Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Johnson
How much is O.J. Mayo worth to the Mavericks?
Probably not enough to get into a bidding war with the Minnesota Timberwolves and other teams who will pursue Mayo during the free-agency period.
|Chuck Cooperstein joins the show to talk about the Dallas Mavericks and how he thinks the NBA draft will turn out.
Coach Rick Carlisle is on record saying he’d like Mayo back in Dallas, but it will come down to money. If the offers for Mayo exceed $6 million per year, expect the Mavs to shop elsewhere for a shooting guard. They might need to look at other, less expensive alternatives anyway, depending on how the rest of their free agency shopping goes.
Some other shooting guard options on the market this summer:
J.J. Redick: You can make a strong case that Redick would be a better fit than Mayo for the Mavs, who are putting a high premium on basketball IQ.
Redick isn’t exactly an explosive athlete. (Remember Mayo’s “It’s just J.J. Redick” comment after his critical chase-down block keyed the Mavs’ home win over Orlando?) But the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Redick is a good shooter (.390 on 3s in his career) with great savvy. He doesn’t commit many turnovers, has a firm understanding of floor spacing and ball movement and is a solid team defender because he’s rarely out of position.
The market for Redick could be in the $6 million-per-year range.
Kevin Martin: He’d have to take a huge pay cut from the $12.4 million he made last season – like half of that, at least -- to fit into the Mavs’ plans. Of course, the same is probably true for Martin to stay in Oklahoma City.
The 30-year-old Martin remains a knockdown 3-point shooter, having hit 42.6 percent from long distance last season. Martin’s ability to draw fouls has been his best attributes over the years, but his free throws attempted have plummeted in the last two years (8.4 per game to 4.5 to 3.2), a trend that started when he was the Rockets’ primary scoring threat.
The 6-foot-7, 185-pound Martin has never been anything more than an average defender and passer.
J.R. Smith: I have it on high authority that the Mavs aren’t interested in the reigning Sixth Man of the Year no matter the price due to his knucklehead tendencies. So we’ll skip the analysis of how his athleticism, ability to create and long-range shooting could give the Mavs an offensive boost.
Tyreke Evans: The 6-foot-5 combo guard is expected to return to Sacramento after signing an offer sheet, allowing him to test the market as an unrestricted free agent next summer. We might re-visit this name as a potential midseason trade target.
Tony Allen: The NBA’s most dominant defensive shooting guard is such a part of the Grizzlies’ fabric that it’s extremely difficult to imagine Memphis management letting him get away. He’s very limited offensively, but his tenaciousness and toughness would certainly be appreciated by Rick Carlisle if for some unforeseen reason he doesn’t stay in Memphis.
Nick Young: The 6-foot-7 Young is a relatively intriguing talent at 28 years old, but he’s pretty much just be a shooter without a conscience so far in his career. Could Carlisle get more out of him? Maybe we’ll find out if he’s cheap enough ($3 million per?) to be an option for the Mavs.
Marco Belinelli: The 27-year-old Italian is a pretty good perimeter shooter (.387 career 3s) and ballhandler who made $1.957 million for the Bulls last season. He’s not a bad buy at that price, but he’ll likely return to the Bulls if he can’t get more money elsewhere.
Wesley Johnson: The 25-year-old Corsicana native was a major bust as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. (Picking him over guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George is a pretty good way for a GM to get fired.) Could he be a Brandan Wright-type of minimum-salary reclamation project for the Mavs? It’d be worth a shot for a 6-foot-7, 215-pound athlete who can at least be a solid defender off the bench.
Gary Neal: If you’re looking for a bargain, it’s probably best not to go with a guy who had big games on the Finals stage. The Mavs could use Neal’s perimeter shooting, but he’ll either be overpaid or return to the Spurs.
Rick Adelman has a a young, talented and intriguing cast to mold, and that starts with the long-awaited import from Spain, point guard Ricky Rubio. He has been impressive early with some dazzling passes that show of instinctual vision for the game that would make Jason Kidd proud. The 6-foot-4 throwback is averaging 8.0 points, 7.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 28.3 minutes a night, and seems to be getting more comfortable with each game.
The Wolves have lost three games by nine points. The Heat on Friday needed a last-second alley-oop to pull out the 103-101 victory. On New Year's Day, Minnesota will desperately want to get that first win against the defending champs.
One player who would certainly enjoy handing Dallas a fourth loss in five games is guard J.J. Barea. He might not get the chance. He missed Friday's game with a hamstring issue and is questionable for tonight's game.
Records: Mavs (1-3); Timberwolves (0-3)
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Target Center
Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Dallas got their first win Friday night, mixing better offense and stronger defense against a Toronto Raptors team that ranks as the weakest of the four foes the Mavs have faced. Minnesota, a longtime doormat, will be a stiff challenge. Showing grit on the boards is a good place to start if Dallas wants to keep the Wolves down. Double-double machine Kevin Love (averaging 26.0 points and 14.7 rebounds) has Minnesota ranked fourth in the league in total rebounds per game (48.7) and eighth in rebound differential (plus-4.7). The Mavs have improved on the boards in the last two games, going a plus-2 against the Thunder and Raptors after a minus-30 against the Heat and Nuggets, which is why after four games they rank 26th in the league in differential at a minus-7.0 ... The schedule will always be a factor this season. Both teams had Saturday night off, but Dallas, by far the older team, is playing a third game in four nights. The Wolves will look to exploit that early.
Key matchup: Delonte West/Jason Terry/Rodrigue Beaubois vs. Ricky Rubio
How desperately has Minnesota needed a playmaker leading the offense? Rubio's first NBA double on Friday against Miami was the the first a Timberwolves player register 12 or more points, 12 or more assists and six or more rebounds in one game since Sam Cassell did it eight years ago (Jan. 21, 2004 vs. Toronto). Rubio's minutes have gone up in each game and he is garnering rave reviews and delivering a, wow-did-you-see-that moment at least once a game. The Mavs have had their difficulties over the years guarding quick and talented point guards and Rubio certainly fits the bill. Matching up against him will be an interesting challenge, at least early for Rick Carlisle, because Rubio has come off the bench in each of the first three games. Perhaps this is one of those situations where Vince Carter starts to defend Wesley Johnson and West jumps off the bench to match Rubio.
Injuries: Mavs - none. Timberwolves - G J.J. Barea (left hamstring) is questionable; G Malcolm Lee (knee surgery) is out; C Brad Miller (knee surgery) is out; C Nikola Pekovic (strained left adductor muscle) is doubtful; G Martell Webster (microdiscectomy surgery), is out.
Up next: Oklahoma City Thunder at Mavs, 7:30 p.m. Monday
Learn about heart, sweat and guts. Learn how to deal with adversity in the no-mercy NBA. Learn how to overcome. Learn how to be a winner.
Why else do you think the Minnesota Timberwolves outbid the New York Knicks and everybody else and signed the 5-foot-10 world champion to a four-year, $19 million contract on Wednesday?
From a young spark plug on the veteran-laden Dallas Mavericks, Barea, 27, is now an elder statesman of sorts and a mentor in every way to the Timberwolves' Spanish-speaking and once-reluctant No. 5 pick.
"I think that was one of things. I also think what helps me is I came from a great team, great system in Dallas, and I was a big part of the championship team," Barea said after a long day of meeting his new teammates and coaches and beginning the process of settling into his new home of Minneapolis. "I’m going to help him as much as I can. He’s a good kid and I know, I went through it, how hard it is the first couple of years, the ups and downs of the NBA. So, I’m going try to keep him positive and help him out as much as I can."
Hard to believe that Barea, a native of Puerto Rico who had a brilliant, if not a mostly anonymous career at Northeastern, is a five-year NBA veteran, his last three seasons spent as a 20-minute-a-night backup to Jason Kidd, while at times also playing alongside the future Hall of Famer, which could become a similar situation with the slick playmaker from Spain.
"He’s a great kid, talented, but he’s a rookie," Barea said. "He’s young. It’s going to be his first year in the NBA; it’s never easy so I’m going to help him as much as I can with whatever I know."
At the same time as Barea begins a brave new world in the snowy midwest, it remains difficult for him to let go of his ties to Dallas and what might have been if owner Mark Cuban hadn't of slammed on the brakes on the old way of doing business and made a B-line toward salary cap space in this new collective bargaining agreement era.
Cuban bid farewell to free agents Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and Peja Stojakovic. Barea, who desperately wanted to return and chase back-to-back titles, said discussions with Cuban never reached a dollar figure because the owner wasn't budging from a one-year deal that Barea would never accept.
"It’s never going to be personal against Mark or [president of basketball operations Donnie [Nelson] or whoever," Barea said. "But, it’s still disappointing after you win a title and that’s all you fight for and then to break up a team like that it’s always going to be disappointing. But, that’s the direction they wanted to go and that’s what they’re doing."
Barea will participate in his first full practice today with the Timberwolves, a team so often a doormat, but this season is at least intriguing. Rick Adelman takes over as head coach. Rubio, 21, is the point guard. Derrick Williams is the 20-year-old rookie. Kevin Love, 23, is the double-double machine. There's erratic and talented and still immature 22-year-old Michael Beasley, 22-year-old Anthony Randolph, 24-year-old Wesley Johnson, 26-year-old Anthony Tolliver and just 26-year-old Darko Milicic.
In other words, the T'pups are the anti-Mavs.
"It’s weird. It’s weird, but it’s something new for me and another experience I’m going to have," Barea said. "It was great five years in Dallas. Everything about my first five years in Dallas was awesome. This is a nice, little roster. It’s young, really young, but it’s going to be fun."
Especially if Barea can help the hopeful face of the franchise find his way in his own brave new world.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.