Who, besides Dirk, is first choice to stay?
It'd be nice to see hard work pay off
Those who listened to the Dallas Mavericks pregame and postgame shows on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM this season will probably find this hard to believe, but the one player the Mavs must bring back -- besides Dirk Nowitzki -- is Brandan Wright.
This is shocking because I've never been a huge believer in his game, and it showed early in the season when Rick Carlisle would often not even play the big man from North Carolina.
There was a good reason for that, because he was a liability on defense. Sure, Wright could block some shots, but how can a guy that big not be able to get a rebound? There were times I would look at the box score and discover he didn't get his first rebound until the fourth quarter.
But to Wright's credit, he has worked on his rebounding and it has improved greatly as the season progressed.
Wright's offensive game was never a question. He has such a soft touch, and he's started to develop a midrange game as well. We all know what he can do around the rim.
To have an athletic big man who can run up and down the court in today's NBA is a huge plus. Wright can do those things. He's a former lottery pick starting to come into his own. At just 25 years old, his future is still very bright.
I love the way Carlisle has worked with Wright. And you can credit Brad Davis as well for putting in a lot of work with Wright. You can see how much this guy has improved, but it's his skills on the defensive end -- specifically rebounding -- that make him the guy whom the Mavericks just can't afford to lose next season.
It'll be interesting to see what the open market is like for Wright, but we know the Mavericks will have money to spend this offseason. The Mavs need to throw some of that financial flexibility his way because Wright is about to start hitting his prime.
And that prime needs to be in a Dallas Mavericks uniform.
'Vinsanity' was arguably Mavs' MVP
No need to make this too complicated. Keep it simple: Who is the Mavericks' second-best player?
The answer is Vince Carter.
Actually, you can make a case that Carter was the Mavs' MVP this season, with Dirk Nowitzki missing 29 games.
That argument is as simple as could be. The Mavs were a good team with Carter on the floor and a bad one when he was on the bench.
The proof is in the plus-minus totals. Carter is a plus-218 entering the season finale, the lone Mavs player to crack triple digits on the plus side. The Mavs have been outscored by 279 points when Carter wasn't on the court.
That's more telling than Carter's traditional stats, which are pretty good too: 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 40.6 percent 3-point shooting in 25.8 minutes per game.
Carter is also an underrated defender, easily leading the Mavs in charges drawn, and a strong leader. Not to mention he's the only player on the roster whose ability to create offense for himself and others inspires confidence in coach Rick Carlisle.
Oh, and Carter is the best bargain on the roster with a salary of a little more than $3 million on a contract that runs through next season.
At this point in his career, Carter is more like three-quarters man, one-quarter amazing, but the eight-time All-Star still has tremendous value to the Mavs as a sixth man. He's a phenomenal physical specimen for a 36-year-old, and there's no reason he can't continue to consistently provide scoring, smarts and a lot of other stuff next season as long as Carlisle keeps carefully managing Carter's minutes.
Owner Mark Cuban made it clear around the trade deadline that Carter would be dealt only if it was a can't-refuse kind of deal. Late in the season, Cuban went a lot further in expressing his love for Carter, saying he felt sorry that he hadn't been able to help the potential Hall of Famer get a shot at a championship ring.
"He just wants to compete and win, period, end of story," Cuban said. "I'm proud that he's on the Mavericks. The guy lays it out every time. I can't put it any other way. He's one of those guys I want to retire here."
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Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Mavericks playing after being eliminated from playoff contention, whom he wants to keep for next season and much more.