Dallas Mavericks: Toronto Raptors
The Mavs benefited from one of the best coaching staffs in recent NBA history.
Want proof of that staff’s prowess? Just look at the success the top two assistants from that team are having this season.
Terry Stotts’ Portland Trail Blazers, who blew out the Mavs on Saturday night, have established themselves as a surprise contender in the Western Conference. Dwane Casey’s Toronto Raptors, who host the Mavs on Wednesday night, are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture in a season in which they were expected to compete only for the top overall pick. They've both been named the coach of the month in their conference once this season.
None of this comes as a surprise to Carlisle, who leaned heavily on offensive coordinator Stotts and defensive coordinator Casey during Dallas’ surprise championship season. Carlisle has always credited Stotts and Casey for their strategic input during that title run, when the Mavs’ offense was a free-flowing work of art and the defense managed to slow down Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James in the last three series.
“They had a lot of responsibility on my staff,” Carlisle said. “Both of them took over situations that were not good situations. There’s a saying that I’ve heard, I think it’s a Lou Holtz saying: ‘There’s no such thing as getting a good job. You’ve got to get a bad job and make it a good job.’ That’s what both of those guys have done. Toronto is a team now that’s really on the rise. Portland’s situation speaks for itself.”
Carlisle lobbied strongly for Casey and Stotts to get shots to be head coaches again. As Carlisle mentioned several times during their Dallas stints, neither got fair chances to succeed in their previous head coaching stints.
Casey spent a season and a half as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach, getting fired when the team was 20-20 midway through 2006-07. The Timberwolves finished 32-50 that year and haven’t won more than 31 games in a season since.
The Raptors are 20-20 right now – and 14-8 since the Rudy Gay deal, which a lot of people perceived as a white-flag trade that meant Toronto was officially in tank mode. Casey left the Mavs the summer after the title run to take over a Toronto team coming off a 22-60 campaign. The Raptors have made progress each season under his watch, going 23-43 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 and 34-48 last season and before leaping to .500 now.
Stotts never got to finish two full seasons in his previous two head coaching stints. He took over as an interim coach in Atlanta during the 2002-03 season, finishing that campaign 24-31, and got fired after going 28-54 the next year. The Hawks, who had a bad roster and an ownership situation in flux at the time, won only 13 games the next season. Stotts got fired before the end of his second season as head coach in Milwaukee, where he had a 63-83 overall record.
The Trail Blazers, a young team with no depth, tailed off in Stotts’ first season to finish 33-49. After a couple of key offseason additions to complement stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Portland has taken off this season, sitting only a game and a half out of the top spot in the West standings with a 31-11 record.
Stotts, an elite offensive innovator whose team leads the league in scoring, insists he owes some of his current success to the time he spent in Dallas on Carlisle’s staff.
“I think it really completed me as a coach,” Stotts said. “All those things really gave me a different view of how to approach your team, how to coach your team. I think it made me more of a complete coach.”
Stotts and Casey were key reasons the Mavs completed a playoff run with a championship parade. Their current success is a source of pride for Carlisle, even if it made his job much tougher during this five-day stretch.
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks blew a 19-point lead and missed potential winners at the buzzer in regulation and overtime before losing 109-108 to the Toronto Raptors.
How it happened: After a 19-point Dallas lead disappeared before halftime, Dirk Nowitzki’s touch disappeared down the stretch.
Nowitzki missed his final six shots from the floor, including a midrange fadeaway on the final possession of regulation. The Mavs gave Monta Ellis a chance to win it on a mismatch isolation play at the end of overtime, but his floater at the buzzer bounced off the back rim and out.
Point guard Jose Calderon’s best performance in a Mavericks uniform went to waste. Against his former team he scored a season-high 23 points and had nine assists -- highlighted by an 11-point, three-assist flurry in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter after the Raptors went up by eight.
Nowitzki had 22 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, but one of the NBA’s elite closers of this generation went ice cold down the stretch. So did Ellis, who had his third double-double of the season, with 22 points and 11 assists, but only two points and one dime in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
The Raptors had six scorers in double figures, led by point guard Kyle Lowry’s 20 points. DeMar DeRozan (15 points) had the Raptors’ two biggest buckets of the game -- hitting an off-the-dribble baseline fadeaway to tie it up with 16.5 seconds remaining in regulation, then giving Toronto the lead for good on a double-pump pull-up with 1:10 to go in overtime.
What it means: The Mavs failed to finish off the sweep in their three-game homestand. Dallas dropped to 15-11 entering Saturday night’s road game against the Phoenix Suns, who are just a half-game back in the West standings. The Raptors, who have won three of their past four games, improved to 10-14.
Play of the game: DeRozan dribbled from the left wing to a foot behind the free throw line, got Shawn Marion to bite on a pump fake and hit a prayer of a jumper after drawing contact. He missed the free throw, but the bucket gave the Raptors the lead for good with 1:10 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs this season have lost games in which they led by 17, 18 and 19 points.
|Tim MacMahon joins Galloway and Company to discuss the NBA draft and where the Mavericks stand on getting Dwight Howard.
Wright, like Brandon Bass and Ian Mahinmi in recent years, was a minimum-salary reclamation project whose value increased significantly during his two-year stint in Dallas. Wright, the eighth overall pick of the 2007 draft, had the league’s 20th-best player efficiency rating (21.03) in a limited role last season. The 25-year-old fell out of the rotation for a stretch in the middle of the season, but he finished on a high note, averaging 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes per game to help the Mavs got 15-8 down the stretch.
The Mavs own Wright’s Early Bird rights, which would allow them to exceed the salary cap to sign him to a multi-year deal worth up to 104.5 percent of the average player salary (more than $5 million per year). The cutoff point for the Mavs’ bidding could be the four-year, $16 million deal Mahinmi signed with the Pacers last season.
“It was weird, but I was honored,” Carter said Monday. “It was great to see that jersey on the floor in that atmosphere of the dunk contest.”
Ross did the jersey proud, catching a pass off the side of the backboard and perfectly executing a windmill dunk while wearing No. 15. Ross dethroned defending dunk champ Jeremy Evans, bringing the title back to Toronto 13 years after Carter won it with a legendary performance.
Ross, who was 9 when Carter won the dunk contest, has told reporters that Carter was one of his boyhood idols. Carter reached out to Ross over the weekend to express his appreciation for the tribute.
|With the Lakers' ongoing drama, Galloway & Company discuss the possibility that Dwight Howard could be headed to the Mavericks.
“That’s how my wonderful ride began. Everybody is excited about the dunk contest and it just gave me confidence.”
Carter won the dunk contest the day before he made the first of his eight consecutive All-Star appearances. Ross, an eighth overall pick averaging 6.4 points per game as a rookie, has a long way to go to approach those heights.
The Dallas Mavericks make as much sense as anybody.
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.
How it happened: The Mavs looked absolutely awful against a Toronto team that injured Raptors star Andrea Bargnani is on record describing as “pretty much the worst team in the NBA.”
It was a miserable night for the Mavs’ offense despite facing a foe that allows the third most points in the league. The Mavs were 27-of-69 (39.1 percent) from the floor and 0-for-13 from 3-point range.
It was an especially tough night for two of the Mavs’ top offensive players. O.J. Mayo was just 2-for-8 from the field for 10 points – less than half his average – and committed six turnovers. Vince Carter finished 1-for-8 from the floor for only four points.
The Mavs fell behind during a horribly inefficient second quarter, when Dallas had more turnovers (six) than field goals (five), and never recovered against the Raptors.
Toronto seized control with a 19-6 run in the second quarter. Rookie guard Terrence Ross, who scored 11 of his career-high 20 points in the second, sparked that spurt.
The Mavs actually held the Raptors scoreless for a stretch of 5:29 in the third quarter, but Dallas still lost ground in that frame. That tends to happen for teams that go 4-of-19 from the floor in a quarter.
With the Mavs on the first half of a back-to-back, coach Rick Carlisle waved the white towel midway through the fourth quarter. He sat his regulars at that point, hoping they might be able to muster a little more energy Saturday night in Minnesota.
What it means: The Mavs (11-12) fell below .500 again after their most embarrassing loss of the season. They were routed by a Toronto team that had lost 12 of its last 13 games. The Mavs are 4-9 on the road after beginning this trip with a pair of losses. The Raptors snapped a six-game losing streak.
Play of the game: Toronto’s Mickael Pietrus drove through the heart of the Dallas defense and flipped the ball over his head, off the glass and in as he got fouled by Chris Kaman. The and-1 bucket stretched the Raptors’ lead to 21 midway through the third quarter.
Stat of the night: The Mavs’ NBA record streak of games with a made 3-pointer is over. They were 0-of-13 from 3-point range, with Derek Fisher’s apparent 3 early in the fourth quarter ruled a 2-pointer after a replay review clearly showed he had a foot on the line. The last time the Mavs failed to make a 3-pointer in a game was Feb. 26, 1999.
|Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company live from Toronto to discuss the Mavs' double-overtime loss in Boston, O.J. Mayo's future as a Maverick and potential All-Star and the current state of the team.
The Mavs ought to be above .500 again by the time they cross the border.
Records: Mavs (11-11); Raptors (4-19)
When: 6:00 p.m.
Where: Air Canada Centre
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Vince Carter, the Raptors’ original franchise player, is a big story every time he goes back to Toronto. This is Carter’s first trip north of the border as a member of the Mavs, who didn’t play in Toronto during the lockout-compressed season. Carter has 24.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in 11 games as a visitor in the Air Canada Centre.
Key matchup: Mavs’ power forwards vs. Ed Davis – It’s likely that Shawn Marion starts at power forward again, but you never know until 16 minutes before tip with Rick Carlisle. Davis, a lottery pick in his third season, is coming off arguably the best game of his career with 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to the Nets. Davis’ best game his rookie season came against the Mavs, when he had 17 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals in an upset in Dallas.
Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. F Jae Crowder (flu-like symptoms) is questionable. Raptors – PG Kyle Lowry (triceps), SF Landry Fields (elbow) and PF/C Andrea Bargnani (elbow/wrist) are out. F Linas Kleiza (knee) is day-to-day.
Up next: at Minnesota Timberwolves, 7:00 p.m. Saturday
Sacramento Kings (7:30 p.m. Monday, American Airlines Center): The 7-12 Kings hadn’t won on the road this season until a Saturday night rout of the Trail Blazers. Center DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings with 16.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, but he’s shooting only 42.4 percent from the floor. Point guard Tyreke Evans averages 15.5 points, but his limitations as a distributor (3.7 assists) are a problem for a team that ranks 24th in offensive efficiency.
Boston Celtics (7 p.m. Wednesday, TD Garden): This will be the first time Jason Terry faces the Mavs since his departure from Dallas, but his backcourt partner is a much bigger concern. A strong argument can be made that Rajon Rondo is the NBA’s premier point guard. He’s leading the league by a long shot in assists (12.8) while putting up 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Even at their advanced ages, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are capable of being key pieces on a championship contender.
Toronto Raptors (6 p.m. Friday, Air Canada Centre): All due respect to Dwane Casey, the defensive architect of the Mavs’ title team, but his 4-16 Raptors rank among the NBA’s worst teams. Their futility on defense (28th in defensive efficiency) must be especially frustrating to Casey. O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman each scored 22 points in the Mavs’ win over the Raptors earlier this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves (7 p.m. Saturday, Target Center): The 9-9 Timberwolves didn’t need Kevin Love to beat the Mavs in Dallas last month. Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic had 20 points in 28 minutes during that game. Love has averaged 21.2 points and 14.2 rebounds in nine games since recovering from a broken hand, although he’s shooting just 38.2 percent from the floor. The primary reason Minnesota is competitive is because the Timberwolves rank third in the league in defensive efficiency.
But Kaman isn’t close to satisfied with his performance. He’d rather point out his defensive deficiencies than discuss his offensive efficiency.
Take, for example, Kaman’s performance in Wednesday’s 109-104 win over the Toronto Raptors. Most centers would be pretty proud of a 22-point, eight-rebound, three-assist performance in their first start with a new team. Kaman was disappointed in his defense and pointed out that he needs to improve his conditioning after sitting out three weeks to deal with his sore calf.
“I know I need to improve,” the 7-footer said. “That’s all I’m worried about right now. I’m going to try to continue to do what I’ve been doing, just being consistent, taking smart shots. I’ve been in this league long enough. I can play basketball. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to continue to try to assert myself offensively and defensively, but I’m more worried about defense right now than offense.
“I can play basketball on the offensive end. I know what I’m doing there. I’ve got to get better with this team concept with the defense. I’m kind of running around a little bit lost sometimes. I need to get that taken care of.”
Kaman was asked about his clutch, 11-foot jump hook that stretched the Mavs’ lead to seven points in the final minute. He countered by mentioning the Mavs wouldn’t have needed a big bucket at that point if he didn’t give up a couple of drives to Toronto’s Amir Johnson down the stretch.
It’s not that Kaman is discouraged. He knew there’d be work to do after his layoff. It’s just that the 10-year veteran holds himself to a high standard, and he’s not reaching it right now as a defender or rebounder.
“I’ll be honest with you: I get tired,” Kaman said. “I’m dragging a little bit and my defense shows.”
The trick for Kaman, coach Rick Carlisle and athletic trainer Casey Smith is to work Kaman back into excellent shape without working him too hard. It’s a delicate balancing act while he’s helping the Mavs win and continuing to nurse the calf.
But it’s important, especially considering Kaman’s injury history. That’s why Kaman didn’t start his first two games with the Mavs -- so Carlisle could easily limit his minutes.
“Right now, it’s just important for me to understand that he’s got to be brought along a certain way,” said Carlisle, who played Kaman a season-high 33 minutes Wednesday with Elton Brand unavailable. “We can’t just throw him out there for 37, 38 minutes and expect him to go the right way. He’s going to get tired. It’s going to cause lapses of concentration. Physically, he’s just not there yet.”
Kaman says the calf continues to feel better. He hopes to be 100 percent by the end of next week.
In the meantime, he’s giving the Mavs a major boost as a skilled big man who can score in a lot of different ways. That includes posting up and dropping a right-handed, mid-range jump hook on the game’s most critical offensive possession, a move Kaman worked on all summer to revise the book on him that says he relies heavily on his left hand.
“Lucky shot, you know?,” Kaman said. “That’s what Dirk says anyway.”
Know what else Dirk says? Kaman’s the best offensive big man to ever be on his team.
Now, get out of Kaman’s way. He has work to do.
How it happened: The Mavericks started hot again and never let the tired, talent-starved Raptors mount a serious threat.
The Mavs opened with a 30-plus-point first quarter for the third consecutive game, opening up a 36-24 lead. The Mavs, who had been historically hot, cooled off considerably but still cruised to a comfortable win.
The Mavs managed to get outstanding production from their frontcourt despite missing their three most accomplished forwards (Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Elton Brand).
Big man Chris Kaman produced 22 points and eight rebounds in his first start with the Mavs. Brandan Wright, playing primarily power forward, added 12 points and seven rebounds. And rookie second-rounder Bernard James took advantage of an increased role to add six points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
Vince Carter, who played a lot of small forward with Marion out due to a sprained MCL in his left knee, scored 17 points.
O.J. Mayo wasn’t as ridiculously efficient as he was during his back-to-back 30-point performances, but he still matched Kaman with a team-high 22 points and dished out six assists, consistently making smart passes while being frequently double-teamed. Mayo was 8-of-17 from the floor after making 22 of 35 shots in the Mavs’ previous two blowout wins.
The performances of Andrea Bargnani (25 points) and DeMar DeRozan (24 points) allowed the Raptors to hang around without star point guard Kyle Lowry.
What it means: The 4-1 Mavs stack up another win despite a lengthy injury list, but it’s hard to make too much of a victory over a lottery team playing its fourth game in five nights and missing its best player. This is the Mavs’ best record through five games since 2007-08, when they were also 4-1.
Play of the game: The bucket didn’t count, but Carter still gave folks watching in Toronto a flashback to his early NBA years with a high-flying, two-handed finish on a fast-break lob from Darren Collison. Center Aaron Gray delivered a forearm shiver to Collison’s chest as the Mavs’ lightning quick point guard delivered the leaping lob pass. A flagrant-one foul was called on Gray, which is why the basket didn’t count.
Stat of the night: For a change, the Mavs dominated the glass. Dallas won the rebounding battle by a 47-38 deficit. The Mavs entered the game ranked third to last in NBA in rebounding differential (minus-8.3 per game).
The Mavs are missing their top two players, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, plus Elton Brand will miss a game to join his wife for the birth of their child. Casey’s rebuilding Raptors had their star, offseason trade acquisition Kyle Lowry, leave the arena in a protective boot last night after turning his ankle and exiting a loss to the Thunder.
But Carlisle and Casey aren’t woe-is-me kind of guys. The good friends will try to figure out how to make up for their missing stars at each other’s expense when the Raptors arrive at the American Airlines Center this evening.
“Is it tough? It’s supposed to be tough,” Carlisle said. “That’s why they pay you a lot of money to do this job, last time I checked. If it was easy, they could be pulling guys off the street to do this job.”
Records: Mavs (3-1); Raptors (1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs can’t possibly keep shooting 60-plus percent from the floor, right? With Darren Collison doing a masterful job orchestrating the flow offense, the Mavs hit more than 60 percent of their shots in two consecutive games for the first time in franchise history in their blowout wins over the Bobcats and Trail Blazers. Carlisle is well aware that kind of remarkable efficiency won’t continue, which is why he focuses so much on doing the dirty work well. Rebounding remains the Mavs’ biggest weakness, and they’ll be without their top two rebounders in Marion and Brand. The Raptors aren’t a good rebounding team, either, especially without rebounder/point guard Lowry.
Key matchup: O.J. Mayo vs. DeMar DeRozan – It’s a matchup featuring one-and-done former USC stars. Mayo is coming off consecutive 30-point games for the first time since his rookie year four seasons ago. He’s clicked with point guard Darren Collison, resulting in a lot of open looks for Mayo, who is 13-of-18 from 3-point range in the last two games. DeRozan, who just signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension, is a freakishly athletic 6-foot-7 wing. He got off to an encouraging start as Lowry’s sidekick, but he struggled last night when Lowry left the game early, finishing with only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting in a lopsided loss to the Thunder.
Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and F Shawn Marion (knee) are out. G Rodrigue Beaubois (ankle) is questionable. Raptors – PG Kyle Lowry (ankle) is out.
Up next: at New York Knicks, 6:30 p.m., Friday.
A look at the opponents:
Portland Trail Blazers (7:30 p.m. Monday, American Airlines Center): Former Mavs assistant Terry Stotts is off to a nice start as the head coach of the 2-1 Trail Blazers. That’s due in large part to lottery-pick point guard Damian Lillard, who is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 assists per game. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and John Wall are the only other players in NBA history to average at least 20 points and nine assists through their first three games in the league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Lillard’s arrival gives All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge a legitimate sidekick. Aldridge, the Seagoville and Texas product who hit a game-winning buzzer-beater at the AAC last season, is coming off a 27-point, 11-rebound, six-assist, two-block performance in an OT win over the Rockets.
Toronto Raptors (7:30 p.m. Wednesday, American Airlines Center): Ex-Mavs assistant Dwane Casey is entering the second year of a major rebuilding project with the Raptors (1-2). Toronto acquired a foundation piece by trading for former Houston point guard Kyle Lowry, who averaged 23.7 points, 7.0 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 steals in his first two games for the Raptors. Finesse big man Andrea Bargnani hasn’t shot the ball well so far this season, but his perimeter shooting could make him a tough matchup for the Mavs. He had 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting in Dallas last season.
New York Knicks (6:30 p.m. Friday, Madison Square Garden): The brains and backbone of the Mavs’ championship starting five now play for the Knicks. Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler have helped the Knicks get off to a 2-0 start, but Carmelo Anthony is carrying New York. Anthony is lighting it up with Amare Stoudemire sidelined by knee problems, averaging 28.5 points per game. With Shawn Marion and Dahntay Jones, the Mavs have a pair of outstanding defensive small forwards to spearhead the effort to slow Melo down.
Charlotte Bobcats (6:30 p.m. Saturday, Time Warner Cable Arena): If you’ve got to play a back-to-back, it’s nice to face Brendan Haywood’s Bobcats on the butt end. The Mavs are 16-0 all-time against Charlotte after Saturday’s rout.
Jalen Rose tells the tale of the evening when some light ribbing in the Toronto Raptors locker room escalated into much more between superstar Vince Carter, now with the Mavericks, and head coach Sam Mitchell.
Five days into free agency, as the Dallas Mavericks quietly scanned the proceedings after being turned down by Deron Williams, the player movement and big money that flowed around the league certainly didn't suggest that a new collective bargaining agreement was sinking its sharpened teeth into management.
The Brooklyn Nets overpaid Gerald Wallace, signing him for four years and $40 million. They then spit in the eye of the harsher luxury tax to come by acquiring Joe Johnson, still owed $89 million, to play with Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million deal.
The Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, handing the 38-year-old a three-year, $27-million deal. Prior to that, the Toronto Raptors offered the beloved Canadian point guard a reported three years and $36 million.
The Minnesota Timberwolves gave Brandon Roy, who had retired because of chronic knee issues, two years and $10.4 million and then signed Portland forward Nicolas Batum to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. The Suns signed guard Goran Dragic, a player they once traded, to four years and $34 million and also inked troubled Minnesota forward Michael Beasley to three years and $18 million.
Portland signed emerging Indiana center Roy Hibbert to a $58 million offer sheet. The Rockets signed Bulls backup center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet and did the same with New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
Does it mean the new CBA isn't working as planned? Mavs owner Mark Cuban hasn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the final product, comparing the new CBA to the old one by saying owners are now drowning in 2 feet of water instead of 10. We know the rules have radically altered his philosophy for building his team.
Since the opening flurry of moves, some made by teams with cap space to fill, the majority of teams, Cuban points out, have acted responsibly in preparation for the stiffer tax that starts in the 2013-14 season.
"This offseason we saw maybe six teams try to win the summer and make a big splash," Cuban said. "The vast majority did little or nothing beyond keeping their own players."
In 2009-10, 11 of the 30 teams spent into the luxury tax. That number dropped to seven in 2010-11 and six last season. Five to seven teams are headed for the luxury tax this season, a number that does not include the Mavs for the first time in Cuban's ownership. In a year or two, only the Lakers, Knicks, Nets and Heat could be luxury tax violators.
Cuban has vowed that he will spend into the luxury tax again, when the time is right.
Cuban points out two examples of the new CBA in action.
"The best example of the new rules having an impact are the Knicks walking away from Jeremy Lin and the Bulls walking away from three of their rotation players," Cuban said.
The Knicks have supported the most bloated payroll in the league over the last decade. Yet, presented with the Lin offer sheet from the Rockets that included a "poison pill" third year that jacked Lin's salary from $5 million to $15 million, which has been estimated to swell to more than $40 million after tax penalties, it was too much for even the hand-over-fist, money-making Knicks.
The Bulls surrendered Asik because of a similar "poison pill" third year that would have killed their cap. Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver were also sacrificed -- and Chicago tried to trade Rip Hamilton -- all in the name of whittling down payroll.
The other three finalists are 16-year NBA assistant Elston Turner, Steve Clifford, who spent the last six seasons at Orlando, and Kaleb Canales, the 34-year-old former video assistant who took over on an interim basis after Nate McMillan was fired in March. Canales went 8-15 and has received strong endorsements from the Blazers' players.
The report says the candidates will interview again next week in Portland. Stotts, with a 114-168 record in four seasons as coach of the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, is the only one candidate with head coaching experience, with the exception of Canales' stint this past season.
Stotts was Rick Carlisle's top assistant last season after Dwane Casey left following the championship season to take over as head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
Last week Carlisle gave Stotts a ringing endorsement, telling the Oregonian, "Of all the coaches presently in play, Terry is by far the best available."
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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.
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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.
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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.