Dallas Mavericks: Aaron Brooks
|Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Mavericks news, Dirk Nowitzki and much more.
Howard’s max salary next season would be $20,513,178. The salary cap is expected to be set between $58.5 million and $60 million. The Rockets have $48,571,158 worth of contracts on the books, assuming they decline Francisco Garcia’s $6.4 million team option.
It doesn’t take an MBA from MIT -- which Rockets general manager Daryl Morey happens to have -- to figure out that the math doesn’t add up for Houston and Howard.
Morey made sure the Rockets had some built-in wiggle room with seven nonguaranteed deals on the roster, although that list includes six-figure bargains Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith that are inexpensive, integral parts of James Harden’s supporting cast. Houston might have to sacrifice one of their major additions from last summer to make room for Howard.
That could mean trading point guard Jeremy Lin or center Omer Asik to a team with cap space for no immediate return. That is a nice way to say dumping an $8,374,646 million salary, the amount both Lin and Asik are due in the second season of their identical three-year, $25.12 million contracts.
Such a salary dump would put the Rockets close to being able to afford Howard, but they’d still have some work to do.
They could waive sixth man Carlos Delfino ($3 million) and/or reserve point guard Aaron Brooks ($2.5 million), both of whom have June 30 deadlines before their salaries become guaranteed, meaning a decision would have to be made before the Rockets are allowed to meet with Howard. The nonguaranteed salaries of young projects Tim Ohlbrecht ($788,872) and James Anderson ($916,099) could also create the necessary space depending on where the cap falls, although the Rockets would pick up a cap hold of $490,180 in the process if they cut both because their roster would dip under 12 players. A salary-dump deal that would send 2012 No. 5 overall pick Thomas Robinson ($3.53 million) to his third team is another alternative.
A much less attractive option than finding an under-the-cap trade partner to take on the contract of Lin or Asik: Waiving one of them and using the stretch provision.
In that case, the Rockets would still have to pay the $16.75 million remaining on the contract, but they would be allowed to spread the cap hit over five years (twice the length remaining on the contract plus one year). So Houston would create a little more than $5 million in cap space with such a move – and then have to get rid of nonguaranteed salary and/or make salary-dump deals to ship off young talent (Robinson, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas).
The Mavs would also have to do some maneuvering to give Howard a max contract, but not nearly as much as the Rockets.
The Rockets can free up enough money for Howard, but it would require slicing into the supporting cast of a playoff team -- and perhaps paying a $16.75 million tax in addition to his max deal.
Take Saturday night for instance when he issued this tweet: "Heading to Vegas next week on business."
And he means business. At least he better.
Jones missed the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas last July because of the lockout. Even though he's heading into his third season, he's headed to the desert this week with plenty at stake following the Mavs' remarkable roster shakeup during the first week of free agency.
For the first time in his young career, Jones won't be log-jammed by a veteran crew at both guard spots and has a legitimate shot to earn playing time. The Mavs might be desperate for him to step up and seize the opportunity.
With Deron Williams staying in Brooklyn, Jason Terry off to Boston and Jason Kidd heading to New York, the Mavs' offseason plans now seem to revolve around signing young talent to short-term deals. Delonte West remains a possibility to re-sign. Ramon Sessions is a free-agent target at point guard. So is Aaron Brooks. Dallas native C.J. Miles and Courtney Lee, among others, are on the radar at shooting guard.
Rodrigue Beaubois won't be on the summer squad, but for the fourth-year guard this is also a huge summer as he heads into the final year of his contract. Finally healthy enough to train all summer, he should have the opportunity to become a regular rotation player.
Neither one had a memorable 2011-12 season. Beaubois totaled 12 minutes in the first-round four-game playoff sweep against Oklahoma City. Jones wasn't even active for any of the games, surprisingly supplanted by Kelenna Azubuike, whom the Mavs sent to Cleveland on draft night simply to get rid of his $1 million salary.
Into the second week of free agency, the Mavs have signed no one and still have just seven players under contract. Rotation spots will be up for grabs at several positions. It will be up to Jones and Beaubois to prove they deserve the time, starting with strong summer showings.
That doesn't seem logical, considering the red-hot Mavs have won five in a row, including wins over a few healthy teams expected to make some playoff noise. But it would fit the trend the Mavs established last season, when they lost a handful of games to teams missing their stars.
Heck, the Warriors walked out of the AAC with a win last year despite having only six available players. The Rockets, minus Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, are capable of beating the Mavs if the home team goes through the motions.
Coach Rick Carlisle is well aware of that, but he doesn’t have a rah-rah speech ready to make sure his team is properly motivated.
“Those guys have heard every speech there is to hear about focusing and staying hungry,” Carlisle said. “We’ve worked hard to get ourselves on a bit of a roll here, and we’ll see how we respond tonight. I can’t guarantee that we aren’t going to go out there and struggle.”
So it's rare to say the big German passed on a clutch shot he should have taken, but that was the case on New Year's Eve in Houston.
With the Mavs trailing by three, Rick Carlisle designed a play on the final possession to get Jason Terry or Dirk a good look at a 3-pointer. Terry was doubled when he caught the ball, so he dished to Dirk at the top of the arc ...
And Dirk gave it up to Jason Kidd on the weak side despite having a pretty good look at the bucket.
Aaron Brooks was flying at Dirk, but so what? Dirk has a one-foot height advantage over the Rockets' point guard. Brooks shouldn't bother Dirk any more than a gnat. Dirk has knocked down shots over smaller defenders his entire career. No reason he shouldn't have tried in the final seconds of 2009.
Instead, he gave it up for Kidd to attempt a contested, desperation 3. If any Maverick is going to try to force overtime with a hand in his face, it ought to be No. 41.
Tim Thomas hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds to go in regulation.
It's a tough one to lose for the Mavs after such a strong comeback, but with Dirk Nowitzki out for nearly all of the final three quarters and overtime with a laceration on his right elbow that required three stitches, the Mavs didn't get the buckets in OT.
Nowitzki's status for Sunday's home game against Cleveland is uncertain. Results from X-rays are also not known.
The Mavs lost for the fourth time on their home floor. This one had just about everything, including multiple technical fouls -- two on Erick Dampier with the second getting him automatically ejected with 1:01 left in OT -- and an altercation between Jason Kidd and Rockets forward David Anderson in the fourth quarter that got players from both teams in each other's grills.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle picked up his second technical with 27.7 seconds left in OT, sending him to the showers.
J.J. Barea led the Mavs with 23 points, but he had 21 near the mid-point of the third quarter and didn't get much playing time down the stretch in the fourth quarter and no time in overtime. Shawn Marion and Josh Howard each scored 17 points. Jason Terry had an awful start and finished with 14 points. Thomas had 10 points.
Kyle Lowry led the Rockets with a career-high 26 points and Brooks had 25 with nine of the Rockets' 16 points in overtime.
Tuesday - Warriors, Come Out To Play
Wow, talk about low-hanging fruit. The mood emanating from The Bay Dubs feels downright Post-Apocalyptic. From the outside, it appears that nobody wants to be there. Those on the inside are probably wishing they were afforded the luxury of being a speculating outsider. I imagine the vibe on the bench during a timeout feels something like this.
The Warriors traded Stephen Jackson, their best and most disgruntled player, for Raja Bell – who immediately opted for surgery. He was going to have the surgery anyway, but I’m saying... They’ve been decimated by unhappiness and injuries. Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf have both been on the shelf and Kelenna Azubuike, one of their few great values on a roster loaded with over-priced dudes who all do the same stuff, is likely out for the season.
So far this year has been an unmitigated disaster for The Warriors; which leads me to wonder if anyone uses “unmitigated” without following it with “disaster”. By my calculations Golden State has exactly one quality win – last Friday night’s home victory over Portland. In that game Monta Ellis, the current most vocal malcontent on the roster, played all 48 and dropped 34 to go with eight assists and six steals. He’s fun to watch no matter how unfun his current situation is. I stand by “unfun” as a real word. However, I wouldn’t stand by this team unless you were hoping to get struck by lightning.
Wednesday – Is NASA open on Thanksgiving?
When the Mavericks last played the Rockets two weeks ago they were lifeless for the first 18 minutes and looked like they were going to get run in their own gym by a high energy team playing with no fear. Thirty game minutes later the Mavericks had annihilated the Rockets to the tune of 121-103 in one of the few games this season that they actually got their shots to drop (55%).
If The Mavericks don’t get the blood flowing from the jump on the second night of a back-to-back the day before a holiday they will get drilled. Houston is above .500 because of energy, effort and heart – not high-profile scorers. They spread the floor and go for broke. Trevor Ariza is going for 18 a night, but he’s shooting a poor percentage at a shade under 39%. If rookie Roddy Beaubois is still in the starting line-up Wednesday night, he’ll no doubt draw the assignment of trying to keep lightning-quick Aaron Brooks out of the paint. Have fun with that, rook.
Friday - First one to 100 wins
The Pacers have one of the League’s truly great players in Danny Granger – unfortunately for him nobody is paying attention and he doesn’t have much support. Mikey Dunleavy has yet to play this year and Troy Murphy is just working his way back. So that means the Pacers’ second leading scorer is defensive-minded free-agent signee Dahntay Jones who at 17 a night is 12 over last year’s average of 5 - also his career scoring average.
The Pacers shoot around the same as their opponents from the field and from the line, have the exact same number of turnovers per game at 16 and average the exact same total of points per game as who they’re playing at 99.8. They are the epitome of middle of the road, playing ordinary basketball with mostly innocuous dudes (for NBA standards at least). I do like Roy Hibbert’s future and I’m also wowed by rookie Psycho Hansbrough’s massive social network of people who couldn't possibly allow a pet dog to go missing.
Uptown Saturday Night: LeBron-style
Great early season test on the road as both teams will be playing the second night of a back-to-back (The Cavs play at Charlotte the night before). Put me in the seemingly dwindling camp of people who thinks this is the best team in the east. I don’t get the “Cleveland will suffer because Shaq bogs down the offense” argument since his half-a-game minutes per night replaces one-man offensive clinic Ben Wallace’s half-a-game minutes per night. They were able to score with Ben on the floor and when it’s all said and done they’ll be able to score with the far superior offensive player on the floor as well.
Cleveland did lack movement in the first few games of the season when they looked out of sorts, but second-year rip-the-rim-off jumping jack J.J. Hickson was inserted into the starting lineup and his ability to finish at the rim has made it more difficult for opposing bigs to lose sight of their man on their way to mugging LeBron. On draft night in 2008 I declared that 19th pick Hickson was going to be the perfect fit for The Cavs and that he’d be the steal of the draft. I also said Russell Westbrook was a reach at No. 4, since he was the second best point on his college team, but let’s not worry about that so much right now.
This Cleveland team will be dominant because they got deeper and bigger and they have the best player in the world not named Kobe. This game is the crown jewel of the week ahead and hopefully Dallas has worked back toward health and regained that elusive shooting touch by the time Saturday rolls around.
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks' defensive momentum carried over from the final few minutes of the first half.
The Houston Rockets, red hot for most of the first half, suddenly look like a team without a proven go-to guy. They shot 5-of-22 from the floor in the third quarter, when the Mavs turned a four-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
Jason Kidd accepted the challenge and locked up Aaron Brooks, who had only three points in the quarter after going off for 19 in the first half. Erick Dampier almost singlehandedly made sure the Rockets didn't get any second-chance opportunities, grabbing eight rebounds in the quarter.
DALLAS --The Dallas Mavericks waited until 3:03 remained in the first half to play anything that resembled decent defense.
With the Rockets missing their final five shots, the Mavs scored the last 10 points of the half to trim Houston's lead to 61-57.
Maybe it just took the Mavs 21 minutes to figure out how to slow down Aaron Brooks and Co. The speedy point guard busted out for 19 points in the half, only 11 shy of his career high.
It definitely took that long for Dirk Nowitzki to get in an offensive groove. He scored six of his 14 points during the half-ending spurt. He was 1-of-5 from the floor before finishing the half with back-to-back driving layups.
DALLAS -- Quick point guards give the Dallas Mavericks fits.
Case in point: Houston's Aaron Brooks.
Brooks, a lightning bug listed at 6-0, 161 pounds, blew up for 14 points to lead the Rockets to a 37-28 lead. Brooks was 5-of-6 from the floor, converting three drives and knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. His lone miss was a heave from halfcourt at the buzzer.
The Mavericks didn't exactly shut down the rest of the Rockets, either. Houston is shooting 63.6 percent from the floor.
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.