Dallas Mavericks: Rip Hamilton
But the Mavs did get an assist from an old point guard during the free-agency process. It just wasn’t one that’s ever worn a Mavs uniform.
O.J. Mayo reached out to Chauncey Billups, one of his favorite players in the league, while researching potential destinations this summer. Billups strongly recommended that Mayo play for Rick Carlisle, who played a significant role in Billups achieving his potential.
“He said (Carlisle) is a great coach for me to help expand my game,” Mayo said.
Billups, like Mayo now, was a No. 3 overall pick in his mid-20s who hadn’t lived up high-lottery expectations when he signed with the Carlisle-coached Pistons in the summer of 2002. Detroit was Billups’ fifth NBA team, and while he showed promise as a part-time starter the previous season in Minnesota, he had yet to prove he could be a premier point guard.
Carlisle gave Billups that opportunity in 2002-03, when he started for a 50-win team that advanced to the conference finals. That was the only seasons Carlisle coached Billups, but Billups gives Carlisle credit for helping him become a five-time All-Star and one-time NBA champion who is now known as Mr. Big Shot.
Mayo hasn’t bounced around the league, having spent his entire four-year career with the Memphis Grizzlies, but he has a lot of similarities to the 2002 version of Billups. Mayo is a No. 3 overall pick whose career hasn’t progressed as anticipated.
Billups’ advice to Mayo: Let Carlisle coach you.
That’s exactly what Mayo has done. He arrived in Dallas a month ago specifically so he could work with Carlisle.
Mayo usually works on one specific weakness each summer. He’s worked on whatever Carlisle wanted recently.
“My whole thing is to give my game to Coach and let him help me get better in ways I can help the team,” Mayo said.
That’s included refining something Mayo considered one of his biggest strengths: shooting the ball.
They’ve worked on keeping the ball high and staying ready to shoot, especially when Mayo gets fatigued. Carlisle used Reggie Miller and Rip Hamilton -- a couple of elite shooters he’s coached -- as examples and pointed out Mayo’s flaws while reviewing film of Grizzlies games.
“It was different, because I had never worked on it,” Mayo said. “It was actually a little irritating because I was comfortable with my shot, but he’s helped it a lot. Through workouts, it’s more efficient, more consistent. He’s just a great coach.”
Just like Billups told Mayo.
Five days into free agency, as the Dallas Mavericks quietly scanned the proceedings after being turned down by Deron Williams, the player movement and big money that flowed around the league certainly didn't suggest that a new collective bargaining agreement was sinking its sharpened teeth into management.
The Brooklyn Nets overpaid Gerald Wallace, signing him for four years and $40 million. They then spit in the eye of the harsher luxury tax to come by acquiring Joe Johnson, still owed $89 million, to play with Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million deal.
The Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, handing the 38-year-old a three-year, $27-million deal. Prior to that, the Toronto Raptors offered the beloved Canadian point guard a reported three years and $36 million.
The Minnesota Timberwolves gave Brandon Roy, who had retired because of chronic knee issues, two years and $10.4 million and then signed Portland forward Nicolas Batum to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. The Suns signed guard Goran Dragic, a player they once traded, to four years and $34 million and also inked troubled Minnesota forward Michael Beasley to three years and $18 million.
Portland signed emerging Indiana center Roy Hibbert to a $58 million offer sheet. The Rockets signed Bulls backup center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet and did the same with New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
Does it mean the new CBA isn't working as planned? Mavs owner Mark Cuban hasn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the final product, comparing the new CBA to the old one by saying owners are now drowning in 2 feet of water instead of 10. We know the rules have radically altered his philosophy for building his team.
Since the opening flurry of moves, some made by teams with cap space to fill, the majority of teams, Cuban points out, have acted responsibly in preparation for the stiffer tax that starts in the 2013-14 season.
"This offseason we saw maybe six teams try to win the summer and make a big splash," Cuban said. "The vast majority did little or nothing beyond keeping their own players."
In 2009-10, 11 of the 30 teams spent into the luxury tax. That number dropped to seven in 2010-11 and six last season. Five to seven teams are headed for the luxury tax this season, a number that does not include the Mavs for the first time in Cuban's ownership. In a year or two, only the Lakers, Knicks, Nets and Heat could be luxury tax violators.
Cuban has vowed that he will spend into the luxury tax again, when the time is right.
Cuban points out two examples of the new CBA in action.
"The best example of the new rules having an impact are the Knicks walking away from Jeremy Lin and the Bulls walking away from three of their rotation players," Cuban said.
The Knicks have supported the most bloated payroll in the league over the last decade. Yet, presented with the Lin offer sheet from the Rockets that included a "poison pill" third year that jacked Lin's salary from $5 million to $15 million, which has been estimated to swell to more than $40 million after tax penalties, it was too much for even the hand-over-fist, money-making Knicks.
The Bulls surrendered Asik because of a similar "poison pill" third year that would have killed their cap. Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver were also sacrificed -- and Chicago tried to trade Rip Hamilton -- all in the name of whittling down payroll.
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