Dallas Mavericks: O.J. Mayo

Opening Tip: Unlike Mayo, can Ellis keep it up?

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
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DALLAS -- The shooting guard who slipped through the cracks of free agency and signed a deal with the Mavericks for a lot less money than he hoped looked like a legitimate star for the first few weeks of the season.

Sound familiar?

Or have you forgotten how good O.J. Mayo was at the beginning of last season? As is the case with Monta Ellis now, there was discussion in Dallas as Thanksgiving neared a year ago about Mayo possibly making his first All-Star team and emerging as a competent co-star for Dirk Nowitzki.

Mayo at the 12-game mark: 21.8 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting from the field.

Ellis at the 12-game mark: 23.3 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field.

[+] EnlargeMonta Ellis
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith a better roster of teammates surrounding him, Monta Ellis figures to be able to continue producing for the Mavs the way he has shown so far.
Mayo couldn't sustain his early success, finishing the season with an average of 15.3 points. Ellis, however, is extremely confident he can keep rolling.

"I will. I will," Ellis said after his spectacular 37-point, eight-assist performance in Wednesday's comeback win over the Houston Rockets. "Only thing I've got to do is continue to make the right plays and don't try to force anything."

The statistics are awfully similar in a limited sample size. What makes Ellis different than Mayo? Why do the Mavs believe this shooting guard can keep it going?

Let's look at a few of the biggest factors:

Dirk dynamic: Mayo put up big numbers while Dirk Nowitzki was watching from the bench or his couch while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. As strange as it sounds, Mayo never meshed with the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history who happens to be as unselfish a superstar as you'll find.

In fairness to Mayo, Nowitzki wasn't himself for the majority of last season. He really didn't resemble a premier power forward until the final 30 games. But a big part of the problem was Mayo's struggles as a pick-and-roll ballhandler.

Ellis relishes that role and ranks among the NBA's most explosive, effective pick-and-roll initiators, especially when he gets the extra space that typically comes when Nowitzki is setting a pick and popping to one of his sweet spots.

Ellis has a sense of timing and feel for spacing, traits Mayo simply doesn't possess. Ellis' ability to facilitate (5.7 assists per game) has impressed the Mavs as much as his ability to finish in the lane.

"Even on nights when he's not scoring that well, his ability to make plays for everyone else is what sets him apart," Nowitzki said. "His decision-making has been great. What I've seen so far, sometimes his shot might not be going so well, but he can give us [penetration] every night."

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Opening Tip: Mavs' newcomers work with Dirk

November, 11, 2013
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Coach Rick Carlisle responded with a blanket statement when asked about how well the Mavericks’ new starters have immediately meshed with Dirk Nowitzki.

“There’s no player that’s ever played in this league that wouldn’t be a better player if he’s on the floor with Dirk Nowitzki because of how the game changes when he’s out there,” Carlisle said.

Well, actually, there are at least two. For whatever reason, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman just didn’t work with Dirk last season.

Fortunately, that isn’t an issue with their replacements. Nowitzki and shooting guard Monta Ellis have been the Mavs’ most efficient two-man tandem in terms of plus-minus, as Dallas has outscored opponents by 49 points in 162 minutes with that duo on the floor. The team’s next best tandem: Nowitzki and center Samuel Dalembert (plus-25 in 120 minutes).

The Mavs were outscored by an average of 2.2 points per 48 minutes with Mayo and Nowitzki playing together last season. It was even worse when Nowitzki paired with Kaman (minus-5.8 per 48 minutes), which is why Kaman quickly fell out of favor with Carlisle.

It certainly helps that Nowitzki is healthy after dealing with knee problems last season, but the Mavs acquired free agents who are much better fits with him than the fill-ins last year.

In the case of Dalembert, his strengths are suited to fill the roles the Mavs need from their big man next to Nowitzki. He’s a rim protector and rebounder whose role offensively is pretty much limited to setting picks, crashing the boards and occasionally catching (or fumbling) and finishing. Kaman, on the other hand, is a lead-footed defender who operates offensively in some of the same midrange space as Nowitzki.

Ellis is at his best as a pick-and-roll initiator and is thriving with all of the space created by defenses’ concern about Nowitzki. Mayo, who put up big numbers while Nowitzki was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, simply wasn’t a good enough decision-maker to do well in that role.

“Basketball IQ,” Mark Cuban said. “Some guys play off athleticism. Some have a specific skill. Some guys just know how to play.

“Watching Monta watch a pick, get set, waiting for it, seeing that the angle isn’t right, stepping back out and having the patience to do that, we didn’t see that once the entire year last year. And he does it two or three times a game. That’s just a night and day difference.”

Not coincidentally, so is the plus-minus.

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 91, Bucks 83

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
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The Dallas Mavericks ended their fourth game in a stretch of five nights on high note with a 91-83 over the Milwaukee Bucks.

How it happened: After O.J. Mayo got going early by scoring eight of his team’s first 11 points, the Mavs responded with a 10-0 run. The run was sparked by Jose Calderon’s hot shooting. The Bucks continued to go under on Dallas screens, and Calderon made them pay with three consecutive 3-point buckets. The hot streak spread through the rest of the Mavs, as they shot 13-of-22 from the field in the opening quarter.

As the Mavs continued to attack the basket and dish the ball out to the open man, the Bucks were constantly on their heels. Dallas made the game look easy in the first half, as they shot .500 percent from the field and held Milwaukee to .357 percent from the field.

The second half saw the hot shooting by the Mavs fade away. Dallas looked confused on offense, as they couldn’t establish any consistency on that end of the floor. Milwaukee capitalized with a 16-2 run during the third quarter to bring its deficit down from 19 to three.

Despite only shooting 5-of-22 from the field with five turnovers in the third quarter, Dallas took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, timely steals by both Jae Crowder and DeJuan Blair led to easy buckets for the Mavs, which allowed them to extend their lead. With the game up for grabs for most of the fourth quarter, the Mavs were able to cling to their lead to secure a much-needed victory.

In a revenge game for Mayo and Monta Ellis, Mayo won the scoring battle with 28 points, but Ellis played the better all-around game. The Milwaukee crowd showed no love for their former shooting guard, but Ellis ultimately got the last laugh with the victory.

What it means: Dallas had to gut out a tough game on the final night of tough stretch early in their schedule. Late-game execution was a major issue for the Mavs of 2012-13. For one night in Milwaukee, the 2013-14 Mavs showed they could do enough in the clutch.

Play of the game: With the Bucks down only four points and two minutes to go, Mayo posted up Calderon and tried to capitalize on the mismatch. Mayo inadvertently turned the ball over and Dirk Nowitzki was able to make the Bucks pay with a timely jumper. Catastrophic turnovers killed Mayo last season. It might be a new year and a new team for Mayo, but the problem reared its ugly head once again.

Stat of the night: With a 15-point lead, Dallas scored 34 points in the opening quarter. Dallas came into the game 0-3 in games in which they were losing after the opening quarter. Dallas is now 4-0 in games in which they have taken a lead into the second quarter.

Good shooting guards go off vs. Mavs

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
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O.J. Mayo must be really looking forward to the Dallas Mavericks' visit to Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Never mind the motivation Mayo might have to prove his worth to the Mavs, who didn't make much of an attempt to re-sign him after his single-season stop in Dallas. Any shooting guard who is a scorer should be giddy to see the Mavs on the schedule.

[+] EnlargeKevin Martin
AP Photo/Jim MoneKevin Martin of the Timberwolves tallied 32 points Friday against the Mavs in another big game for opposing shooting guards.
Just look at the production of the two legitimate scorers at that position to face the Mavs so far this season.

Minnesota's Kevin Martin lit the Mavs up for 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting Friday night, and that wasn't even the most impressive performance by a shooting guard against the Mavs this month. Houston's James Harden scorched the Mavs for 34 points on 11-of-17 shooting last week.

Not coincidentally, the Mavs lost both games.

OK, it's a stretch to put Mayo in this class of shooting guard, but you get the point. Offense-minded shooting guards get a lot of points against these Mavs.

This can't be considered surprising. The Mavs knew that defending good shooting guards would be a challenge with Monta Ellis joining Jose Calderon in Dallas' starting backcourt.

At 6 feet 3, 185 pounds, Ellis simply doesn't have the size to consistently challenge the attempts of shooting guards such as Harden (6-5, 220) and Martin (6-7, 197). It's also hard for Ellis to keep big, physical guards such as Harden from getting into the lane.

Calderon doesn't help matters. He's not any bigger than Ellis and a lot less quick.

It certainly would have been nice to have Vince Carter, an underrated wing defender, take a turn or two on Martin. However, Carter was serving a one-game suspension for his mixed martial arts move upside Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams' head in Wednesday night's loss.

The hope is that Devin Harris can help the Mavs contain the league's better guards, but there still isn't a firm timetable for Harris to begin practicing after recovering from offseason toe surgery, much less playing in games. Plus, he's no taller and only a few pounds heavier than Ellis.

It would be ideal if Shawn Marion, Dallas' defensive version of a Swiss Army knife, could spend a lot of time on the league's best shooting guards. That kind of matchup, however, also is complicated by the Dallas guards' lack of size against the opposition's small forwards.

Against the Rockets, coach Rick Carlisle opted not to take Marion off of Chandler Parsons, a small forward who had hurt the Mavs in the past. Against the Timberwolves, Marion spent most of the second half banging with power forward Kevin Love, who also scored 32 points on the Mavs.

When Dallas plays the Miami Heat next week, do you want Marion defending LeBron James or Dwyane Wade?

The Mavs can mix in some zone, but Carlisle will tell you that's an alternative best used in limited doses.

The Mavs' solutions to this problem, if there are any, will be about executing a team scheme to stop the league's best backcourt scorers. Count on Carlisle stressing the importance of disposition in the matter, too.

But it's a good bet that the big games by Harden and Martin are the beginning of a trend.
Coach Rick Carlisle is no longer revealing a closely guarded secret 16 minutes before tipoff.

There’s no mystery about the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup these days. Barring injury, there shouldn’t be all season.

The starting five of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Samuel Dalembert is working just fine. In fact, it’s by far the Mavs’ most successful lineup after five games, outscoring opponents by 33 points in 66 minutes.

That’s a major change from last season, when Carlisle was constantly tinkering and searching for combinations that worked during Dallas' frustrating .500 season. The Mavs rolled out a ridiculous 23 starting lineups last season.

Carlisle, of course, would much rather stick with a starting five. It appears promising that he’ll have that luxury this season, although the fact that four starters are 32 or older significantly increases the odds of injury interruptions.

“The benefits are you can build consistency,” Carlisle said. “Guys can get an opportunity to get a feel for how to play with each other.

“I want to have consistency. I would love to have a consistent rotation, but not to the point where guys can keep a job by playing mediocre basketball. You can’t have that.”

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Mavs backcourt -- from 'brutal' to beautiful?

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
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A brief, blunt conversation between Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban during the Mavericks' European trip last fall pretty much foreshadowed that .500 team's biggest problem.

Nowitzki: "We can't pass and we can't shoot. Our guards aren't there."

Cuban: "Are you kidding me?"

Nowitzki: "Sorry, bro."

It's not unusual for Nowitzki to express some doubt to his billionaire boss, who recalled the exchange during an appearance on 103.3 FM ESPN on Tuesday. Never to that extreme, though.

"That was the first time I've ever heard him say anything that negative," Cuban said, "and he was right."

In the next breath, Cuban noted that Nowitzki is all smiles these days. The Mavs' offseason backcourt makeover has apparently brightened the big German's mood.

Gone are Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Mike James. Here are Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris, although the latter is still weeks away from being ready to play after undergoing toe surgery.

The buzz phrase at the American Airlines Center is "basketball IQ." The belief is that the backcourt shuffling has turned that from a major Mavs weakness into a significant strength, especially with Calderon, whose career assist-to-turnover ratio (7.2/1.7) is outstanding.

"You have no idea how brutal it was," Cuban said. “I remember Shawn Marion just looking at me and saying, 'Point guard.' It was brutal. We tried and tried and Mike did his best to try to fit in, but you can just see the difference.

"Monta with basketball IQ is better than anything we had at the point last year. Our guys tried hard. They were great people, but they just didn't have the skill set. ... We saw just the difference with Jose and Monta out there. We're going to be able to make just a lot smarter decisions and play better basketball."

The Mavs' power brokers believe the benefit will be much better performance in crunch time and a much more aesthetically pleasing brand of basketball.

"I think [fans are] going to be reminded of the Mavs from 2011, from 2006 and '07," Cuban said. "We move the ball. There's just the beauty of the ball going around the perimeter to move faster than the defense and hit the guy to hit the shot. They're going to love that."

Dollars and Sense: Monta Ellis

August, 30, 2013
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The NBA is about competition on the floor, but it’s also about dollars and cents. Teams now must find players that can outperform deals they’re signed to and use them as assets on the floor or as assets to flip in order to acquire a game-changing piece. ESPNDallas.com will grade how the Dallas Mavericks fared in terms of contracts of their new acquisitions.

Monta Ellis: Signed to a three-year, $25.08 million contract. Ellis will be paid $8 million in 2013-14. The final year of his deal is a player option.

Ellis declined a player option that would have paid him $11 million to stay in Milwaukee next season. He also turned down a three-year, $36 million extension
offer from the Bucks. He settled for a significantly lower offer from the Mavs.

Dallas was looking for an opportunity, someone to slip through the cracks in free agency. Like last year in O.J. Mayo, they found someone who slipped in Ellis.

There is a radical sense of the unknown when it comes to how Ellis will mesh with Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle. That will easily be the most fascinating thing to watch over the course of the season. If he can work off Nowitzki in the two-man game, they could be a very deadly combination. If they don’t work out, it will be very disjointed but still has the chance to be relatively potent on offense just based off of talent.

As for his defense, offense could be the best form of defense. Being able to get back after a made basket and getting back into position would certainly help versus having to defend in transition.

Mayo is making relatively the same amount of money (three years, $24 million) in Milwaukee. With Ellis being two years older and having three more years of experience over Mayo, the Mavs are getting more bang for their buck.

Grade: A-
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Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

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The Mavericks didn't accomplish their ultimate mission of adding a superstar, but they did accomplish a significant goal this summer.

They got better. Maybe good enough to get back into the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference.

The Mavs, assuming all the deals they've agreed become official soon, made upgrades almost across the board after Dwight Howard decided to head to Houston. A position-by-position look:

POINT GUARD: The Mavs believe Jose Calderon will solve a lot of their problems from last season, particularly regarding late-game basketball IQ woes.

[+] EnlargeJose Calderon
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesJose Calderon, who signed a a four-year, $29 million deal with the Mavs this offseason, has career averages of 7.2 assists and 1.7 turnovers per game.
Darren Collison is a nice sparkplug backup, but he never earned coach Rick Carlisle's trust to run the offense, especially in clutch situations, as evidenced by the Mavs recruiting geezer point guards Derek Fisher and Mike James out of their rocking chairs during the season.

Calderon, who has career averages of 7.2 assists and 1.7 turnovers per game, can be counted on to get the ball where it needs to go. He's not a creator, but Calderon is a phenomenal spot-up shooter, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (.461) last season. The Mavs gave Calderon a four-year, $29 million deal to make the offense run much smoother.

The 31-year-old Calderon comes with defensive deficiencies due to his limited athleticism, but the Mavs' point guards weren’t exactly Gary Payton in his prime on that end of the floor last season. That’s a problem the Mavs didn't fix, not one that was created this summer.

Devin Harris, who is likely to sign a one-year, minimum-salary deal after recovering from a dislocated toe that caused his three-year, $9 million offer to be pulled, would give the Mavs a proven, versatile veteran backup with some pedigree as a defensive stopper. Harris isn't the blur the Mavs used as bait to get Jason Kidd, but when healthy, he's a solid third guard who can play both backcourt positions.

Rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel are a couple of intriguing prospects who will have to earn every minute of playing time this season unless they drive down the tollway to Frisco. They're different players -- Larkin is an explosive athlete who can create off the dribble and shoot from deep; Mekel is a savvy distributor -- but both have potential to be factors as pick-and-roll facilitators.

SHOOTING GUARD: Monta Ellis is better than O.J. Mayo.

How much better? That depends on how coachable an eight-year veteran with a career average of 19.4 points per game will be in Dallas.

Ellis' shot selection in Milwaukee the last season and a half was simply awful, making him an extremely inefficient scorer. If the Mavs can convince him to eliminate long pull-up jumpers from his diet, they'll have no regrets about the three-year, $25 million deal they offered him only after discovering Harris' dislocated toe.

Monta Ellis
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsVeteran Monta Ellis, who has averaged 19.4 points during his career, is capable of taking over games for stretches with scoring flurries.
The upside with Ellis: He’s the most dynamically athletic guard to ever be paired with Dirk Nowitzki. He's a tremendous penetrator who is a good finisher when he gets to the rim and willing passer when help defense comes. He's a one-man fast break waiting to happen. And he’s capable of taking over games for stretches with scoring flurries.

Ellis gets a lot of steals, but he’ll never be confused for an All-Defense candidate. Frankly, he's a concern at that end of the floor, not that he's a downgrade from Mayo.

Wayne Ellington, who will sign a two-year deal for $5.3 million, will give the Mavs a perimeter threat (.382 on 3s for his career) off the pine and isn't a poor defender.

Second-round pick Ricky Ledo, who didn’t play a minute of college basketball due to academic issues, is a raw project with starter potential who should be a featured attraction in Frisco this season.

SMALL FORWARD: The Mavs didn’t make any upgrades at small forward this summer, but it was a position of strength last season. The hope is that Father Time doesn’t tackle Shawn Marion or Vince Carter this season.

It helps that Carlisle can keep their minutes manageable, although it appears that Marion will have to continue to play a lot of power forward when Nowitzki rests.

It'd be nice if Jae Crowder can make a jump after a solid rookie season, especially by second-round standards. His 3-point shooting in summer league has been a disappointment, but Crowder is at least a tough, rugged body to bring off the bench.

POWER FORWARD: If Nowitzki's knees don't act up, this position might be the Mavs' most improved next season. He missed the first third of the season and took several weeks to work his way back into form last year.

The 35-year-old Nowitzki is no longer capable of carrying a contender -- hence the failed plan to acquire a superstar -- but it's not a stretch to think he can get back to the All-Star game after his 11-year streak was snapped. He averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor after the break last season, the kind of production that can be expected of him at this point of his career.

CENTER: Until recently, if Samuel Dalembert was mentioned in the same sentence as Howard, it was something along the lines of, "Howard dominated Dalembert." But this isn't about a no-contest Howard-Dalembert comparison. It's about whether Dalembert is an upgrade over Chris Kaman.

There's no doubt that Dalembert is a better fit in Dallas than Kaman, as detailed here earlier this week.

The Mavs will also bring back Brandan Wright, barring an unforeseen development in his contract negotiations, and hope he can build off his outstanding finish of last season.

Elton Brand's physical presence and veteran savvy might be missed, but the Mavs should be better at center if Dalembert and Wright can stay healthy, whether or not injury-riddled former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden is added to the roster.

This summer wasn't the spectacular success the Mavs hoped for, but it was good enough to give them a chance to get back into the playoffs.

Don't expect Monta Ellis to be a Maverick

July, 10, 2013
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The Mavericks don’t expect to do any more summer shopping for backcourt help.

“That’s probably a long shot,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told reporters Wednesday.

In other words, don’t hold your breath for Monta Ellis to become a Maverick.

The Mavs have addressed their backcourt needs by agreeing to terms with point guard Jose Calderon, combo guard Devin Harris and shooting guard Wayne Ellington. Sources have indicated throughout the free-agency process that the Mavs’ interest in Ellis has been dependent on his slipping through the cracks and being a short-term bargain, as O.J. Mayo was last summer.

The Mavs, who have approximately $8.2 million in salary-cap space, have made filling their massive void at center a priority. They are engaged in cautious negotiations with Andrew Bynum after meeting with the free-agent center and his agent Wednesday morning.

Ellis, a combo guard with a career average of 19.4 points despite poor efficiency ratings, is a luxury the Mavs likely cannot afford.

Mavs, Bucks not talking sign-and-trade

July, 3, 2013
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There are no discussions about a sign-and-trade deal involving O.J. Mayo between the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Wednesday.

The sources said the Mavs are prepared to let Mayo leave and move on to other business. Mayo is close to agreeing to a multiyear deal with Milwaukee after averaging 15.3 points and 4.4 assists during his lone season in Dallas.

The Mavs had discussed sign-and-trade scenarios with other Mayo suitors, including talks with the Clippers that would have made ready-to-start 23-year-old point guard Eric Bledsoe a Maverick. However, the Clippers ended up agreeing to terms with shooting guard J.J. Redick instead, sending Bledsoe to the Suns in a three-team sign-and-trade deal.

All possible Mayo sign-and-trade scenarios were part of the Mavs' contingency plans if Dwight Howard doesn't decide to come to Dallas. The Mavs would have had to renounce Mayo's rights as part of the process of clearing enough salary-cap space to sign Howard to a max contract.

Monta Ellis, who opted out of making $11 million to stay in Milwaukee next season, is among the free-agent guards the Mavs have expressed interest in this summer. Those talks have yet to become "substantive," according to a source. The Mavs are in a holding pattern while Howard ponders his decision.

The Mavs are also intrigued by Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, but Milwaukee has made it clear that the intention is to match any offer for the restricted free agent.
It appears that O.J. Mayo’s tenure in Dallas will be one-and-done.

Yahoo! Sports reports that Mayo is close to agreeing to a multiyear deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Mayo opted to test the free-agent market again instead of exercising the $4.2 million player option for next season in the contract he signed with the Mavs last summer. He was the Mavs’ second-leading scorer with 15.3 points per game and averaged 4.4 assists last season.

The Mavs had explored sign-and-trade scenarios with other Mayo suitors, but it isn’t clear whether they've had any discussions with the Bucks. Theoretically, the teams could agree to a double sign-and-trade deal in which Milwaukee would send point guard Brandon Jennings or combo guard Monta Ellis to Dallas for Mayo.

However, the Bucks have ample salary-cap space to sign Mayo and have indicated they intend to keep Jennings, a restricted free agent.

The Mavs have expressed interest in Ellis, but those talks have yet to become substantive, according to a source close to the situation.


As Dwight Howard clears his mind in the mountain air, all the Mavericks can do is wait and hope.

They have to hope that Mark Cuban and crew’s three-hour pitch was strong enough to sell Howard on a two-year plan to rebuild a contender in Dallas. If not, they at least have to hope that the Dwight drama isn’t dragged out for more than a few days.

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The worst-case scenario for the Mavs: The rest of the market gets picked clean while Howard takes his sweet time before choosing to stay in L.A. or head to Houston.

The Mavs have done a ton of due diligence on contingency plans and will continue to do so, but they can’t keep the market from moving until the Dwight decision comes down. The longer Howard takes, the more likely it is that the Mavs will have to pick through leftovers.

Then again, maybe the Mavs need not worry.

“I think the whole league is waiting on the Dwight domino to fall,” one free agent whom the Mavs have interest in said via text message.

Well, maybe not the whole league. There was a flurry of free-agent activity Tuesday. J.J. Redick and Kevin Martin, a couple of 3-point-popping shooting guards who could have been fits for the Mavs, committed to other West teams. The Spurs locked up restricted free agent center Tiago Splitter, another player who intrigued the Mavs.

It appeared that Andre Iguodala, considered by some the best non-superstar available this summer, was close to committing to the Sacramento Kings … until his four-year, $52 million offer was pulled off the table. Nevertheless, Iguodala has enough strong suitors that he isn’t likely to wait for the Dwight drama to make his decision.

Cuban, if he were talking to the media at the moment beyond his “It was fun” post-meeting comment to the ESPN camera crew, might make the case that all of the contracts committed to thus far would have been beyond what the Mavs were willing to pay for those players.

None of the Mavs’ point guard targets are off the board yet, unless you count Eric Bledsoe, whom they discussed acquiring in what would have been a complicated O.J. Mayo sign-and-trade with the Clippers. We’ll see if Jose Calderon, Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack, Monta Ellis, etc. are still undecided when Howards emerges from the mountains.

Centers, such as Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson, might be wise to wait for the Dwight domino to fall. It can’t hurt to have the Mavs and Hawks involved in the bidding process.

Whether or not Howard comes to Dallas, the Mavs must put together a team capable of getting back into the playoffs to be able to claim any progress in Cuban’s new two-year plan. And they have to hope that doesn’t become harder to do if the most indecisive star in sports drags this out.

Is market drying up for O.J. Mayo?

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
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Tuesday was a tough day for O.J. Mayo.

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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.

Report: Clippers deal Bledsoe to Suns

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
5:11
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Cross off one Dallas contingency plan.

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

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Yahoo! Sports reports that the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to send Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns in a three-way deal that sends Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to L.A. and a pair of second-round picks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Mavs and Clippers have discussions about a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent O.J. Mayo to L.A. with Bledsoe and at least one other player coming to Dallas. The Clippers opted instead to sign Redick and were able to unload Butler's $8 million expiring contract and receive a 3-point threat in Dudley in the three-team deal.

The Mavs would not have agreed to any deal before Dwight Howard makes his decision. If Howard chooses the Mavs, they will renounce the rights necessary to use Mayo in a sign-and-trade deal.

The Mavs have expressed interest in several free agent point guards, including Jose Calderon, Mo Williams and Monta Ellis.
O.J. Mayo might help the Mavs bring back one of Dirk Nowitzki’s championship buddies.

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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.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2