Dallas Mavericks: Rodrigue Beaubois
1. Brandan Wright ranks among the top 10 players in PER this season. Is that evidence that he deserves more minutes or that Rick Carlisle is doing a masterful job picking spots to play Wright?
Gutierrez: It's evidence he's effective in situations where he's poised to succeed. If you look at the matchups against Portland and Indiana, they involved bigger players who were comfortable working in the post. He's generally ineffective against those players because they impose their will in the paint and that provides easy buckets for the opposition. The positioning is also an issue when it comes to rebounding. Look at Carlisle's track record. Rodrigue Beaubois, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, Carlisle picked his spots with those players and put them in situations to succeed. Wright deserves minutes when they're advantageous for the team.
Taylor: Wright, for the time being, is really nice role player. But his role is limited to certain situations because he's a true tweener. He can't bang against the big boys and that means Carlisle feels comfortable playing him only with certain other players, so the spacing remains good on offense. Wright could force Carlisle to play him more if he was a better and more consistent rebounder, but we haven't seen that yet.
MacMahon: I've got a condition I call the Roddy B. Reflex that makes me very hesitant to second-guess Carlisle's rotations. I lobbied hard for Beaubois to get a bigger role as a rookie, and we all know how he wilted when his minutes increased. Having said all that, I'd like to see Wright in the 25-minute-per-game range. He earned his two-year, $10 million deal by flourishing in an increased role down the stretch last season, and his net rating (plus-6.1 points per 100 possessions) is by far the best of the Mavs' centers. Next time Carlisle asks my advice, I'll tell him to stop using DeJuan Blair as the first big off the bench and give those minutes to Wright.
Gutierrez: A sore right Achilles halted Harris' night in Golden State and easily leaves him questionable for the game against Utah. If he's able to avoid missing a lot of time, he's primed to be a factor in the closing lineup. Harris is a quasi-DeShawn Stevenson or maybe even a mixture of Stevenson and Jason Terry. Back in 2011, Stevenson set the tone in terms of defense to start games, and Terry didn't care about starting games during his time in Dallas -- he cared about being out there during crunch time. If Harris can bring some dribble penetration and bring some defensive disposition, it's the best of both worlds. Jose Calderon appears to be the one who will draw the short straw in terms of closing minutes, but he's a veteran and is willing to do what is best for the team. Health permitting, it appears Monta Ellis and Harris could be the closing backcourt during the stretch run.
Taylor: Well, we saw the problem with Harris in Tuesday night's blowout loss to Golden State. We can't trust his health yet. This is the second time he's had a sore Achilles. The best thing to do, right now, regarding Harris is just accept what he can give you on a game-by-game basis. No expectations. When he can play and he's playing well, then use him in fourth quarter. But until we can trust his health it's hard to define his role.
MacMahon: This sore Achilles is pretty poorly timed, but the Mavs don't believe it's serious. If Harris is healthy enough to play, he should be part of the Mavs' closing lineup unless Calderon is just lighting it up that night. Harris earned those opportunities with his clutch heroics over the weekend. He's the Mavs' best defensive guard and his ability to create off the dribble makes a major difference in crunch time. Calderon has been just a floor-spacer during closing time this season -- and not particularly effective in that role. This is an easy decision unless Harris' health complicates the issue.
Gutierrez: It's clear that both San Antonio and Oklahoma City are the teams Dallas needs to avoid. If you're forcing me to pick one, I'm going to go with Dallas needing to avoid San Antonio. They have so much depth at their disposal and that depth can negate Dallas' strength in numbers approach. As we saw in the matchup just over a week ago, the ball movement and pick-and-roll action they create puts the Mavericks in an incredible bind. San Antonio is a machine and Dallas doesn't have the components to slow them down. To avoid both, Dallas needs to emerge as the sixth seed in the West.
Taylor: It's a tie. The Mavs have no chance to beat San Antonio because the Spurs are too smart, and they have no chance to beat Oklahoma City because the Thunder are too athletic. If the Mavs played a lick of defense they'd have a sliver of a chance against these two teams. Since they don't, they would be lucky to force either series to six games.
MacMahon: The Spurs and Thunder are both horrific matchups for the Mavs, but I'd call Oklahoma City the greater of the two evils. There is high potential for humiliation if you face a team with two premier young superstars such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in a playoff series. Side note: Bricktown is better than that muddy-beep thing they call the Riverwalk.
Breaking up a championship team wasn't a popular decision by the Dallas front office at the time, to put it politely. And the Mavs brass’ CBA forecast is still easy fodder for critics more than two years later, with Dirk Nowitzki still the lone All-Star on the roster.
But Mark Cuban and Co. were absolutely right about one thing: Keeping that roster intact would have only guaranteed a large luxury-tax bill. All due respect to Tyson Chandler, who the Mavs will see Monday night at Madison Square Garden, but it’s delusional to believe that Dallas was denied a potential dynasty.
Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd and Brian Cardinal have retired. Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones can’t get NBA jobs. Brendan Haywood, an amnesty clause casualty in Dallas, is collecting checks in Charlotte while sitting out the season following foot surgery. Nowitzki and Shawn Marion -- who combine to make $32 million this season -- are the only 2011 champions who remain on the Mavs’ roster.
Here’s a look at what’s happened to the rest of the title team:
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $55.4 million deal with the New York Knicks
Chandler was the finishing piece of the Mavs’ championship puzzle, but he’s an outstanding role player, not a star capable of being a centerpiece of a title contender. That’s evident by the fact that the Knicks, who feature a legitimate superstar in Carmelo Anthony, have won only one playoff series since signing Chandler in December 2011 and are a long shot to make the playoffs this season. Injuries have limited Chandler to 32 games this season, and he is averaging 8.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, numbers that certainly don’t justify a $14 million salary.
The Mavs declined to make Chandler a multiyear offer after the lockout, much less match the Knicks’ deal. That will always leave the Mavs’ front office open to a couple of second-guess hypotheticals: Could the Mavs have done a respectable job defending their title with Chandler anchoring the 2011-12 Dallas defense? By dangling Chandler, could Dallas have pulled off a blockbuster deal to land Dwight Howard instead of helplessly watching the Los Angeles Lakers use Andrew Bynum to get the league’s best big man in the summer of 2012?
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $15.7 million deal with the Boston Celtics
Jet is a journeyman now, having been traded twice over the last eight months. His brief tenure with the Brooklyn Nets was an unmitigated failure, as the 36-year-old Terry averaged only 4.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting before being shipped to the NBA equivalent of Siberia. He’ll sit out the rest of the season instead of reporting to the Sacramento Kings. The hope is that focusing on rehabbing his left knee -- he apparently never fully recovered from summer surgery -- will allow Terry to contribute again next season. However, it’s painfully clear that Jet’s days as an elite bench scorer are over.
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $18 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Barea is a quality backup point guard, but that’s a steep price to pay for that type of player. Barea’s stats have dipped this season (8.7 PPG, 3.6 APG), but his contract is the primary reason Barea’s name was floated in trade rumors before the deadline.
Dallas departure: signed three-year, $24 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers
This was a crazy contract to give a then-31-year-old who was coming off a serious knee injury that ended his 2010-11 season on New Year’s Eve. Butler is a high-character guy, but he’s a low-efficiency offensive player at this point of his career. The Clippers insisted on including him in the three-team deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns and Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to the Clippers. The Bucks are stuck with an expensive part-time starter who is shooting less than 40 percent from the floor for the NBA’s worst team.
Dallas departure: traded to the Denver Nuggets along with Rudy Fernandez for a future second-round pick
The Mavs dumping Brewer’s reasonable salary before the 2011-12 season made little sense, considering Dallas needed all the energy and athleticism it could find on the cheap. The Mavs made creating salary-cap space their priority, but they could have easily found takers for Brewer the next summer if need be. However, the Dallas front office didn’t see a role for Brewer after signing Vince Carter. After a couple of quality seasons coming off the Nuggets’ bench, Brewer signed a three-year, $14.1 million deal to become the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting small forward.
Dallas departure: signed four-year, $16 million deal with Indiana Pacers
If the Pacers were confident in Mahinmi, they wouldn’t have rolled the dice on Bynum. Mahinimi is averaging 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds and making $4 million this season.
So we’ll skip over all the far-fetched trade scenarios.
Would Dirk ever play for another team? Or is it pretty much ride it out with Cuban/Donnie until he doesn't wanna do it anymore? -- Jason (Fort Worth)
I’d take Dirk Nowitzki at his word on this one, and he’s consistently said that he’ll never wear another NBA uniform.
In fact, Nowitzki addressed this again over All-Star Weekend, when he sat down with Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons for a BS Report appearance. Here’s the answer, in Dirk’s own words.
“So I’m sure we’ll find a nice little agreement for both sides where we can have a good team for the following years and I feel I can still play and feel respected, and we’ll go from there.”
The plan is still for Nowitzki to take a significant pay cut -- we’ll find out exactly what that means this summer, and I’m not sure Nowitzki even has a number in mind yet -- and re-sign with the Mavs for two or three more years. He desperately wants to compete for another championship, but he’s dead set on doing it in Dallas.
Maybe it’d be a different story if the Mavs didn’t get to the top of the NBA mountain in 2011. If Dirk didn’t have a ring, he might be tempted to pull a Karl Malone and go elsewhere to chase a championship.
“This might be a whole different issue,” Nowitzki told Simmons. “That’s something I felt like I needed on my resume. Maybe the free agency would be a lot different. I might think about some other moves. But really now, there’s [nothing] to think about.”
I'm optimistically betting the Mavs continue to improve and gel after the All-Star break. The '04-'05 Mavs caught my eye as a possible comparison. That team finished the regular season in the upper echelon of the league offensively and middle of the pack defensively, winning a thrilling first-round playoff series vs. Houston. Would you bet on this current roster winning a playoff series if it can avoid the No. 7-8 seed, or am I reaching on this comparison? -- Ryne (Washington, D.C.)
That’s an interesting comparison, especially considering that it was Jason Terry’s first season in Dallas, like Monta Ellis now. But that Dallas team won 58 games and rolled into the playoffs with home-court advantage in the first round, which obviously isn’t happening this season.
Having said that, as I wrote last week, I’d give the Mavs a puncher’s chance to get out of the first round if they get matched up with the Houston Rockets or Portland Trail Blazers.
“It’s probably in his best interest to find a better opportunity out there,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said.
The team remains “in discussions” to bring free agents Elton Brand and Brandan Wright back to Dallas, Nelson said. With the Mavs having a glaring hole at the center position, it’s likely that they will ensure they get at least one of those players to come back, if not both.
But the Roddy B. era is likely over.
The Mavs have already made plans to bring Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington on board. They also will have rookies Shane Larkin, Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel fighting for spots on the roster, starting with their work in Vegas for the summer league. That leaves Beaubois’ return in serious doubt.
“I think there’s still a conversation with Roddy, but it would be more difficult at this point.” Nelson said.
From the penthouse to the outhouse, it appears Beaubois’ hype after his rookie year has officially run its course. Beaubois’ potential never really materialized because of inconsistent play and injuries. He averaged 4.0 points, 1.9 assists, 1.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game last season. He also shot 36.9 percent from the floor and 29.2 from 3-point range in 45 games.
Many fans wanted Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to free Roddy B. after his rookie season. With the backcourt filling up in a hurry, Roddy B. is officially going to be free. It remains to be seen if he still has an opportunity to extend his NBA career. It does appear that he will have to find out in another uniform.
The Dallas Mavericks will go into their crucial Tuesday meeting with Dwight Howard having already secured one of the first verbal commitments of 2013 free agency in the NBA.
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Although the Mavericks are not allowed to publicly discuss the move until the moratorium is lifted, NBA rules allow players and teams to strike verbal agreements during the leaguewide freeze on business. And the fact that Mekel, sources say, has agreed to accept a minimum salary means that Dallas can come to terms with him safe in the knowledge that it would be able to formally sign him to a minimum deal either following the successful recruitment of Howard or -- if the Mavericks lose out in the Dwight Sweepstakes to the favored Houston Rockets or the incumbent Los Angeles Lakers -- or after using up all its available salary-cap space on other free agents.
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Remember after Rodrigue Beaubois' rookie year, when there was such strong hope that he could be part of the Mavericks’ foundation for years to come?
That, unfortunately, was the peak of the slight combo guard’s career.
There were flashes of brilliance the last few seasons, but Beaubois mostly floated around the fringe of the Mavs’ rotation when he was healthy enough to play. He struggled to handle the mental responsibilities of playing primarily point guard and never was nearly as efficient scoring as he was as a rookie, when he played mostly shooting guard alongside Jason Kidd.
Beaubois never developed the type of toughness required to earn coach Rick Carlisle’s trust. His lack of development was a major disappointment in Dallas, where draft picks have rarely become contributors over the last decade.
Maybe Beaubois can benefit from a change of scenery. It’s probably in everybody’s best interest if he moves on from the Mavs.
2012-13 stats: Averaged 4.0 points, 1.9 assists, 1.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game. Shot 36.9 percent from the floor and 29.2 from 3-point range in 45 games.
John Lucas – Averaged 5.3 points, 1.7 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per game for Raptors, shooting 38.6 percetn from the floor and 37.7 percent from 3-point range. Made $1.5 million last season with a team option to pay him $1.57 million next season.
Patty Mills – Averaged 5.1 points, 1.1 assists and 0.9 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game for the Spurs, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range. Paid $1.09 million this season with a team option for $1.13 million next season.
Darius Morris – Averaged 4.0 points, 1.6 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per game for the Lakers, shooting 38.8 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from 3-point range. Made $962,195 in second season of rookie contract.
Nando de Colo – Averaged 3.8 points, 1.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds as a 25-year-old rookie for the Spurs, playing 12.6 minutes per game and shooting 43.6 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent from 3-point range. Has two-year, $2.86 million deal.
Jamaal Tinsley – Averaged 3.5 points, 4.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game for Jazz, shooting 36.8 percent from the floor. Played on one-year deal for $1.35 million (10-plus-year veteran’s minimum).
Estimated contract: A short-term deal for the veteran’s minimum, which will be $1.03 million for a fifth-year player.
DALLAS – Remember how high folks around these parts were about Rodrigue Beaubois’ potential back in the summer of 2010?
That was right after his rookie season, when Rick Carlisle was heavily criticized for not giving the kid more minutes, especially after Beaubois went on a scoring flurry to give the Mavs a chance to steal Game 6 during the only significant playing time he received in Dallas’ one-and-done playoff run.
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One such offer occurred on draft night, as Nelson revealed after Cuban paid $3 million for the rights to select Dominique Jones with the 25th overall pick. A team dangled a lottery pick, Nelson said with a smile, but the Mavs weren’t interested due to their major plans for Beaubois.
Why is that relevant right now?
That team was the Indiana Pacers. They settled for selecting Paul George with the 10th overall pick.
Beaubois watched from the bench with his surgically repaired left hand in a cast while George dominated the Mavs on Thursday night. George lit up the Mavs for 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to lead the Pacers to a lopsided win that bumped the Mavs to two games under .500.
“He’s right now approaching being a top-12 or -15 player in this league, which means he’s a top-12 or -15 player in the world,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s that good.”
The oft-injured Beaubois, on the other hand, is approaching an uncertain future as a free agent this summer. He certainly never sniffed the star status envisioned for him after his flashes-of-brilliance rookie season, ending up as a fringe rotation player.
The 22-year-old George is one of the league’s most versatile wings. He’s a phenomenally athletic 6-foot-8, 210-pounder who does a little bit of everything, averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals this season, earning his first All-Star bid.
In other words, George is exactly the type of young talent the Mavs would love to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. Of course, that’s what they thought Beaubois would be back during his untouchable days.
Having said that, Cuban claims he has no regrets whatsoever about not selling high on Beaubois.
“That’s like saying, why didn’t I sell this stock or that stock in 2006?” Cuban said recently. “Why didn’t I short all the mortgages and banks in 2007? I might be rich. No, I don’t look back on things like that. Ever.”
It was hard not to while watching George go off Thursday night.
A few more notes from the blowout that will keep the Mavs’ beards growing:
1. Lost opportunity: This loss stung even a little more when the Mavs learned that the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks
Had the Mavs won, they would have been even with the ninth-place Utah Jazz and only a half game behind the Lakers in the fight for the West’s final playoff seed. But the Mavs got blown out instead.
“Terrible time to have a dud,” Elton Brand said. “It’s disheartening. So many ups and downs in the season. It’s one of those games that [if] we win, you see the Lakers lose and feel great about yourselves. To have a dud on your home floor is definitely disheartening.”
Added Nowitzki: “Knowing the Lakers lost now, we had an opportunity to cut into their lead. And it sucks. It sucks.”
2. Off game for James: Mike James, the 37-year-old journeyman guard, has been an unlikely catalyst for the Mavs’ recent success. They were 9-3 with James in the starting lineup entering Thursday night.
Make that 9-4 after James’ worst performance as the Mavs’ starting point guard.
James was scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting and had as many fouls (four) as assists. The Mavs were outscored by 22 points in his 21 minutes, giving him the worst plus-minus of the night.
“Whatever happens, there’s no excuses,” James said. “I’m not going to make no excuses about my play. I didn’t play a good game tonight. I know my team needs my energy, so I’ll get myself ready tomorrow to play on Saturday.”
3. Playing in pain: O.J. Mayo shrugged off a question about his sore left shoulder Thursday morning, saying it was “just a little swollen” and would be OK.
It’s clearly somewhat of a concern, considering that he wore a harness to protect the shoulder against the Pacers. He injured it when he crashed into the courtside seats while chasing a loose ball late in Tuesday’s win over the Clippers.
“He’s wearing that thing, so it’s bothering him some,” Carlisle said. “He hasn’t missed a practice or a game all season, so he’s going to keep battling.”
It is expected to take Beaubois 4-6 weeks to recover from surgery to repair a spiral fracture of the second metacarpal of his left hand. That means he won’t play again for the rest of the regular season.
“For the playoffs, we don’t know,” Beaubois said. “If I come back quickly, we’ll see.”
It doesn’t get much more optimistic than not only believing Beaubois will be ready to play by the short end of the timetable, but also anticipating the Mavs will make the playoffs.
In all likelihood, Beaubois won’t play again until next season, and he very well might have played his last game for the Mavs.
But Beaubois said he doesn’t want to think about his pending free agency at this point.
“Even though I cannot play right now, I still really want us to make the playoffs,” Beaubois said. “So I’m going to be around the guys and do everything I can to help them make the playoffs. And when the season is over, then I’ll think about the summer.”
Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com that the Mavericks will next sign guard Justin Dentmon from their own D-League affiliate to a 10-day deal, most likely finalizing a contract with the Texas Legends' leading scorer Monday.
The team on Friday notified Chris Wright -- who now ranks as the only player in NBA history known to have multiple sclerosis -- that he would not be receiving a second 10-day deal. In the wake of Beaubois' injury, Dallas has decided to use its 15th roster spot to get to know various young players for potential down-the-road signings.
That means, sources say, Dallas is likely to bring in another player on a 10-day basis after Dentmon's trial. Dentmon is averaging 26.0 points through 22 games with the Legends and was the D-League's MVP last season while playing for the San Antonio Spurs' affiliate in Austin, earning callups from both the Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
No official timetable has been set for Beaubois' return, but the odds of him playing again this season are extremely slim.
Beaubois, a fourth-year guard whose future seemed so bright after a rookie season that featured several flashes of brilliance, was a fringe rotation player this season. He averaged career lows in points (4.0), rebounds (1.3), field goal percentage (.369), 3-point percentage (.292) and minutes while playing in 45 games this season, although he played well in two wins the week before he was injured.
Beaubois will be a free agent this summer, meaning he might have played his last game for the Mavs.
“I feel bad for the kid,” Dirk Nowitzki said after Beaubois broke his hand Sunday. “It’s just sad. Just so many injuries. He’s been here for four years and has missed a lot of action. … It’s tough. We feel bad for him. But he’s a good kid.
“He’ll stick around. The good thing is when you break your hand, you can still work out and run and stay in decent shape, because this is obviously a big summer for him. He’s a free agent and he obviously wants to stay in the league and have a long career. Hopefully he can get healthy and we’ll see where he lands.”
Not coincidentally, so have the Mavs.
Mayo is leading the Mavs with an efficient 16.8 points per game this season, but his production has fallen off a cliff against the conference’s top four contenders. Mayo is averaging only 10.6 points in those 13 games, shooting .352 from the floor and .146 from 3-point range, as opposed to .461 and .414 overall this season.
The Mavs have been outscored by 128 points with Mayo on the floor in those 13 games. He’s a plus-21 for the rest of the season.
Why has Mayo struggled so much against the conference’s elite?
“I don’t know,” Mayo said after scoring nine points on 4-of-10 shooting Sunday. “Couldn’t tell you.”
Fortunately, Mayo’s neighbor in the Mavs’ locker room offered a much more elaborate answer.
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“He’s just got to keep on working. Keep coming off down screens and looking for his shot. He got to the basket a couple of times. I guess he’s got to just keep attacking. Keep attacking and look for what’s there.”
Coach Rick Carlisle has preached the importance of patience and discipline to Mayo, stressing that it’s especially important not to try to do too much against good defensive teams. Mayo didn’t feel like he had a chance to make an impact in Sunday’s loss, mentioning that he “was pretty much just spotted up in the corner.”
“I just got to have an opportunity to be aggressive,” said Mayo, who has been the Mavs’ third offensive option this month with Vince Carter getting hot. “We’ve got a moving type of offense. You don’t want to be ball chasing or really forcing the issue because that looks bad. You’ve got to just take what they give you and have an opportunity to knock down some shots.”
When Mayo has had those opportunities against the West’s best, he hasn’t knocked them down nearly often enough.
That’s a concern with the Clippers on the schedule next week and one more game remaining against the Grizzlies. It’s also a concern for the future if Mayo returns to Dallas next season.
“He’s got to pick up his game against those (teams),” owner Mark Cuban said before Sunday’s game. “Juice and I have talked about it. He knows he does. There’s nobody who’s more aware of it than O.J. is. O.J. works hard. That’s part of the progression of being 25.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ second gut-wrenching loss to a contender in their last three games:
1. Bad break for Roddy B.: Rodrigue Beaubois’ season might be over after he fractured the second metacarpal in his left hand during Sunday’s second quarter.
“I don’t know what to say,” Carlisle said. “I just feel very bad for him. He had put the work in. He had been playing well and this was a game we needed him. He’s had some bad luck with injuries. We just hope he can get back. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to this year or not.”
The injury bug first hit Beaubois in the summer after his promising rookie season, when he broke his foot while practicing with the French national team. That injury required two operations to repair and limited him to 22 games his second season.
Beaubois has dealt with various nagging injuries over the last two years and has failed to develop into a solid rotation player, much less a star. But he earned his way back into the rotation with two solid performances last week, including an 18-point, five-assist outing to key the Mavs’ Friday win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s now uncertain whether Beaubois, who was unavailable for comment after the game, will ever play for the Mavs again. His rookie contract expires at the end of the season.
“I feel bad for the kid,” Nowitzki said. “It’s just sad. Just so many injuries. He’s been here for four years and has missed a lot of action. … It’s tough. We feel bad for him. But he’s a good kid.
“He’ll stick around. The good thing is when you break your hand, you can still work out and run and stay in decent shape, because this is obviously a big summer for him. He’s a free agent and he obviously wants to stay in the league and have a long career. Hopefully he can get healthy and we’ll see where he lands.”
2. Center switch: The Mavs’ starter at center is back to being a mystery that will be solved when starting lineups are announced 16 minutes before tipoff.
Elton Brand started for the first time since Feb. 1, scoring four points and grabbing four rebounds in 21 minutes.
“The starting center doesn’t play too many minutes usually,” Brand said, half-kidding. “I was hoping that wasn’t me, so I was trying to make a difference out there.”
Chris Kaman, who had started the previous five games, had two points and three rebounds in 4:32 off the bench. It was the third time in the last four games that Kaman played six or fewer minutes.
Brandan Wright, who saw some time at power forward, got the most minutes among the big men. Wright had eight points and seven rebounds, but he was only 4-of-12 from the floor, far less efficient than he’d been recently.
Rookie Bernard James, the starting center for most of February, got a DNP-CD for the seventh time in the last 10 games.
3. On to ATL: The Mavs finish up a dreaded four-games-in-five-nights stretch on the road Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks. With the Mavs clinging to slim playoff hopes, they’ll need to muster energy to perform in what’s pretty much a must-win game.
“We have to dig deep,” Brand said. “This is a game that can make or break our season.”
Beaubois exited Sunday night's game against the Thunder after fracturing the second metacarpal in his left hand during the second quarter. He is out indefinitely.
The fourth-year guard had played his way back into Rick Carlisle's rotation with two strong performances this week. Carlisle called Beaubois' 18-point, five-assist outing in Friday's win "by far" his best game of the season.
The career of Beaubois, once considered a potential franchise cornerstone, has been marred by injuries. Most notably, his missed the majority of his second season due to a broken foot that required two operations to fix.
With Beaubois entering free agency this offseason, this injury could be the end of his time in a Mavs uniform.
Beaubois made a major impact in the Mavericks’ last two wins. First, he had a flash of brilliance in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s victory in Milwaukee, fueling a run of 15 consecutive points. That didn’t earn him a second of burn in Thursday’s loss to the Spurs, but Beaubois was the Mavs’ best player in Friday night’s 96-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“This was Roddy’s best game of the year by far and certainly the most timely,” Carlisle said after Beaubois scored 18 points and dished out five assists in 22 turnover-free minutes.
Beaubois didn’t just put up nice numbers. He made a difference, infusing energy in the fatigued Mavs after the regulars got off to a sluggish start and slamming the door on a bad team in the fourth quarter, when Beaubois had nine points and three assists.
Not bad for a dude who got DNP-CD’d in eight of the previous 11 games, got garbage-time minutes in two others and only got significant playing time in Milwaukee because Darren Collison had to go to the locker room to check his eye checked out.
“He did exactly what you have to do if you’re out of the rotation,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You get one opportunity and make the best of it. You play until you’re exhausted. What you have to do if you’re out of the rotation, if you get a chance, you have to make the coach play you.”
Is this Roddy B. turning the corner or just another in a long line of teases from the dynamic but disappointing guard?
“I have no idea,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll wait and see.”
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Then the injuries hit, starting with a broken foot suffered while practicing with the French national team, beginning an ordeal that included two surgeries and essentially wiped out his sophomore season. Beaubois has dealt with a bunch of nagging injuries since then and hasn’t exactly displayed the kind of toughness that Carlisle demands from the guys he depends on.
The last two seasons have been disappointing for Beaubois. This one, until this week at least, has been a disaster. He’s averaging career lows across the board, including 3.8 points on 35.8 shooting in 12.1 minutes per game.
Beaubois has a little more than a month to change perceptions before he hits free agency this summer. His last two appearances have been a pretty good start.
“Roddy’s saga here has been rife with peaks and valleys,” Carlisle said. “The thing that he’s learned through it that good health is the number one thing and then keeping yourself ready and being strong with everything you do. When he came in the Milwaukee game and when he came in the game tonight, he came in with force. And that has not been his reputation.
“So he’s had a great adjustment in his mental approach. Physically, his body is stronger than it’s been. He’s earned these minutes. We’re fortunate because I don’t know if we’d have won without him tonight.”
Has Beaubois earned more minutes?
“I don’t know,” Beaubois said. “I just need to keep myself ready. If he calls my name, I just need to go out there and do my best.”
The message: Keep the ball coming to him.
The Mavs did just that. And Carter definitely delivered, scoring 13 of Dallas’ final 17 points to carry the Mavs to the 115-108 win over the Bucks.
“I felt in a groove and the basket just seemed extremely big,” Carter told reporters after his 23-point performance. “I felt comfortable with my shot. I was just in the flow of the game.”
Correction: Carter dictated the flow of the game down the stretch. He was 4-of-6 from the floor in the final 5:31, including three 3-pointers and a high-degree-of-difficulty driving lefty layup.
“Vince was spectacular again,” Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “The shots he made – the 3s, behind the screen, off the dribble, hanging-in-the-air, lefty, wraparound layup – just phenomenal down the stretch. He really took the game over for us and really won it.”
This sort of performance from the 36-year-old sixth man doesn’t come as a surprise. The Mavs count on Carter to put up the kind of numbers that could merit serious Sixth Man of the Year consideration.
Carter has five 20-plus-point performances in the last month. He’s hitting a career-best 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.
His numbers during the Mavs’ season-best-matching four-game win streak: 17.8 points per game, 23-of-40 from the floor (57.5 percent) and 13-of-19 from long range (68.4 percent).
“It’s just phenomenal,” Nowitzki said. “I think every time he shoots the 3 now, it’s going in. That opens up his drives and he’s still got strong legs and he’s still got some hops and some hang time in there and can make unbelievable plays.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ win in Milwaukee:
1. Happy homecoming for Crowder: Jae Crowder had a bunch of big games at the Bradley Center while starring for Marquette. He made himself at home in his first NBA visit to Milwaukee, too.
Crowder snapped out of an offensive mini-slump with 14 points, one shy of his NBA high, on 6-of-9 shooting. He grabbed a season-best eight rebounds and played a productive 36 minutes, during which the Mavs outscored the Bucks by 14 points.
“I love this building,” Crowder told reporters. “I’ve played a lot of games here. I felt comfortable here and I felt comfortable with the game plan, and it just worked out for me.”
The love was mutual. The Bradley Center crowd welcomed Crowder back with warm applause when his name was announced with the starting lineup, as he filled in for Shawn Marion for the third consecutive game.
“He’s about all the right things – plays hard, into winning, team guy – so I was really happy for him coming home,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “I told him after the game that I wish we could play all the games here.”
2. On point: Mike James put up season highs in points (13), assists (7) and rebounds (6) as the Mavs improved to 4-0 with him in the starting lineup.
Rodrigue Beaubois made the most of some rare non-garbage playing time, providing a spark when Darren Collison briefly left the game in the second quarter to get his left eye checked. Beaubois had all of his seven points and three assists during that frame, igniting the Mavs’ 15-0 run that gave them the lead for good.
Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, a soon-to-be restricted free agent who has expressed interest in coming to Dallas, didn’t make much of a case for the Mavs to pay him big money. Jennings was held to four points on 2-of-7 shooting and five assists. He sat out crunch time, as was the case in the Bucks’ Feb. 26 win in Dallas, when Jennings had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and six assists.
3. Mighty Wright: Brandan Wright’s streak of four consecutive games scoring in double figures was snapped, but he made a major impact on the win over Milwaukee.
Wright played 33 minutes, getting the bulk of the playing time at center after starter Chris Kaman was benched a little more than two minutes into the game. Wright had nine points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal. The Mavs were plus-17 with Wright on the floor.
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“If you wanna write us off and all that kind of stuff, go ahead,” Carlisle said. “But I’ll just tell you this: This is a great situation in Dallas. The guys in the locker room that are all free agents, every second they step on the court, they’re auditioning for Donnie (Nelson) and Mark (Cuban) as to whether they’re going to have a chance to be here after this year.
“I’ve been in a lot of other situations over the years. I haven’t ever been in a better one than this”
Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle have had three-quarters of the season to evaluate players such as Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. Mike James, the 37-year-old D-League call-up, has been with the Mavs a couple of months. Brandan Wright has been here for almost two seasons, Dominique Jones nearly three years and Rodrigue Beaubois is wrapping up his fourth season. (Anthony Morrow is the exception, having played only four minutes for the Mavs so far.)
Can those free agents-to-be really change the Dallas decision-makers’ opinions of them in the final six weeks of the season?
“If I don’t believe that, then I’m not being open-minded enough to be in this position,” Carlisle said.
Brand, a veteran who has readily accepted being a reserve for the first time in his career, points out that a selfish player shouldn’t have a chance to showcase his skills for the rest of the season. A me-first man ought to ride pine.
“We don’t have room to think about the business aspect of it – me, me, me; I need to get shots,” Brand said. “We just have to go out there and play with the minutes given. As you see, coach is not going to allow someone to be selfish out there. You get minutes by your effort, you get minutes by how you play out there and how you affect the game. If you’re looking selfish out there, you’re not going to play.”
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