Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley

This Dallas front office hit a dead end in its previous two trips down the road of restricted free agency.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Mavericks, who hope to have Chandler Parsons on the roster after the Rockets' three-day period to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet expires late Sunday night.

Until then, Mavs fans can pass the time pondering what might have been if the previous two restricted free agents signed by the franchise actually ended up in Dallas.

[+] EnlargeMichael Redd
Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesMichael Redd was nearly a Maverick, but the Bucks matched an offer sheet for him and he went on to be a prolific scorer in Milwaukee.
Michael Redd: Redd would have been a huge steal for the Mavs, but his four-year, $12 million offer sheet was matched by Milwaukee in 2002.

Redd, a sweet-shooting lefty 2 guard, ended up averaging more than 21 points per game in five-plus straight seasons before a couple of serious knee injuries wrecked his career midway through what should have been his prime.

Redd was a bench player coming off averaging 11.4 points in his second NBA season when the Mavs made their play for him. He blossomed as a sixth man the next season before moving into the Bucks' starting lineup and becoming a star.

The development of Redd into a premier scorer would have been perfectly timed to Michael Finley's decline with the Mavs. Finley, a foundation piece in Dallas' transition from league laughingstock to contender, played three more seasons for the Mavs before being waived via the amnesty clause.

The Mavs moved on after the flirtation with Redd by signing Walt Williams and Raja Bell to one-year deals. Dallas won 60 games and advanced to the West finals in 2002-03 -- with Williams and Bell splitting time in the starting lineup, and Nick Van Exel firing away as the sixth man in his only full season with the Mavs --– but Redd would have been a part of the franchise's core for years to come.

[+] EnlargeMarcin Gortat
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesHad Marcin Gortat joined Dallas when the Mavs had their eye on him, he probably would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money.
Marcin Gortat: The 7-footer had played fewer than 900 minutes as a project backing up Dwight Howard when the Mavs offered him the full midlevel exception. The Mavs, firmly believing they'd found a big man to bump Erick Dampier to the bench, were stunned when the Magic matched the offer.

Months later, the Magic flipped Gortat in a Vince Carter-fronted package to the Phoenix Suns in the deal that brought Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to Orlando. Gortat soon emerged as a quality starting center.

After the deal he originally signed with Dallas finally expired this summer, Gortat cashed in with a five-year, $60 million deal from the Washington Wizards, who traded for him before last season.

It's hard to figure how getting Gortat would have changed the future for the Mavs.

Would the Mavs have still used the chip of Dampier's instantly expiring contract to trade for Tyson Chandler the next summer? Would the Mavs have instead decided to roll the dice on the deal they discussed for Al Jefferson, knowing they had a traditional center on the roster already?

It's safe to assume that Gortat being in the mix would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money. The Mavs wouldn't have felt pressured to give Brendan Haywood a big contract that eventually got the amnesty ax.

In fact, Haywood probably never would have come to Dallas, where he was shipped in a seven-player deal before the 2010 deadline. One of the players Dallas sent to Washington in that deal was Drew Gooden, a power forward who played backup center for the Mavs, who signed him after missing out on Gortat.

Dallas won the 2011 title with Chandler as the defensive anchor and an emotional leader, so it's hard for the Mavs to be too mad about missing out on Gortat. But it sure would have been nice to have a reasonably priced big man on the roster who could score, rebound and protect the rim the last five years.
Nowitzki, Terry, HowardGetty ImagesThe Mavs' trio with the most playoff wins: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard with 28.
Tim Duncan has earned the right to be recognized as the premier power forward in NBA history, but he’s also had the good fortune of being flanked by a couple of fellow future Hall of Famers for most of his career.

SportsNation

What's been the Mavs' top playoff trio?

  •  
    23%
  •  
    5%
  •  
    1%
  •  
    71%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,197)

Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker made NBA history with the Spurs’ Game 1 win over the Thunder in the West finals Monday night. It was their 110th playoff win together, matching the Los Angeles Lakers’ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for the most ever by a trio.

When Dirk Nowitzki’s career is done, he might wonder what would have been if he’d enjoyed such continuity with co-stars.

Nowitzki’s tenure as part of a big three was too brief, broken up by the time he was 26 because Mavericks management believed that Steve Nash was too brittle to reward with a big contract. Nowitzki, Nash and Michael Finley restored respectability to the franchise, but that trio won only 18 playoff games together.

The Mavs’ trio with the most playoff wins: Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard with 28. That’s followed by Nowitzki, Terry and the immortal Erick Dampier with 25, and Nowitzki, Terry and Jason Kidd with 24.

3 Points: Best teammate Dirk has ever had?

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
11:00
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

1. Who is the best teammate Dirk Nowitzki has ever had?

[+] EnlargeDallas Mavericks
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonCount Steve Nash and Michael Finley among Dirk's best teammates.
Gutierrez: The hodgepodge of players such as Michael Finley, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Josh Howard, O.J. Mayo, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler leaves a very mixed bag to select from. It also shines a light on the fact Nowitzki has had to carry the load in Dallas without legitimate, surefire star support. It comes down to Steve Nash, before the point guard hit his MVP stride, and Jason Kidd, returning after he had passed his prime. Nash was the perfect teammate for Nowitzki earlier in his career, and Kidd was just as perfect later in Nowitzki’s career. I’m going to go with Kidd. While Nash could shoot the lights out, Kidd had the better all-around game out of the two point guards. As Nash helped Nowitzki grow as a player, Kidd helped guide him to immortality as a champion.

Taylor: Jason Terry has to be the best teammate Dirk has had because he usually played his best in the biggest games and he had no fear. The two-man game between Jet and Dirk was as nasty as it gets, and their feel for each other was uncanny. The Mavs have one championship, and they wouldn't have it without Jet, which trumps any other argument you might make. Dirk was terrific in the NBA Finals, but Jet put on a show in Game 6 when it was really all on the line and Dirk was struggling.

MacMahon: Finley and Nash are the only players to make multiple All-Star appearances as Nowitzki’s teammates, with two selections apiece. Of course, Nash’s career peaked after returning to Phoenix, winning the MVP the next two seasons. He still had four fantastic seasons when paired with Nowitzki after a slow start. Dirk got his ring, but it’s still hard not to wonder what might have been if Nash never left Dallas.

2. What was the biggest factor during the Mavs' winning streak?

SportsNation

Who is the best teammate Dirk Nowitzki has ever had?

  •  
    5%
  •  
    37%
  •  
    33%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    4%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,863)

Gutierrez: The fact that they’re playing inferior competition is a big deal, but there are some positive trends in play, too. Nowitzki is shooting the lights out, everyone is getting accustomed to their roles and they’re avoiding catastrophic turnovers. To me, the biggest thing they’re doing is boxing out and grabbing rebounds. They’re 12-3 when they outrebound their opponent this season. There is a dramatic difference in their play when they’re active and finish off defensive possessions with a rebound. The chance to negate one, two or three-point swings going against them by collecting rebounds and getting out and running in transition is huge. Their team defense is still suspect, so any opportunity to prevent additional possessions by the opponent is huge. It looks like the Mavericks are getting the message that rebounding the ball is key to their success.

Taylor: The Mavericks have been one of the best offensive teams all season. When they've been able to put winning streaks together it's because their defense has been good. The problem, of course, is that with Jose Calderon, Ellis and Nowitzki as core players they can't sustain their defensive intensity. We saw that last night against Charlotte. They can be good for a few games, but asking them to be consistently good on defense is just not going to happen. Charlotte has scored more than 95 points twice in the last 17 games. Both times have come against the Mavs. If Dallas misses the playoffs it’s going to look back at all these losses to bad Eastern Conference teams and know exactly why they're at home.

MacMahon: The Mavs did a lot of things well during the streak, but all they really did was beat a bunch of teams that they should. The Grizzlies were the only foe of the five with a winning record, and they were missing point guard Mike Conley, who was a legitimate All-Star candidate. Other than that, the Mavs beat up on a bunch of bad teams. The other four opponents during the Mavs’ streak have a combined winning percentage of .351. They feasted during a stretch of schedule when they were supposed to get fat.

3. Has Samuel Dalembert earned trust with his recent performances?

[+] EnlargeSamuel Dalembert, Alexis Ajinca
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertSamuel Dalembert has played well of late, but can the Mavs count on him night in and night out?
Gutierrez: No. A run of consistency is great, but that doesn’t allow anyone to ignore the wave of inconsistency he showed over the first half of the season. His activity level is up by leaps and bounds as of late, but this has been his M.O. over the course of his career. Dalembert shows enough to tease a team or a GM and then quickly disappears. A couple of weeks of solid basketball by him doesn’t turn me into a quick believer. If anything, he’s shown me he can do it, so I need to see more of it before I catch Dalembert fever.

Taylor: Call me when Dalembert has played well for a month or his alarm clock works for 30 straight days. We know Dalembert is one of the keys to the Mavs, which is scary because he's as inconsistent as a player can be. I have zero faith he can play consistently well. The Mavs simply need to take advantage of it on the nights he does play well. Every starter in the NBA is capable of having stretches of quality play. Consistency is what separates the average from good and good from great.

MacMahon: Well, he sure flunked the Al Jefferson test. Dalembert was a nonfactor while the Bobcats big man dominated the Mavs, putting up 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting. If the Mavs are being honest, they’d admit that their hope for Dalembert is that he shows up most of the time. It’s almost miraculous that he strung together four straight good performances.

Mavericks Rushmore: Dirk, Cuban, Rolando, JET

July, 6, 2013
7/06/13
11:30
PM CT
With the Dallas Mavericks winning their only championship just a few years ago, it should come as no surprise that three key components of that squad are featured in our Mavericks Rushmore. Here are the four we chose and why:

Dirk Nowitzki: The best player in franchise history and future Hall of Famer has spent his career in Dallas and become part of the fabric of the community. Rather than his face, Nowitzki's one-legged fadeaway should probably be on Mavericks Rushmore. Nowitzki has defined the Mavericks since this century began, and he has his ring now, too.

Mark Cuban: When he bought the Mavericks, they had spent way too much time at or near the bottom of the NBA. Cuban immediately changed that by pumping resources into the team. He has shown a willingness to do whatever he can to make his team a championship contender and put Dallas in the category of the elite. Cuban's goal now, after two disappointing seasons, is to return the Mavs to elite status.

Rolando Blackman: When you think of the 1980s Mavericks, Blackman is one of the first names that comes to mind. He played in Dallas from 1981 to 1992, was an All-Star four times and played on six Mavericks playoff teams.

Jason Terry: If you take Terry's entire stay in Dallas, it's actually a full season longer than Jason Kidd's two stints. Terry appeared in two NBA Finals and was critical in the club's championship run in 2011. That's why he's got a spot on this monument.

Others considered (in no particular order):

Jason Kidd: A case could certainly be made after he spent the beginning and much of the end of his career in Dallas. The trade to bring him back to Big D was a difference-maker, as the point guard made the right moves in pressure situations to help the Mavericks win the title. He is moving from a 19-year playing career into coaching with the Brooklyn Nets.

Don Carter: He founded the expansion Mavericks with Norm Sonju in 1980.

Derek Harper: He made a Western Conference finals appearance with the Mavericks, and the team's record books are littered with his name. He and Blackman helped excite fans in the 1980s.

Brad Davis: His No. 15 jersey is retired, but his numbers don't stack up with other Maverick greats to push him into the top four.

Steve Nash: Had Nash stayed in Dallas, maybe he would be on the monument. But he wasn't here long enough and left before the title run.

Michael Finley: You could make the argument that outside of Nowitzki, Finley was the most important player in getting the Mavericks back to respectability in the NBA after Cuban bought the team.

Mark Aguirre: He was the first overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft when the Mavs were struggling. Later in the decade, Aguirre was a leader on a team that took the Lakers to Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Deron Williams doesn't deserve Dallas boos

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
9:06
AM CT
DALLAS -- Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ unofficial boo leader, didn’t hesitate to highly recommend that fellow MFFLs loudly direct their wrath at Derek Fisher on Sunday.

What about Deron Williams tonight?

Cuban is keeping his mouth shut on that one. Or he at least didn’t reply to an email inquiring about the subject. And he intentionally avoided making the trip to Brooklyn to see the Mavs play the Nets at the beginning of the month because, he explained, “I don’t need to be on the back page of the New York Post.”

That’s probably wise. No need for Cuban to give an opposing star any additional, fresh motivational fodder. (That worked out so well with Kobe Bryant, huh?)

Besides, Williams doesn’t deserve to be booed during his annual trip to the American Airlines Center, an arena the native of nearby The Colony described last year as his favorite in the NBA.

Unlike full-of-it quitter Fisher, Williams didn’t do the Mavs wrong. He just politely and professionally declined their halfhearted recruiting pitch and decided to move to Brooklyn with the Nets.

You can debate whether Williams made the right decision. You can argue that he’d have been better off as the centerpiece of a two-year rebuilding plan in Dallas instead of being stuck on a roster with bloated contracts in Brooklyn, which will be handcuffed by the CBA in its attempts to make the upgrades necessary to become a legitimate contender.

Cuban could have made those points in a face-to-face meeting with Williams in July, but he opted to have Michael Finley join Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle as the point men for the most important free-agency pitch in franchise history. Filming "Shark Tank" on the West Coast was Cuban’s priority, hence the halfhearted recruiting pitch.

If you’re still upset about Williams not coming home this past summer, boo Cuban, not the point guard.

Cuban is the one who has said that he didn’t really want Williams anyway -- and the whole "Shark Tank" deal seems to support that statement. (Cuban, who has taken some reality=show-related heat from Dirk Nowitzki, has vowed to keep his schedule clear for the first two weeks of July this summer.)

It was only after Cuban declared that he believed the Mavs were “better off” without him that Williams fired back, telling New York reporters that he might have signed with the Mavs if Cuban had only made the effort of meeting with him and answering his questions. That back-and-forth fizzled out quickly, and nobody else with the Mavs has any ill will toward Williams, whose concerns about being left to carry the Mavs by himself if Nowitzki went down seemed pretty prescient in the first two months of the season.

“He’s still a friend of mine,” Nowitzki said before the Mavs’ trip to Brooklyn. “Obviously, he didn’t come join us, but I wished him luck then.”

For the Mavs’ wish for a win to come true, they’ll probably need to contain Williams, who struggled through his own health issues for the first half of the season but is suddenly performing like an elite point guard again, averaging an efficient 23.4 points and 7.7 assists since the All-Star break.

No need for the AAC crowd to add any fuel to Williams’ fire with boos that would just make Mavs fans look bitter.

Better to save your venom for a deserving target. On a related note, Lamar Odom comes to town next week.
DALLAS – The last time the Mavericks endured a losing season, there was a lot of legitimate, tangible reason for hope.

PODCAST
ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to talk about the Mavericks and what it might take to fix their problems.

Listen Listen
Michael Finley was an established, young franchise cornerstone. Steve Nash turned a corner in his career midway through that season, when he was 25 years old. And a 21-year-old finesse 7-footer named Dirk Nowitzki had begun blossoming into a star.

Those 1999-2000 Mavs finished the season with a 31-19 run, setting the foundation for the franchise’s dozen-year playoff run that will almost certainly end in six weeks.

Let’s be optimistic and assume these Mavs, who are seven games under .500 with a little more than a quarter of the season remaining, manage to end this frustrating season strong. Is there anything that can happen down the stretch that could benefit the Mavs in the future, much like their last losing season?

[+] EnlargeCollison
AP Photo/John RaouxDarren Collison has continually ceded crunch-time minutes and doesn't really seem like a long-term fit with the Mavs.
“That’s tough to see,” Nowitzki said. “Obviously, we’ve got nine guys or whatever we’ve got on one-year deals, so the team might be completely different next year. We didn’t have that scenario (13) years ago. We obviously knew that Steve and Mike and myself were going to be the core for a lot of years, so we had that going for us, which this year is not the case.”

And that might be the most frustrating part of this miserable season. The Mavs aren’t experiencing growing pains that could pay off next season. They’re just passing time.

There was a ton of talk about potentially developing the backcourt of the future this season with 25-year-old rentals Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle continue to dangle that carrot, but it’s extremely hard to envision that being a reality.

If the Mavs see Collison as their point guard of the future, why did he lose his starting job to a point guard they recruited out of his rocking chair earlier this season? And, after Derek Fisher’s departure, why does Collison keep losing crunch-time minutes to a different graybeard point guard that was called up from the D-League?

The Mavs and Collison just don’t seem to be a long-term fit. As far as Mayo goes, that probably depends on the market this summer for the Mavs’ leading scorer whose decision-making and defense have repeatedly drawn Carlisle’s wrath.

The rest of the Mavs’ one-year men are a collection of complementary players, not building blocks, at this point of their careers. They’re essentially financial placeholders, and the vast majority (if not all) of them will be on another team’s payroll next season.

Any hope for a major Mavs rebound would arrive this summer, not be foreshadowed in the final 23 games.

“We went for a big fish last summer,” Nowitzki said. “We didn’t get him, so we decided to go that route with a lot of one-year deals, so the situation could be completely different next year. We’re going to make this push for the playoffs and see what happens this summer.”

The Mavs’ foe for this home-and-home series also looks forward to seeing what happens this summer. However, the Houston Rockets are somewhat reminiscent of the ’99-00 Mavs, albeit with a better record and a good shot at making the playoffs.

The Rockets have managed to put together a tremendous young nucleus while almost totally turning over their roster since last season. Chandler Parsons, the second-year second-round pick who scorched the Mavs for 32 points in Sunday’s rout, is the only player remaining from Houston’s roster last season.

Houston GM Daryl Morey has done a masterful job collecting assets, cashing in many of them to acquire a bona fide, 23-year-old superstar (James Harden) and surrounding him with a strong young supporting cast (center Omer Asik, 26; point guard Jeremy Lin, 24; small forward Parsons, 24; power forwards Donatas Motiejunas, 22; power forward Thomas Robinson, 21, combo guard Patrick Beverley, 24). And the Rockets have the cap space to recruit a co-star this summer.

The Rockets are several steps into their rebuilding plan.

The Mavs’ rebuilding plan begins again this summer.

Mavericks' All-Star streak coming to an end

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
12:37
PM CT
A 13-year streak of excellence will officially end for the Mavericks on Thursday night when the NBA’s All-Star reserves are announced on TNT.

The reality we’ve all seen coming for weeks -- that no Mavs will be selected to the West squad by the conference coaches after Dirk Nowitzki missed the season’s first 27 games thanks to knee surgery -- means that Dallas will be without an All-Star for the first time this century.

Michael Finley made his All-Star breakthrough for the Mavericks in 2000 and was named to the West squad again as a reserve in 2001. Nowitzki and Steve Nash both made their All-Star debuts in 2002, which launched Dirk on an run of 11 consecutive All-Star appearances.

As Gregory Found of ESPN Stats & Info informs, only two teams in the league have a longer run of sending someone to the All-Star Game than the Mavs’ 13 years in a row.

The Los Angeles Lakers have had a representative on the West for 16 straight All-Star Games dating to 1997, with fan-elected starters Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard extending that streak this season. The San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, have seen at least one of their players in West colors -- usually Tim Duncan -- for the past 14 All-Star Games and should see that streak extended later Thursday when either Duncan or Tony Parker is unveiled as a West reserve.

Don’t forget that there was no All-Star Game in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, which was also Nowitzki’s rookie year.
He looked like Dirk Nowitzki during this road trip, just in limited doses.

PODCAST
Marc Stein joins Galloway & Company and says that DeMarcus Cousins would be a good fit with the Dallas Mavericks.

Listen Listen
Nowitzki, a week in a half into the process of working back into Hall of Fame form, scored 30 points on 12-of-22 shooting in 46 minutes during the Mavericks’ 1-1 road trip. His 11 points in the win over the Wizards were a season high for about 24 hours. He dropped 19 against the Heat while playing a season-high 29 minutes.

The highlight of the Dirk’s road trip – and season so far – was the one-legged leanaway he hit over LeBron James to force overtime. That showed he’s ready to resume his closer role.

How about his starting job?

“Ultimately, I'll start again maybe in a week or so, get my minutes back up, and we'll go from there,” Nowitzki told reporters.

It might be wise for the Mavs, who still want to carefully monitor Nowitzki’s minutes, to wait until after next week to put him in the starting lineup. The Mavs play four games in six days next week, including a back-to-back against the Clippers and Kings. They don’t have another back-to-back until the end of February.

A few more quick notes from the Mavs’ OT loss to the Heat:

1. O.J.’s slump over: O.J. Mayo’s slump started a couple of weeks ago against the Heat and can be officially declared over after the Mavs’ rematch with the reigning world champions.

Mayo had 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting in Wednesday’s loss, his fourth 30-point game of the season and first since he blew up for 40 in a Dec. 8 win over the Rockets. This came on the heels of Mayo scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting in Tuesday’s win over the Wizards.

Mayo had averaged only 8.7 points on 29.9 percent shooting during Dallas’ six-game losing streak.

The blemish in Mayo’s box score line from the Miami loss: six turnovers. It was the sixth time in the last three weeks he had at least six turnovers, with the Mavs going 0-6 in those games.

2. Kaman’s double-double: Chris Kaman once averaged a double-double for a season, but those days seem so long ago. His 14-point, 10-rebound performance in Miami was only his second double-double of the season.

Kaman’s rebounding average (6.5) is the lowest since his rookie season. So are his minutes (25.3 per game). That’s directly related to Kaman’s defensive struggles.

“I need to be an anchor for the defense, and I’m capable of doing it,” said Kaman, who had three blocks against the Heat. “I just have to keep it in my head and be ready to help out whenever I can.”

3. LeBron’s line: How rare was the 32-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist, three-steal line posted by reigning MVP LeBron James? It’s the first time an NBA player matched those totals across the board since Russell Westbrook on Dec. 1, 2010, according to basketball-reference.com’s database.

The Mavs have had one such performance in their history. Michael Finley had 33 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists and four steals in a win over the Phoenix Suns, his former team, on Dec. 23, 1999.

How do you grade Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson?

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
4:00
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks entered the offseason knowing major roster changes were coming, yet every move would have to wait for and hinge on Deron Williams' decision.

SportsNation

Grade the Mavericks' offseason.

  •  
    17%
  •  
    54%
  •  
    19%
  •  
    5%
  •  
    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,159)

When Williams tweeted on the night of July 3 that he would remain with the Brooklyn Nets, Mavs owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson were forced to take a step back, reorganize and reach for those filed-away contingency plans.

Then they watched the Los Angeles Lakers bulk up by bringing in Steve Nash, Dallas' top choice after Williams.

Jason Terry agreed to terms with the Boston Celtics. Brendan Haywood was amnestied. Jason Kidd, well, no matter what he was headed back to Dallas to finish his career where it started and where he won that elusive championship.

Oops.

So here we are at the end of a long and wild month. The Mavs started it with just seven players under contract. Now they have a complete 15-man roster. It's not the one they set out to build for the long haul, but with eight of their 12 players under contract (excluding the three rookies) on one-year contracts or on the final year of their deals it is flexible and under the luxury tax for the first time in Cuban's ownership.

How did Cuban and Nelson do? Did whiffing on Williams automatically sink the summer? Or did their rebound efforts save it?

Let's take a look at how things unfolded:

[+] EnlargeRick Carlisle
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAfter eventually signing a new four-year contract, Rick Carlisle returns to the Mavs minus two of his key contributors -- Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.
CARLISLE RETURNS: This was a no-brainer, although inking Rick Carlisle to a new four-year contract in mid-May took longer than most expected. It led to speculation of perhaps a gulf in salary expectations between the two sides, or that Carlisle might be interested in looking into other opportunities, including the still-open Portland Trail Blazers job for which Dallas assistant Terry Stotts is reportedly in the running.
The big question: Did Carlisle ever think he'd be coaching a team with two contributors left from the 2011 title team?

THREE-FOR-ONE DRAFT: Dallas made a big deal about getting a solid rotation player with the No. 17 pick, its highest draft position in a decade. So it came as a surprise when the Mavs traded down to No. 24 and even then seemed willing to unload that pick. Ultimately, they took combo guard Jared Cunningham at No. 24, but it might be the two second-rounders, Bernard James (No. 33) and Jae Crowder (No. 34), who contribute sooner.
The big question: Will Carlisle have the patience to stick through growing pains of James and Crowder to get contributions out of them this season? Will he have a choice?

D-WILL REJECTION: The Mavs' triumvirate of Carlisle, Nelson and Michael Finley met with Williams in Manhattan on July 2, prior to the Nets' brass getting their shot. As the Mavs met with him, Brooklyn was busy completing a trade to acquire handsomely paid shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Hawks. While some in these parts ridiculed the move because of the $89 million left on Johnson's contract and the potential roster inflexibility that will come with it under the new CBA, Williams later said the move was key in keeping him.
The big question: Could the Mavs have done anything more to convince Williams to come home? Did Mark Cuban's inability to leave Los Angeles and the taping of the TV show Shark Tank send the wrong message?

JET TAKES OFF/KIDD MAKES U-TURN: After eight seasons, Terry never wanted to leave Dallas, but the Mavs made it clear to the soon-to-be 35-year-old that he was not in their long-range plans so he signed a three-year deal for $15 million with the Boston Celtics. The length of the contract more than the money was the key deterrent for Dallas. Still, they were prepared to hand a three-year, $9-million deal to 39-year-old point guard Jason Kidd (and thought they had), who at the last minute turned it down for a similar deal with the Knicks.
The big question: Did the Mavs commit to the wrong Jason and will they miss the bench scoring and fourth-quarter prowess of the sixth man who will pad his career 3-point shooting numbers with the Celtics?

Chris Kaman
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireIf he avoids injury, Chris Kaman will give the Mavs a dangerous low-post presence.
KAMAN SIGNS/HAYWOOD AMNESTIED: Kaman, the 7-foot center who teamed with Dirk Nowitzki on the German national team for the 2008 Olympics agreed to a one-year deal for $8 million to start at center. The move signaled the end of the line for Brendan Haywood, who was officially waived the next day via the amnesty clause.
The big question: The former No. 6 pick in 2003 is a one-time All-Star but is known best for his injury history. When healthy, he's a dangerous low-post scorer who can finish with both hands, and a smart defender and rebounder. So, can he stay healthy?

GUARD COMBO VIA S&T: On the same day the Mavs signed Kaman, they pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers, netting 24-year-old point guard Darren Collison and veteran shooting guard Dahntay Jones for backup center Ian Mahinmi, who was headed out the door anyway. Considering the Pacers could have signed Mahinmi outright, for the Mavs to pull out a starting-caliber point guard and a defensive-minded shooting guard was quite the coup.
The big question: Collison has averaged 5.2 assists during his four NBA seasons, which is about what Jason Kidd averaged last season, an 18-year career low. Nowitzki lobbied hard to acquire Kidd in 2008 because he said he and others had to work too hard to score with low-assist, penetrating point guard Devin Harris running the show. Can Collison, a quick-footed penetrator, make the game easy enough to satisfy a now 34-year-old Nowitzki and company?

BRAND LANDS: The Mavs won the amnesty bid for 33-year-old power forward Elton Brand after talking up how "aggressive" they planned to bid. At $2.1 million for next season (his overall salary is $18 million with the balance paid by Philadelphia), the Mavs got a steal for a high-character player off the bench and can play power forward and center.
The big question: Brand said he wanted to play in Dallas so he knew he'd be splitting time behind Nowitzki and Kaman, his former teammate with the Clippers. But will Brand ultimately be happy coming off the bench and quite possibly playing the fewest minutes of his 13-year career?

PASS THE MAYO: As stunning as the Collison deal was, the signing of O.J. Mayo at a discount rate took the cake. The Suns had designs on him, but Mayo took a two-year deal with Dallas with the second year being a player option. His addition softens the blow of losing Terry's 3-point shooting and Mayo instantly becomes the most athletic 2-guard since the days of Finley.
The big question: The Grizzlies had Mayo on the trade block more than once and some suggest that Mayo was highly overrated as the No. 3 pick in 2008 and that he remains that way. Can Mayo, expected to start at shooting guard, be a team-oriented contributor and become Dallas' trusted second-scoring option?

So there's the rundown of a busy couple of months. What say you? What grade do you give Cuban and Nelson?

Deron Williams and the decision: The wait is on

July, 3, 2012
7/03/12
8:00
AM CT
UPDATE: Hold the phone on everything. Overnight, the Nets and Orlando Magic have re-engaged in trade talks that could send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn, and obviously could have a profound effect on the thinking of prized point guard Deron Williams.

PODCAST
ESPN Dallas' Chuck Cooperstein says if Deron Williams wants to win, he'll go to Dallas. If Williams wants money, he'll go back to the Nets. That could change if the Nets land Dwight Howard though.

Listen Listen
If Monday was D-Day, let today be known as Judgment Day.

The Dallas Mavericks made their pitch first, closely followed by the Brooklyn Nets. Now both franchises await All-Star point guard Deron Williams' final decision, one that has anxiously awaited and hotly debated.

Did the Nets' Monday trade for Joe Johnson and his massive contract -- an acquisition that effectively takes the indecisive Dwight Howard off the table this year and likely next -- convince Williams to stay or to flee?

The Mavs' recruiting team included president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, head coach Rick Carlisle and special assistant Michael Finley. They laid out a history of shrewd decisions, Dirk Nowitzki, a family culture and winning basketball. They hope it's enough to offset the fact that Brooklyn can offer Williams a five-year deal worth close to $100 million while the Mavs are locked into a four-year contract for about $75 million.

The Nets also met with the Steve Nash and say they are interested in the 38-year-old former two-time MVP, with or without Williams. The Mavs will be dialing up Nash quickly if Williams opts to become the face of the new Brooklyn franchise.

Nash already has a significant offer from the Toronto Raptors -- three years and $36 million -- and the New York Knicks are attempting to get Nash to Manhattan, perhaps with a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns.

As for Williams, he has the information, he's met with the clubs. It's time for a decision.

And don' forget about Jason Kidd, who could well be on his way to Brooklyn if Williams stays, or ready to back him up with the Mavs.

Stay tuned.

Mavs have made pitch, Nets now up

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
4:41
PM CT
ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting that the Dallas Mavericks' sitdown with top free agent target Deron Williams is over and that the Brooklyn Nets are now engaging the three-time All-Star.

There is no indication when Williams will ultimately make his decision.

The Mavs trio of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, head coach Rick Carlisle and special consultant Michael Finley met with the Williams in New York for approximately two hours.

The Nets have also reportedly completed a trade for Hawks guard Joe Johnson, hoping the move will help sway Williams to commit to becoming the face of the franchise as it makes the move to Brooklyn.

And hanging in the balance of all this is Jason Kidd, who seems set to follow Williams.

Michael Finley on board to close the deal?

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
9:24
AM CT
The third member of the Dallas Mavericks' recruiting team in New York today has taken some by surprise. In the Big Apple today to sit down with top free-agent target Deron Williams is president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, head coach Rick Carlisle and ...

Michael Finley?

As one clever Twitter hand typed, guess that answers the old question, Where's Fin?

The Mavs have quietly brought aboard the former shooting guard in a role the team has not quite defined well enough to boil down for a business card.

When Nelson was asked the name of the position Finley holds, the GM said, ahem, "(rear-end) kicker."

Perhaps that means Finley's the man to finish the job and bring Williams home.

At any rate, it certainly seems that Finley is now the first of the Mark Cuban-era Mavs to join old-schoolers Derek Harper, Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis as working closely with the organization.

Draft preview: Austin Rivers

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
12:01
AM CT
video
Seventh in a nine-part series analyzing our top NBA draft choices for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 17 on Thursday. We will look at one prospect a day leading up to the draft. ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's and Mavs play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein provide the inside goods. The order is alphabetical.

One thing you know about the kid is that he'll be coachable, and Rick Carlisle loves to coach, so this could be a really good pairing for many years to come.

The son of Boston Celtics coach and former NBA point guard Doc Rivers and schooled under -- for one year anyway -- Duke and U.S. Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, Austin Rivers is intelligent and talented, although he isn't quite as seasoned as he might be with one more season playing at Cameron Indoor.

Still, how long now has Dallas been searching for that combination of size and playmaking ability at shooting guard? A long, long time.

Here's a look at our next draft prospect:

[+] EnlargeDuke's Austin Rivers
Brian Spurlock/US PRESSWIREThe Mavs could use a slashing shooting guard like Duke's Austin Rivers, but he might not be around at No. 17.
AUSTIN RIVERS
School: Duke (1 year)
Position: SG
Age: 19
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5/203
2011-12 stats: 15.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 36.5% 3FG

Why he would fit: Shooting guard is a position in total flux at the moment. Jason Terry is likely headed elsewhere as a free agent. Vince Carter could be swept up in potential trades. Are Rodrigue Beaubois and/or Dominique Jones ready for a heavier workload? Rivers addresses needs Dallas has long sought in size and scoring ability at the 2.

Why he wouldn't fit: Seems to be a lock to be taken before the Mavs ever pick.

Chad Ford's thumbs up, thumbs down: Up -- Extremely confident. ... Good shooter with deep range. ... Sick crossover move, very quick. ... Nice floater. ... Skilled ball-handler. ... Has a killer instinct on the floor. Down -- Good, but not elite, athlete. ... Not an explosive leaper. ... Needs to add a left hand. ... Gambling defender. ... Questionable shot selection. ... Can be selfish.

Coop's comment: Rivers would fit well as an athletic shooting guard who can slash to the basket. The Mavericks haven’t had a player like that since Michael Finley in his prime. He sometimes gets into trouble with over-penetrating and turning it over, but he’s so young that he can be coached out of that. He’s an OK shooter, but again, as he gets stronger, he should get better. He played a lot of point guard at Duke, but he’s a shooting guard in the NBA.

Previous prospects
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Fab Melo, Syracuse
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

How rare is Lamar Odom's 1-1-1 line?

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
12:48
PM CT
Lamar Odom reached a new personal low with his one-point, one-rebound, one-assist outing in 24 minutes against the Lakers.

PODCAST
ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Tim MacMahon joins GAC to discuss what went wrong for the Mavs in their loss to the Lakers and if booing Lamar Odom was the right thing for Mavs' fans to do.

Listen Listen
That’s hard to do when playing half a game, but it’s not like such non-productivity is unprecedented in the NBA. Heck, a member of the Mavs had an even more pitiful performance last season, when Brendan Haywood had no points, one rebound and no assists while playing 25 minutes in a November win over the Hornets.

Curious about the rarity of a 1-1-1 or worse line, I plugged those numbers into basketball-reference.com’s Play Index with a minimum of 24 minutes played. There are 95 such outings in the site’s database, which dates to the 1985-86 season.

Odom, a key role player on two title teams and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, isn’t even close to the most accomplished player to have such a stinker. He’d have to get in line behind legends like Joe Dumars, Reggie Miller and Gary Payton as well as stars like Glen Rice (three times), Michael Finley and Chuck Person.

This kind of performance could be called pulling a Bowen in dishonor of the dirty-work dude on a few Spurs title teams. Bruce Bowen had six 1-1-1 or worse lines in his career -- actually they were all worse, and he went scoreless in five.

That didn’t stop the Spurs from retiring Bowen’s number last night.

All Odom has to do to remind himself that his misery against the Lakers puts him in pretty good company is look up at the AT&T Center rafters when the Mavs visit San Antonio on Friday.

Six-Pack: Statistical nuggets for second half

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
10:51
AM CT
A six-pack of statistical nuggets to help get you reacquainted with the Mavericks as they return to work after All-Star Weekend:

*Steve Nash was back at Dirk Nowitzki’s side during Sunday night’s All-Star Game, but Nash is no longer in the top five in terms of regular-season games played as a Dirk teammate. Jason Terry has played 559 regular-season games alongside Nowitzki for the Mavs, followed by Michael Finley (471), Shawn Bradley (467), Erick Dampier (412) and Josh Howard (411).

*Nowitzki’s run of 11 consecutive All-Star selections is the second-longest active streak in the league. After Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan saw their respective runs of 14 and 13 end over the weekend, Dirk trails only Kobe Bryant’s 14 straight All-Star trips among active players. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are next in line with eight straight All-Star trips.

*The Mavericks shot 46 percent from the 3-point line in their four-game playoff sweep of the Lakers. In this season’s two meetings? Dallas is shooting just 20.7 percent from long range against L.A.

*The loss to the Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break was the Mavs’ first this season in which they held a fourth-quarter lead at home. That leaves Chicago, Indiana and Oklahoma City as the only teams that haven’t lost at home after leading in the fourth quarter this season.

*Last Wednesday’s game was Kobe Bryant’s 52nd regular-season appearance against Dallas, breaking Bryant’s tie with James Worthy (51) for the most games against Dallas for any Laker.

*The Mavs still narrowly rank as the league’s second-oldest team with an average age of 30.0 … just behind Atlanta’s average age of 30.2.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.6 4.7 1.5 33.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.5
AssistsM. Ellis 4.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.5
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4