Dallas Mavericks: Rudy Gay

Mavs can't sleep on Sacramento

April, 6, 2014
SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have a 27-49 record after their 33-point loss Friday night to the Golden State Warriors.

The Kings also have the respect of the Dallas Mavericks entering their matchup Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.

Never mind that the Mavs have won 17 of the last 19 games in the series.

The Mavs must have their guard up for every opponent, especially with only five games remaining in the regular season. They have little margin for error, leading the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns by a half-game in the three-way fight for the West’s last two playoff spots.

But the Mavs shouldn’t have any issues giving the Kings their full attention, even with electrifying point guard Isaiah Thomas listed as questionable after missing the last six games with a bruised thigh. The Mavs were blown out during their previous trip to Sacramento and struggled to beat the Kings in Dallas twice.

“Sacramento’s given us trouble this year,” Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki said. “We lost there. Both home games were one-possession games coming down the stretch, so we’ve got to be ready for a tough one Sunday.”

Nowitzki also noted that it’s an early tip (3 p.m. Pacific time), making it a quick turnaround for the Mavs after playing a back-to-back against the Los Angeles teams on Thursday and Friday.

The Kings have presented problems for the Mavs with their physical play inside and athleticism. The Mavs have been outrebounded by 26 in the three games. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (24.5 ppg, 13.0 rpg), small forward Rudy Gay (32.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and Thomas (21.5 ppg, 9.0 apg) have all put up monster numbers against the Mavs.

The fact that the Kings are coming off an embarrassing outing might not work in the Mavs’ favor, either.

“They didn’t play real well [Friday night], so I assume they’re going to come in ready to play,” Mavs reserve big man Brandan Wright said. “That’s a game we need to win.”
The Mavericks moved back a couple of hours on the clock and moved up a couple of spots in the Western Conference standings Wednesday.

Just another day in the wild, wild West.

We’ve got drama with seven games to go. The Mavs have a slim shot to finish as high as sixth and sit in a three-way tie for seventh place entering Thursday night’s road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Will the Mavs make the playoffs or be hoping the ping pong balls bounce their way in the lottery? We might not know until their April 16 regular-season finale in Memphis ends.

Dirk Nowitzki
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsIt's probably not the best idea for the Mavs to tank during Dirk Nowitzki's golden years.
On to your questions …

Q: After watching that heartbreaking loss to Stephen Flipping Curry and seeing the Mavs drop to ninth in the standings for the 76th time in the past week or so, I can't help but find solace in the fact that missing the playoffs allows us to keep our draft pick. I understand not wanting to outright tank away Dirk Nowitzki's final two or three years, but would it be such a terrible thing for us to miss the playoffs and draft a possible key player with the 14th pick? – Cole (Denton)

TM: I understand your logic, but the Mavs want to pay their bill (now owed to Oklahoma City) on the disastrous Lamar Odom deal as soon as possible.

First-round picks are among the most valuable commodities in the trade market, and the Mavs are handcuffed from even discussing dealing them because they owe a top-20 protected pick to the Thunder. That’s one reason to root for the Mavs to make the playoffs and unload that pick this summer.

Maybe a better reason: Think of the worst-case scenario. The protection on that pick runs through the 2017 draft. Imagine if the Mavs stay on the mediocrity treadmill during Dirk’s golden years – not good enough to get rid of the pick, landing in the late lottery or grabbing one of the West’s last playoff bids each season. Then Nowitzki retires in the summer of 2017 and the Mavs finally bottom out.

How sick would it make you to give the Thunder a high lottery pick smack dab in the middle of Kevin Durant’s prime?

Q: I read recently that Rudy Gay could possibly opt out of his contract. I see his reputation very similar to Monta Ellis. Any chance the Mavs would take another gamble on an "inefficient" scorer to team with Dirk and Monta? – Blake (Dallas)

TM: My initial reaction is that I’ll believe Gay walks away from his $19.3 million salary for next season when I see it. I doubt he could get that much over two years in free agency. You can point to Ellis as an example of a player who left money on the table to escape a losing franchise, but he thought he’d at least be able to get in the neighborhood of the three-year, $36 million offer he turned down from Milwaukee.

My next thought is that plugging in Gay as the starting small forward doesn’t address the Mavs’ biggest need, which is becoming a better defensive team.

Having said all that, never say never. If Gay opts out and doesn’t find much of a market for his services, maybe the Mavs could get him on a decent value deal.

Gay has a rep as a volume scorer, but he’s actually been pretty efficient since being traded to NBA Siberia, averaging 20.5 points on 48.5 percent shooting in Sacramento. He’s lit up the Mavs in their last two meetings with the Kings, and the Dallas front office has a history of signing players who have had success against them.

However, defensive issues aside, I don’t know how well Gay would fit with Ellis. They both need the ball in their hands a bunch, and neither is a good perimeter shooter. Spacing seems like it’d be a concern.

[+] EnlargeSamuel Dalembert
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavs could explore other options at center during the offseason, but don't count out Samuel Dalembert as the starter next season.
Q: The Mavs have no chance signing Marcin Gortat in the offseason. Who is best starting center can Mavs sign or trade for next season starting center position? I personally like Mavs to sign Emeka Okafor or trade for Anderson Varejao. Have one of the guys as starting center and Samuel Dalembert as backup center. Mavs can have one of best defensive center combo in the league best season. What you think, Tim? – Jason (Dallas)

TM: Why don’t the Mavs have a chance to sign Gortat? They’ve already successfully recruited him once when he was a restricted free agent, but the Orlando Magic surprised everybody by exercising their right to match the offer.

Are you assuming that he re-signs with the Washington Wizards? That’s probably a good bet given that the Wizards made great strides this season and have plenty of cap space, but it’s ridiculously premature to rule out the Mavs getting Gortat, who is by far the best big man realistically available in free agency.

Okafor? Is he ever going to play again? He’s not worth more than a minimum-salary flyer at this point. I’d be interested in dealing for Varejao despite his own injury history, but I have no idea what the Cavs would ask for him.

Don’t rule out Dalembert starting again next season.

Q: Was it too soon for Donnie Nelson to assure Dalembert of his place with the Mavs next season? Sam was probably playing for a contract in the past month or so, thus putting in tremendous effort (with results). He could either go back to the lax mode like he was in a few months ago, or full gear the way Vince Carter did last year when Mavs refused to trade him. Your thoughts? – Gnosys (East of Seattle)

TM: Well, first of all, it’s not like Nelson’s comments were legally binding. The Mavs can always change their minds, but I don’t see that happening unless they really need the roughly $2 million in cap space that cutting Dalembert would create.

I also don’t buy Dalembert being motivated that much by his contractual situation. The dude has made more money than he ever dreamed of and has been played on one-year deals the previous three seasons. It certainly didn’t motivate him last season in Milwaukee.

Q: Lance Stephenson is being called selfish publicly by his teammates and got into a push fight with George Hill during a timeout. Is he still the man you want the Mavs to target this summer with a big contract? – Tony (Dallas)

TM: Some homework certainly needs to be done before offering him a long-term deal with eight-figure salaries, but I still see Stephenson as a talented, versatile, 23-year-old quality starter with star potential.

I'm not sure the Mavs are that high on him, but one rough stretch for the Pacers shouldn't prevent a team from bidding aggressively on Stephenson.

First, I haven't read or heard anyone singling out Stephenson as selfish. I saw Roy Hibbert make a comment about "some selfish dudes in here," but he didn't attach any names to it. I'd guess that was intended primarily for Paul George, who rise to stardom might have increased his hat size.

Stephenson isn't shooting the ball more often since the Pacers' season suddenly turned south. His assist totals have plummeted, but I'd say that's probably a symptom of Indiana's major offensive issues.

As far as the heated sideline interaction with a teammate goes, that stuff happens. It's not ideal, but it's at least a sign that a guy cares when things aren't going well for his team.

Remember Jason Terry and J.J. Barea going after each other in a Mavs huddle? Considering they played key roles in a title run months later, I'd say the Mavs made the right call by not rushing to get rid of either guy.

Would it be the right call to give Stephenson the kind of deal (four years, $44 million?) it'd take to pry him away from the Pacers? I'll admit that Indiana's struggles give me some pause, but I still believe the Mavs should seriously consider making a pitch to Stephenson.

QL With his improvements this year, could Brandan Wright become a larger part of this team in the next two seasons? Is he improving enough on defense? – Jared (Richmond, Va.)

TM: It's pretty evident that Rick Carlisle has a clearly defined role for Wright, and it isn't as a starter or a guy who gets the majority of the minutes. It's a safe bet that Wright will be a valuable member of the Mavs' bench as long as he's in Dallas. Carlisle doesn't trust Wright enough defensively to expand his role.

Shawn Marion (shoulder) out vs. Kings

January, 31, 2014
DALLAS -- Mavericks forward Shawn Marion has been ruled out of Friday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings due to soreness in his right shoulder.

Marion originally bruised the shoulder and his ribs when he crashed to the court in the Mavs’ Jan. 7 over the Los Angeles Lakers. He missed four games and has averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds since his return, but coach Rick Carlisle said Marion has been dealing with constant pain.

“It’s not a setback,” Carlisle said. “It’s just not there.”

Jae Crowder will start in Marion’s place and match up with Kings small forward Rudy Gay, who has averaged 20.3 points on 52.8 percent shooting in 22 games since being traded to Sacramento. The Mavs are 5-1 when in Crowder’s starts this season.

“He’s been a solid guy for us,” Carlisle said. “This obviously bumps him into more minutes. We need him to be solid and play without fouling and play his game and go from there. From there, I’m not sure exactly where the rotation goes. We’re going to have to have a lot of guys ready.”

Mavericks wise to value Vince Carter

January, 30, 2013

The Rudy Gay deal looks like it will get done without any help from the Dallas Mavericks.

It turns out that Deron Williams' mom listens to the Ben & Skin Show and took exception with some of their comments on Wednesday. She called Skin to set things straight.

Listen Listen
Sources tell ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Gay will go to Toronto in exchange for point guard Jose Calderon, power forward Ed Davis and a second-round pick, with the Grizzlies looking to move Calderon to a third team.

That team, per Stein's sources, will probably be the Detroit Pistons, which have agreed to send Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis to acquire Calderon. It could have been the Mavericks, but they weren't willing to part with Vince Carter.

The Mavs made the right call. If they're going to give up Carter, who is in the midst of a terrific month and is a bargain with a $3.1 million salary, they need to get a quality young asset in return.

Moving Carter for Calderon doesn't make any sense for the Mavs. It would shore up a problem position at point guard but leave a large hole in the rotation at swingman while taking a leader out of the Mavs' locker room. It wouldn't increase the Mavs' slim chances of extending their playoff streak.

The future should be the focus of any trade the Mavs make before the Feb. 21 deadline, not a desperate attempt to salvage this season.

Acquiring Calderon and his expiring contract wouldn't have altered the Mavs' options this summer, but it's not worth dealing Carter, an asset whom Dallas should deal only for a player who can help the franchise down the road.

Carter, an offensive threat as a shooter and creator who is an underrated defender, is a veteran who has value to contenders. The 31-year-old Calderon wasn't enough for the Mavs to cash in on that value.

Mavs make sense as third team in Rudy Gay deal

January, 30, 2013
The Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors are reportedly looking for a third team to facilitate a trade that would send Rudy Gay north of the border.

The Dallas Mavericks make as much sense as anybody.

[+] EnlargeGay
AP Photo/Matt SlocumActing as a third team to help facilitate a trade that would send Rudy Gay to the Raptors could net the Mavs a young asset or two.
Yahoo! Sports reports that the Grizzlies and Raptors are searching for a team to take the $10.6 million expiring contract of Toronto point guard Jose Calderon. The Mavs have long been intrigued by the 31-year-old Calderon, who has consistently put up efficient offensive numbers throughout his career, and acquiring him wouldn’t sacrifice any financial flexibility this summer.

This could also present a prime opportunity for the Mavs to cash in on their cap space and army of expiring contracts by helping two teams pull off a blockbuster trade and adding a young asset or two in the process.

According to the Yahoo! report, the cost-cutting Grizzlies want a less expensive small forward to plug into the lineup for Gay and are likely to receive a young Raptors player and a future draft pick in the deal. Rookie shooting guard Terrence Ross is reportedly off limits, so it stands to reason that 23-year-old power forward Ed Davis could be the young Raptor included in the deal.

Chris Kaman’s $8 million expiring contract is extremely expendable, considering that he’s the Mavs’ third-string center at the moment. He can move to Memphis and back up Marc Gasol. Depending on how much the Grizzlies value scoring from their replacement small forward, the Mavs could also send Vince Carter or Dahntay Jones.

The 36-year-old Carter, who has one year left on his contract, has been a $3 million bargain this season. He’s been especially good in January, averaging 14.1 points on 47-percent shooting off the bench. The Grizzlies, currently fourth in the West standings, should want Carter if they’re serious about contending this season despite their salary dump.

The Mavs, who are hanging on to slim hope of extending their playoff streak to 13 seasons, should demand a significant price to include Carter in a deal. In this case, the 6-foot-10, 232-pound son of ex-Maverick Terry Davis ought to do it.

A speculative proposal: Gay goes to the Raptors; Kaman, Carter and the Toronto draft-pick compensation go to the Grizzlies; and the Mavs get Calderon, Davis and 19-year-old point guard project Tony Wroten.

That’d be a terrific deal for Dallas’ future, while shoring up a problem position in the present by adding a point guard who could split time with Darren Collison. And it wouldn’t compromise the Mavs’ hopes of being in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes at all.

Davis, a lottery pick from two years ago who can add plenty of polish, is putting up 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game. The Mavs can use all the inexpensive young size and athleticism they can get, and Davis is due $3.2 million next season in the final year of his rookie deal.

The 6-foot-6, 208-pound Wroten, the 25th pick in last year’s draft, might end up being a left-handed version of Dominique Jones. Or he could develop into a Jalen Rose play-a-like.

The scouting report on Wroten by former ex-ESPN Insider John Hollinger, who recently made a career change to join Memphis’ front office:
Wroten is one of the draft's most unique talents and he may be a great fit in Memphis with his ability to force turnovers and slash to the basket. He's huge for a point guard, but that's his natural position, as he can see the floor and get to the rim. He's a poor outside shooter, however, and he has a lot of rough edges to his game.

That scared teams off, but he's only 19 and he's potentially a monstrous defender with his size, hands and quickness. He's been compared to Rajon Rondo, both for good and bad, but he's a much bigger version of Rondo and could potentially play as a slashing, ballhandling shooting guard.

If the Grizzlies don’t value Carter enough to give up Davis in the deal, the Mavs could substitute Dahntay Jones, who has a $2.9 million expiring deal. In that case, it’d be a deal that should significantly increase Dallas’ playoff hopes this season while adding a first-round project and not impacting their future financial flexibility at all.

A deal in which the Mavs just give up Kaman and only get back Calderon also works if Memphis isn't willing to move Wroten, but that'd leave a gaping hole in the Grizzlies' lineup at small forward.

There are certainly other possibilities in a three-way deal between these teams. It’s a safe bet that Mavs GM Donnie Nelson is burning some cell-phone minutes with his colleagues in Memphis and Toronto exploring how much the Mavs might benefit by helping out the Grizzlies and Raptors.

Wild West: Mavs back in the sixth seed

April, 19, 2012
We take a look at the games that impact the West playoff picture each morning for the rest of the regular season.

Mavs' spot in the standings: The Mavs are back in the sixth seed, a half game ahead of the Nuggets and in possession of the tiebreaker. Dallas is two games ahead of the Jazz and two and a half games ahead of the Suns and Rockets.

Mavs 117, Rockets 110: Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter of the Mavs’ critical comeback win.

Clippers 104, Nuggets 98: Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists as the Clippers won their fifth straight to pull within a half game of the Lakers for the third seed.

Grizzlies 103, Hornets 91: Rudy Gay scored 26 points as the Grizzlies clinched their second consecutive playoff berth.

Lakers 99, Warriors 87: Andrew Bynum had 31 points and Pau Gasol had a 22-11-11 triple-double.

Spurs 127, Kings 102: The first-place Spurs rolled to another rout while Tim Duncan rested.

Jazz 112, Trail Blazers 91: Ex-Maverick Devin Harris hit a career-high six 3-pointers during a 27-point performance to help keep Utah’s playoff hopes alive.

Thunder 109, Suns 97: Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner James Harden scored a career-high 40 points for Oklahoma City.

Rockets at Hornets
Clippers at Suns

If the playoffs started today: Mavs vs. Lakers

Wild West: Mavs, Rockets, Nuggets deadlocked

April, 12, 2012
We take a look at the games that impact the West playoff picture each morning for the rest of the regular season.

Mavs' spot in the standings: Utah's win at Houston, plus Denver's home win over the Timberwolves has the Mavs, Rockets and Nuggets all deadlocked, with Dallas taking over the No. 6 seed thanks to tiebreakers over both teams. All three are 1 1/2 games ahead of the ninth-place Jazz.

Jazz 103, Rockets 91: Houston shot 35.6 percent at home and the Jazz picked up just their 10th road win of the season in Houston while snapping the Rockets' four-game win streak.

Lakers 98, Spurs 84: Andrew Bynum grabbed 30 rebounds to go with 16 points as the Lakers recorded their most impressive victory in some time, and they did it without Kobe Bryant.

Clippers 100, Thunder 98: Chris Paul scored 31 points and OKC's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to go 10-of-35 from the field. Thanks to the Spurs' loss, the Thunder maintain the No. 1 seed.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 93: The sizzling Grizzles put a damper in the Suns' playoff hopes as Rudy Gay scored 32 points and the Memphis bench went for 42 points.

Nuggets 113, Timberwolves 107: Denver led by 21 at halftime but had to sweat it out down the stretch after an offense that scored 68 points in the first half managed just 45 in the second half.

Mavs at Warriors
Grizzlies at Spurs
Clippers at Timberwolves

If the playoffs started today: Mavs vs. Lakers

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 95, Grizzlies 85

April, 4, 2012

How it happened: Maybe the Grizzlies, who were playing their fifth game in six nights, just ran out of gas. That doesn’t matter to the Mavericks.

The Mavs absolutely dominated crunch time, as they did so often during last season’s championship run and have done so rarely this season.

That dominance started on the defensive end. The Mavs held the Grizzlies to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting in the final 10 minutes, allowing Dallas to turn a five-point deficit into a double-figure margin of victory.

The stops fueled the Mavs’ offense. Shawn Marion’s 12-point fourth quarter featured four fast-break baskets, one on a beautiful, spinning feed from Jason Terry for a dunk.

The brilliance of Marion, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds, allowed the Mavs’ co-closers to slip into complementary roles as Dallas put the Grizzlies away. Dirk Nowitzki scored six of his game-high 23 points in the final frame. Terry had five of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Marion, as usual, also spearheaded the Mavs’ defensive effort. He held Memphis star Rudy Gay to eight points on 4-of-12 shooting, shutting him out in the fourth quarter.

The Mavs also won the rebounding battle, 45-40, a big deal after getting their butts kicked on the glass on a regular basis recently. Nowitzki grabbed 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.

What it means: The Mavs pulled even with the Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings, sitting in a tie for fifth place. The tiebreaker in the series will be settled Saturday night in Memphis. The Mavs also created a little separation from Houston (idle) and Denver, which lost to New Orleans.

Bold play of the game: Marion grabbed a rebound off O.J. Mayo’s missed runner and went coast to coast for a little floater. That capped a 10-0 run -- which started when Marion replaced Lamar Odom after Odom’s pathetic failure to box out resulted in a three-point play for Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter -- and stretched the Mavs’ lead to five points.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 3-20 when trailing after three quarters, including comebacks in their last two wins. Dallas was 18-22 when trailing after three quarters last season.

Is Dirk Nowitzki's All-Star run in jeopardy?

January, 31, 2012
About this time a year ago, my esteemed colleague Tim MacMahon, contended that Dirk Nowitzki didn't need to be anywhere near the All-Star Game. He argued this because Nowitzki was coming off a right knee sprain that sidelined him for nine games in January, a time in which the team practically went belly-up, and if a championship run was going to be had, the Mavs had to have Nowitzki at full strength.

Nowitzki, who was playing at an MVP level prior to the injury, could simply use the weekend off to rest, MacMahon essentially wrote. And Nowitzki, essentially, ignored the plea. The Western Conference coaches selected him to a 10th consecutive All-Star squad and Nowitzki proudly represented the West. And then he ran roughshod over the league to capture his first championship.

A year later, the tone has changed. It's no longer a question of should he play because of his current knee/conditioning issue, but is his season even worthy of selection among the West's loaded field of forwards?

The suspense of Nowitzki being voted a starter by the fans for the first time in his career never materialized. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin quickly filled the void left by Carmelo Anthony's defection to the Eastern Conference. Starters will be announced Thursday night and the all-Oklahoma City duo of Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and Griffin, an OKC native, have those spots sewn up.

The issue facing West coaches in selecting the seven reserves is what to do with Dirk? The reigning NBA Finals MVP and an All-Star mainstay would typically be a no-brainer selection based on history, even if his numbers aren't quite up to typical standards.

However, Nowitzki has had a most unusual season that now includes a mid-season, week-long hiatus and behind-the-scenes personal training camp, plus the lowest marks since his rookie season in scoring average (16.7), rebounds (5.8) and shooting percentage, both overall (44.8) and behind the arc (20.0).

Last year's All-Star team included Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Griffin selected as reserve forwards with Kevin Love officially handed the forward-center tag and Pau Gasol granted a spot at center (Yao Ming was voted the starter, but was injured and later retired).

We know this: coaches are not going to leave Portland Trail Blazers forward and Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge off the team after last season's snub. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has said he voted for Aldridge and had no idea how he didn't make the team. Aldridge is averaging 22.6 points and 8.8 rebounds and he will be wearing an All-Star uniform for the first time in Orlando on Feb. 26.

Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves' double-double machine, is averaging 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds and is another lock.

Memphis' Rudy Gay (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Utah's Paul Millsap (17.1, 9.4) and Gasol (16.6, 9.5) are all candidates. And what about Danilo Gallinari (17.9, 5.3) with Denver? The Nuggets have the second-best record in the West at the moment and might not possess an All-Star.

Of course, if Nowitzki doesn't get in, the defending champs will almost assuredly not be represented at the NBA's showcase event, and that seems highly unlikely. If he does get in, it could come at the expense of a more deserving younger player.

The number of players selected at guard (for instance, Deron Williams is now in the East and Manu Ginobili is injured) and center (which will include Andrew Bynum as a starter and perhaps Marc Gasol as a reserve) will also play a role.

Not everyone can get in. There's always snubs. Perennial All-Stars tend to get the nod and particularly ones that are also the reigning Finals MVP. But, in this most unusual, lockout-delayed season, Nowitzki has followed suit with a most unusual and unexpected one.

Will it cost him an 11th consecutive All-Star selection? If it does, don't expect Nowitzki or owner Mark Cuban to protest too loudly. For them, the ring is the only thing.

Reserves will be announced on Feb. 9.

Does Memphis have Mavs' number?

March, 7, 2011
DALLAS – If the Mavs meet the Grizzlies in the playoffs, there will be a little Golden State ’07 vibe entering the series.

Memphis has good reason to believe it can beat the Mavs. The Grizzlies did it three times this season, winning the season series over the Mavs for the first time in franchise history.

Jason Terry talked at shootaround making a statement against Memphis. The Mavs failed miserably, blowing a 17-point lead while allowing the Grizzlies to score 41 points in the third quarter.

Dirk Nowitzki, however, dismissed the notion that the Grizzlies might just have the Mavs’ number.

“I don’t think it’s much problems,” Nowitzki said. “The first game here we were kind of tricked away. We turned the ball over twice in the last minute. Then, when we lost there, it was my first game back and I played on one leg.

“But you’ve got to give them credit. They play physical. They’ve got some big boys.”

The Mavs have decent excuses for the last two losses to Memphis. Big man Tyson Chandler didn’t play in either game. Nowitzki, as he mentioned, was far from 100 percent in the Jan. 15 loss and got tossed early in the third quarter after picking up a pair of technicals.

But the Grizzlies beat the Mavs last night without Rudy Gay, their second-leading scorer. Star forward Zach Randolph didn’t play in Memphis’ lone loss to the Mavs this season.

Randolph could be considered a certified Mavs killer even before last night’s game-winner. He’s put up big numbers against the Mavs for years, a trend that he’s continued by averaging 24.3 points and 12.7 rebounds this season.

The Mavs’ centers usually defend Randolph, leaving Dirk to deal with Marc Gasol, a skilled true big man. Gasol has averaged 11.0 points and 9.3 rebounds against the Mavs this season, including a 16-point, 10-rebound performance last night.

“Zach and Gasol are really big handfuls,” Shawn Marion said. “They’re some hard matchups for us.”

Those interior matchups along with Memphis’ swagger against the Mavs are real reason for concern if the Grizzlies draw Dallas in the playoffs.

Starters picked: Will Dirk get reserve nod?

January, 27, 2011
DALLAS -- The NBA announced the 2011 All-Star Game starters as voted by the fans Thursday night. There were no surprises as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony finished one and two, respectively, and will be the starting forwards for the Western Conference.

Next Thursday, seven reserves will be selected by the coaches of each conference to round out the 12-man rosters. The most hotly contested position is forward in the West with Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, David West, Lamar Odom and Rudy Gay all with solid cases to be selected as an All-Star.

Nowitzki would figure to be a shoe-in as he seeks his 10th consecutive All-Star appearance. He was an MVP candidate before his injury on Dec. 27, averaging 24.1 points on 54.5-percent shooting and 7.4 rebounds.

Duncan, who has played in 12 consecutive All-Star games and started 11 in a row, also figures to be a selection with the Spurs rolling at 39-7. He could be selected by commissioner David Stern to replace Yao Ming, who was voted in by fans as the starting center.

Stern could also select Gasol with the game being played at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Either selection would at least open one more spot for a deserving player.

The Mavs are hopeful that Stern will simply promote Andrew Bynum, the second-place finisher at center, and then use the backup center position to select Tyson Chandler, who has had a tremendous impact on the Mavs but was not included on the All-Star ballot.

Free-agent dreams are fun, but reality bites

May, 26, 2010
Keep humming the LeBron James song -- man, it is catchy -- or wish upon a Dwyane Wade or even a Joe Johnson.

But, the odds of landing one of those three, especially the first two, are longer than Roy Williams leading the Cowboys in catches next season.

So, if the Mavs don't land LeBron or D-Wade, who will be available on the free-agent market? Well, first let's narrow the focus to the Mavs' top priorities. Youth and athleticism in a small-forward package, a dynamic player who can get to the rim and create his own shot is at the top of the list (As Dirk said, like LeBron or D-Wade). So is a post player with decent agility and the ability to catch Jason Kidd's passes and finish. Brendan Haywood showed he has potential in that role, but he hits the market on July 1 and he'll have options.

The bad news for the Mavs is that after LeBron and D-Wade, and Johnson to a lesser extent, the pool of small forward-swingman-type talent isn't deep. There's plenty of two guards (and a bunch of undersized ones) coming available, but the Mavs are banking on the development of Roddy Beaubois and unless Caron Butler is swapped for a big name, he and Jason Terry will be back.

And remember this: Because the Mavs are over the salary cap, the maximum they can offer a free agent is the mid-level exception (about $5.5 million). To acquire a higher-priced player the Mavs would have to negotiate a sign-and-trade with another team.

So who's out there? Try to restrain your excitement:

Tracy McGrady (New York), Dorell Wright (Miami), Quentin Richardson (Miami), Matt Barnes (Orlando), Bobby Simmons (New Jersey) Travis Outlaw (L.A. Clippers) and Rasual Butler (L.A. Clippers).

Restricted free agent Rudy Gay (Memphis) is possible in a sign-and-trade. Richard Jefferson could bail out of San Antonio -- could he regain form being reunited with Kidd? How about oldie, but goody, Ray Allen (Boston)? Or the younger Tony Allen (Boston)?

Al Harrington (New York) will hit the market as will 7-foot small forward Jonathan Bender (New York), and Kyle Korver (Utah) and Mike Miller (Washington).

Of course, not all of those guys actually fit the bill.

And no post players in there, you say? Recall that big fish and Dallas native Chris Bosh has said he doesn't want to play in his hometown -- too many unnecessary distractions. So, if you find a big man more suitable than Haywood, add him to the list.

Mavs feel Marion's absence vs. Gay

April, 7, 2010
DALLAS -- Rudy Gay is taking advantage of the fact that Shawn Marion is wearing a sportcoat and sitting on the Mavs' bench.

Gay, the Grizzlies' high-scoring small forward, has seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in the first six minutes. Caron Butler is an adequate defender, but he's not nearly as disruptive as Marion.

When the Mavs made a trip to Memphis last week, Gay had a miserable night. Marion and Co. held him to 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the Mavs' comeback win.

At least Butler is making Gay work on the other end. Butler, who has been in a funk recently, has six points on 3-of-5 shooting.

The Come Up: Previewing the week ahead

November, 30, 2009
It's Monday, and that means it's time for “The Come Up” -- we look ahead at how the week lays out for the Dallas Mavericks.

Will Erick Dampier get the clearance to put the mystery illness behind him and take the floor? When will the mystery of Josh Howard’s ankle pain be solved? Three sub-.500 squads followed by one of the beasts of the East on this week’s schedule -- and it go a ‘lil summin’ like this …

Is The Answer the answer?

On Monday night, the Mavericks will host a Sixers team mired in a mountain of controversy, injuries and losing. The controversy, of course, is about whether or not the Sixers should bring Allen Iverson back into the fold. One report that surfaced last week had Sixers coach Eddie Jordan flying out to meet with A.I. immediately following tonight's game against Dallas.

Elton Brand
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesElton Brand
The reason the A.I. question is being posed is because the Sixers have been slowed early by injuries. Marreese Speights was off to a great offensive start before a partial MCL tear in his left knee sidelined him until sometime in early 2010. Lou Williams was good for 17 a night on 50 percent shooting before a broken grill put him on the shelf for eight weeks. Early reports are that Elton Brand will return tonight after missing three games with a sore hammy.

As you may have suspected, the injuries have been followed by the losing. At 5-12, Philly is one of the worst teams in the East and roll into town for the second night of a back-to-back after San Antonio dropped them for their sixth consecutive loss last night. Andre Iguodala stuffs the stat sheet every night (last night he delivered 21/8/7 with 5 steals and 3 blocks) but there’s just not enough help right now.

Then again, if things were going well would anyone have even remotely entertained the idea of The Answer? Exactly.

Historic night

Remember last year when the Mavs went to Jersey in December and Devin Harris dropped 41 and 13 as The Nets rolled by 24? It’ll be a pretty different vibe this year.

On Wednesday night, the Nets will be playing to avoid the worst start by any team in league history at 0-18. And the Mavs will be playing to not be that team -- you know, the one that lost to the Nets.

How bad are they? Heading into last night’s loss to the Lakers, the Nets were averaging an NBA-low 85.6 points and shooting an also league-worst 40.3 percent from the field.

The good news is that Brook Lopez is really emerging as a nice inside presence going for 18 and 9 a night with 2.5 blocks for good measure. I also think Chris Douglas-Roberts and Terrence Williams have nice futures in the NBA. It just must seem so far off in the distant, distant future for those two dudes.

Both teams will put enormous pressure on themselves not to lose -- way more than normal. If the Mavs drop this one, it’ll make the Golden State loss last week seem respectable by comparison.

Friday night BBQ

Rudy Gay
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty ImagesRudy Gay
The Mavs head to Memphis for the first time this season Friday night. They have no excuse to look past the Grizz towards Saturday night’s game against Hotlanta considering they dropped both of their roadies at Memphis last year.

Memphis is actually a pretty salty offensive team with scoring machines Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph dropping a combined 40 a night. The problem is that both of those dudes hate playing defense like it was going to keep them from feeding their families. But that’s a team-wide issue as well. Grizz opponents shoot a shade under 50 percent from the field, a shade under 40 percent from behind the arc, and score a shade under 107 a night.

Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo are outstanding young players. Mike Conley is still an enormous question mark and actually seems to be trending down. And surely I’m not the only one amused by the Grizz parting ways with A.I. only to replace him with Jamaal Tinsley. Now that’s leadership. Good luck kids.

One of the elite?

Dallas and Atlanta came into this season in similar positions -- teams that were regarded as good but a tick or two below the so-called best teams in their conference. And while it’s early, both teams have spent some time in first place in their respective conferences so far.

The Hawks are absolutely loaded with dudes who can stick the ball in the basket. Their only major difference at the top of their regular rotation of guys is that Jamal Crawford has replaced Flip Murray as designated bench scorer and he is second on the team in that department to Joe Johnson’s 21.7 with 16.8 of his own.

They are extremely long and athletic along their frontline with Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford -- which affords them the opportunity to competently “switch” screen situations on defense.

Assuming Josh isn’t back by Saturday, Carlisle might lean towards giving Quinton Ross the start ahead of Rodrigue Beaubois so that Dallas can have the extra length in defending Johnson. Both teams will be on the second nights of a back-to-backs and both teams will be eager to throw down the gauntlet against a quality opponent. Get ready for a little Uptown Saturday Night action -– this is easily the best game of the week.



Monta Ellis
19.3 4.4 1.9 33.8
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.7
AssistsR. Rondo 6.2
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksB. James 1.8