Dallas Mavericks: Miami Heat

Now what will Daryl Morey do?

The Houston Rockets were willing to step into luxury-tax territory to exercise their right to keep Chandler Parsons if they were first able to sign Chris Bosh to a near-max deal. That scenario is off the table, however, after Bosh's decision to take more money to stay in Miami.

Will the Rockets still match the Dallas Mavericks' three-year, $46 million offer to the restricted free-agent small forward? At this point, the only sure thing is that we will find out by 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday night.

The Rockets were willing to pay a steep price for Parsons if they succeeded in their offseason mission to add a stretch-shooting All-Star power forward to complement their current stars, shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard. But that plan was messed up when Houston missed out on Bosh.

Maybe Morey, the Rockets' ultra-aggressive general manager, will decide to keep the core of Houston's 54-win team from last season together. Perhaps he'll swallow hard and agree to pay Parsons more than $15 million per year, knowing that would take the Rockets out of the Kevin Love sweepstakes if there is one next summer.

This certainly isn't the decision Morey thought he'd have to make this summer.

First, Morey couldn't have anticipated Parsons signing such a massive offer sheet when the Rockets made him a restricted free agent by declining the team option to pay him $965,000 next season in the final year of the former second-round pick's rookie contract. Mark Cuban and the Mavs threw a major wrench in the Rockets' plans by getting Parsons to agree to a near-max offer as soon as a deal could be signed.

Morey also believed he'd have a premier stretch-shooting power forward in place -- a perfect fit with Harden and Howard -- before the clock ran out on the Rockets' right to match Parsons. Pat Riley and the Heat threw a wrench into those plans by making Bosh a lot richer.

The Mavs and Heat, two-time Finals foes, formed a tag team of sorts to make Morey's job as hard as possible this summer.

How will Morey respond? Stay tuned.
Shawn Marion has no shortage of suitors for what might be the final contract of his NBA career.

The Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and a few other teams join the Dallas Mavericks among those who have expressed interest in Marion, a source said.

Marion, 36, a 15-year veteran, said that he planned to play two more seasons. He has made it clear that his priority in free agency is finding a team that has a chance to compete for a championship, a group that he believes includes the Mavs.

"I'm going to weigh my options out and see what it's going to take for me to get another championship ring," Marion said the day after the Mavs' season ended. "I would love to add to the ring I have."

The market for Marion, who remains an outstanding, versatile defender, is expected to be in the range of $5 million per year.
Mark Cuban strongly denied a report by The Oregonian that he hired a retired FBI agent to investigate NBA officiating after the Dallas Mavericks’ controversial loss to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals.

 

According to The Oregonian, 20-year FBI veteran Warren Flagg said he consulted with Cuban after those Finals, which will always be remembered in Dallas for Dwyane Wade’s parade to the free throw line during the Heat’s four consecutive wins after the Mavs took a 2-0 lead. The newspaper reported in the fifth part of its series on NBA officiating that Flagg said Cuban was considering a lawsuit. The Mavs owner was fined $250,000 for storming onto the floor and shouting at referees after the Mavs’ Game 5 loss.

However, that’s not the story Flagg told during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Fitzsimmons and Friedo.” Flagg, who worked with disgraced referee Tim Donaghy's defense team, said Cuban called him in 2009 to ask what Donaghy wrote in his book that was released later that year.

“I said, ‘Look, Mr. Cuban, this is what I will tell you. You had an issue in 2006; I think you ought to sue the NBA and get your fine back,'" Flagg said Tuesday. "His quote to me was, ‘Flaggman, I can’t kill the golden goose.’

“I laughed. That was the extent of the conversation.”
They’d love to come back to Dallas, but the veteran free agents on the Mavericks’ roster will all be willing to listen to any contenders interested in their services this summer.

The mutual interest is strong enough that it’s a decent bet that Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Devin Harris will re-sign with the Mavs in July. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision each of them getting intriguing offers from teams that can claim they’re better positioned than the Mavs to make a title run.

A look at a couple of contenders that could be fits for each of the trio:

MARION

Shane Battier, the Heat’s savvy, versatile veteran defender, intends to retire at the end of the season. The “Matrix,” whose defense was such a critical ingredient to the Heat’s lone playoff series loss in the LeBron James era, would make a lot of sense as Battier’s replacement.

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Marion just happens to still have a home in Miami from his brief stint with the Heat in 2008 and ’09. His hometown of Chicago could also be a fit for Marion.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was rather perturbed when the Chicago front office traded Luol Deng in a salary-dump deal before the deadline. Marion has some of the same traits as Deng – toughness, defensive versatility – at a presumably much lower price. If the Bulls add Marion, they’d likely be able to lighten the load on Jimmy Butler, who averaged 38.7 minutes per game last season.

Miami, assuming its stars stay, would be able to offer Marion no more than the taxpayer midlevel exception ($3.28 salary for next season). The Bulls’ bid would likely be in that same range. But Marion, who has made about $133 million in his career, made it clear that the chance to win another championship is much more important than the size of his checks next season.

“When July 1 comes, I'll look at my options and see which options are best suited to me to add to my legacy,” Marion said. “It's not about money right now. I've made a lot of money in my career. I've been truly been blessed. I'm not taking any of this for granted. I've just got to weigh my options.”

CARTER

Told that ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that the Toronto Raptors are kicking around the idea of trying to bring Carter back north of the border, the man formerly known as “Air Canada” couldn’t help but crack a big smile.

“Really? I didn’t know that,” Carter said, raising his eyebrows. “You never know. I think more than anything I’m hoping that a lot of teams that appreciate, at my age, what I bring to the table.”

Carter’s divorce with the Raptors in 2004 didn’t go well, but the idea of his return should be appealing to Toronto for many reasons other than a potential marketing boon. The Raptors could really use a boost to their bench scoring, and Carter could serve as a mentor for promising young wing players DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross.

For Carter, a return to Toronto could complete the circle of his career and give him a chance to help the Raptors advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, when he was a rising superstar in his third season. The Raptors fell one game short in the first round this season, losing to the Brooklyn Nets in seven games.

Carter’s best chance to compete for a championship might come just north of the Red River. Oklahoma City considered the midseason signing of Caron Butler to be a key acquisition. Carter, a better shooter and athlete, would be an upgrade for the Thunder.

HARRIS

Of these three, money is most important to Harris, who had made much less than Marion and Carter over the course of his career. He’s hoping to get something in the range of the three-year deal for a little more than $9 million that he originally agreed to with the Mavs last summer before the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery.

A couple of West playoff teams that might be willing to give Harris that kind of deal are the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Both could be in the market for a quality veteran point guard this summer.

Portland’s Mo Williams doesn’t plan to exercise his option to make a salary of $2.77 million, preferring to test the market in hopes of getting a significant raise. Williams has been a good fit with the Blazers, but if his price tag is too high, Harris could be a good alternative for a combo guard off the bench.

The Warriors traded for Steve Blake this season, when he made $4 million in a deal that expires this summer. Harris could provide a similar veteran presence in a more athletic package for Golden State.

LeBron: Mavs are 'reason I am who I am today'

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
11:37
PM CT
DALLAS -- Thank goodness for the Dallas Mavericks that they landed a knockout punch on LeBron James when they could.

Then again, the Mavs’ title a few seasons ago at the Miami Heat’s expense helped create this monster.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images"This [Mavs] team has been a reason why I am the player that I am today, because they beat us," LeBron James said after his 42-point show against Dallas.
Those 2011 NBA Finals, when the Mavs put on a clutch clinic and King James wilted in crunch time, forced the NBA’s most impressive physical specimen to take a harsh look in the mirror and work hard to maximize his immense talent. That series gave a major motivational boost to a man who has a reasonable goal to bump a legend off the league’s mythical Mount Rushmore.

“This team has been a reason why I am the player that I am today, because they beat us,” James said after putting on a 42-point, nine-rebound, six-assist show in the Heat’s 117-106 victory Tuesday night on the Mavs’ home floor. “When they beat us, I went into a place I haven’t been before in a long time. I went back to the fundamentals of the game. I went into breaking down every aspect of my game to get better, because I didn’t perform at the level I knew I could have or should have during those Finals. …

“The Mavericks are probably the reason why I am who I am today.”

That’s a force that the Mavs simply can’t reckon with, especially not when James is knocking down jumpers.

That was the case Tuesday night, when James was 16-of-23 from the floor and hit half of his eight 3-point attempts.

Somebody on the Mavs’ bench yapped at James in the third quarter, telling him he wasn’t going to hit another 3. Well, this isn’t 2011, when Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson talked trash to James and lived to tell about it. The four-time MVP knocked down 3s on back-to-back possession during his personal 8-0 run in the fourth quarter, tying the score with the first and giving the Heat the lead for good with the second.

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“He’s been the best player in the world the last two years, carried them to a championship,” said Dirk Nowitzki, the best player in the world during the 2011 playoffs. “I mean, if he shoots the ball like that, you can’t guard him.”

You sure can’t guard James if he’s uncontested in transition. A spectacular finish is guaranteed in that situation. That’s how James got his first couple of buckets in this game, starting with a half-court alley-oop from Dwyane Wade that got a crowd littered with lifelong (ha!) Heat fans buzzing.

“When we turned it over, he was gone,” said Shawn Marion, the only other Mav remaining from the 2011 Finals roster and Dallas’ primary defender on James, calling James a "freak of nature" and "a train" when he gets in transition. “He’s one of the fastest guys in the league in the open court. After his fourth open-court dunk, I guess the basket starts to look a little bit bigger for him. He starts trying to pull 3s and he hit some. It just opened the game up.”

That’s been the norm for James against the Mavs since his Finals failure.

The American Airlines Center was a house of horrors for James in that series. He averaged only 14 points on 31.8 percent shooting in three games here during that series.

His three visits to Dallas since then? All James has done is put up 34.3 points per outing while shooting 65.5 percent in three double-digit Heat wins.

Not that the Mavs have had much more success slowing down James in Miami over the last few seasons. His numbers are nearly as impressive (30 ppg, 61.1 field goal percentage) in the Heat’s three home wins over Dallas since the Mavs chugged champagne in Miami.

James had 39 points on 14-of-18 shooting in a Nov. 15 win over the Mavs in Miami. That was his season-high scoring total until this meeting with the Mavs.

“He is great and we know he is great,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He scored a bundle of points on us last time and he was even better tonight.”

Dallas, starting with Marion and the Mavs’ coaching staff, deserves immense credit for making James look like a mere mortal when the stakes were highest. The living legend seems determined to never, ever let that happen again.
DALLAS -- For coach Erik Spoelstra, the Miami Heat’s annual trip to Dallas is a reminder of a title lost and lessons learned.

The 2011 Mavs, who remain the only team to beat LeBron James’ Heat in a playoff series, might have delayed a Miami dynasty. Or maybe Miami doesn’t win the last two titles unless the Mavs’ upset forced the so-called superteam to address its flaws and improve its game.

LeBron James
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyThe Mavericks held LeBron James to an average of 17.8 points during the six-game 2011 NBA Finals.
Spoelstra firmly believes that the Mavs pushed the Heat to greater heights.

“That was a very humbling experience for all of us,” Spoelstra said after the Heat’s Tuesday morning shootaround. “We had to reinvent ourselves. We had to be honest with ourselves that we had to improve, that the game that we were playing was not good enough. That might not have happened if we would have had success that first year, but we came back more committed to doing things differently.”

That started with James, the scapegoat of those finals after the Mavs made him look like a mere mortal, holding him to 17.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting during the six-game series. The Mavs executed a genius defensive game plan, with Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson doing outstanding individual jobs guarding James, who was turned into a passive facilitator for much of those Finals.

No player in NBA history has been as heavily criticized during an offseason, which happened to be extra long due to the lockout. James took advantage of that time to fix a hole in his game the Mavs exploited.

(Read full post)

Mavs runners-up to Heat for Greg Oden

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
12:46
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DALLAS -- Dwight Howard wasn’t the only big-name big man that the Mavericks tried to sign this summer.

The Mavs were also in the mix for Greg Oden, the oft-injured No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft who ended up signing with the Miami Heat. In fact, Oden said his decision came down to Dallas or Miami.

“It’s just a good organization,” Oden said of the Mavs. “I know the training staff and I know they’re really good. Their track record shows it. That was the main thing.”

Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith, who also works with Team USA, is immensely respected around the NBA. The Mavs' recruiting pitch to Oden included a detailed plan of how Smith’s staff would help his continued recovery from multiple microfracture knee surgeries and mentioned how the Mavs’ training staff helped Tyson Chandler re-establish himself as a high-caliber starting center after arriving in Dallas with an injury-prone tag.

Oden, who made his Heat debut Jan. 15 and has played in nine games for Miami, opted to go to the two-time defending champions in large part because he wanted a chance to win a title.

“I’m happy about that,” said Oden, who has 23 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks in 73 minutes this season. “I’m on this team and we’re still working towards that. That’s the goal and that’s the plan. For them, they want to get three. For me, I want to get one.”

Oden has found a good fit in Miami, but he’s only under contract with the Heat for the rest of the season, having signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. With the Mavs sure to be searching for center depth again this summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if they engage in conversations with the 7-footer again.
DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki described his feelings for the Miami Heat this summer as “probably about as close as it gets” to hate for him.

Nowitzki got sweet revenge by clinching the 2011 title in Miami, crossing off the final line on his NBA legend to-do list, but that doesn’t erase the deep wounds from the Mavs’ meltdown against the Heat in the 2006 Finals.

And there’s still ample bitterness between Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade, the MVPs of those Finals. Nowitzki will never forget Wade’s months-after-the-fact ripping of the big German’s leadership after their first Finals meeting, words Wade had to swallow in 2011, when the Mavs handed the Heat what remains their lone playoff series loss since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach.

“We said hi and that’s about it,” Nowitzki said of his interactions with Wade. “We’re not going to go to dinner or anything.”

With all that history, it’d be fun to pump up Tuesday night’s visit from the Heat as the continuation of an intense rivalry. It just wouldn’t be realistic.

Since Nowitzki and crew chugged champagne in Miami, the Heat is undefeated against the Mavs. Maybe Miami gets a little extra inspiration by looking up in the American Airlines Center rafters and seeing the Mavs’ championship banner. The Heat won by an average of 17 points during its trips to Dallas the last two seasons.

And the Heat were the ones chugging champagne at the end of those seasons, while the Mavs haven’t won a playoff game.

“The last two years, they’re champs,” Nowitzki said. “One year we were the eight seed going into the playoffs and got swept, the next year we didn’t make the playoffs. It’s kind of hard to have a rivalry if we’re not even a playoff team.

“Back in ’06, obviously they beat us; ’11 was a great payback. But those two years are long gone. They’re the best team the last two years. We’ll see if we can still compete with them.”

The Mavs headed into the All-Star break with some major momentum. They won six of their last seven games, capping off that run with a road win against the Indiana Pacers, who have emerged as the Heat’s primary rival.

For the Mavs, Tuesday night is about picking up where they left off, possibly taking another step toward getting back into the playoffs. That's Nowitzki's narrow focus. No sense in sweating a rivalry that seems so long ago.

Red-hot Dirk didn't get chance to hit dagger

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
10:23
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The Mavericks made boosting their basketball IQ a major offseason priority because of late-game situations like Friday's.

That didn’t keep the Mavs from crumbling in their first crunch-time opportunity of the season.

Give LeBron James credit for carrying the Miami Heat to the 110-104 win Friday night. He shredded the Dallas defense in remarkably efficient fashion, scoring a season-high 39 points on 14-of-18 shooting. But the Mavs boarded their private jet for the brief flight to Orlando feeling like they let one slip away.

As they should have. This had all the makings of a classic performance by Dirk Nowitzki, one of the premier NBA closers of his generation, until the Mavs couldn’t figure out how to get the grooving German the ball with the game on the line.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsNone of Dirk Nowitzki's 28 points came in the game's closing moments when the Mavs failed to get him opportunities to score.
Nowitzki snapped out of a minislump, by his standards, by scoring a season-high 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. His last bucket was a thing of beauty: After catching the ball on the left wing, he faced up against Chris Bosh, pump-faked, took one dribble to his left and swished a 17-foot baseline step back to trim the Heat’s lead to one point.

The problem: Dirk knocked down that shot with 2:31 remaining. He barely touched the ball the rest of the game despite the fact that he had the hot hand, having scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

“Dirk’s No. 1 thing is he wants to throw the daggers,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said before the game, according to The Dallas Morning News, downplaying concern about the need for Nowitzki to wear a rubber sleeve on his left knee. “He wants to be the guy at the end of the game hitting that shot. If he could, he’d wait to the end of the game and go in and do that. He wants to be able to produce when the pressure’s on, period. End of story.”

Nowitzki’s body was clearly able Friday night. There’s no doubt that he craved the chance to hit daggers in Miami, which would have conjured up sweet memories of the champagne-soaked 2011 title celebration.

The Mavs just didn’t feed their beast when it mattered most.

Nowitzki got one touch the rest of the game, and that lasted for less than a second. With Dallas trailing by three points the possession after his step-back jumper, Nowitzki caught a cross-court pass on the left wing outside the 3-point arc with Miami guard Norris Cole within breath-smelling distance and immediately gave up the ball. He never got it back, with that possession ending on a turnover when Dwyane Wade tied up DeJuan Blair on a pass in the paint from Jose Calderon.

Nowitzki, defended by James, was a high-profile decoy on the next possession. With the Mavs still trailing by three, Monta Ellis caught the ball on the right wing with seven seconds remaining on the shot clock and ended up launching a low-percentage, off-the-dribble 3-point attempt that wasn’t close.

Determined to get Dirk involved, coach Rick Carlisle called for the Mavs’ bread-and-butter play on the next possession with Dallas trailing by five. The high pick-and-pop with Ellis didn’t exactly work as planned, with Ellis leaving his feet in the paint and throwing a prayer of a pass back to Nowitzki at the top of the arc. James, who never left Nowitzki’s side on the play, came up with the steal for the Mavs’ 24th turnover of the night.

Three critical possessions in crunch time, two turnovers, one low-percentage shot and only one brief touch for Nowitzki.

Not exactly what the Mavs envisioned with their new, improved, experienced backcourt during winning time.

"It's fun to compete at the highest level against the champs,” Nowitzki told reporters. “We've just got to be a little better."

Nowitzki couldn’t have been much better offensively. When he’s in that kind of groove, the Mavs have to get him the ball with the game on the line.

Cowboys fans boo LeBron James

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
11:56
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Jerry Jones showed a lot of love for LeBron James, inviting the NBA MVP to be his guest at the Cowboys’ season opener Sunday night, when James roamed the field during pregame warmups and watched the win over the Giants from a luxury suite.

Cowboys fans, on the other hand, didn’t exactly give King James a warm welcome.

The AT&T Stadium sellout crowd, which obviously included a lot of Mavericks fans, booed when James was shown on the massive video boards during a timeout in the second half. James playfully took off his Cowboys cap and pointed to it in a I-come-in-peace kind of gesture, but that didn’t do much to quiet the boos.

Apparently the 2011 Finals – and the mocking of a sick Dirk Nowitzki by James and Dwyane Wade – are still fresh on folks’ minds in the Metroplex.

The boos didn’t seem to spoil the night for James. His Cowboys won, and he celebrated the victory by running pass routes with his friends on the field after midnight.

James, a former high school football star, posted a picture on Instagram of him dunking over the crossbar.

 

The thought of James’ NFL potential has certainly crossed the Cowboys’ mind. Dez Bryant said this summer he thought James could be “a beast” in the NFL with a couple of weeks to prepare. On his KRLD-FM radio show Friday, Jones joked that he wished he could get James suited up to play tight end.

Maybe that’s the only way James could win over fans around here. Heck, these folks cheered for Terrell Owens when he wore a star on his helmet.

Breaking down the Mavericks' schedule

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
5:00
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Some quick thoughts after scanning the Mavericks’ schedule for the 2013-14 season ...

SAVE THE DATE
A look at some of the Mavs’ marquee home games:

vs. Atlanta Hawks, Oct. 30: It's not necessarily a marquee opponent, but it's the season opener and the first time to see Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis wear a Mavs uniform in a game that matters.

vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Nov. 5: This game obviously loses some luster if Kobe Bryant can’t complete a remarkable comeback from a torn Achilles tendon to be ready for the first week of the season. The Lakers come back to Dallas on Dec. 7.

vs. Houston Rockets, Nov. 20: Does deciding to go to Houston make Dwight Howard a villain in Dallas? Maybe the Mavs’ creative team can come up with another video for the Rockets’ Superman. The Rockets return to Dallas on Jan. 29.

vs. San Antonio Spurs, Dec. 26: Perhaps Pop will give the Mavs a late Christmas present and leave a star or two in San Antonio. The Mavs might be fighting for a playoff berth when the Spurs make their second trip to Dallas on April 10.

vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Jan. 3: It might be painful for Mavs fans to watch Chris Paul after all the hoping and praying that he’d sign with Dallas went for naught. But Lob City, which returns to Dallas on March 27, is still a must-watch.

vs. Miami Heat, Feb. 18: Think it bothers LeBron James to see that 2011 championship banner hanging from the American Airlines Center rafters? The Mavs are still the only team to beat the Heat in a playoff series since King James took his talents to South Beach.

vs. Brooklyn Nets, March 23: Don’t expect a jersey retirement ceremony for new Nets coach Jason Kidd.

vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, March 25: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. only make one short trip to Dallas this season, unless the Mavs and Thunder match up in the playoffs for the third time in four years.

TOUGHEST STRETCH
The NBA didn’t do Dallas any favors in April, when the Mavs could be scratching and clawing for one of the West’s final playoff bids. Five of the Mavs’ final seven games are on the road, including a four-game-in-six-night stretch that starts against the two L.A. teams. Projected West contenders Golden State and San Antonio are among the three teams scheduled to visit the AAC in April.

SOFTEST STRETCH
The second half of January should be good for the Mavs. They play half of those eight games on the road, but that includes trips to Phoenix, Cleveland and Toronto, none of which are the rear end of back-to-backs. Houston is the only potential contender to come to the AAC in that stretch, when the Mavs will also face Portland, Detroit and Sacramento at home.

Sources: Mavs interested in Greg Oden

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
9:47
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The Mavericks passed on Andrew Bynum because of his bad knees, but they’re interested in the Greg Oden reclamation project.

PODCAST
Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Listen Listen
Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that the Mavs formally reached out to Oden’s camp to make sure they’d be involved in the bidding for the services of the 2007 No. 1 overall pick. The Mavs made that contact even before they opted to not make an offer to Bynum.

Why would the Mavs be willing to take a chance on Oden but not Bynum? The price will be significantly lower for Oden, who hasn’t played since the 2009-10 season.

The Mavs are among the teams who have been keeping tabs on Oden’s rehab for the last two years. That group also includes the two Finals teams, and the Mavs would likely have to significantly outbid the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs to get Oden.

One source close to the process told Stein that the Mavericks will get "legit consideration" from Oden alongside the teams previously in his top three: San Antonio, Miami and Cleveland.

Oden’s bad knees limited him to 82 games in two seasons with Portland -- three, if you count the 2007-08 season, which he missed entirely after injuring his right knee in the preseason. Oden averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks before his forced sabbatical.
Three seasons after LeBron James took his talent to South Beach, the 2011 Dallas Mavericks remain the only team to keep the Miami Heat off the NBA championship throne.

PODCAST
Kurt Rambis joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if Gregg Popovich deserves to be second-guessed for his Game 6 and Game 7 decisions, LeBron James' performance and what it feel like to be on the winning and losing end of the NBA Finals.

Listen Listen
How quickly they disrespect.

Giddy after their Game 7 win Thursday night, Heat coach Erik Spoelsta and supporting star Dwyane Wade tipped their caps to their Finals foe, claiming the San Antonio Spurs offered a tougher challenge than any playoff foe they’ve faced. Never mind the fact that the Mavs won the 2011 Finals in six games, celebrating on Miami’s home court before hitting Club Liv.

“We have as much respect for them as anybody in this league,” Spoelstra said of the Spurs. “And that was the toughest series we've ever been in.”

That essentially echoed the comment made by Wade during the on-court trophy presentation.

PODCAST
Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Miami to look back at the best NBA Finals we've seen in a long time and discuss the latest on the Mavericks' dream to land Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

Listen Listen
James seemed to be alone among the Heat’s central figures in remembering losing to the Mavs. He referenced the offseason work he put in after the Mavs’ defense made him look mortal in those 2011 Finals.

“To be able to put in the work that I've put in since I got out of the cave after that Dallas series and for it to pay off like this, it's the ultimate,” James said after earning the Finals MVP award for the second straight year.

The Heat are now 11-1 in playoff series with James. The Mavs are responsible for the lone blemish on that record after Miami finished off this run with Game 7 wins over the Indiana Pacers and Spurs in the last two rounds.

“As tough as last year was, it seemed like this year was even tougher,” Spoelstra said. “Particularly these last two rounds. We expected that to be tough, and we have the utmost respect for the teams we played.”

That respect apparently doesn’t extend to the only team to eliminate them.

Cuban: Spurs' loss reminds of '11 Rangers

June, 19, 2013
6/19/13
12:36
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The gut-kicking nature of the Spurs’ come-from-ahead overtime loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals reminded Mark Cuban of one of the most miserable moments in Metroplex sports history.

PODCAST
The Spurs had a championship in their hands, but melted down late in Game 6. Fitzsimmons & Durrett flash back to one of the most gut-wrenching moments in DFW sports history, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, and compare it to San Antonio's meltdown.

Listen Listen
“Hate to say this, but this game felt like the Rangers in the World Series,” Cuban tweeted after the Heat’s home rally from 13 down to even the series, including a five-point comeback in the final minute of regulation.

As far as historic Game 6 meltdowns go, the Spurs’ crunch-time crumbling certainly conjured memories of the Rangers’ blowing leads when twice being a strike away from finishing off the St. Louis Cardinals for the franchise’s first title two years ago. The image of Nelson Cruz’s right-field adventure at Busch Stadium that resulted in a David Freese triple will forever be burned into the minds of Rangers fans.

At least the Spurs have four NBA championships to fall back on if they can’t claim Game 7 in Miami.

Of course, the Spurs’ loss could also cause flashbacks of the Mavs’ Miami meltdown in the 2006 Finals, when Cuban’s squad left Dallas with a 2-0 series lead before letting a 13-point lead slip away in Game 3, the first of four straight, controversy-packed, free-throw-filled losses.

The Mavs got their revenge by beating the Heat in 2011, months before the Rangers came one play away in St. Louis.
Déjà vu: The Heat’s backs are pinned against the wall as the NBA Finals head from Texas to Miami for Game 6.

Two years ago, the Mavericks put on their best black suits and finished their business, closing out the Heat in AmericanAirlines Arena before opening up a $90,000 bottle of champagne in a Miami Beach nightclub. Mavs fans surely have mixed emotions as the Spurs prepare for their chance to repeat that feat and clinch their fifth NBA title in 15 years.

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This series, pitting the Mavs’ two primary rivals during Dallas’ dozen-year playoff run, represented the worst-case scenario for rooting interests around these parts. Folks here hate the Heat, plain and simple. They begrudgingly respect their Interstate 35 rivals -- the Spurs are a lot harder to hate now that Bruce Bowen is talking for ESPN instead of tripping jump-shooters, huh? -- but they actually have to interact with San Antonio fans and sure don’t want those yahoos to have another title to scream about.

Chief MFFL Mark Cuban has made it clear that he’d prefer for the Spurs to prevail. That’s a small dose of Lone Star State pride and a heaping helping of intense Heat hatred talking.

That deep-seated hatred is understandable for Dallas basketball fans. After all, Dwyane Wade and the Heat not only ripped the Larry O’Brien Trophy out of the Mavs’ hands in 2006, but they did so in especially painful fashion, with the assistance of dozens of whistles that have fueled more conspiracy theories than JFK’s assassination. And Wade had the nerve to rub it in months later, publicly dissing Dirk Nowitzki’s clutch chops and leadership skills.

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Chuck Cooperstein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Coop is staying true to his pick that the Spurs will win in six games and says that the Heat's legacy is on the line.

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Oh, and during the title rematch five years later, Wade, a man who holds the NBA record for milking drama out of injuries and ailments, had the nerve to mock Dirk’s cough after the face of the Mavs’ franchise delivered a Finals game-winner despite a three-figure temperature. LeBron James made the PR mistake of playing along with Wade in that instance – less than a year after making the biggest PR miscalculation in modern sports history, breaking up with his hometown by infamously using “The Decision” to tell the world that he intended to take his talents to South Beach to join forces with Wade and Chris Bosh.

That tremendously tone-deaf decision ensured that the Heat would be among the most polarizing teams in NBA history. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em, and that isn’t a difficult decision in Dallas.

I get that … but the Heat winning enhances the historical importance of the Mavs’ first title.

If the Heat fulfill LeBron’s post-signing, pep-rally promise to claim multiple championships, the 2011 Mavs will always be remembered as the team that delayed the dynasty. There’s a decent chance, depending on LeBron’s decision next summer, that the Mavs could be the lone team to eliminate King James’ Miami crew.

That’s a heck of a piece of history. That ought to trump Heat hate, but then again, it’s hard to judge another man’s hatred.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9