined financially to try to keep as much cap room open for the free-agent stars that are coming available next year.

Does that mean they’ll get any of them? Absolutely not, but to get Lamar Odom for nothing and to still retain some financial flexibility, I think they’ve done very, very well. I’m very impressed with their discipline in this period of frenzy.

Part II of the Van Gundy interview is coming shortly.

Mavs assistant Casey rumored for openings

April, 20, 2010
Is a third suitor emerging to hire away Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey?

Already widely mentioned as a top candidate for the coaching openings with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, Casey is also a potential target for the New Orleans Hornets, who announced Tuesday that Jeff Bower is reverting to his GM-only duties and heading the search for a new coach.

Ex-Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, meanwhile, is regarded as one of the favorites to land the Hornets’ job. In his second season as an ESPN analyst, Johnson still has one year remaining on his Mavs contract, worth $4 million next season.

From ESPN.com’s news story on the Bower move:
ESPN.com reported April 9 that the Hornets, with Chouest in a much stronger financial position than Shinn, plans to court top-tier coaching candidates, such as ESPN analysts Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy.

Johnson is a New Orleans native whose interest in coaching the Hornets has been anticipated for some time. Van Gundy's willingness to leave television for a return to coaching is not clear, but he and Bower are longtime friends.

It's believed that the Hornets will also look at top assistant coaches such as Dallas' Dwane Casey, Boston's Tom Thibodeau and Portland's Monty Williams. Casey has already emerged as a leading candidate for the Los Angeles Clippers' opening and is likewise expected to draw interest from the Philadelphia 76ers, who interviewed Casey last year before hiring Eddie Jordan. The Clippers, Sixers, Hornets and New Jersey Nets have the league's only four coaching openings at present.



Monta Ellis
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4