Dallas Mavericks: Tyson Chandler

Tyson ChandlerJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsTyson Chandler has been working hard this summer to improve physically and mentally.
Did the Dallas Mavericks trade for damaged goods in Tyson Chandler?

It’s a legitimate question, just like it was four years ago. The Mavs hope the evidence to the contrary is just as conclusive as it was during Chandler’s first stint in Dallas.

During his last season in New York, Chandler didn’t really resemble the center who was such a critical piece to the 2011 Mavs’ championship puzzle, much less the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year or 2013 All-Star. His production in an injury-plagued season (averages of 8.7 points and 9.6 rebounds in only 55 games) was his worst since his lone season in Charlotte, just before the Mavs acquired Chandler in a salary-dump deal.

Yet Chandler, who turns 32 in October, has no doubt he can be the big man Mavs fans remember from four seasons ago. He’s physically healthy -- and hopes to stay that way with the help of the Mavs’ outstanding medical staff -- and mentally rejuvenated after the dysfunctional Knicks traded him back to Dallas.

“I think I can be better.” Chandler said during his conference call with Dallas reporters last month. “I finished the season healthy, so this summer I was able to start earlier. I took a couple of weeks off and then I already started getting back in the gym and improving things. I want to get back to thinking and moving the way I moved. I started correcting things mentally and physically. I was already looking forward to this summer because I felt like there was so many things I could improve on.

“Then once I started in the gym, I’ve already seen in the six weeks or two months I’ve been working out so much improvement already that I’m truly excited. When this happened and I know I’m putting myself in a situation again to really have a shot at making a run, it just gives me more to work on and more excitement and more drive.”

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Greg Smith 'happy' to play for Mavs

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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LAS VEGAS -- After completing the team physical, center Greg Smith joined the Dallas Mavericks' summer league team in Las Vegas.

Smith, who is coming off knee surgery in February, will not participate in the team's final game in the summer league. He is healthy, but the team wants him to focus on getting in shape and preparing for training camp. Smith said he's ready to prove he's 100 percent healthy once he gets to training camp.

[+] EnlargeGreg Smith
Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsGreg Smith says he will bring defense to the Mavs as he backs up Tyson Chandler.
"I'm happy. It's like going home," Smith said. "I'm happy to be in this situation. ... Playing for a team like the Dallas Mavericks, their organization is just wonderful. I'm happy to be there."

Smith's grandparents, mother and uncle all live in Dallas. Smith said he was pleased to hear that the Mavs were trying to acquire him for the past two seasons via trade.

"It's great to go somewhere that they want you," he said.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Smith averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game over the past three seasons with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls signed him through next season after Houston waived him in April.

"He's got a skill set that we need in our front line," Donnie Nelson, the Mavs' general manager and president of basketball operations, said earlier this week. "He's thicker and he's got the right combination of experience and youth. With Chicago it was kind of more of a salary dump to do a bigger deal. It didn't cost us anything.

"We think we got a really good young player that can provide us punch in our front line."

Mavs owner Mark Cuban had previously said Smith was someone the team has been trying to acquire for the past two seasons. Smith is slated to play more center than power forward and will back up Tyson Chandler.

"I'll bring a lot of defense," Smith said of his role. "I love playing defense. I'm going to learn being next to Tyson, and I'm excited to play with Tyson. I'll be a banger.

"I'll be that guy who is a stopper that won't allow anything inside."

Playing for Houston, Smith was teammates with Chandler Parsons. Smith is excited to be reunited with Parsons and says he believes Dallas will be pleased with what the versatile forward can bring to the team.

"He's going to bring so much to the team," Smith said. "People don't understand what he gave to the Rockets. He means a lot, and he'll bring a lot to the Mavericks."

The experience in Houston allowed Smith to bang and work alongside the likes of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, two of the league's best defensive centers. Smith said that was a huge learning experience for him, and he plans to take what he learned from his time with the Rockets and expand on it in Dallas.

"I feel like I can showcase what they taught me and be able to play defense against anyone in the league," Smith said.

Mavs strike with aggression this summer

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
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LAS VEGAS -- After pushing the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs to a Game 7 in the first round, the Dallas Mavericks will return with a much different roster next season.

The Mavs have acquired center Tyson Chandler, small forward Chandler Parsons, point guard Raymond Felton, a young big man in Greg Smith and a veteran perimeter forward in Richard Jefferson. They have been incredibly aggressive this summer. As always, they've tried to stay opportunistic in the market, whether it be by trade or the free-agent market. To this point, they've done well.

[+] EnlargeRichard Jefferson
Brad Rempel/USA TODAY SportsRichard Jefferson will join his sixth team, having played for the New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Golden State and Utah in his 13-year career.
"Ideal would have been Carmelo and LeBron coming for the minimum, but that didn't happen," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told ESPN Dallas on Monday.

You can't fault Nelson for being ambitious or for his wit. The Mavs ultimately got the man they wanted in Parsons. It was a move that was priority No. 1 for Dallas.

"We targeted Parsons from a very early stage. We feel he can play 4, 3. He can shoot the long ball, he can get the ball into the gut and make passes," Nelson said. "He's also a team guy and he knows what to do without the ball. He can grab it off the glass and push the ball. He knows what to do without the ball and doesn't need the ball to be effective.

"Where do you stop? He's kind of a perfect, tailored guy for the Mavericks."

Looking around the league, a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come out smelling like roses in regard to their summer spending. That said, you can't discount what Dallas has done as they've made big moves. Continuity was a big buzzword for the Mavs going into the offseason. Continuity is nice, but getting better talent is, well, better.

"We're doing well. We're changing the team, we're getting it better and improving," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN Dallas. "Those are all things that are exciting. We've got more spaces to fill and we've got more good prospects. We're going to keep pushing forward."

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The three members of the Mavs' brain trust -- Mark Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle -- likely will go on their own separate paths for the remainder of the week. While that might be the case, all three have been hovering around the gyms this weekend, watching the summer league team playing and spitballing ideas. Whenever visible, the three of them would have conversations with one another in corners of the arena, formulating ideas to finish out their roster.

Their last major asset left in terms of money is their $2.7 million exception. While they could go different ways with the money, one focus is on their mind.

"I think we're looking for the best player," Nelson said. "As long as we can get that, we're happy. There's lot of backup roles that are needed. We can go in a variety of different directions, from point guard to center. I think we're going to try to get the best possible player we can."

Whoever the final pieces to the puzzle are, they will put a nice shiny bow on a successful offseason. The challenge will then become trying to become successful in terms of regular season and hopefully playoff games.

Monta Ellis likens Parsons to Marion

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
1:25
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Chandler ParsonsTroy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsMonta Ellis says that Chandler Parsons reminds him of Shawn Marion because of his versatility.
LAS VEGAS -- Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis had a huge impact in his first year with the Mavericks last season. Now, more help is on the way in Chandler Parsons. With Parsons and the Mavs' other moves this summer, Ellis is pleased with what Dallas' front office has done.

“I think it’s a great addition to the team,” Ellis told 105.3 The Fan on Monday. “I think we did a wonderful job on getting the right group of guys and the right team to try to get farther than we did last year. Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and then getting [Chandler] Parsons was an A-plus for us.

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"I'm looking forward to the season. He's a great player, and I think he's going to be a great asset to the team.”

Ellis said that he didn't stay too wrapped up in the timelines and countdowns with Parsons over the weekend, but he did exchange texts with Mark Cuban to stay in the loop.

In the end, he wanted to let Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson "do their job." While the front office wasn't able to get the big fish they've been trying to get over the last three seasons, the acquisition of Parsons is one of the final touches to the massive remodel the Mavs made this summer.

While the return of Chandler represents a true anchor in the middle for the Mavs, Parsons is an infusion of youth and versatility that could have a huge impact on their roster for the upcoming season and beyond. Ellis has seen Parsons as an opponent and views him as the real deal.

So who does Parsons remind Ellis of?

"Shawn Marion, but younger," Ellis said in regards to Parsons' versatility.

(Read full post)

This Dallas front office hit a dead end in its previous two trips down the road of restricted free agency.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Mavericks, who hope to have Chandler Parsons on the roster after the Rockets' three-day period to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet expires late Sunday night.

Until then, Mavs fans can pass the time pondering what might have been if the previous two restricted free agents signed by the franchise actually ended up in Dallas.

[+] EnlargeMichael Redd
Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesMichael Redd was nearly a Maverick, but the Bucks matched an offer sheet for him and he went on to be a prolific scorer in Milwaukee.
Michael Redd: Redd would have been a huge steal for the Mavs, but his four-year, $12 million offer sheet was matched by Milwaukee in 2002.

Redd, a sweet-shooting lefty 2 guard, ended up averaging more than 21 points per game in five-plus straight seasons before a couple of serious knee injuries wrecked his career midway through what should have been his prime.

Redd was a bench player coming off averaging 11.4 points in his second NBA season when the Mavs made their play for him. He blossomed as a sixth man the next season before moving into the Bucks' starting lineup and becoming a star.

The development of Redd into a premier scorer would have been perfectly timed to Michael Finley's decline with the Mavs. Finley, a foundation piece in Dallas' transition from league laughingstock to contender, played three more seasons for the Mavs before being waived via the amnesty clause.

The Mavs moved on after the flirtation with Redd by signing Walt Williams and Raja Bell to one-year deals. Dallas won 60 games and advanced to the West finals in 2002-03 -- with Williams and Bell splitting time in the starting lineup, and Nick Van Exel firing away as the sixth man in his only full season with the Mavs --– but Redd would have been a part of the franchise's core for years to come.

[+] EnlargeMarcin Gortat
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesHad Marcin Gortat joined Dallas when the Mavs had their eye on him, he probably would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money.
Marcin Gortat: The 7-footer had played fewer than 900 minutes as a project backing up Dwight Howard when the Mavs offered him the full midlevel exception. The Mavs, firmly believing they'd found a big man to bump Erick Dampier to the bench, were stunned when the Magic matched the offer.

Months later, the Magic flipped Gortat in a Vince Carter-fronted package to the Phoenix Suns in the deal that brought Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to Orlando. Gortat soon emerged as a quality starting center.

After the deal he originally signed with Dallas finally expired this summer, Gortat cashed in with a five-year, $60 million deal from the Washington Wizards, who traded for him before last season.

It's hard to figure how getting Gortat would have changed the future for the Mavs.

Would the Mavs have still used the chip of Dampier's instantly expiring contract to trade for Tyson Chandler the next summer? Would the Mavs have instead decided to roll the dice on the deal they discussed for Al Jefferson, knowing they had a traditional center on the roster already?

It's safe to assume that Gortat being in the mix would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money. The Mavs wouldn't have felt pressured to give Brendan Haywood a big contract that eventually got the amnesty ax.

In fact, Haywood probably never would have come to Dallas, where he was shipped in a seven-player deal before the 2010 deadline. One of the players Dallas sent to Washington in that deal was Drew Gooden, a power forward who played backup center for the Mavs, who signed him after missing out on Gortat.

Dallas won the 2011 title with Chandler as the defensive anchor and an emotional leader, so it's hard for the Mavs to be too mad about missing out on Gortat. But it sure would have been nice to have a reasonably priced big man on the roster who could score, rebound and protect the rim the last five years.

The Mavs' five-pronged pitch to Melo

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
11:52
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Carmelo Anthony Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavs have a definite plan when it comes to trying to woo Carmelo Anthony to Dallas.
DALLAS -- There will surely be some bells and whistles during Carmelo Anthony's visit with the Dallas Mavericks, such as entertainment elements and marketing plans.

You can count on money coming up in the conversation, too, with that discussion centering on just how close Mark Cuban can come to a max-contract offer.

But the Dallas decision-makers firmly believe Anthony has the purest intentions as he takes a free-agency tour that started Tuesday in Chicago, will make stops in Houston and Dallas on Wednesday, head west to Los Angeles for a Thursday visit with the Lakers and wrap up with the Knicks trying to talk him into returning to New York.

"There's no question he's entering the phase of his career where he wants to win," a source said, well aware that Anthony has advanced past the first round only twice in 11 NBA seasons after carrying Syracuse to a national title during his lone NCAA campaign.

That's why this will be mostly a meat-and-potatoes presentation. The Mavs' four-man committee of Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki will make a five-pronged pitch appealing to Anthony's burning desire to play for a contender.

[+] EnlargeCarlisle
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsRick Carlisle has few rivals in the coaching ranks when it comes to game-planning, a trait the Mavs hope will appeal to Carmelo Anthony.
1. Play for an elite coach: Carlisle joins Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra and Doc Rivers as the only active NBA championship coaches, and he has outwitted two of those men in recent playoff series.

Pop's Spurs won the series against the Mavs, but it was by far San Antonio's toughest step to the title, primarily because of Carlisle's game-planning brilliance. That, as well as the underdog Mavs' championship march in 2011, offers tangible evidence of the impact Carlisle can have on a playoff series.

"Everybody thought we were going to get crushed," Cuban said recently. "That allows us not to say, 'Hey, we played them the best,' but allows us to say, 'Look, when it comes to the playoffs in particular, Rick has got the skill set and we've got veteran guys who know how to implement offensive and defensive strategies that really give us a unique opportunity.' That's something that very few teams can say.

"If you look at other teams with cap room and then you just look at their coach and if they've made the playoffs, you look at how their playoff runs went, you're not looking at them and saying, 'Wow, that team really ... .' I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but their coaches are not as good as Rick Carlisle."

Carlisle is also considered one of the NBA's most creative offensive minds. His ideas of how to help Anthony be more efficient should be welcomed by a 30-year-old who has had to work hard for most of his nearly 20,000 career points.

(Read full post)

How much better can Monta Ellis be?

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
2:41
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Monta EllisAP Photo/Sue OgrockiThe Mavs believe the addition of Tyson Chandler will help Monta Ellis be even better next season.
DALLAS -- Listen to the Dallas decision-makers long enough and you might begin to believe that Monta Ellis should be considered a Most Improved Player candidate in 2014-15.

How much better can a nine-year veteran with career averages of 19.4 points and 4.9 assists get?

A day after the Mavericks were eliminated, coach Rick Carlisle said he anticipated Ellis making “quantum leaps” in his second season in Dallas. Owner Mark Cuban has similar expectations.

“We haven’t seen the best of Monta Ellis yet,” Cuban said during his appearance on 103.3 FM’s “ESPN Dallas GameDay” on Saturday. “Now that he’s more comfortable, now that he knows what’s expected of him, he’s going to work on his game over the summer. ...

“I’m messaging him left and right all the time saying, ‘OK, what are you working on today? What are the things you’re adding to your game? Because you can’t come back with just the same game. You’ve got to be better to take us to the next level.’ And he’s all in.”

The Mavs’ brass also believes that the trade for center Tyson Chandler will mask two of Ellis’ biggest flaws.

First of all, as president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said, Chandler covers up for a lot of defensive sins. Ellis showed grit and commitment with his willingness to take charges and has always come up with a lot of steals, but he’ll never be known as a lockdown defender, to put it politely. The Mavs now have a premier rim protector to prevent a lot of the pain caused by dribble penetration allowed by Ellis.

(Read full post)

Why Mavs make sense for Carmelo Anthony

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
12:06
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Drik Nowitzki and Carmelo AnthonyAP Photo/Jason DeCrowThe Mavs know Dirk Nowitzki would be the best player to ever be paired with Carmelo Anthony.
DALLAS -- How much is winning worth to Carmelo Anthony? How much does he value a legitimate chance to chase a championship?

The Mavericks, confident they can provide a title-pursuing opportunity immediately and for the duration of Anthony’s prime, intend to find out.

The Mavs know Dirk Nowitzki, coming off his 12th All-Star appearance, would be the best player to ever be paired with Anthony, whose teams have advanced past the first round only twice during his 11-year NBA career despite his consistently prolific production.

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With all due respect to George Karl, the Mavs firmly believe that Rick Carlisle would be Anthony's best coach. The Mavs’ front office will point to the 2011 title run and this season’s seven-game challenge of the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs as recent examples of Carlisle’s brilliance. They’ll surely mention Carlisle’s impact on Monta Ellis, who excelled in the Mavs’ flow offense after arriving in Dallas with a reputation as an inefficient, me-first gunner, harsh labels that often come out of Melo critics’ mouths, too.

The Mavs can make the case that a Monta-Melo-Dirk trio would be the NBA’s most explosive one-two-three offensive punch. They certainly will make the case that adding Anthony to Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler, his former New York Knicks teammate, would give the Mavs the best frontcourt in the league.

Oh, and that frontcourt could get much better next summer, when the Mavs plan to have the financial flexibility to pursue another big fish in free agency, such as Kevin Love, Marc Gasol or Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge.

But it’s the Chandler trade that made the Mavs believe they could convince Anthony that Dallas is the best fit for him now.

“My feeling is that I’m a prospective free agent out there, we became a lot more attractive, because I don’t know many front lines that not only have that kind of punch in terms of inside-outside, but also two great guys, great teammates, guys that you love to go to war with, night in and night out,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “That with the fact that we can accommodate a max salary this year and next makes our future bright in the here and now. It also makes it bright in the future, next year. I think the future is bright here in Dallas.”

Yeah, about that max salary, Melo ...

As Mark Cuban clarified Saturday on 103.3 FM’s “ESPN Dallas GameDay,” the Mavs don’t plan on offering one of the available superstars a deal for the full max. It’s simple math, really. Dallas has about $26 million in cap space and needs to re-sign Nowitzki, whose hometown discount isn’t going to be steep enough to give Anthony a starting salary of $22.5 million.

Theoretically, the Mavs could move Brandan Wright and his $5 million salary in a cost-cutting deal and beg Nowitzki to take a bit less than the Tim Duncan discount to make max room for Melo, but that’s not the plan. The Mavs hope to convince Anthony that they present the best chance to win championships, which is probably pretty valuable to a man who has made more than $135 million but won only three playoff series during his NBA career.

Money aside, are the Mavs the best fit for Melo? It might take a little mud-slinging to convince him, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a shark like Cuban.

The Mavs’ case starts with Carlisle, who is clearly the most offensively creative coach among Anthony’s suitors. Would Kevin McHale, who is still searching for his first playoff series win on the bench, know how to keep James Harden, Dwight Howard and Anthony all happy? Do you trust a rookie head coach in Derek Fisher? Or the uncertainty of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Coach TBD?

Nowitzki is a dream teammate: a floor-spacing star willing and eager to hand over the keys to the franchise after he signs a team-friendly contract. How much is Harden willing to share the ball and spotlight? Will Derrick Rose overcome his unfortunate knee problems to be an All-NBA guard or end up as a max-salary albatross? (Hey, how did that work out with Amar'e Stoudemire?)

If Anthony wants to win now, his safest bet is the Mavs, whose front office also has a solid plan to sustain a contender around him throughout his prime and the recent track record that proves they’re capable of pulling it off.

Isn’t that worth a superstar with a nine-figure net worth sacrificing a few million dollars? Hey, have we mentioned that Texas has no state income tax?
DALLAS -- Why did it make sense to trade for Tyson Chandler now if it didn’t make sense to re-sign the big man who played such a huge role in the Mavericks’ championship run?

“Is Mark coming up here next?” coach Rick Carlisle cracked when asked that question on draft night, about 24 hours after the six-player deal with the New York Knicks was done.

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No, Mark Cuban didn’t meet the media Thursday night. However, during his Saturday appearance on 103.3 FM’s “ESPN Dallas Game Day,” Cuban did offer a lengthy explanation for why he believes the Mavs are better off having let Chandler leave in free agency in December 2011 and trading to bring him back for the final season of his four-year, $60 million contract.

“First of all, you know I don’t make mistakes,” Cuban said, chuckling. “When you think I’ve made one, see Rule 1 because you know I won’t admit it.

“Again, people don’t want to hear me talking about the rules and the new CBA, but there were only so many courses of action that we could take. If we re-signed anybody to a $10 million-plus amount, then we basically had to re-sign everybody, and we just didn’t feel re-signing everybody would put us in a position to succeed. We realized we were taking on a risk-reward where we were going after free agents. ... Particularly last year, we didn’t get what we were trying to get with Dwight [Howard], but we thought that the risk-reward really made sense.

“We also felt, as nice as it sounds and exciting as it might have seemed if we kept the team together after we won the championship, I mean, if you just look where everybody is at right now, I think you kind of look back and say maybe it was the right move. So taking that approach now, let us get to the point now where we can bring back Tyson and we’re in a good position to re-sign him next year as well and we have cap room in addition to Tyson and we’ve been able to add Monta [Ellis] and we’ve been able to add Vince [Carter]. ...

“We think we’re in a better position now than if we’d have just kept everybody together, and so I think that flexibility, the ability to add someone this summer if we can make that happen, along with bringing Ty back when we hope he’s in good shape -- and everything looks like he’s in good shape -- that also gives us a little bit of risk reduction and more upside than if we’d have just kept everything together.”

Felton has 'fresh start' with Mavs

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
2:08
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Raymond FeltonRobert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsRaymond Felton had the worst stats of his career last season, averaging 9.7 points and 5.6 assists.
DALLAS -- The Mavericks sadly bid farewell to Tyson Chandler a few years ago because they had their eyes on bigger prizes, such as Deron Williams and Chris Paul, a pair of All-Star point guards selected with the third and fourth picks in the 2005 draft.

A point guard who was the fifth pick in the 2005 draft is part of the price the Mavs paid to bring Chandler back to Dallas.

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Raymond Felton, who is coming off the worst year of his career on and off the court, wasn’t included in the six-player trade with the New York Knicks because the Mavs wanted him. The Knicks insisted on dumping Felton in the deal with Chandler.

The Mavs, however, are hopeful that the 30-year-old Felton can get his career back on track in Dallas.

“I think we’ve had a lot of success over the years in guys that went through a hard year previously,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “You look at Jerry Stackhouse when we acquired him. Here’s a guy that probably a lot of folks wouldn’t have touched. Nick Van Exel is another. You go down the line, we’ve done a pretty good job of bringing guys like that into the fold, having them buy in.

“Raymond has been through some tough times. It’s no secret that he’s made some mistakes and he wishes that he had them back. It’s no secret that he’s gone through some difficult times in New York. We certainly have the kind of locker room that has done good with those kind of players in the past.”

(Read full post)

Free-agency preview: Centers

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
10:58
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Chris AndersenIssac Baldizon/Getty ImagesThe Mavericks have been rumored to have interest in "Birdman," a high-energy rebounder.
The Dallas Mavericks made a major upgrade in the middle before free agency began by trading for Tyson Chandler.

They have a productive backup on the roster in Brandan Wright, the lanky, high-leaping lefty who has ranked among the league’s most efficient reserves the last few seasons.

The search for center depth isn’t a top priority for Dallas in free agency, but it’s definitely on the Mavs’ checklist.

If the Mavs don’t succeed in their quest to sign a superstar, they’d still be interested in pursuing Pau Gasol. He’d get some playing time at center, but the majority of his minutes would probably come at power forward while Dirk Nowitzki rests his 36-year-old legs.

The more likely scenario is that the Mavs sign a low-priced banger to be the final piece of a three-headed center rotation. A look at some of the potential fits:

DeJuan Blair: The 6-foot-7, 260-plus-pound Blair was a bargain banger as a minimum-salaried Mav last season, averaging 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game. He put up a pair of double-doubles in the playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, his former team that was simply too physical for Wright.

The Mavs value Blair’s toughness and tenacity. They just aren’t willing to pay a premium price for it, particularly after bringing Chandler back to Dallas.

Blair would obviously like to be paid more than the minimum, but if that’s his price tag, he’d be welcomed back in the Mavs’ locker room.

Chris Andersen: The Mavs have been rumored to have interest in “Birdman,” a high-energy rebounder and rim protector who doesn’t fly quite as high as he used to. However, for the money the Mavs would offer, it’s hard to envision Andersen leaving Miami unless LeBron James goes elsewhere.

Andersen would be excellent insurance for the Mavs given Chandler’s durability issues. Bringing Birdman on board would assure the Mavs of always having an athletic, physical, intelligent, long, defensive-minded center available.

(Read full post)

DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler, the finishing piece of a championship puzzle during his lone season in Dallas, doesn’t think the Mavericks are far from being legitimate contenders for another title.

For proof, Chandler points to the Mavs pushing the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round, by far the biggest scare the eventual champions encountered in the playoffs.

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“If you can challenge the champs like that and be a play or two away from actually advancing, that means you're close,” Chandler said. “So I think this team is close.”

Chandler’s checklist of elements the Mavs were missing just so happened to be strengths of his game. He mentioned rim protection, finishing at the basket and offensive rebounding as areas that the Mavs needed to improve.

Of course, Chandler fully expects to fill those voids during his second stint in Dallas, much like he did during the Mavs’ 2011 championship march.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Chandler said. “That was my role when I was there. Watching it in years past, I think it was lacking. My job is to be even better than I was the year that I had there. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to providing that and seeing what we can do.”

The Mavs felt that center Samuel Dalembert was a good value signing last summer, considering his $3.7 million salary a bargain in the second half of the season. However, the Dallas decision-makers entered the offseason determined to upgrade at the position and jumped at the chance to bring Chandler back while putting only a minor dent into this summer’s cap space while improving the team’s financial forecast in the near future.

(Read full post)

In his self-deprecating style, Dirk Nowitzki jokes that premier free agents must not like him. After all, the Dallas Mavericks have failed to hook a big fish the last two summers.

The Mavs are ready to try, try again, with Nowitzki preparing to play a key role on the Dallas recruiting committee in the pursuit of LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
AP Photo/Alan DiazThe Mavs have plenty of selling points to try to entice LeBron James.
Nowitzki has repeatedly said the Mavs “would love to have” Anthony, one of the league’s elite scorers. It’s obvious they would prefer James, a four-time MVP who led the Miami Heat to the Finals each of the last four years.

Dirk’s sales pitch to King James?

“C’mon, you can have the keys to the city,” Nowitzki said to reporters while at Steve Nash's charity soccer game in New York. “It’s all yours.”

If the Mavs can get a face-to-face meeting with James, as they are set to have with Anthony, Nowitzki would surely have much more to say.

The Mavs, who are much more optimistic about their odds of landing one of the superstar small forwards after pulling the trigger on Wednesday’s trade for Tyson Chandler, are prepared to pitch James and Anthony on the opportunity to play for what they believe would be the league’s elite frontcourt next season. Adding one of the league’s top three scorers to the Dirk/Monta Ellis duo would also give the Mavs the NBA’s most potent offensive trio.

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Coach Rick Carlisle’s presence on the Dallas bench is also one of the Mavs’ best assets as they attempt to sign a superstar. He is without question one of the league’s premier coaches, as James found out firsthand during the 2011 Finals, and Carlisle proved again when the eighth-seeded Mavs pushed the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Mavs will also sell the franchise’s championship culture and proven ability to sustain a contender, pointing to their 13 playoff trips in 14 seasons and recent run of 11 consecutive 50-win campaigns.

But the future is much more important than the past for free agents. That’s why the Mavs will pitch a plan that includes potentially adding an All-Star again next summer, when the Mavs will have ample cap space again and intend to pursue Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and/or Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge.

That’s an awfully optimistic plan. The second step would be much more likely if the Mavs manage to finally reel in a big fish this summer, especially if it’s the biggest in the NBA waters.

"All the teams with cap room got to try [to sign James]," Nowitzki told reporters. "He's the best player in the league right now. If he's a free agent – which obviously doesn't happen very often that the best player in the league is a free agent – then you got to obviously go at it. I don't know what our chances are, but you at least have to try."

Dirk is offering the keys to the city. More importantly, the Mavs’ front office is offering a chance to compete for championships immediately and for years to come.
The Mavericks' decision-makers don't know how good their odds are of landing LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in free agency.

They are certain, however, that those odds got a heck of a lot better in the last few hours.

"It makes us real players for LeBron [or] Carmelo," a team source told ESPNDallas.com after completing the trade that brought center Tyson Chandler back to Dallas.

The Mavs will attempt to convince one of the perennial All-Star small forwards to join Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler in a frontcourt that they believe would be the best in the league.

Dallas has approximately $26.5 million in salary cap space before re-signing Nowitzki, who has long been committed to taking a major pay cut to allow the Mavs to add talent around him. Nowitzki has been expected to give Dallas a Tim Duncan-like discount ($10 million per year), but he might be willing to accept even less to make room for James or Anthony. The Mavs could also make other moves to create more cap space, if necessary.

With Chandler’s contract expiring after this season, the Mavs will be positioned again next summer to make another run at a superstar in free agency even if they are successful next season. The free-agency class of 2015 could include Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Mavs have failed to land a big fish the last couple of summers in free agency, but the front office is full of optimism again after adding more bait with Wednesday’s big deal.

Mavs not admitting mistake with trade

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
5:14
PM CT
Raise your hand if your initial reaction to the report of Tyson Chandler’s return to Dallas was the thought that Mark Cuban was admitting a massive mistake.

Think again. You're wrong.

[+] EnlargeTyson Chandler and Mark Cuban
Glenn James/Getty ImagesReacquiring Tyson Chandler doesn't necessarily mean Mark Cuban was wrong to let him go in the first place.
Dealing for Chandler in the final season of the four-year deal he signed with the New York Knicks after the lockout -- and only months after he played a major role in the Mavericks’ championship run -- isn’t proof that Cuban regrets the decision to let the big man go in the first place. It’s a matter of doing what’s best for the Mavs now, when their financial picture looks completely different than it did in December 2011.

"It's apples and oranges," Cuban said via an email reply to ESPNDallas.com. "You couldn't get from there to here."

First and foremost, Dirk Nowitzki is no longer one of the highest-paid players in the NBA. He has committed to re-sign with the Mavericks for a drastically reduced salary, likely in the Tim Duncan-discount territory of $10 million per year, less than half what the big German made the past few seasons. In other words, Nowitzki’s pay cut next season will probably be pretty close to Chandler’s salary.

After studying the new CBA, Cuban’s fear was that the Mavs would become what the Brooklyn Nets are now, an old team with a bloated payroll and no real shot of winning a title and extremely limited avenues of upgrading the roster.

Cuban’s hope was that the Mavs could take advantage of their financial flexibility -- those might as well be curse words in Dallas now -- by signing an in-his-prime superstar to pair with Nowitzki. That didn’t happen, with Deron Williams and Dwight Howard declining Dallas’ recruiting pitches and Chris Paul committing to stay in L.A. without even listening to the Mavs.

In hindsight, would the Mavs have been better off keeping Chandler all along? Only if you think an aging team that made a surprising championship run was going to have a legitimate chance to repeat in a lockout-condensed campaign that was especially tough on old legs.

The potential reward was never realized, but it was big enough to justify the Mavs’ risk.

The Mavs are in better shape now with Chandler back in the mix than they would have been if he never left. With Chandler on board last summer, meaning the Mavs wouldn’t have hoarded cap space with Howard/CP3 hopes in mind, there wouldn’t have been any room for Monta Ellis on the roster.

That means the Mavs’ offense would still lack the dynamic dribble penetrator who blended so well with the big German and took pressure off the now-36-year-old Nowitzki.

Now the Mavs have a potent one-two offensive punch, a defensive backbone (again) and the salary-cap space to make at least one more major addition this summer.

No, Cuban’s grand plan didn’t work out as he hoped. Yes, Chandler is coming back to Dallas to complete the contract the Mavs weren’t willing to give him originally.

That’s proof that the Mavs’ front office is doing what it feels is in the franchise’s best interests now, not that Cuban & Co. are attempting to make up for a mistake from a few years ago.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9