Dallas Mavericks: Minnesota Timberwolves

Mavs' slow start stuck in Carlisle's craw

March, 20, 2014
DALLAS – The Mavericks probably didn’t need a reminder about the danger of stumbling to a slow start before the Denver Nuggets came to town.

They got one anyway, courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves torched the Mavs for 37 points on 16-of-24 shooting in the first quarter Wednesday night, doing much of the damage in transition. Bad got worse early in the second quarter, with the Mavs staring at a 22-point deficit by the time they were done digging.

“I’m not sure if we were quite ready to play,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “They were kind of into us and we weren’t quite ready. We were caught on our heels.”

It looked a lot like the Mavs' visit to Denver earlier this month, when the Nuggets lit it up for 41 points in the first quarter en route to building a 19-point lead.

The Mavs managed to rally against the Timberwolves to send the game into overtime before suffering a painful loss. The Mavs blew a five-point lead in overtime and Nowitzki missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, but it was the sorry start that stuck in coach Rick Carlisle’s craw.

“We’re trying to be a team that can win in the playoffs, not just eek in,” Carlisle said. “Playing a first quarter like that on your home court in a game this meaningful is a bad sign for us right now.

“We’ve got to turn it around and we’ve got another team coming in here Friday that’s been murder for us because of the matchups. It’s going to be the same kind of game. We’ve got to get ourselves right by Friday.”

The Nuggets, who are 3-0 against Dallas and 28-37 against the rest of the NBA this season, give the older, slower Mavs fits with their athleticism. Speedy point guard Ty Lawson has been an especially tough matchup, averaging 19.7 points and 9.0 assists against the Mavs.

Lawson sat out the Nuggets’ win Wednesday over the Detroit Pistons because of a sinus infection, but backup Aaron Brooks put up 27 points and 17 assists in his spot start. Regardless of Lawson’s status, the Mavs know they can’t afford another slow start against a fast team.

“We have to be ready to put our track shoes on, because they’re going to run,” Shawn Marion said. “They’re going to push it. We have to be ready.”

Dirk: 'I just couldn't get it done'

March, 19, 2014
DALLAS -- Unlike last month at Madison Square Garden, the basketball gods didn't bless Dirk Nowitzki with an extremely fortunate shooter's roll on this buzzer-beater.

With the Mavericks trailing the Minnesota Timberwolves by one point on the final possession in overtime, Nowitzki caught the ball at one of his old sweet spots at the top of the key, faced up, put the ball on the floor once with his left hand, pump faked and launched a 16-foot fadeaway with Kevin Love in his face.

[+] EnlargeNowitzki
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsDirk Nowitzki takes the last shot of Dallas' overtime loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night as Kevin Love defends him.
Nowitzki has made plenty of clutch shots with that degree of difficulty over the course of his Hall of Fame career. Not this time. The ball clanked off the back of the rim, rendering the Mavs' furious rally from a deficit that was as high as 22 points meaningless.

Timberwolves 123, Mavs 122.

"I thought everybody was phenomenal," Nowitzki said, referring to his teammates' effort to give the Mavs a chance to pull off what would have been their biggest comeback of the season. "I just couldn't get it done."

Blasphemous as it might be to question giving the great Nowitzki the ball with the game on the line, coach Rick Carlisle's decision to call an iso for his superstar in that situation is ripe for second-guessing.

Why not put the ball in Monta Ellis' hands and let him run a pick-and-pop with Nowitzki? That's the bread and butter of these Mavs' offense, not the Dirk isos of days past.

After all, it was Ellis who had the hot hand, going on a 12-point scoring flurry in the final 3:49 of regulation to give the Mavs a chance to win the game. Including a 3-pointer in overtime, Ellis made five of the last six shots he attempted. Nowitzki led the Mavs with 27 points, but he needed 27 shots to do it, making only 11.

Give Ellis a chance to run the pick-and-pop with Nowitzki and it's virtually guaranteed that one of them gets a better look than a tightly contested 16-foot fadeaway. But that was the fallback option on the final possession.

"Dirk was the first option," Carlisle said. "If he had been denied, he would have come up and set a screen for Monta, and Monta would have attacked.

"Look, the last possession always gets overanalyzed in games like this. Our poor play at the beginning of the game is the reason it came down the way it did. Shame on us."

(Read full post)

Kevin Love to Dallas? Laughable

February, 18, 2014
DALLAS – Yes, it’s true. The Mavericks would love to trade for Kevin Love.

Who wouldn’t want a perennial All-Star who is just entering his prime?

Just a few problems here. The first is that there is “no way” the Minnesota Timberwolves are dealing Love before Thursday’s trade deadline, as a source told CBSSports.com, which makes the splashy headline about the Mavs and Los Angeles Lakers attempting to put together packages for Love pretty much pointless.

Another problem: Even if the Timberwolves were considering trading Love, what the heck could the Mavs offer to keep Minnesota GM Flip Saunders from hanging up and/or cracking up?

The Mavs can’t offer future first-round picks, the most valuable currency in today’s trade market, because they owe Oklahoma City a top-20 protected first-rounder. Dallas doesn’t have any young talent or proven stars that could serve as trade centerpieces for a Love-level talent. The Mavs simply don’t have the assets to pull off a blockbuster deal.

So the thought of Love coming to Dallas is comedic fodder.

“The Beach Boys are in a couple of months,” Mark Cuban said.

Yes, Mike Love, Kevin’s uncle and a founding member of the Beach Boys, is scheduled to play in Dallas on March 24. Kevin Love will be here before then. The Timberwolves come to town on March 19.

Dirk: It's getting tighter behind us

January, 28, 2014
DALLAS -- It’s not going to be easy to claim a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

That comes as no surprise to the Dallas Mavericks, whose 12-year postseason streak was snapped last season, but it’s been confirmed this month.

The Mavs are in the same spot in the West standings as when they toasted the New Year, sitting in eighth place. But the fit has gotten a bit tighter in the last four weeks.

At the start of the month, none of the teams below the Mavs was at .500 or above. Dallas (18-13 at the time) had a 3.5-game cushion on the ninth-place Minnesota Timberwolves.

Now, three teams below Dallas are .500 or better and within three games of the 26-20 Mavs entering Tuesday night’s action.

"We need some wins,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We haven’t really put a nice little win streak together to get some separation down there. It’s getting tighter and tighter behind us. We know that. Memphis is really playing well now and Denver obviously, so we need this homestand to really get some momentum again and get some wins together.”

The Memphis Grizzlies, who advanced to the conference finals last season, are one of the league’s hottest teams. Memphis is 9-3 in January and has won five of six games since center Marc Gasol’s return from knee surgery, including a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and a home-and-home sweep of the Houston Rockets last week.

Suddenly, the Grizzlies, who had fallen as far as five games below .500, are even with the Mavs in the loss column and only a couple of games back in the standings at 22-20.

The Denver Nuggets are 22-21 -- and have won both of their meetings against the Mavs -- and the Minnesota Timberwolves are 22-22.

“I said it all along that Memphis was going to make a run once Gasol was back,” Nowitzki said. “They’re so good defensively with their length. I just knew they were going to make a run.

“Minnesota seemed a bit inconsistent. They have some great outings and then they lose a couple, just like we did lately. But I said it all along, it’s going to come all the way down to the last couple of games. It always has in the West. I mean, as bad of a season as we had last year, with like a week left in the season, we still had a shot to make the playoffs. Just got to keep on working, keep on improving.”

The Mavs, who are only three games behind the fifth-place Rockets at the moment, are well aware that the objects in their rearview mirror are getting much closer. They also know that staring at the standings won’t help them create any separation.

“There’s some teams getting healthier, some teams just playing better,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That can’t be our concern. We’ve got to concern ourselves with what we control, which is our game, how we play and whoever our next opponent is. That’s where I’m directing our focus.”

3 Points: Biggest threats to playoff quest?

January, 15, 2014
Marc Gasol and Dirk NowitzkiJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe return of Marc Gasol makes the Grizzlies a more formidable obstacle for the Mavs getting into the playoffs.
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. Which teams are the biggest threats to the Mavs' quest to make the playoffs?

Gutierrez: The only team behind Dallas right now that might bring some cause for concern is Memphis. That's due to the fact that Marc Gasol, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, returned to action after spraining a left knee ligament less than eight weeks ago. Their defensive tenacity can help them get back in gear, but they may be too far behind in the pack. I'm going to take an indirect route for the answer and say that the Mavericks themselves are the biggest threat to their quest to make the playoffs. They have the ability to score on any given night, but their own shortcomings on defense and in terms of rebound really derail their potential. It's up to them to decide how far they can really go.

Taylor: Denver and Minnesota are the best bets to improve and get better over the course of the season, which makes them the biggest threats to the Mavs. Denver has a new coach in Brian Shaw and it always takes teams time to adjust to a new coach and a new system. It takes time for all the players to find a role and get comfortable in it. The Nuggets are just 11-8 at home, where they have traditionally been outstanding. Once they play better at home, they'll start putting some winning streaks together. Minnesota's biggest problem is it doesn't know how to win. Kevin Love is among the league's best players. If they can continue to get strong performances from Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin, they will eventually make a push for the playoffs. Rick Adelman is a terrific coach and sooner or later he'll get the most from that team's talent.

MacMahon: The Grizzlies are by far the biggest threat with Gasol back. I figured Memphis as a playoff lock before the season started. The Grizzlies got off to a disappointing start and struggled without their best player, but they are only one game below .500 and completely capable of still getting to 48 or 49 wins. The Nuggets and Timberwolves can't be discounted, but the Nuggets' inconsistency and Timberwolves' stunning inability to win close games (0-11 in games decided by four points or fewer) make them lesser threats.

2. Should the Mavs want Andrew Bynum if he'll take the minimum?

[+] EnlargeAndrew Bynum
AP Photo/Mark DuncanWould Andrew Bynum be worth the risk for the Mavericks?
Gutierrez: Hypothetical or not, Dallas doesn't really need to go after Bynum. Do they need a legitimate big man? The answer is obviously yes, but I don't consider Bynum to be that anymore. Mark Cuban has created a culture and locker room over the last decade-plus that has withstood a lot. The only thing it can't seem to withstand is when former L.A. Lakers have to change colors and become Mavericks. Dallas hasn't had any significant luck, mainly just aggravation, when it comes to bringing in players who used to wear the purple and gold. Fans who remember see Bynum as the "thug" who took a cheap shot on J.J. Barea during the conference semifinals of the 2011 playoffs. For those who haven't really kept up with him this year, the analytics say that Bynum isn't worth the hassle, even at the minimum. He doesn't radically improve the team defensively or in terms of rebounding. The culture has worked with various players, even this year with Monta Ellis, but past results in a specific category suggest that this isn't worth the hassle.

Taylor: I wouldn't want Bynum under any circumstances. He has a loser mentality and there's been no indication he loves the game -- only what it can prove him materially. The Mavs under Cuban, and especially under Carlisle, has been a franchise that plays with maximum effort. Lamar Odom drove Carlisle and Cuban crazy. Bynum would do it faster.

MacMahon: Yes. The Mavs were right -- and I was wrong at the time -- for not making Bynum an offer this summer when it would have taken significant guaranteed money to get him. Bynum obviously wasn't worth that risk. But there would be no risk with a minimum contract. The best-case scenario is that you get a center who can provide scoring punch, rebounding and an interior defensive presence for around 20 minutes per night. If he causes problems, cut him. For me, it comes down to this: Would you rather have Bernard James or Bynum?

3. Should the Mavs be buyers or sellers in the trade market?

Gutierrez: They should be buyers, but I don't really see what they can buy that makes a substantial difference. They have nice assets, but the assets likely won't fix what ails them unless they radically shift the makeup of their roster. Defense is clearly the issue, so they would have to give up key pieces to their offense to fill that void. It doesn't make sense to trade pieces such as Jose Calderon or Monta Ellis because they're new pieces to your core. When you look on the other side, guys such as DeJuan Blair, Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert and Shawn Marion have contracts that are expendable, but they all provide something of substantial value to the team. It's a precarious spot for the Mavericks. They can't be sellers because they have a solid chance to be a playoff team, but their assets don't provide the foundation to provide a quick shot in the arm as buyers.

Taylor: This depends on what they're getting. If it's a high-end lottery draft pick, then be sellers because they have zero chance to win a title this season. If it's a low first-round pick, then the Mavs might as well try to have the best season they can and ruin someone else's season in the postseason.

MacMahon: They can't be sellers. Not if they want to avoid the wrath of a certain 7-foot German. Cuban is too competitive to do anything to reduce the Mavs' chances to get back in the playoffs anyway. But I don't think it's realistic to expect the Mavs to be buyers, either, unless a team is really motivated to dump salary. The Mavs just don't have the assets to be aggressive in the trade market, especially because they can't trade future first-round picks since they're still being handcuffed by the Odom deal.
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.

How should Rick Carlisle react if Samuel Dalembert is late again?

Gutierrez: The Mavs are kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't. If it happens again, waiving him is an option, but Mark Cuban would be hurting the team by taking away the lone proven defensive big man. Letting him hang around after another tardiness just sends a mixed signal to the rest of the locker room. Dallas can try to pursue options in the trade market, but it's likely to produce slim pickings. It's a tough spot for the Mavericks, honestly. The only reasonable answer I can come up with is a substantial suspension if it happens again.

Taylor: This is interesting because Dalembert alluded to having some issues with his sleep pattern getting disrupted and forcing him to oversleep. I've had relatives that sleep so deep you literally have to shove them or sprinkle them with water to wake them up, so I understand fundamentally he could have a legitimate issue. They've tried to set up a multi-layered alarm system and he seems genuinely remorseful. The Mavs should take the Cowboys' approach with Dez Bryant and have someone pick him up and bring him to practice, and Dalembert should have to pay whatever it costs. Since they like him there's nothing really to do except suspend him for a game every time it happens.

MacMahon: Sorry, but I'm skeptical about Dalembert's supposed sleeping issues. There are reasons that Dalembert is playing for his fifth team in five seasons. The Mavs were well aware of this when they signed him. It's part of the deal for Dalembert, who was suspended by the Milwaukee Bucks during their trip to Dallas last season because he overslept for shootaround. If he gets his third strike with the Mavs, he has to be out for at least a game with no pay. If it continues happening, they'll need to keep hitting him in the pocket. But the Mavs need Dalembert's defensive presence too much to consider cutting him.

Is Monta Ellis' recent statistical dip just a bump in the road or a regression to the mean?

Gutierrez: It certainly looks like a regression, but there are multiple angles in play. This was the concern I had about Ellis' attacking game. By getting to the rim, make or miss, he's putting his body through a lot. It doesn't look as if he's dealing with any substantial injuries, but the wear and tear is going to have an overall impact on his game. In addition, the opposition is scheming to take away Ellis' strengths. A season is all about peaks and valleys, so it's up to Ellis to get things back in order. On the plus side, this regression to the mean still looks better than the one that was going on during O.J. Mayo's rough patch last season.

Taylor: He's human and he's not a superstar, so we should've expected his performance to dip a tad. Ellis has been a good player for the Mavs and he'll continue to be productive. As long as he's taking good shots and not taking bad shots, he'll ultimately be fine. I'd worry a lot more about the raggedy defense and the spotty rebounding than Ellis.

MacMahon: Ellis isn't as bad as he looked last season in Milwaukee, when he was unhappy and essentially just waiting for his contract to expire. He's probably not as good as he looked in his first month with the Mavs, at least not on a consistent basis after opponents have had a chance to study the ways he was excelling early this season. A reasonable hope is that Ellis can average 20 points and shoot 45 percent from the field, which are what his numbers for the season are right now. If he does that, he'll be a decent bargain at $8 million per season, if not the steal he appeared to be after a month.

Dirk Nowitzki clarified his doubts about the Mavs' playoff chances, saying he meant only that they won't make the playoffs if they keep blowing big leads. Is this a playoff team?

Gutierrez: In my opinion, the competition for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the West is starting to thin out. Despite Kevin Love's beast of a season, Minnesota is stuck hovering around .500. Denver is still a mess, and New Orleans seems to be snake bit by injuries this season. If the Mavs can avoid injuries, even with their shortcomings on the defensive end, they'll be a playoff team. That said, Dallas should aim to make a second trip on the road during its first-round matchup. Remember, that wasn't something the Mavs were able to do as they were swept against Oklahoma City in 2012.

Taylor: Every team goes through lulls. The Mavs are still a playoff team because Dirk, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Ellis are veteran players who will ensure they get there with their mental toughness. This trend of blowing big leads is troubling, but this is still primarily a jump-shooting team. Add that to bad defense and suspect rebounding and it's easy to see why opponents feel as if they're never out of the game. The Western Conference is tough, but the Mavs will have enough to get a seventh or eighth seed when it's all said and done.

MacMahon: If I had to put money down, I'd bet on the Mavs making the playoffs, but it wouldn't be with much confidence. I'm not so quick to dismiss the Timberwolves, Pelicans or even the Memphis Grizzlies, who will be a much better team once Marc Gasol gets healthy. I see the Mavs having to scrap until the final week of the regular season to punch their playoff ticket.

Rapid Reaction: Wolves 112, Mavs 106

November, 30, 2013

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks trailed most of the night in a 112-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the American Airlines Center.

How it happened: Minnesota’s Kevin Martin got cooking in crunch time, when the Mavericks offense went flat again.

Martin, the Timberwolves shooting guard, took over after the Mavs managed to cut Minnesota’s lead to two midway through the fourth quarter. He had nine points during an 11-2 run over the next few minutes that stretched the Timberwolves’ lead back to double digits.

Martin, who scored a season-high 32 points in Minnesota’s win over the Mavs earlier in the month, finished with a team-high 25 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

For the second consecutive night, Dallas struggled to score down the stretch without injured point guard Jose Calderon on the court. After DeJuan Blair's putback that cut the deficit to two points with 6:33 remaining, the Mavs scored only 10 points over the next six minutes. Dirk Nowitzki (23 points) was the lone Mav with a field goal during that span, during which Dallas committed three turnovers.

Mavs guard Monta Ellis snapped out of a minislump with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. However, he cooled off in the fourth quarter, when he had only four points and committed a couple of turnovers.

What it means: The Mavs have lost four of five games to fall to 10-8 overall. After starting 7-0 at home, the Mavs have lost two of their past three at the American Airlines Center. This is their second loss to the Timberwolves (9-9), which means the Mavs must sweep their remaining two meetings with Minnesota to have a chance at a potential postseason tiebreaker.

Play of the game: Nowitzki and Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio collided while fighting for a loose ball on the Timberwolves’ end. Nowitzki ended up on the floor with a bloody nose. Rubio came up with the ball, crossed over Gal Mekel and passed up the floor to Corey Brewer, who fed Martin for the dunk to finish the fast break. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was irate that Rubio wasn’t whistled for a loose-ball foul, but the bucket bumped the Timberwolves’ lead back to three points early in the third quarter.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 3-4 when Ellis and Nowitzki both score at least 20 points.

Rapid Reaction: Wolves 116, Mavs 108

November, 8, 2013
How it happened: There was a whole lotta Kevin Love.

Love, Minnesota’s superstar power forward, put up a monster line with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. He also came through in the clutch for the Timberwolves, scoring their two biggest buckets of the night.

The Mavs, who trailed by double figures in the third quarter, fought back in the game and trailed by only three entering the final few minutes. Love, who rebounds like Moses Malone and shoots like Dirk Nowitzki, responded by knocking down a couple of beautiful jumpers to give the Timberwolves some breathing room.

Love’s 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining stretched Minnesota’s lead to six. On the following possession, which was extended by a Corey Brewer offensive rebound, Love hit a high-degree-of-difficulty step-back 17-footer with Shawn Marion’s hand in his face. That bucket with 1:13 to go was basically the dagger, pushing Dallas’ deficit to eight points.

Minnesota shooting guard Kevin Martin torched the Mavs, too, scoring 23 of his 32 points in the second half.

Shooting guard Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 23 points, but he was 9-of-24 from the field. Point guard Jose Calderon had 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but the Mavs were outscored by 14 in his 33 minutes.

What it means: The Mavs still haven’t won away from home. That’s hard to do when allowing an average of 111.3 points, as Dallas has done during its three road losses. The Mavs (3-3) and Timberwolves (4-2) could end up competing for one of the West’s last playoff spots, so this might be more meaningful than the run-of-the-mill November game.

Play of the game: After Jae Crowder missed a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining in the first half, Love grabbed the rebound and hit Brewer in stride with a chest pass at half court. Brewer needed only two dribbles to dart past Nowitzki and throw down an uncontested two-hand dunk. That trimmed the Mavs’ lead to one point at the half.

Stat of the night: The Mavs had a 36-14 advantage in bench points despite sixth man Vince Carter serving his one-game suspension for throwing an elbow in Wednesday night’s loss to Oklahoma City. But the best plus-minus among the Mavs’ starters was Marion’s minus-12.
Another potential big-man fallback plan in case Dwight Howard doesn’t come to Dallas is off the market.

Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Al Jefferson has agreed to terms with the Charlotte Bobcats on a three-year, $41 million deal. Restricted free agent Tiago Splitter, another potential Dallas target if the Mavs didn’t win the Dwight derby, committed earlier this week to stay in San Antonio for $36 million over four years.

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

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Starting centers remaining on the market: Andrew Bynum, an immense talent with a frightening injury history that could make negotiations extremely complicated; Nikola Pekovic, a restricted free agent who the Timberwolves want to keep; and J.J. Hickson, who is really a power forward who can play center.

There had been indications from Jefferson’s camp that he planned to wait until Howard made his decision before picking a team because he wanted Dallas and Atlanta to be able to get in on the bidding if they didn’t hook the biggest fish in free agency. However, it’s extremely unlikely that the Mavs would have been willing to make a bid in the ballpark of the Bobcats’ offer. And that’s putting it conservatively.

The Mavs were intrigued with the possibility of pairing an outstanding post scorer with Dirk Nowitzki, but they had major concerns about that duo defensively. There was also a fear that the 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson’s physique would continue to fill out as he aged, causing a bad defender to become even worse.

Those are the same concerns, along with Jefferson’s high salary, that led the Mavs to look elsewhere instead of pulling the trigger on a 2010 summer trade with the Timberwolves that would have sent Jefferson to Dallas in exchange for Erick Dampier’s instantly vanishing contract and picks.

The Mavs ended up sending the Dampier contract to Charlotte for an injury-prone, highly paid center named Tyson Chandler, with Dallas somehow dumping the contracts of Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera in the trade. It was a terrible trade for Michael Jordan’s Bobcats because it was a salary dump that didn’t save Charlotte money over the long haul.

It was a terrific trade for the Mavs because a healthy, hungry Chandler was the final piece to their championship puzzle.

The Mavs can only hope the center they find this summer works out nearly that well, whether it’s the one they really want or one of the fallback plans.

Is market drying up for O.J. Mayo?

July, 3, 2013
Tuesday was a tough day for O.J. Mayo.

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

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Two of the teams that had showed the most interest in Mayo committed to other shooting guards, with the Los Angeles Clippers giving J.J. Redick a four-year, $27 million deal as part of a three-team sign-and-trade deal and the Minnesota Timberwolves agreeing to a four-year deal in the $30 million range with Kevin Martin.

The Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls are other teams reported to have contacted Mayo in the opening day of free agency. Chicago is limited to the mini-midlevel exception, but there’s still a chance Mayo could get an offer in the Redick/Martin range.

If that’s the case, the Mavs will bid him farewell while examining potential sign-and-trade scenarios, unless they’ve had to renounce Mayo’s rights to clear out cap space to sign Dwight Howard.

What if Mayo slips through the free agency cracks for the second consecutive summer? The Mavs would welcome him back at the right price. He has indicated that he'd prefer to return to Dallas, but he isn't going to pass up a better offer to do so.

Mayo was often the target of coach Rick Carlisle’s tough-love wrath last season – and was ripped by the coach for his poor effort in the 81st game – but Carlisle is on the record saying he believes Mayo can be a starter on a contender.

“I like O.J. a lot,” Carlisle said the day after the season ended. “I think he fits into what we’re doing. Like everything else in this world, this is probably going to come down to money.”

At this point, Mayo’s price could be coming down.
O.J. Mayo might help the Mavs bring back one of Dirk Nowitzki’s championship buddies.

ESPN NBA senior analyst Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest developments in NBA free agency. The Rockets are a slight favorite to land Dwight Howard, but the Mavericks are in the running.

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With the Timberwolves among the teams recruiting Mayo, the Mavs have had discussions with Minnesota about a sign-and-trade that would net 2011 Finals hero J.J. Barea.

The Mavs don’t have the luxury of picking their trade partner in these sign-and-trade scenarios, which include the possibility of a package from the Clippers headlined by explosive 23-year-old point guard Eric Bledsoe. Mayo will pick his next team – and it’s a near certainty he won’t return to Dallas due to the market for him after he was the team’s second-leading scorer during his lone season with the Mavs.

Dallas decision-makers Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are determined to explore all options involving him as a trade asset.

If Mayo chooses Minnesota, one of several teams who have shown interest in him, a deal that would bring back Barea and likely another piece might make sense, depending on how the Mavs’ shopping for a point guard goes. Barea isn’t an ideal starter due to his size but could be a stopgap who could mentor rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel.

Due to make $9.2 million over the two remaining years on his contract, Barea could also have some trade value if opportunities present themselves in midseason. At the very least, Barea, who averaged 11.3 points and 4.0 assists off the bench last season, would add some juice to the Mavs’ pick-and-roll-happy offense.

And seeing Barea in a Mavs uniform again would certainly please some fans who never wanted to see him leave in the first place.
The buzz coming out of Minnesota is that O.J. Mayo could be a prime summer target for new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle gives his take on the contrasting styles of the Pacers and Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, Bulls-Heat, Tom Thibodeau, the state of the West and more.

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The Mavs would like to keep Mayo, but all indications are that they won’t be dragged into any bidding wars for him.

Mark Cuban is likely to have a set price in mind for Mayo – the midlevel exception ($5.35 million salary next season) is an educated guess – and wish him well if the shooting-starved Timberwolves or another team offers more.

The Mavs’ priorities this summer are to make upgrades at point guard and center, whether it’s pie-in-the-sky free agents Chris Paul and Dwight Howard or other more likely options. It’s difficult to envision the Mavs committing huge money to a shooting guard who had some great moments during his season in Dallas but was inconsistent and sputtered to the premature finish line.

Minnesota’s interest in Mayo, however, could benefit the Mavs. One of the major decisions Saunders must make this summer is whether the Timberwolves are willing to pay what it takes to keep restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic, a 6-foot-11, 290-pound 27-year-old who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds last season.

The Timberwolves have the right to match any offer for Pekovic and some wiggle room under the salary cap created in part by shedding Brandon Roy’s $5.3 million nonguaranteed salary, but Saunders can’t just be thinking about next season. Can the Timberwolves afford to continue paying Kevin Love’s max deal, re-sign Ricky Rubio to a huge contract in a couple of years, add Mayo and keep Pekovic?

If Mayo is a higher priority than Pekovic in Minnesota, the Mavs might be able to benefit by signing the big man.

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 100, Wolves 77

March, 10, 2013
How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks came out smoking in the second quarter and used their depth to cruise to a win over a tired Minnesota Timberwolves team playing the dreaded Daylight Savings back-to-back.

Dallas scored the first 14 points of the second quarter and led by double digits for the rest of the game.

The Mavs’ bench, the third-highest scoring reserve unit in the league this season, accounted for 58 points, 34 rebounds and 14 assists. All four reserves who played significant minutes made major contributions.

Sixth man Vince Carter lifted the Mavs after a sluggish start, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the first half. Carter, who also had nine rebounds, hit his first four shots from the floor and finished 8-of-15, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

Undersized big man Elton Brand put up his eighth double-double of the year, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Brandan Wright, the high-flying power forward/center whose role has increased recently, scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. He had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

Recently demoted point guard Darren Collison added nine points and eight assists.

Minnesota's 77 points matched a season low for a Mavs foe. The Timberwolves shot just 36.4 percent from the floor, including 2-of-18 from 3-point range.

What it means: The Mavs took care of business against bad teams on the first half of their four-game road trip, beating the Pistons and Timberwolves. The schedule gets significantly tougher the rest of the way. Beginning with Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee, 14 of the Mavs’ final 20 foes are currently in the playoff picture. The Mavs (29-33) are three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, who moved into eighth place in the West with a win Sunday afternoon.

Play of the game: It had no impact on the outcome of the game, but Dirk Nowitzki’s head-scratching travel in the third quarter will surely be talked about by fun-poking teammates. Nowitzki was wide open when he caught the ball near the baseline, went up for a midrange jumper, saw Chris Kaman cutting to the basket and got caught in between thoughts. After landing with the ball in his hands, Nowitzki gave it a soccer-style header.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 7-2 when Carter scores at least 20 points this season and 10-3 when he puts up 20-plus over the past two seasons.

Shawn Marion (calf) out vs. Timberwolves

March, 10, 2013
Mavericks forward Shawn Marion will miss his second consecutive game, Sunday night's matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, due to a bruised calf.

"A couple more days," Marion told reporters when asked after the Mavs' shootaround in Minnesota when he might return.

The Mavs have managed to go 5-3 in games missed by their most versatile player this season, although only one of the wins came against a team with a winning record.

Marion, who is averaging 11.7 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds, might be able to return for Tuesday night's game in Milwaukee.

3-pointer: Elton Brand delivers big off bench

January, 15, 2013

DALLAS -- Raise your hand if you thought Elton Brand was done.

You were wrong.

Elton Brand joins Ben and Skin to talk about the current state of the Mavericks. Ben lets Brand know about his Mavs' mediocre nightmare becoming a reality, and Skin talks about Brand's roller-coaster season.

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Brand admittedly had a tough transition to being a bench player after arriving in Dallas via amnesty waivers and getting off to a slow start as a starter, but he’s settled into his role recently, redefining it along the way to suit his ability and the Mavericks’ needs.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Brand knows he earns his minutes because he’s a banger and smart, physical defender. But he firmly believes he can still be an efficient scorer, a point he’s proving.

Brand’s season-high 20-point performance in Monday’s win over the Timberwolves was his fourth double-digit scoring effort in the last six games. By comparison, he had five double-digit nights in his first two months and change in a Mavs uniform.

“I had to change the role a little bit,” Brand said. “I looked at it as, OK, come in, play some good defense on their big, be a presence in the post against their defenders and don’t worry about the shooting as much. It worked out early on, but then we were losing. So it’s, OK, I need to find a way to be a threat, help out this team, get buckets and do what you need to do.”

Brand is averaging 10.8 points over the last six games, which isn’t exactly eye-popping for a man with a career average of 17.9 points. But he’s done it on 66.7 percent shooting, hitting 30 of 45 shots from the floor.

“I know where my looks are coming from,” Brand said. “They know where I like my looks. We kind of worked it from there. It’s tough when you’re getting two or three shots a game, four shots a game, and you’re expected to shoot at a high clip. I forget what I said (in November) -- I’m not a firecracker or something like that -- but now I’m getting a lot of touches and sharing the ball.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ third consecutive win:

1. Hangin’ with Collison: Darren Collison capped a 23-point, nine-assist performance with a pretty, two-handed dunk on a fast break. The 6-footer was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after the dagger dunk in the final minute.

“I think that’s the first tech of my career,” the mild-mannered Collison said. “I can’t remember getting one at all.”

If you’ve got to get T’d up, that’s a pretty good way to get one.

2. Barea’s big return: Former Maverick J.J. Barea tried his best to keep the Timberwolves in the game during his first action as a visitor at the American Airlines Center.

Barea, who got a nice applause from the crowd when he checked in for the first time, led Minnesota with 21 points and dished out five assists. The Timberwolves were plus-3 in his 26 minutes.

“I have a lot of good history here,” Barea said. “This is where it all started and where it all happened, so I’m always going to love coming back to Dallas.”

3. 20/20/20 vision: The Mavs, who never trailed in the game, had three players score at least 20 points for the first time all season. Collison scored 23, and O.J. Mayo and Brand added 20 each.

It’s the first time since Jan. 30, 2012, that three Mavs not named Dirk Nowitzki scored at least 20 points in a game. Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Delonte West each had 20-plus points in a win over the Phoenix Suns that night.



Monta Ellis
19.5 4.4 1.9 33.7
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.7
AssistsR. Rondo 6.2
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksB. James 2.0