Dallas Mavericks: Mario Chalmers

Free-agency preview: Point guards

June, 23, 2014
Shaun LivingstonAP Photo/Frank Franklin IIShaun Livingston, left, can ably fill both guard spots; Greivis Vasquez is a proven assists man.

The Dallas Mavericks' plan is to re-sign Devin Harris as Jose Calderon's change-of-pace backup at point guard for 2014-15.

The mutual interest between the Mavericks and Harris is strong, so there is a high probability that he will return. The negotiations have a natural starting point of a three-year deal worth a little more than $9 million. Harris and the Mavs originally agreed to the offer last summer before the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery, which led to Harris signing a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum salary and missing the first half of the season.

The Mavs want Harris back because he’s one of the league’s better backup point guards, is a high-character fit for their culture, has excellent chemistry with his teammates and has corporate knowledge of coach Rick Carlisle’s schemes. However, if for some reason the Mavs can’t hammer out a deal for Harris, there should be several quality backup point guards available with similar or perhaps even lower price tags.

The Mavs, who are pleased with Calderon as their starter, will not be in the market for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. They’d love to land Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, a dynamically athletic 24-year-old with star potential, but the Suns are expected to match any offer the restricted free agent receives.

Some point guards who could be fits for the Mavs if Harris heads elsewhere:

Shaun Livingston: The fourth pick in 2004 has seen his career derailed by a devastating knee injury, but he’s worked his way into being a quality role player, averaging 8.3 points and 3.2 assists in 26 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets last season. Like Harris, the 6-foot-7 Livingston, 28, is capable of providing quality minutes at both guard positions.

Steve Blake: The 34-year-old Blake’s intelligence and competitiveness made him a Kobe Bryant favorite during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s declined as an athlete. He’s a decent 3-point shooter and passer, but he’s not nearly the off-the-dribble threat that Harris is. Heck, he might not even be the off-the-dribble threat that Calderon is.

Patty Mills: In his fifth NBA season, Mills emerged as a lethal shooter off the Spurs’ bench, playing an important role in their title season. But unless another team overpays him, why wouldn’t Mills re-sign with San Antonio and try to help them repeat for the first time in franchise history?

[+] EnlargeDJ Augustin
AP Photo/Michael DwyerD.J. Augustin, a former Longhorn, likely earned a big raise with last season's performance; Jerryd Bayless, right, brings athleticism but is lacking defensively and as a playmaker.
Mario Chalmers: His Miami tenure might come to an end after he played so poorly in the Finals that he was benched for Game 5. He’s still a solid point guard with career averages of 8.6 points and 3.8 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. Would he accept a reserve role after recently starting for two title teams?

Mo Williams: Williams has career averages of 13.3 points and 4.9 assists per game and has performed well as a sixth man for teams that have made the Western Conference semifinals -- the Clippers and Trail Blazers -- in two of the past three seasons. The 31-year-old is capable of running an offense and playing off the ball. But he’s looking for a raise after declining an option to make $2.8 million in Portland next season.

Kirk Hinrich: He’s a less-athletic, better-perimeter-shooting version of Harris and a smart veteran capable of playing both guard spots. Hinrich averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 assists per game for the Bulls last season, serving primarily as a starter due to Derrick Rose’s injury. He’s earned a reputation as a good defender, but at 33 with a long injury history, how much tread is left on his tires?

Ramon Sessions: Sessions has put up pretty good numbers (11.7 PPG, 4.7 APG) mostly for bad teams throughout his career, having made the playoffs only once in his seven years. The Mavs had discussions with his agent two summers ago but weren’t willing to make more than a one-year offer.

Greivis Vasquez: The 6-foot-6 Vasquez has played for four teams in four seasons despite leading the league in assists in 2012-13, averaging 13.9 points and 9.0 assists per game for a 27-55 New Orleans team. Vasquez, a restricted free agent, has made it clear that he hopes to return to Toronto.

Jordan Farmar: A reserve on the Lakers’ two most recent title teams, Farmar was out of the NBA for a year before returning to L.A. last season and averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 assists in 41 games. He’s a decent defender and has the quickness to create off the dribble plays.

Jerryd Bayless: The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bayless is a big point guard with explosive athleticism and can occasionally score in bunches, but he’s bounced around to five teams during his six-year career. He’s not much of a playmaker (2.9 assists per game in his career) and doesn’t defend as well as a guard with his physical gifts should.

Brian Roberts: Roberts, a 28-year-old with only two seasons of NBA experience after playing overseas for several years, averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game as a part-time starter in New Orleans last season. He’s a good spot-up shooter but doesn’t penetrate well and is challenged defensively due to his size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds).

D.J. Augustin: A lottery pick in 2008, the 26-year-old former Texas star rejuvenated his career coming off the Bulls’ bench last season. Averaging 14.9 points and 5.0 assists in 30.4 minutes per game after signing in mid-December, Augustin was one of the league’s best minimum-salary bargains. How big of a raise will he get?

Beno Udrih: The veteran lefty, who turns 32 in July, has come up in trade talks with the Mavs a few times over the years. He averaged 7.9 points in 16.4 minutes per game in the playoffs for the Grizzlies after Nick Calathes’ suspension forced Memphis to give backup minutes to a midseason addition. If the Mavs miss out on other veterans, Udrih could be a fit for the veteran’s minimum.

Jason Terry's All-Star 3-point campaign bricks

February, 17, 2012
Jason Terry won't need to get another tattoo.

The Mavericks shooting guard said he'd get one that would say he'd win the 3-point contest during All-Star weekend if selected, just as he forecasted Dallas' championship last year when he got a Larry O'Brien trophy inked on his biceps in the preseason.

The list of six competitors for the Feb. 25 event in Orlando was released today and Terry, who leads the Mavs in 3-pointers made, was not on it. Defending champ James Jones of the Miami Heat will go against teammate Mario Chalmers, Kevin Love of the Timberwolves, Joe Johnson of the Hawks, Ryan Anderson of the hometown Magic and Anthony Morrow of the Nets.

Terry has participated in two All-Star 3-point contests and was knocked out in the first round of both in 2006 and 2007. He's unsuccessfully lobbied a couple of times in recent years to get another shot

The 34-year-old veteran sharpshooter has shot the 3-ball at a respectable 37.6 percent (59-of-157) this season. Vince Carter is the Mavs' top 3-pointer shooter percentage-wise, knocking down 46.1 percent (35-of-76).

Will Mavs, Heat chase Chauncey Billups?

December, 12, 2011
An amnesty case of the New York Knicks, veteran point guard Chauncey Billups issued a warning to teams under the salary cap that will have first crack to bring him on board: Don't do it.

"If I get claimed by a team I don't want to play for, I would absolutely consider retirement," Billups told ESPNNY.com on Sunday. "The game's been really good to me, and I don't want anyone to feel bad for me. I've made a lot of money and I've saved most of it. I don't need the money now. I want to be able to play for something, a championship, and I want to be able to have my own destiny in my hands. If I don't, then retiring might have to be a decision I make."

Under the terms of the amnesty provision written into the new CBA, teams below the salary cap can bid for the amnestied player's services. The highest bidder is then responsible for that portion of the player's overall salary. If Billups goes unclaimed, he will become an unrestricted free agent at 5 p.m. (CT) tonight under the league's 48-hour waiver wire.

At that point Billups can choose his team. As he said, money won't be an option because he'll still receive his full $14.2 million owed to him by the Knicks for this season. So Billups will have no problem signing for the veteran's minimum with say, the Miami Heat or the Dallas Mavericks -- two contenders with point-guard needs.

As currently constructed, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and perhaps even Dominique Jones will be playing behind Jason Kidd, 38. A dependable backup is critical in this 66-game schedule to be played over 123 days.

Dallas will play 20 back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back that wraps up seven games in nine nights. The schedule is littered with intense stretches and March and April are particularly brutal months, with more games on the road than at home.

Is there a connection between Billups and the Mavs?

He played one season, 2002-03, under Rick Carlisle with the Detroit Pistons, getting swept out of the Eastern Conference finals by Kidd's New Jersey Nets.

Billups, 35, would come off the bench and split point-guard duties with the future Hall of Famer. With so many back-to-backs and long stretches, there could be nights where one or the other plays bigger minutes.

Would Billups want to play for the Mavs? Maybe. But would he rather start for the star-studded Heat? Mario Chalmers is the current starting point guard and rookie Norris Cole out of Cleveland State is the backup.

There's a good chance that come Christmas Day, Billups will be suited up inside the American Airlines Center. Take your pick which uniform he'll be wearing.

Halftime: Jason Terry (19) powers Mavs, 53-51

June, 12, 2011

MIAMI -- Jason Terry may have just completed the most important half of basketball of his career. He scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting to carry the Mavericks and slumping Dirk Nowitzki (1-of-12 FGs) to a 53-51 halftime lead.

Dirk shooting 1-of-12 and the Mavs lead? It simply continues the unpredictable, illogical pattern of this series. The Heat, getting 11 points from LeBron James and nine each from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, couldn't take advantage and needed a 14-0 run to rally from a 40-28 deficit.

Midway through the quarter, tension escalated after DeShawn Stevenson bumped Udonis Haslem after a timeout was called. Both teams converged at midcourt for a brief melee. Technicals were handed to Stevenson, Haslem and Mario Chalmers. The Mavs were awarded a technical free throw, which Nowitzki hit for his third point.

But Terry is the story. Coming off his 8-of-12 shooting performance for 21 points in Game 5, he's replicating his remarkable shooting stroke in the Game 4 clincher vs. the Lakers when he scored 32.

Nowitzki got in early foul trouble with two, and center Tyson Chandler will have to be cautious to start the third. He has three fouls to go with three points and four rebounds.

The Mavs are 7-of-14 from 3-point range, with Terry and Stevenson hitting three apiece. Stevenson hit two early in the second quarter to help Dallas build the first double-digit lead of the series.

It didn't last long, but with Nowitzki struggling, the Mavs will be happy to have the lead.

Twenty-four minutes until a championship?

J.J. Barea is biggest little man in Finals

June, 10, 2011
DALLAS -- The shortest starting shooting guard in the league is also the Dallas Mavericks' best penetrating point guard. So why not just call him what he was in Thursday's Game 5, a highly effective combo guard.

J.J. Barea played the game of his life Thursday on the grandest stage and in the most crucial game in franchise history.

"He’s been our little war-," Tyson Chandler said before stopping himself. "He’s been our big warrior throughout the entire season…He’s been our spark-plug.”

The barely 5-foot-10 Barea finished with a whirling-dervish stat line of 17 points and five assists. He dropped a playoff-high 4-of-5 from 3-point range and converted some incredible drives with high-banking finishes. His team-high eight points in the third quarter, absolutely victimizing Mike Bibby, helped Dallas go up 75-69 with 5:50 to go in the quarter.

He hit two deep 3s, one while falling to his back, and then he took Bibby to the right and banked in an off-balance, 12-foot runner.

"I’m a streaky shooter," Barea said. "If I get one in or something, I’m going to get going."

Barea is making his coach's decision to insert him into the starting lineup prior to Game 4 look like a brilliant strategic move. Barea has succeeded in bringing an additional playmaking element to the starting five without affecting the overall defense. Barea's two starts in the NBA Finals has matched his starts in the regular season.

As a starter against the Miami Heat, Barea is averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds with just two turnovers in 24 minutes a game.

And as usual, Barea, averaging 8.6 points and 3.3 assists in the postseason, deflected credit to the coach who trusts him and teammates who have grown to love him.

"It’s incredible the confidence he [Carlisle] has in me and what it does to my game. It's amazing," Barea said. "I’m just lucky to have him as a coach and to have the teammates I’ve got."

Barea is now a player the Heat must deal with defensively. The move to the starting lineup allows him to start the first and third quarters against the older and slower Bibby as opposed to be the bigger and stronger Mario Chalmers. His penetrations infuriated the Lakers to the point that center Andrew Bynum took him down with a mid-air forearm shiver in the Game 4 clincher.

"J.J. Barea was phenomenal behind screens, making shots," Dirk Nowitzki said. "J.J. in the starting lineup [was] attacking, got to the lane a couple of times, made some lay-ups. I thought that opened up his 3-ball."

Dirk Nowitzki leads Mavs to 60-57 lead at half

June, 9, 2011

DALLAS -- Jason Terry was right: The Dallas Mavericks have busted out of their shooting slump, hitting for 65.7 percent in the first half. Problem is the Heat are shooting 51.3 percent and creaming the Mavs on the boards.

So much has seemed to go right for the Mavs and so wrong for the Heat. Yet at the half, Dallas holds just a 60-57 lead.

Give Mario Chalmers credit. He has 13 points off the bench and is 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Chris Bosh has 13 points, Dwyane Wade has 11 -- and appears OK after leaving briefly with a hip contusion -- and LeBron James has just nine points, still not looking like the confident, aggressive player that is the King.

Dirk Nowitzki leads Dallas with 16 points, 10 in the second quarter. Tyson Chandler is having another strong game with 11 points, but he has just three rebounds -- an area that will have to pick up in the second half. Jason Terry also played a nice half with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, including a pretty baseline jumper over James late in the first half.

The Mavs would prefer a bigger lead, but they have to like their positioning with 24 minutes left to play in the final game of the series and season at American Airlines Center.

Slow-starting Heat end up with lead, 31-30

June, 9, 2011

DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler had nine of the Dallas Mavericks' 30 points and, somehow, the Miami Heat -- with Dwyane Wade in the trainer's room and LeBron James with only two points -- has a one-point lead after one quarter.

Once again, this NBA Finals is illogical and what happens next is anybody's guess.

In fact, Brian Cardinal gave the Mavs their biggest lead, 21-14, with a 3-pointer. Mario Chalmers, however, has made two 3-pointers, including his second buzzer-beating halfcourt heave of the series for the lead.

There is no word on Wade's condition. He left the game shortly after ramming into Cardinal on a drive. Cardinal was whistled for a charge, and Wade, who has a team-high eight points, did not return to the Heat bench for the start of the second quarter.

Dirk Nowitzki has six points and Cardinal has four.

Lineup change expected to stick in Game 5

June, 8, 2011

DALLAS -- J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, the two men involved in the Dallas Mavericks' Game 4 switcheroo, certainly expect it to stick for Thursday's Game 5 against the Miami Heat.

"It has to," Stevenson said. "It worked."

Stevenson moved from starting shooting guard to backup small forward in Game 4 and wound up playing more than 25 minutes, about 11 more than he was averaging in the NBA Finals as a starter. He recorded his first double-digit scoring effort of the playoffs with 11 points, all in the second quarter during a stretch in which he hit 3-of-4 from 3-point land and three in a row.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle made the move seeking an offensive spark early with an additional playmaker in Barea and to try to pick up the game's pace to better favor the Mavs' preferred style of play. However, the defensive adjustment was even more impactful. Carlisle wanted to reduce Shawn Marion's minutes so he opted to bring Stevenson off the bench behind Marion to help guard LeBron James. It paid off as James finished with eight points, his first-ever playoff game scoring in single figures.

"The reason to do it, there were several," Carlisle said. "There was the whole rotation. The issue with Marion's minutes, I thought we could address sort of in a residual way, I guess, for lack of a better word. Then, Miami is so active and such a great rotating team defensively that having playmaking on the floor is important. And so it just was something that I felt it was the right thing."

The lineup switch moved backup point guard Barea into the starting spot at shooting guard. It's an interesting move because when Barea is paired with Jason Kidd, the elder statesman tends to give the ball to the quick-footed Barea, the team's best penetrator, and tell him to go to work.

"It’s great, I like it," Barea said of starting next to Kidd. "He’s always giving me the ball, too, and telling me to attack, so I got to attack. When you’ve got Jason Kidd giving you the ball and telling you to attack, you better attack."

Barea would still like to make more shots. He was 3-of-9 for eight points in 22 minutes, and he'd love to have back a blown first-quarter layup down the middle of the lane where he might have been stunned just how clear his path was to the basket.

"I think since I was 3 years old I never missed a layup like that," Barea said. "It just stuck on the rim."

Barea does prefer his matchup in the starting lineup against the older, smaller and slower Mike Bibby as compared to Mario Chalmers off the bench. Barea had previously said that Chalmers did a good job of using his bigger body stay in front of him.

Defense is fine, but Mavs need jolt of 'O'

June, 7, 2011

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks spent the season preaching defense. But, three games into the NBA Finals and trailing the Miami Heat, 2-1, defense is not the problem.

The Mavs have held LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company to an average of 91.0 points a game. The Mavs, however, are averaging just 88.3 points, down from 100.2 in the regular season and 99.7 points in the first three series. If Dallas is going to tie up the Finals and have a chance to take a 3-2 lead back to Miami, it will because they finally get their free-flow, spread-the-wealth offense back in gear.

"We have to get the ball out quickly and push and look for early opportunities in transition, get this tempo up," cold-shooting guard Jason Terry said. "I just believe, honestly, if we score 100 points they can’t beat us. If it’s a 90-, 80-point game, which it has been the last three, then it gives them a chance. We get up in the 100s, I like our chances."

The Mavs are 6-1 in the playoffs when they score at least 100 points. The bad news for Dallas is that in 18 playoff games, the Heat and their smothering, swarming defense, have allowed 100 points once, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Chicago Bulls.

But, Dallas is shooting just 42.0 percent in the series, down from 47.5 percent in the regular season, and the Heat defense has turned them into a low possession team, averaging 70.1 shots in three games.

"Our ability to spread the floor and shoot is a big reason why we made it to the Finals, to really spread the ball around and shoot and make timely and big shots," Dirk Nowitzki said. "But, for some reason they're so long and athletic on the perimeter that they're able to swarm me and my post-ups, and when we swing, they're still athletic and quick enough to get to our shooters on the weak side and run them off, or at least contest them."

Turnovers are obviously another significant issue. The Mavs have 45 turnovers for 62 Miami points --accounting for more than 22 percent of the Heat's total scoring -- compared to 37 Heat turnovers for 43 Dallas points.

"I've got to do a better job of putting my teammates in a position to be successful," said Jason Kidd, who has 12 turnovers in the three games. "I think that's the one thing from here on out I'm going to try to do."

As Nowitzki said, the Heat defense has been excellent doubling him, yet being aware enough and quick enough to close on the perimeter. Terry has experienced the brunt of that force. He has not shot well and has struggled through two awful fourth quarters. And because James and Wade log heavy minutes, the Mavs' prized bench has been unable to capitalize on a true bench-on-bench situation.

The Dallas bench, the highest-scoring during the regular season at about 20 points, is averaging half that in this series. J.J. Barea, who turned into a mini-star with his breathtaking penetrations against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, has been totally removed as a threat. He's averaging 4.3 points and shooting 21.1 percent.

He got into the lane in Game 1, but couldn't finish. Ever since, his drives to the rim have been few and far between.

"Any time I get by him [Heat guard Mario Chalmers], LeBron is waiting for me at the free throw line and the big guys are waiting for me under the rim," Barea said. "Team effort, they're doing a good job. They know if they want to win they've got to be like that."

And the Mavs have to get back to a free-flowing offense that puts points on the board.

Should Heat's buzzer-beater have counted?

June, 6, 2011

DALLAS – It appeared that the officials missed a backcourt violation against the Heat on the final play of the first quarter, which resulted in the points that made the difference in Game 3.

Mario Chalmers did not have his right foot established in the front court when he caught a backwards pass from Udonis Haslem. Chalmers took one step and launched a 36-footer, making the shot to give the Heat a seven-point lead in the 88-86 win over the Mavericks.

“They throw in a halfcourt shot that may have been a backcourt violation at the end of the first,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, lightly questioning the call without prompting. “That’s a great play for them, and it’s a tough one for us.”

The call is not reviewable, according to NBA spokesman Tim Frank.

Mavs seek control of turnovers, rebounds

June, 4, 2011

DALLAS -- More than once Dirk Nowitzki said the Dallas Mavericks got "lucky" in Game 2, stealing off with a 95-93 victory after trailing 88-73 with seven minutes to play.

It's hard to argue, at least from the standpoint that the Mavs committed 20 turnovers that the Miami Heat turned into 31 points -- or one-third of their total output -- and lived to tell about it.

"We can't turn the ball over against this team. They have two of the most athletic players I've ever seen," said Nowitzki, who had five turnovers, mostly passes picked off. "We talked about it in the flow of the game that we just can't turn the ball over. Every time we mishandle the ball, it's an automatic layup against this team. Sometimes it just happens. They're so good. They have quick hands. They cover a lot of ground. And so turnovers unfortunately are a part of the game."

The Mavs had six turnovers in the fourth quarter, but five came in the first 4:37 as the Heat cashed them in for a Dwyane Wade dunk, four Wade free throws, a Mario Chalmers layup and Wade's corner 3-pointer that put Miami up 88-73 with 7:41 to go.

From there, Dallas committed just one turnover and reeled off a 22-5 run for the epic comeback victory to tie the NBA Finals at 1-1.

"Down the stretch we did a good job, kept the ball in our playmakers' hands with Jet and Jason Kidd and did a good job of protecting the ball," Nowitzki said. "Like I said, we got lucky down the stretch. Hopefully, we can carry this momentum in Game 3."

The Mavs were not a bad turnover team during the regular season, ranking 17th in the league at 13.5 per game. Of some concern against the suffocating Heat defense is Jason Kidd's eight turnovers in the first two games. Overall in the playoffs, Dallas has actually reduced its burden by a full turnover at a time when defenses play tighter. The Mavs committed just 11 turnovers in Game 1, so Game 2's 20 could be viewed as an aberration.

What the Mavs hope is not an aberration is their dominant rebounding in Game 2 coming off a beating in the opener -- 46-36 overall and 16-6 on the offensive boards. Rebounding has been pounded into the Mavs by coach Rick Carlisle since the West finals when the Oklahoma City Thunder did a number on Dallas, especially on the offensive glass.

Nowitzki, who wasn't sure how the torn tendon the middle finger on his left hand would affect his rebounding, led the charge with 11 boards in Game 2. Shawn Marion and Kidd each grabbed eight and Tyson Chandler had seven as Dallas took control, 41-30.

Miami, which had several massive throw-down dunks on offensive rebounds, seemed like it had more than six. But that was it for eight second-chance points. Dallas had 15 which helped offset the 16-point turnover differential in the Heat's favor.

Peja Stojakovic liked his looks in Game 1

June, 2, 2011

MIAMI -- Peja Stojakovic was shut out in Game 1, his first scoreless outing in nearly three months. The midseason pickup took just shots -- all 3-pointers -- during an unproductive 15-minute stint during the 92-84 loss to the Heat.

Stojakovic said he got good shots and his stroke was fine.

"It felt good," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow is going to be a better day for us and for me."

Stojakovic hasn't had a good day in a couple of weeks. His shooting struggles were somewhat masked during the Western Conference finals by the Mavericks beating Oklahoma City. Stojakovic averaged just 5.0 points on 31.3-percent shooting in the six-game series.

His does his most damage out the arc, but made just 5-of-21 3-pointers (23.8 percent) against the Thunder. That came after a series against the Lakers were he averaged 12.5 points, hit double figures three times and shot 52.4 percent from downtown in the four-game sweep of the Lakers.

Stojakovic last put up a goose egg March 3 in 13-minutes against Memphis. But he was only part of the problem off Rick Carlisle's bench in Game 1. The second unit scored postseason-low 17 points Tuesday night. Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, Brendan Haywood and Stojakovic shot 4 of 22 as a unit.

"We had pretty good looks," Stojakovic said. "We just didn't knock it down. They tried to run us off of the 3-point line. We just didn't make those looks."

Heat backup point guard Mario Chalmers said running at shooters and forcing them to put the ball on the floor was part of the plan to keep the Mavs bench in check.

"Just keep a body on them," Chalmers said. "J.J. is tough when he gets in the paint. He creates things for everybody else. We want to keep Terry from getting open looks, and especially Stojakovic, who's one of the best shooters in the game. We want to run them off the 3 and keep a body on them at all times."

Stevenson has unique view of James, D-Wade

June, 2, 2011

MIAMI -- The Dallas Mavericks had a couple of miscalculations in Game 1 regarding LeBron James. Most glaring, of course, was being ill-prepared for the King to drape Jason Terry in the fourth quarter.

To start the game, the Mavs expected James to be the primary ball-handler, basically the point guard, as he was for the vast majority of the East finals against the Chicago Bulls. Because of that coach Rick Carlisle started the game with DeShawn Stevenson on James and Shawn Marion on Dwyane Wade.

Carlisle likes for Stevenson to pressure the ball upcourt to force the offense to set up with about 17 or 16 seconds on the shot clock instead of 20, and that's especially true against the halfcourt oriented Heat, who thrive on isolation with their two superstar wings.

However, Stevenson quickly switched over to Wade because James didn't assume the point.

"Coach wanted me to pick him up fullcourt. The other series [against Chicago] basically he was a point guard, brought the ball down," Stevenson said. "[In Game 1] he didn't do that, so coach felt like it was a waste doing that so then we switched back."

Stevenson has the unique situation of having to guard both superstars. He played just 14:26 in Game 1 after being replaced quickly in the third quarter with J.J. Barea.

Dallas did a decent job on James, yet he still finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, a stat line that would seem to be able to demoralize defenders.

"I think he had a decent game. I don't think he had a game where he just dominated, but I that shows a lot about the type of player he is and the All-Star that he is that he can have an OK game and he's 24, nine and five," Stevenson said. "We've got to let either two of the big three score and stop the other one, but we can't let them get off and then Mario Chalmers make big 3s and Mike Miller coming in making big 3s. We've got to stop that."

And then there's D-Wade, who finished with 22 points, six assists and 10 rebounds, and at times felt like an afterthought.

"I just think right now he's deferring, which he has to because he has two other All-Stars on the team. Young All-Stars, too," Stevenson said.

It was suggested that Wade is playing the role of facilitator through the first half of the game and conserving his energy for the fourth quarter when the Heat have been so dominant this postseason. There's been speculation that Wade is playing hurt, although he emphatically said he is not. Stevenson backed up his claim.

"Dwyane's Dwyane," Stevenson said. "I don't think he's hurt. He's a tough guy, he's from Chicago."

Fantasy GM No. 6: Draft-day dealin'

June, 23, 2010
For Part VI of our fantasy offseason series, we’ll do some pre-draft wheeling and dealing. It involves a couple of Texas two-steps, a couple of Eastern Conference teams, and it requires Dallas taking on a lot of salary. But I’d argue that it makes the Mavs much better with a chance to score in the lottery. And it go a ‘lil summin’ like this.

The Basics: There are three teams involved here (Dallas, Detroit and Miami) and two separate transactions to make it all happen. Detroit and Miami will get varied degrees of salary relief and Dallas will get an aging player at a position of need but it’ll also net a lottery pick.

The How: In move No. 1, Dallas will use the trade exception from the Kris Humphries deal to acquire Daequan Cook and his $2.1 million dollar salary. Miami can obtain Dallas’ No. 50 pick or $1 -- who cares? Make it what you want. This will make more sense after the ensuing transaction, but the obvious motivation for Miami is to shed more salary for the summer of 2010 and Dallas’ motivation is because they’re about to get other cool stuff. Move No. 2 is convoluted, but it goes down like this:

[+] EnlargeRichard Hamilton
Allen Einstein/Getty ImagesThe Pistons might be willing to give up a lottery pick in a deal to get rid of Richard Hamilton's contract.
Dallas acquires Richard Hamilton and his $37.5 million over the next three seasons as well as the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft from Detroit and Miami point Mario Chalmers.

Miami acquires Eduardo Najera and J.J. Barea

Detroit acquires Matt Carroll, DeShawn Stevenson and Michael Beasley plus the No. 18 pick in this year’s draft and $1 million from Dallas.

The Why: For Dallas it’s a lot of money to take on softened by the blow of moving Matt Caroll’s contract (almost $12 million over the next three seasons). But they get a lottery pick to try and acquire a young big and they get a usable two in Rip Hamilton. I’ll be honest: At this point I’m not a big Hamilton fan whatsoever and fully expect him to be a complete financial disaster by the end of his contract. I do think, however, that he gives the team some flexibility at the two if Mr. Cuban can absorb the dough. It also makes moving Caron Butler a lot more palatable if he helps you net another key transaction this summer. The real excitement here is getting the No. 7 pick where there are plenty of tantalizing young players that provide athleticism and youth. And Chalmers will be a suitable replacement for Barea.

Miami gets all that cap space to go chase the dream team. By moving Cook, Chalmers and Beasley for Barea and Najera they’ll add another $3.1 million in cap space. If they choose to release Najera immediately it’ll be $3.6 million. Plus they won’t have the $1.2 million they’d have to allocate towards the No. 18 pick. That means they’ll have upwards of $45 million in cap space. Wow.

Detroit gets to unload Hamilton’s contract. The difference between the combined total of Carroll and Stevenson’s contract over the life of the deals is about $20 million dollars. Dallas throws in $1 million this season so Detroit’s bottom line is about the same for 2010-11. So the logic for the Pistons is that they trade the No. 7 pick for Beasley and the No. 18 pick and then they save an additional $20 million by parting with a player in Hamilton who doesn’t fit their plans whatsoever. They’ll be way younger and have the chance to score a lot of points while spending way less money over the long haul. If the cap were the same for 2011, this move would put them under the cap in the neighborhood of $15 million or so.

The Bottom Line: For Dallas this is a way to get better while also adding a crucial lottery pick. They’ll also have several super-valuable trade chips in Erick Dampier’s expiring contract, Butler’s productivity/expiring contract and a potential sign-and-trade with Brendan Haywood if they don’t want to keep him. These moves are pricey, but they add youth and veteran production, and Dallas still maintains tremendous flexibility for other moves. Me says, make it happen.



Monta Ellis
19.1 4.2 1.9 33.7
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.4
AssistsR. Rondo 6.4
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksT. Chandler 1.2