Dallas Mavericks: Rudy Fernandez

Countdown: No. 15 Lamar Odom

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
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First in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.

The offseason certainly arrived much sooner than anyone could have predicted, just like Lamar Odom's premature exit from the Dallas Mavericks.

The 6-foot-10 forward kicks off our offseason blog series that ranks the 2011-12 Mavericks roster in order of importance for the front office to bring back. Four of last season's six free agents found new homes with the exception of Peja Stojakovic, who called it a career after winning his first championship, and Brian Cardinal, who re-signed but made virtually no impact on the season.

Eleven months ago, the title team proved difficult to rank in importance and I started the Countdown with DeShawn Stevenson as the least important. It drew quite a few raised eyebrows from those wondering how I could possibly consider the defensive bulldog and surprisingly valuable 3-point shooter the least important member of the title team to bring back.

In retrospect, the choice probably violated the spirit of this series. I chose Stevenson not because I didn't think he was an asset and worthy of returning for a chance to repeat, but because the Mavs traded for shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, a move that, to me, signaled that Stevenson wouldn't be back. Who would have figured that neither Stevenson nor Fernandez would start the season with the Mavs?

This time around the lead-off man in these rankings is a no-brainer. Odom's career-worst season has to go down as the most disappointing season in the league and one of the more frustrating ones for a franchise in recent memory.

With that, on with the series:

LAMAR ODOM
Pos: SF/PF
Ht/Wt: 6-10, 230
Experience: 13 years
Age: 32 (Nov. 6, 1979)
2011-12 stats: 6.6 ppg (35.2 FG%), 4.2 rpg
Contract status: Signed through 2012-2013
2011-12 salary: $8.9 million
2012-13 salary: $8.2 million ($2.4 million guaranteed)

[+] EnlargeLamar Odom
AP Photo/Brandon WadeLamar Odom was a flop with the Mavs after they acquired him from the Lakers.
His story: There's a certain reality TV show on a certain entertainment channel starring a certain Kardashian sister and her basketball-playing husband that can provide the background of what went wrong in Odom's four short months with the Mavs. What didn't go wrong? Dallas thought it was getting a versatile forward who would help ease the pain of losing Tyson Chandler by supplying his unique skills that had helped the Lakers win back-to-back titles. Owner Mark Cuban says he'd make the trade all over again that brought the emotionally bogged-down Odom to Dallas for a draft pick and a trade exception. And hey, when the stunning trade went down Dec. 11, most thought the Mavs had just pulled off a coup and wondered why in the world the Lakers would seemingly just hand over last season's Sixth Man of the Year to the team that swept them out of the playoffs. Now we know.

His outlook: Odom is actually under consideration for a spot on Team USA for the London Games because of the rash of injuries that have taken out star players like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. Cuban actually said he'd love to see it, but only because he has such disdain for Olympic basketball, so he figures the two were meant to be together. Where Odom lands next season will be a far more intriguing story to follow. For starters, Dallas will try everything it can to dump him off on a team with loads of salary cap space such as Toronto or Sacramento and throw in $3 million to offset the $2.4 million guaranteed on Odom's deal next season. If the Mavs can't dump him in a trade, they'll waive him and be responsible for the $2.4 million, which will eat into their cap space this summer. Such a result will not please Cuban. No matter what, Odom will be long gone from this organization. A return to the Lakers is not likely since they can't add him to the roster for a full year after the date he was traded, Dec. 11. Could he land with the Miami Heat, one of his former teams that obviously will be a contender for years to come? Well, if he wants to sign for a fraction of his actual 2012-13 salary, then it's possible. Of course, no team might risk much more than a couple million anyway. How about the team with which he started his career, the Los Angeles Clippers? Possible. Caron Butler is signed for two more years at small forward, but Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans are free agents.

The Countdown
No. 15 Lamar Odom
No. 14 Coming Tuesday

Rumor mill: Rodrigue Beaubois on trade block

February, 21, 2012
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The buzz is that Rodrigue Beaubois has gone from "pretty much untouchable" -- as Mark Cuban called the dynamic guard a couple of years ago -- to being quietly shopped.

That's what ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reports in his TrueHoop post on trade rumors:

Sources say Dallas is about ready to move on from the Roddy Beaubois experiment. The Mavericks have thought for years that the talented young Frenchman could be another Tony Parker, but he has not been able to master the move from shooting guard to point guard. Nor has he been able to fill the void left by J.J. Barea. If they don't move him before this year's deadline, he could be gone over the summer.


Cuban said recently that Beaubois remains in the Mavs' long-term plans, but the Mavs' owner wasn't hooked up to a polygraph when he made that statement.

Beaubois' struggles since he broke his foot while training with the French national team in the summer of 2010 have been well chronicled. He's had some flashes of brilliance this season, but it seemed telling that Beaubois dropped back out of the rotation as soon as Jason Kidd returned from a strained right calf.

With Delonte West sidelined another month or so, there should be minutes available for Beaubois after the All-Star break, when he returns from a personal leave to grieve his father's death. However, it might be in the best interests of Beaubois to get a fresh start elsewhere in the near future.

Don't expect much in return for a player that Cuban claimed he'd only trade for a superstar two years ago. The Mavs would most likely get a draft pick -- and not a lottery pick, like they were offered in 2010.

This would be a financial move for the Mavs, who are trying to create as much salary cap space as possible this summer. Moving Beaubois in a salary dump, similar to the December deal the Mavs made to ship Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to Denver, would clear another $2.23 million off the books.

Every couple of million counts when you're trying to land Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams.

At this point, that possibility is more valuable than the reality of Roddy B.

Who the heck is Julyan Stone?

February, 8, 2012
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DENVER -- Some guy named Julyan Stone is expected to start at small forward for the Denver Nuggets tonight.

Never heard of him? Don’t feel too bad. He’s an undrafted rookie out of UTEP who has spent a good chunk of this season playing for the D-League’s Idaho Stampede.

Stone made his NBA starting debut in Monday’s loss against the Houston Rockets, filling in for shooting guard Arron Afflalo with a two-point, 1-of-5 shooting, two-rebound, one-assist performance in 20 minutes. Stone is expected to slide over to small forward against the Mavs, replacing Denver scoring leader Danilo Gallinari (severe sprained ankle) and allow Nuggets coach George Karl to keep Al Harrington and Rudy Fernandez as part of a potent bench.

Rick Carlisle’s scouting report on the 6-foot-7, 200-pound Stone: “He’s an athletic, aggressive wing player who is a capable scorer and a guy we have to respect. He’s a little like the kid Forbes who played here last year, but not as tall.”

The comparison to Gary Forbes ought to get the Mavs’ attention. Now with the Raptors, Forbes was an unknown and scored 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting in 36 minutes over two games against the Mavs in early November last season.

Pregame buzz: Corey Brewer will send ring size

December, 26, 2011
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DALLAS -- Corey Brewer wishes he was still in Dallas, but he's still smiling with the Denver Nuggets. Rudy Fernandez said his agent had found him a home ready to move into until the Dallas Mavericks traded him and Brewer to Denver a few days into training camp.

"I was surprised they got rid of both of us," Brewer said in the visitors locker room of the American Airlines Center Monday prior to facing his former team. "Not a bad package."

When the Mavs signed 34-year-old Vince Carter and then traded for Lamar Odom, Fernandez and Brewer, two of the Mavs' younger players, became expendable. Denver was taker for Fernandez, but wanted Brewer in the deal. The Mavs, who acquired the lanky, 6-foot-8 wing last season and signed him to a three-year deal, decided to make the move.

"I was surprised," Brewer said. "I was really looking forward to being here. Donnie [Nelson] called me and they decided they were going in another direction, which I respect that."

The Mavs received a 2016 second-round draft choice in return. Dallas has spun the trade as another step to create more cap space for next summer. Brewer, 25, will earn $3.1 million this season, so the Mavs save that amount, plus another $3.1 in luxury tax. Fernandez is in the final year of his deal and will make $2.2 million. Carter signed with the Mavs for $3 million, plus two more partially guaranteed seasons.

"From a basketball standpoint it's tough," coach Rick Carlisle said of losing Brewer, a player in which he invested a lot of one-of-one time. "From a business standpoint it's easy because it's, in luxury tax money, it's a $6 million contract instead of a $3 million contract, so I understood it. Corey got better. He was an important guy here, the minutes he had that one game against the Lakers (Game 1 of the West semifinals) may well have been the key game in the entire playoff run, you never know."

The deal could be a good one for Brewer and Fernandez. They join a young squad that will run the floor under coach George Karl. Both figure to receive solid minutes off the bench behind Aaron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari, and contribute to a team shifting out of an era that included Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith.

"I like the style of play," Brewer said. "It's a bunch of guys that like to get up and down, two good point guards, both of them like to push it, so you get a chance to run in this system."

As for Fernandez, he said he had already selected a home in Dallas and was prepared to join the defending champions despite reports out of Spain for much of the offseason that he was more interested in remaining in his home country and playing for Real Madrid.

"When Vince Carter signed with Dallas it probably meant less minutes for me," Fernandez said. "Right now Denver is really interested in me and Brewer and ... we have the opportunity to be an important part of this team."

Brewer got in a good look at the championship banner raised Sunday and at his name stitched around the border with his former teammates. But, there is one thing missing: Brewer, a two-time NCAA champion at Florida, didn't get sized for his championship ring before the trade.

"I've got two already," Brewer said, "so I can send them my size."

W2W4: Nene leads young Nuggets to town

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
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The Dallas Mavericks have plenty to improve upon tonight as the Denver Nuggets -- with former Mavs forward Corey Brewer and former Mavs guard that never was Rudy Fernandez -- open their season at American Airlines Center.

The good news is the Nuggets aren't the Miami Heat, who outrebounded Dallas 51-31, scored 97 points through three quarters and drove to the rim with impunity. Still, a revamped Nuggets squad that is without the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler averaged 118.5 points in two preseason games and will look to run and gun and hand the defending champions consecutive losses for the first time since April 21 and 23 in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"The rebounding is a concern, turnovers are a concern, overall defense from a consistency standpoint is a concern," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Denver is going to come in here with a shot at the champs. It's a situation where we've got to work to make quantum leaps as often and as quickly as we can as a team.

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center

TV: FSSW

Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: So, who starts at shooting guard? Vince Carter started Sunday, but Delonte West got the call to start the second half against the Heat because Carlisle said he was looking for playmaking. Carlisle also said the starter at two-guard could change from game to game depending on matchups. The Nuggets start veteran Andre Miller at point guard and the 6-foot-5 Aaron Afflalo is expected to start at shooting guard. This would seem to favor Carter starting with West coming off the bench to back up Jason Kidd and check Denver reserve Ty Lawson. ... Look for the Mavs to involve Lamar Odom early in the offensive sets. He swished his first shot on his first possession entering the game midway through the first quarter, but he missed all of his next five shots and was saddled with early foul trouble before ejected in the third quarter for arguing a charging call.

Key matchup: Brendan Haywood vs. Nene
Haywood had little offensive impact Sunday and defensively he finished up Sunday's opener with no blocked shots and one defensive rebound in 13:38 of playing time. The Heat don't have much of a low-post game, instead using their All-NBA wings to attack the rim. Tonight Haywood gets a chance to bang with skilled and agile big man Nene, who spurned lucrative free-agent offers elsewhere to return to a young and intriguing Nuggets team. Haywood was plagued by foul trouble Sunday, picking up two quickies before the end of the first half for three and then another quick one to start the second half for a fourth. On the surface, this is a difficult matchup for Haywood, but asking Ian Mahinmi or Brandan Wright to stick with Nene for long stretches could be a dangerous proposition.

Injuries: Nuggets - None. Mavs - Shawn Marion (fractured left pinkie finger) is probable.

Up next: Mavs at Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m., Thursday
DALLAS -- Rodrigue Beaubois got characterized last week by coach Rick Carlisle as a "depth player," which means more or less a guy at the end of the bench that will pick up scrap minutes when afforded.

That was before Dallas traded Rudy Fernandez (and Corey Brewer) to the Denver Nuggets. Beaubois still remains behind a couple of quality players in Vince Carter and Jason Terry, but after coming a second surgery on his left foot in as many summers, he will get opportunities -- as long as he's healthy -- at shooting guard and behind Jason Kidd and Delonte West at point guard.

The compacted 66-game schedule will afford that as Carlisle will look to spread playing time as far down the bench as he possibly can. So far in training camp, Beaubois seems to have his quickness working for him as he regains the confidence he showed as a rookie.

"The thing with him, we've all seen the flashes of brilliance," Carlisle said. "But we're looking for consistency. We're looking for consistency in terms of concentration and in terms of him utilizing his abilities. And, I believe he's getting better. He had a really solid day [of practice Saturday]. We really need him and Dominique [Jones] and Ian [Mahinmi] and our young guys to be ready because we're going to need them."

Carlisle said that Beaubois is physically sound to play and he could see his first action in tonight's home preseason game (6:30 p.m.) against the Oklahoma City Thunder since re-injuring the left foot in last year's regular-season finale.

Prior to the start of training camp on Dec. 9, Beaubois said he wasn't quite 100 percent and wasn't certain if he'd be ready for the Christmas Day opener in one week against the Miami Heat. Exhibition games Sunday and Tuesday (at OKC) will start to give us a better idea.

"So far, so good," Beaubois said after Friday night's scrimmage in front a crowd of more than 6,0oo at the American Airlines Center. I just need to get the leg stronger because I was out for so long. I just need to keep pushing on it. I'll be OK."

Lamar Odom will first face L.A. back home

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
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DALLAS -- Doesn't it always seems that when a guy gets traded, he turns around and plays his old team shortly after the deal? Take Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez, for example. Traded to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, they'll be back in town on Dec. 26, the second game of the season.

That, however, won't be the case for new Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom, who spent the past seven seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Odom will have to wait a few weeks until Jan. 16, when the Mavs travel to L.A. for a nationally televised game.

It certainly could be an awkward homecoming for Odom, who was quickly and surprisingly traded by the Lakers to the Mavs last Saturday night after talks for Chris Paul -- who has since joined that other L.A. team that plays at Staples -- collapsed.

The 6-foot-10 forward said he doesn't believe he'll feel any pressure to show up his former team.

"I wouldn’t think I’d have to do that even if I never have a good game again. I think they know that," Odom said. "I just go out and play my game. I’m kind of past that stage.

"I’m here to succeed, have fun. I won’t get too caught up in that. I’ll just go out and play my game, help the team I play with to win."

Dallas swept Odom and the Lakers out of the second round last season. The clubs meet up four times on the 66-game schedule (at Dallas, Feb. 22 and March 21; in L.A., April 15) with all four games slated for national television. Of course, it didn't take the Odom trade for these matchups to make the national schedule, but it sure adds to the intrigue following last season's sweep.

"They kicked our butt pretty good," Odom said of the Mavs' Los Angeles landslide. "They gave it to us and hopefully we keep that going."

Carlisle on Corey Brewer: Only so many minutes

December, 14, 2011
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DALLAS -- Tuesday's trade that sent Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets for a second-round pick in the 2016 draft and two small trade exceptions the Dallas Mavericks will probably never use amounted to a salary dump.

"Those are guys we liked, but at this point looking at the roster, it’s a huge money savings, and there are only so many minutes," coach Rick Carlisle said after Wednesday's morning practice. "Truthfully, we’re looking at those two major factors, and it helps our flexibility this year and next year to be able to unload those contracts. But make no mistake, those are both players we like and will play very well at the place that they’re going."

Dallas was done dealing with the petulant Fernandez, who saw the writing on the wall when the team signed Vince Carter to a roster that already had Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois, who also need to get minutes. But Denver wanted the long and lanky youthfulness of Brewer, a player the Mavs really like. But realistically, Brewers wasn't going to get much run this season after the team's surprise trade for Lamar Odom.

So Dallas made the deal and will take the some $10 million in savings -- payroll and luxury tax -- this season. Plus, the team will add about $3 million (Brewer's 2012-13 salary) to the growing cap space for the summer of 2012.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets needed a wing player with a couple of players stuck playing in China. Brewer didn't play much for the Mavs last season after signing mid-season to a three-year contract. He worked hard with Carlisle on his jumper, and Dallas had hopes of him contributing this season while playing behind Shawn Marion.

That all changed when Odom, possibly a one-and-done player with the Mavs, arrived.

Accolades aside, Vince Carter wants to win

December, 14, 2011
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DALLAS -- Vince Carter didn't earn the nickname "Vinsanity" for nothing. The guy could put together an aerial highlight reel that was absolute pure insanity.

Now nearing 35, Carter doesn't reach the same altitude as he once did and, frankly, he's not trying to.

"I’m not really into trying to jump over people anymore," Carter said during his Dallas debut at Tuesday's media day. "Over the years, with experience, you don’t really realize the risk of doing some of that stuff. And, it takes a toll on your body. So, I save it for special moments, whenever that is. I can still do it. Just, I think now, particularly some of the young guys in here now, they feel like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get there first. I don’t want to be on the poster of an old guy.’ I get that, so now I just figure, when you get there, two points is two points."

And no longer is Carter, who took part in his first full practice Wednesday morning with Dallas, trying to be the superstar. He's been on eight All-Star teams and won a dunk contest, but rarely has he played on a team that did much damage in the postseason and he wants that to change.

Carter said that's all he's about right -- winning -- and fitting into whatever role is necessary to help make that happen. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said owner Mark Cuban compared Carter to Jerry Stackhouse when he arrived in Dallas after years of putting up gaudy scoring numbers, but with little postseason satisfaction.

"I don’t think that that’s a bad comparison at all," Carlisle said. "It’s just going to be a matter of what the exact role is going to be -- whether he’s going to start or whether he’s going to come off the bench. At this point I would expect that he probably would be a starter, but we’ll have to see. We have a ways to go before we determine that."

Carter's odds of starting drastically increased with Tuesday's trade that sent Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets. Fernandez's departure allows the 6-foot-6 Carter to start at shooting guard next to his former New Jersey teammate Jason Kidd (who Carter said he did not speak to in the process of joining the Mavs), with Jason Terry in his familiar sixth man role.

Rodrigue Beaubois, who Carlisle described as a depth player Tuesday, would pick up whatever playing time afforded -- and, again, in this compacted schedule Carlisle plans to utilize his depth.

“You kind of get an idea with this team it’s just to make plays, knock down shots,” Carter said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunity with the attention that Dirk Nowitzki demands when he has the ball in the middle of the floor. So you have to play within the flow of the offense and you go from there.

“I think as they learn me and I kind of fit in to the offense and see how to get your opportunity, that’s when it’ll become more defined.”

For Carter, entering his 14th season, he said it's no longer about the dunks or the number of points he scores of the amount of minutes he plays.

"Winning," Carter said when asked what's most important to him now. "And playing on a team that wants to win and knows how to win. They’ve shown all of that. It’s my goal to come in just to fit in with what they’ve accomplished and who they are."

Youth takes back seat in Denver deal

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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Youth? Who needs youth?

The Dallas Mavericks are in win-now mode for this season and will transfer to hot-pursuit mode this summer when Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard can become free agents.

Any notion that the Mavs care at this moment about developing young talent was tossed aside with the just-completed trade that will send shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, an apparent unhappy camper anyway who will likely resume his career next season in Spain, but also lanky, small forward Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets for a 2016 second-round pick, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

Brewer, entering just his fourth NBA season, joined the Mavs in mid-season and signed a three-year contract, and did so with some fanfare. He's a highly likable young player with boundless energy, a long and effective defender, but whose game still needs to develop a jump shot for him to be considered a complete player, especially on a veteran-laden club on a quest for a repeat.

Brewer got caught in a numbers crunch with the addition of veteran wings Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Carter will likely take over as the starting shooting guard with Odom possibly coming off the bench as a tag-team with small forward Shawn Marion.

The move wipes about $5.2 million off the books for this season -- double that including luxury-tax savings. Those deductions leave the Mavs just over the $70.3 million luxury tax threshold. It also leaves them with two roster spaces open to target two more veterans on minimum deals, perhaps a center such as still available free-agent big man Joel Przybilla, or others. Center is Dallas' top position of need.

In the process, the Mavs continue to create additional cap space -- about $3 million with Brewer off the books -- for next summer's highly anticipated free agency.

Dallas' only players below the age of 30 are Delonte West (28), Rodrigue Beaubois (23), Dominique Jones (23), Ian Mahinmi (25) and Brandan Wright.

The average age of a projected starting lineup that would include Jason Kidd, Carter, Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood is 34. It will require coach Rick Carlisle to be creative with his rotations during a 66-game season to be played over 123 days. But, the Mavs believe they have the depth to handle it.

As for that youth, the Mavs will look to address that issue in the summer with a rarity around here, a potential abundance of cap space.

Sources: Mavs discussing Rudy Fernandez trade

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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The Dallas Mavericks are in advanced discussions to trade Spanish swingman Rudy Fernandez to the Denver Nuggets for future draft considerations, according to sources close to the process.

The Nuggets, sources said, are trying to expand the deal to also acquire Mavs swingman Corey Brewer. But the sides are still negotiating and Dallas had high hopes for Brewer coming into the season after using him sparingly last season following Brewer's arrival in March, so Fernandez is clearly the more available of the two.

Stay tuned ...

With visa, Rudy Fernandez ready to roll

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Rudy Fernandez finally has resolved the visa issues that had him stranded in his home country of Spain where he was playing for Real Madrid during the lockout.

Fernandez announced a few hours ago his intention to leave for Dallas on Wednesday via his Twitter account: "Finally I have my visa, tomorrow I'll will be on my way to Dallas."

The Mavs acquired Fernandez in a draft-night trade. When he arrives he will find that an already deep position got even deeper with the Mavs' Monday signing of eight-time All-Star Vince Carter joining Jason Terry, plus developing youngsters Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones.

Countdown: Best-case scenario

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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Picture this: A quarter of a million people cram into downtown Dallas. The Mavericks ride through the streets on floats and wave to the screaming masses. Dirk Nowitzki and his teammates emerge onto the balcony overlooking the American Airlines Center's South Plaza and the 7-foot German belts out as best he can, "We are the Champions."

Christmas Countdown
Oh, you've seen this picture before?

Exactly.

Repeat.

Just a few days ago as it became apparent that Tyson Chandler and the rest of the Mavs' free agents -- excluding Brian Cardinal -- were hitting the streets, the doomsayers railed on a lost season to come. The closest the Mavs would come to back-to-back, many thought, was the 20 they'd play during this rapid-fire, 66-game regular season.

Then came a flurry of activity -- Vince Carter, Lamar Odom, Delonte West to spice things up. And suddenly, not only has hope risen for this season's championship hopes, but next summer now promises to be must-see as Dallas will be positioned well below the salary cap and as well as any team to nab one of the big three potential free agents -- Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.

But let's keep things focused on the here and now. Job No. 1 for the Mavs' front office was to give coach Rick Carlisle another deep team. They've done that. Carlisle has the necessary bodies to navigate through the regular season and, barring injury, he should be able to steer this ship into the playoffs with a roster that's ready to roll.

"It’s going to be really a matter in my mind," Carlisle said, "of the deepest team that can stay healthy and stay together is going to be the team that’s going to have the best chance of coming out of the West."

On paper, there is no team is deeper than the Mavs. Consider that two of the last three NBA sixth men of the year will be coming off the Mavs' bench in the ultra-versatile, 6-foot-10 Odom and gunner Jason Terry. West, a veteran with a needed edginess, will back up Jason Kidd. Shooting guard is loaded with Carter, Terry and a finally healthy Rodrigue Beaubois. Center is the lone question mark, but after Dallas dealt wings Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, it now has roster space to go after depth in the middle.

There's no such thing as paper champions, but just days ago despair had set in among the fandom. Now, the Mavs suddenly look like bona fide contenders in the Western Conference. It's a conference that boasts some dangerous young squads like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the rising Memphis Grizzlies, as well as the old guard in the San Antonio Spurs team that's a year older and made no moves of consequence, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost Odom to Dallas, but still can't be counted out simply because of Kobe Bryant (and a Paul deal that's apparently not dead yet).

Still, no dominant team exists to overcome. That only benefits these quickly retooled Mavs who, best-case scenario, will have a June to remember as they repeat.

Mavs have 15, but is it the final 15?

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
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Monday's interesting signing of Delonte West seems to have solidified the Dallas Mavericks' issue at backup point guard, but they might not be particularly thrilled heading into the season with a center tandem of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi.

Before the Mavs scooped up Lamar Odom Saturday night from the smoldering ashes of the collapsed Lakers-Hornets-Rockets deal involving Chris Paul, Dallas was looking to use the trade exception acquired from the New York Knicks to get Sacramento Kings free agent center Samuel Dalembert.

The Mavs have assets that can potentially be moved. The wing positions are loaded: Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Shawn Marion, Odom and Corey Brewer.

That's more than half the roster.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that teams are calling Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson about Brewer, the lanky small forward that Dallas acquired last season after he was waived by the Knicks and then signed a three-year deal with the Mavs, as well as Fernandez, who is on the final year of his deal and, as of now, still stuck in Spain with visa problems.

The Mavs are said to be happy with their two young players on a roster that just added soon-to-be 35 Vince Carter and Lamar Odom, 32. However, as Nelson and owner Mark Cuban have displayed over the past 72 hours, they are ready to pounce when a deal presents itself.

Countdown storyline: Getting pieces to fit

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
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DALLAS -- The 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks storyline changed almost as quickly as the Texas weather last weekend. Out-of-nowhere acquisitions of Vince Carter and particularly Lamar Odom quickly recharged what appeared to be a weakened world champion after the departure of heart-and-soul center Tyson Chandler and other key title pieces.

[+] EnlargeLamar Odom
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezWill Lamar Odom be able to help replace some of the defensive leadership the Mavericks lost with the departure of Tyson Chandler?
Fans were in a tizzy. Owner Mark Cuban offered a plan.

Now it's coach Rick Carlisle's job to figure out how all the pieces fit together on what is again a deep, veteran roster. That depth will be crucial during the compacted, 66-game schedule.

However, Carlisle's biggest challenges will be getting this group of mostly offensive-minded talents to discover the defensive backbone of last season's club as well as demanding vocal leadership, two areas spearheaded by the fiery, 7-foot Chandler. The Mavs' defense finished in the top 10 in the league in both scoring average and shooting percentage last season.

"We’re a world champion because we became a defense-first team and our system is what carried us," Carlisle said. "And the guys that play in this system are going to have to be just as persistent and tough-minded as the guys that did it last year. That’s really the beginning and end of it."

Along with missing Chandler, bulldog defender DeShawn Stevenson, who played such gritty defense on Russell Westbrook and LeBron James in the postseason, is also gone. He is replaced by Rudy Fernandez and Carter, neither of whom is known for bringing that brand of defensive tenacity.

At center, Brendan Haywood holds his own, but he doesn't bring Chandler's passion or demand accountability from teammates. Ian Mahinmi is a developing player who brings energy, but is not yet a reliable, consistent performer. Brandan Wright is a young, unaccomplished power forward that Carlisle will try at center.

Still, for the first time in the Dirk Nowitzki era, the Mavs have size all around. Fernandez and Carter are both 6-6 at shooting guard. Jason Kidd is a rugged 6-4, Odom is 6-10 at small forward and Nowitzki and Haywood are both 7-footers.

"Shawn has probably been our best perimeter defender with Kidd, and Lamar can guard 3s, can guard 4s and 5s also," Nowitzki said. "So, defensively we’re long and we can be active."

But, can they be good? In 21 postseason games en route to the title, the Mavs held their opponent under 100 points in their first 10 games and in 17 of 21. So big in that run was Chandler's intensity, his in-your-face approach and ability to get teammates to follow his lead.

That's why Chandler was so often referred to as the defensive anchor and the one player who changed the defensive culture of the team.

We'll find out over the course of 66 games in 123 days if Chandler took all of that with him to the Big Apple.

"Playing against Lamar over the years, I think he’s more of a quiet guy, too. He’s more of a quiet leader, plays hard, comes to play every night, but he’s not a guy that pumps his chest out there like Tyson used to do," Nowitzki said. "We just have to wait and see. We’ll do it by committee and push each other every night. I think that’s what it comes down to. If you’re an older team, sometimes you might be tired or whatever, you don’t really feel like playing since there’s like 66 games in 67 nights it feels like, so some nights we’re going to have to push each other."

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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