Dallas Mavericks: Rashard Lewis
Dallas doesn’t have a backup for Dirk Nowitzki.Shawn Marion to power forward when the face of the franchise rested. The odds of Marion returning to Dallas are awfully slim at this point, but Chandler Parsons will play some power forward. Mavs officials have also mentioned that Brandan Wright will play more power forward than he has in the past few years.
Still, it’d be ideal to have a power forward with perimeter-shooting ability on the bench, giving the Mavs a backup for Nowitzki who wouldn’t force fundamental changes to the offense when he’s on the floor. That’s why a healthy Lewis would have been a good fit for the veteran’s minimum.
Some potential minimum-priced free agents who might be able to fill that role:
Charlie Villanueva: He was a disaster in Detroit after signing a five-year, $38 million contract, playing only 20 games in the final year of the deal last season. Maybe he’d benefit from a change of scenery. He’s 6-foot-11, 232 pounds, turns 30 next month and has career averages of 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He shot a career-best 38.7 percent from 3-point range in 2010-11, his last relatively productive season.
Earl Clark: The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Clark has played for five teams since the Phoenix Suns selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft. His best season came as a part-time starter for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012-13, when he averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game. His career shooting percentages (40.4 from the floor, 33.1 from 3-point range) aren’t exactly appealing.
Antawn Jamison: It’s been more than a decade since Jamison’s one-season stint in Dallas, when he earned the Sixth Man of the Year award. At 38, Jamison might not have any gas left in the tank. He averaged only 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 22 games last season for the Los Angeles Clippers before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the deadline. The Hawks waived him and Jamison didn’t get a job the rest of the season.
Al Harrington: At 34, the 6-foot-9 Harrington might be ready to make the transition to coaching after 16 seasons in the league. A career 35.2 percent 3-point shooter, Harrington averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game for the Washington Wizards last season, playing in only 34 games.
The “Merry Minimums,” as the Mavs’ brass often refers to the minimum-salary veterans that fill out the roster, included significant contributors Devin Harris and DeJuan Blair last season.
The Mavs filled three of their minimum slots this summer with players who should at least factor into Rick Carlisle’s rotation, if not play every night. Swingman Richard Jefferson, small forward Rashard Lewis and center Greg Smith are all good bang-for-buck additions.
A look at how the three new members of the Merry Minimums can help the Mavs:
Vince Carter and Jose Calderon. The 34-year-old made 40.9 percent of his long-distance attempts for the Utah Jazz last season, the third time in four years that he shot better than 40 percent from 3. He averaged 10.1 points in 27 minutes per game as a starter for the Jazz, but the Mavs won’t ask nearly that much from him.
Lewis: At 34, Lewis hardly resembles the scoring threat the Mavs tried to steal from Seattle long ago. The two-time All-Star is a role player now who has the experience of playing in three NBA Finals, including the last two seasons with the Miami Heat. “We’re always looking for veteran players who are pros and know how to win playoff games,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “He definitely fits that mold.” Lewis also fits the mold of a stretch 4, allowing the Mavs the luxury of having a legitimate backup for Dirk Nowitzki that doesn’t require completely changing the offensive scheme. The 6-foot-10 Lewis is a career 38.6 percent 3-point shooter and a quality defender, especially in pick-and-roll and isolation situations.
Smith: The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder, who was sent to Dallas in a salary-dump deal from Chicago, will replace Blair as the Mavs’ bargain-priced banger. “Our front line really needs a DeJuan-type presence,” Nelson said. “[Smith] is a thick-body rebounder and enforcer.” Smith, 23, had season-ending knee surgery in February, which the Mavs anticipate will be a “maintenance issue” this season. But there is hope that Smith can get back to his form from 2012-13, when he averaged 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game for the Houston Rockets.
With Stojakovic announcing his retirement Monday after 13 seasons, he will leave the game having made 1,760 shots from downtown. However, he won't be staying at No. 4 for long. Five players behind Stojakovic and in top 10 are active and three -- No. 5 Chauncey Billups (1,735), No. 7 Rashard Lewis (1,674) and Terry (1,650) could all pass Stojakovic this season.
No. 9 Paul Pierce (1,578) and No. 10 Steve Nash (1,565) will move past Stojakovic if each plays two more seasons.
Kidd (1,795), just 35 made 3s ahead of Stojakovic, is safe for now.
The shortened 66-game schedule could cut it close for Terry. He needs to drain 111 3-pointers to pass Stojakovic. Terry made 127 from long range in 82 games last season. Three time in the past six seasons, Terry has finished with at least 162 bombs in as few as 74 games.
As for two sharpshooters as teammates, May 8, 2011 will live forever on You Tube. That was Game 4 of the stunning sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. Terry buried 9-of-10 from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 32 points, and Stojakovic was a perfect 6-of-6 for 21 points in the 122-86 rout.
That game would prove to be Stojakovic's curtain call of sorts. In the Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and then the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, Stojakovic just couldn't keep up defensively and was a non-factor, making just five 3s in the last nine postseason games he would play.
But, in that monumental Lakers series, Stojakovic came off the bench to bury 11-0f-21 from deep and averaged 12.5 points.
New Mavs forward and former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom recalled that game and the series, saying, "It was a barrage."
And Stojakovic was a prime gunner.
The concept, in other words, is hardly new.
The reality for the Mavs, furthermore, is that essentially nothing has changed over the past few weeks with regard to their chances of emerging as a feared factor in the Melo bidding.
The subject nonetheless received a significant (and overstated) amount of national attention this week until things came to deeply sad halt Wednesday, when the Nuggets began to inform teams that Anthony trade talks were being placed on an indefinite hold out of respect to their All-Star forward after the death of his 36-year-old sister caused by a pre-existing medical condition.
The following five-point update is where a variety of trade issues stood from the Mavericks' perspective before the sudden and tragic halt to the Melo trade chase, which is expected to put all Anthony-related discussions on hold until after Christmas:
* The Nuggets, according to sources briefed on the teams' discussions to date, have greeted the Mavericks' inquiries with "nothing but pushback" every time they’ve called to check on the status of Anthony's availability. Reason being: Dallas can't come close to the package the New Jersey Nets can assemble, which includes two probable lottery picks in addition to prized rookie Derrick Favors. One source close to the process says Denver remains "heavily" focused on trying to complete a deal with New Jersey, while New York obviously continues to rank as the other standout team in the Melo chase because the Knicks are overwhelmingly regarded around the league as Anthony’s favored destination. Most GMs agree that, at this point, there is no No. 3 option … Dallas or otherwise.
* There's really only one way that the Melo landscape can change sufficiently for Dallas (or Houston, Charlotte and anyone else willing to "rent" Melo) to get seriously involved: New Jersey would have to pull completely out of the bidding. And that would only happen if Melo tells the Nets face to face that he is refusing to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension as part of an "extend-and-trade," which is what Boston pulled off in July 2007 when it acquired Kevin Garnett from Minnesota and got his signature on a new deal in the process. ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan reported Dec. 12 that Anthony plans to do just that if the Nuggets and Nets finally reach terms on a trade -- which might or might not involve other teams as facilitators -- because of his deep desire to join Amare Stoudemire with the Knicks. The Nets, though, continue to believe that Anthony's stated determination to sign the extension before the next labor deal kicks in (June 30 is the deadline) and the ability of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part owner Jay-Z to sell him on the team's future in Brooklyn will sway him when the time comes.
* Even the Mavericks' appetite for smaller deals, according to sources with knowledge of the team's thinking, has lessened somewhat thanks to a scorching 23-5 start that has made it Dallas' growing priority to preserve the team's current chemistry. Reserve center Alexis Ajinca, for example, has been available since Dallas acquired him as a throw-in from Charlotte in the Tyson Chandler deal and remains the most likely Mav to be dealt. The Mavs, though, are said to be getting more choosy about what they'd expect in exchange for Ajinca, since there will always be a premium on a still-developing young big man in the NBA.
* You probably won't be surprised to hear that there is essentially no external interest bubbling for Brendan Haywood, given that this is Year 1 on a contract with $41.7 million guaranteed over five years and the swiftness with which Haywood (shooting 25.5 percent from the free-throw line) has fallen behind Tyson Chandler in the Mavs' pecking order. Orlando just proved no one is untradeable with the Rashard Lewis-for-Gilbert Arenas deal, but Haywood is high on the list of trade improbables with so many teams out there averse to taking on long-term contracts when they don't know how restrictive the next collective bargaining agreement will be. I’ve likewise been assured in the strongest terms that Houston, even after losing Yao Ming to a potentially career-ending setback, is not looking at Haywood as a potential replacement and has made that clear to the Mavs, despite what has been reported in some precincts locally. "Less than zero interest" is the way one source with knowledge of the Rockets' thinking jokingly described it. Which is why the similarly reported notion that offering up Haywood could somehow put the Mavs in play for longtime Mavs favorite Kevin Martin -- whom Dallas pursued unsuccessfully last season before the Rockets acquired Martin from Sacramento -- has been politely ignored here.
(PS -- For those of you who love NBA contract minutiae, Haywood’s $10,522,500 salary in 2015-16 is fully unguaranteed as long as he is waived on or before Aug, 1, 2015.)
ORLANDO -- Now Tyson Chandler gets his biggest test of the season: Dwight Howard.
Coming off the big win at the Miami Heat where Chandler went up against slow-footed, perimeter-shooting Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Joel Anthony, the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Howard will challenge Chandler's quickness and strength in the paint.
"I've definitely got to make it tough for him. I've got to force him into some tough shots," said Chandler, who had eight points and 10 rebounds in Miami. "I've seen a little bit of the highlights against Atlanta, but I don't know, honestly, what that team and that look is going to be like. I'm sure they'll be a little out of key, I'm sure they're going to be running the basic things. It always comes down to me making his night tough, but for them it's always been a lot of perimeter shooting. When they get 3s rolling and hitting jump shots they are a real tough team to beat."
The Magic lost at Atlanta Monday night in their first game since a major roster shakeup. Out is Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat. In is Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson.
But, leave it to Dirk Nowitzki to sound the precautionary alarm as the Mavs seek a fourth consecutive win their final game of the pre-Christmas portion of the scedule.
"We did lose the first one in Oklahoma City right after we made the trade [last season] and then we started to get rolling without practice time," Nowitzki said, referring to the 13-game winning streak the Mavs reeled off after the initial loss. "I’ve seen it both ways. I've seen it where it takes some time and where things have clicked right away.
"They've definitely got a very capable of players. We saw what J-Richardson can do, saw what Turkoglu did with them over the years, really having his best years down there playing off of Dwight, making big pick-and-roll plays in the fourth quarter for them. And Arenas is absolutely one of the best scorers at the guard position."