Dallas Mavericks: Kyle Korver

Are new CBA rules making teams more cautious?

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
10:37
AM CT


Five days into free agency, as the Dallas Mavericks quietly scanned the proceedings after being turned down by Deron Williams, the player movement and big money that flowed around the league certainly didn't suggest that a new collective bargaining agreement was sinking its sharpened teeth into management.

The Brooklyn Nets overpaid Gerald Wallace, signing him for four years and $40 million. They then spit in the eye of the harsher luxury tax to come by acquiring Joe Johnson, still owed $89 million, to play with Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million deal.

The Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, handing the 38-year-old a three-year, $27-million deal. Prior to that, the Toronto Raptors offered the beloved Canadian point guard a reported three years and $36 million.

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave Brandon Roy, who had retired because of chronic knee issues, two years and $10.4 million and then signed Portland forward Nicolas Batum to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. The Suns signed guard Goran Dragic, a player they once traded, to four years and $34 million and also inked troubled Minnesota forward Michael Beasley to three years and $18 million.

Portland signed emerging Indiana center Roy Hibbert to a $58 million offer sheet. The Rockets signed Bulls backup center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet and did the same with New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

Does it mean the new CBA isn't working as planned? Mavs owner Mark Cuban hasn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the final product, comparing the new CBA to the old one by saying owners are now drowning in 2 feet of water instead of 10. We know the rules have radically altered his philosophy for building his team.

Since the opening flurry of moves, some made by teams with cap space to fill, the majority of teams, Cuban points out, have acted responsibly in preparation for the stiffer tax that starts in the 2013-14 season.

"This offseason we saw maybe six teams try to win the summer and make a big splash," Cuban said. "The vast majority did little or nothing beyond keeping their own players."

In 2009-10, 11 of the 30 teams spent into the luxury tax. That number dropped to seven in 2010-11 and six last season. Five to seven teams are headed for the luxury tax this season, a number that does not include the Mavs for the first time in Cuban's ownership. In a year or two, only the Lakers, Knicks, Nets and Heat could be luxury tax violators.

Cuban has vowed that he will spend into the luxury tax again, when the time is right.

Cuban points out two examples of the new CBA in action.

"The best example of the new rules having an impact are the Knicks walking away from Jeremy Lin and the Bulls walking away from three of their rotation players," Cuban said.

The Knicks have supported the most bloated payroll in the league over the last decade. Yet, presented with the Lin offer sheet from the Rockets that included a "poison pill" third year that jacked Lin's salary from $5 million to $15 million, which has been estimated to swell to more than $40 million after tax penalties, it was too much for even the hand-over-fist, money-making Knicks.

The Bulls surrendered Asik because of a similar "poison pill" third year that would have killed their cap. Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver were also sacrificed -- and Chicago tried to trade Rip Hamilton -- all in the name of whittling down payroll.

Something must give with streaking teams

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
9:44
AM CT

The Utah Jazz have undergone some changes. Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver defected to Chicago. But, in came big Al Jefferson and veteran agitator Raja Bell, and the Jazz might be better than ever.

With arguably the league's best point guard, Deron Williams, running the show, the Jazz are off to a 15-5 start, have won seven in a row and are always one of the most difficult road games for the Dallas Mavericks to leave a winner.

Also riding a seven-game win streak, the Mavs (14-4) will shoot for their first win at Utah in six games tonight in what should be an action-packed showdown at 9:30 p.m. (ESPN). Utah has won four straight at home. The Mavs are 6-1 on the road.

"They're winning games and we are, too," Mavs forward Caron Butler said, "so it should be a good one."

Utah has won 10 of the last 13 over Dallas at home and have had a habit of breaking out to fast starts, working their crowd into a lather while putting the Mavs on their heels. And, of course, strange things seem to happen in Utah. In successive years, Dirk Nowitzki left Salt Lake City with a one-game suspension. In 2007, a rough takedown of Andrei Kirilenko under the basket got Nowitzki suspended, but not ejected. The next season, an incident with Matt Harpring got him ejected and suspended.

Harpring no longer plays for the Jazz, but the always antagonistic Kirilenko does, although his new-look, long, stringy hairy makes him difficult to recognize.

'"They're always one of the best teams in the West, obviously well-coached," Nowitzki said. "They always play hard there, their fans are great, so it's definitely a great test for us. But, if we can just keep doing what we're doing we should be all right. If we defend well, get the rebounds and then spread the ball around, let everybody touch it, let everybody score, we're a tough team to beat."

The Mavs had serious interest during the offseason in dealing for the 6-foot-10 Jefferson, but the Minnesota Timberwolves preferred the Jazz's offer that included no salary dumps. The Mavs were determined to ship Matt Carroll and his overpriced salary in any trade. So Jefferson is with the Jazz and is averaging 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. He and Paul Millsap (18.4, 8.5) form a tough-to-handle combo at the 4-5 positions.

Dallas ended up trading Carroll's salary and Erick Dampier to Charlotte for 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler, and the Mavs are pretty happy with how that's worked out.

The Jazz make their first visit to Dallas in eight days, but in this first of four meetings, the Mavs are expecting a Jazz team to be at their high-energy, agitating best.

"They make you play on every single possession and in many cases they make you play 22, 23 seconds," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "You can never relax against this team."

Free-agent dreams are fun, but reality bites

May, 26, 2010
5/26/10
1:41
PM CT
Keep humming the LeBron James song -- man, it is catchy -- or wish upon a Dwyane Wade or even a Joe Johnson.

But, the odds of landing one of those three, especially the first two, are longer than Roy Williams leading the Cowboys in catches next season.

So, if the Mavs don't land LeBron or D-Wade, who will be available on the free-agent market? Well, first let's narrow the focus to the Mavs' top priorities. Youth and athleticism in a small-forward package, a dynamic player who can get to the rim and create his own shot is at the top of the list (As Dirk said, like LeBron or D-Wade). So is a post player with decent agility and the ability to catch Jason Kidd's passes and finish. Brendan Haywood showed he has potential in that role, but he hits the market on July 1 and he'll have options.

The bad news for the Mavs is that after LeBron and D-Wade, and Johnson to a lesser extent, the pool of small forward-swingman-type talent isn't deep. There's plenty of two guards (and a bunch of undersized ones) coming available, but the Mavs are banking on the development of Roddy Beaubois and unless Caron Butler is swapped for a big name, he and Jason Terry will be back.

And remember this: Because the Mavs are over the salary cap, the maximum they can offer a free agent is the mid-level exception (about $5.5 million). To acquire a higher-priced player the Mavs would have to negotiate a sign-and-trade with another team.

So who's out there? Try to restrain your excitement:

Tracy McGrady (New York), Dorell Wright (Miami), Quentin Richardson (Miami), Matt Barnes (Orlando), Bobby Simmons (New Jersey) Travis Outlaw (L.A. Clippers) and Rasual Butler (L.A. Clippers).

Restricted free agent Rudy Gay (Memphis) is possible in a sign-and-trade. Richard Jefferson could bail out of San Antonio -- could he regain form being reunited with Kidd? How about oldie, but goody, Ray Allen (Boston)? Or the younger Tony Allen (Boston)?

Al Harrington (New York) will hit the market as will 7-foot small forward Jonathan Bender (New York), and Kyle Korver (Utah) and Mike Miller (Washington).

Of course, not all of those guys actually fit the bill.

And no post players in there, you say? Recall that big fish and Dallas native Chris Bosh has said he doesn't want to play in his hometown -- too many unnecessary distractions. So, if you find a big man more suitable than Haywood, add him to the list.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4