Mavs' silly offseason winds down
After D-Will and J-Kidd sagas and roster roulette, camp can't get here soon enough
Approaching the one-month mark to the start of Dallas Mavericks training camp, the bouncing of basketballs can't get here soon enough to end a wild and increasingly silly offseason.
Think about it. First, Deron Williams denied the Mavs in their hot pursuit to make the homegrown star the face-of-the-franchise-in-waiting. Then owner Mark Cuban, a converted flag bearer for cap space to chase such free agents, said the Mavs are actually financially better off without one of the league's elite point guards.
Jason Kidd spent the week leading up to free agency playing golf with Williams in New York, presumably to recruit him to Big D. But once Williams revealed his choice of the Brooklyn Nets over the Mavs -- on Twitter, no less -- Kidd, who has talked of his affinity for Cuban's business acumen and a desire to ascend to the front office, backed out of a deal with the Mavs and signed with the Knicks. Soon after, Kidd plowed his SUV into a telephone pole in a scary DWI crash. A month later, Cuban acknowledged Kidd hurt his feelings by abruptly leaving and dismissed him as a rafter retiree candidate.
On a lighter note, Dirk Nowitzki got married this summer in seemingly 15 ceremonies around the globe. On Sunday, he found the time to hop on Twitter for an impromptu open-mic session with fans. He revealed he likes dogs better than cats, prefers red wine over beer and rocks to the Stones and Zeppelin. And he assured Mavs Nation he bleeds blue and has no plans to jump ship down the road to a super team.
And then there's the character that is new Mavs center Chris Kaman, a former teammate on Dirk's German national team even though the red-blooded American -- who has tweeted pictures of his guns, his Texas-sized pickup and a new pair of cowboy boots -- was born in blue-collar Wyoming, Mich.
"Chris has definitely hit me up for all my hunting contacts," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said last week. "He wants to bag a white-tail deer and go hog hunting. So, I'm working on that."
Training camp, anyone?
When the team finally convenes at American Airlines Center on Sept. 29 for media day and a first practice the next day, quickly followed by a get-to-know-you retreat to Europe for a couple of preseason games, the Mavs will have a drastically different look. Eight of the 15 players on the roster weren't on the team when last season ended in a first-round sweep to the Oklahoma City Thunder less than four months ago.
Four were on the team that raised the Larry O'Brien Trophy in Miami 15 months ago, and two of them didn't play a second that entire postseason.
Two-thirds of the Mavs' 2012-13 roster, despite Cuban recently saying he doesn't much care for rent-a-players, are on one-year deals, a circumstance that is not coincidental. It's a key element to the "big fish" strategy designed to create abundant cap space again next summer to chase the marquee free agent the Mavs didn't land this summer yet are now happy wiggled off their hook.
So what should we expect?
With so many expiring contracts and a strong desire by the Mavs to upgrade via trades, as Cuban has consistently noted, expect trade rumors, speculation and conjecture all the way up to the February trade deadline. It's just the way of the NBA where the drama of player movement has seemingly ballooned bigger than the game itself.
It's just one more challenge coach Rick Carlisle, who begins his second four-year term in Dallas with a new contract, will undertake in this second season of mass transition. Carlisle welcomes new lead assistant Jim O'Brien, a new starting backcourt in Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, the free-spirited Kaman at center and level-headed veteran forward Elton Brand as the new sixth man.
As energized as Carlisle might be to mold a fresh roster that includes welcomed speed, youth and athleticism in the backcourt and a legitimate post scoring threat, his No. 1 challenge might be keeping everyone focused on the task at hand and not the churning rumor mill.
"Rick is one of the most versatile coaches I've been around and I truly believe he's got a very professional aptitude to his coaching," Nelson said. "For us to be one of the better defensive teams in the league with an older roster, that's coaching. And now this is going to be a different kind of challenge.
"But Rick is a natural teacher. He absolutely is excited about getting on the floor with a team that can do things in a different way with the youth and the athleticism and the low-post presence. We're deep, but I think we're energetic and we're youthful and resourceful, and Rick is going to do a great job."
It will be refreshing to get back on the court. At least then there will be games to be played to go along the resumption of the silly season.