Appreciate you joining me to discuss the 4-5 defending NBA champions. I'm committed to no knee-jerk analysis of this team until at least the end of January, but there's been more bad than good so far. I still see a 40-win team that will have a chance to do some damage in the West if the Mavs can be healthy when the playoffs roll around. On to your questions ...
Howdy Mac! I was wondering how much playing time Yi Jianlian might get once he is called up to the fifteen man roster? I figure he'll be the third big man off the bench behind Odom and Mahinmi
Rick Carlisle saying the Mavs like Yi "as a project" pretty much tells you he's not going to have much of a role. He's in the same boat as Brandan Wright. They're both recent top-10 busts who are hoping to get their careers rolling in Dallas. Maybe Yi can be the third big off the bench, but how much playing time does that guy get?
Dwight+Hedo for Odom Mahinmi DoJo Wright/Williams - possible/likely/hell no?
You might be able to hear Otis Smith laugh all the way up in Montreal. Forget the fact that the salaries don't work. What value would the Magic be getting in that deal other than dumping Hedo's contract? It's pretty much a bunch of expiring contracts and, other than Odom, unproven projects. If they deal with the Lakers, they can get an elite big man back in Andrew Bynum. If they deal with the Nets, they can get Brooke Lopez, who is at least a young starting big. The Mavs can't match that.
What would the Mavs have to do/give up to get Dwight Howard before the trade deadline?
Don't see the Mavs being able to pull off a deal for Dwight Howard under any circumstances before the deadline. The Mavs' best hope is that Howard won't be traded. If he hits the free agency market, I like the Mavs' chances.
What is the latest on kyrylo fesenko?
Nothing right now. The Mavs' roster is full at this point. If they decide to go in that direction, they've got to get rid of somebody. That might happen, but Ian Mahinmi's performance makes it less likely.
Will Lamar Odom ever get it together? Is he moping that he's not in LA anymore? Couldn't help but notice he was wearing a gold and blue tie when visiting Obama on Monday.
If you noticed the colors of Lamar Odom's tie during the Mavs' trip to the White House, you are definitely a Kardashian freak. Everyone I talk to with the Mavs says Odom has a good attitude. His psyche might be shaken after a bitter departure from L.A., but his conditioning is the Mavs' biggest concern with him. Once he gets into shape, maybe we'll see the player he can be for the Mavs. They need him to be great to have a legit chance of repeating.
Who should the Mavs pursue first/most??? Dwight or Deron???
Always think big first. Plus, Dwight Howard is a more dominant player. He is without a doubt the best big man in the NBA and will be for years to come. Deron Williams is a top-five point guard, maybe top three. Mavs would love to get them both, but if they have to pick, I'm betting they go big.
If the Mavs acquire Howard and/or Williams next summer, what players can we count on returning?
The only guy guaranteed to be a Maverick next season is Dirk Nowitzki. The only other guys under guaranteed contract for the Mavs next year are Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones. The Mavs could use the amnesty clause Marion or Haywood. They could trade any of those guys, perhaps in a get-nothing-back deal like the one that sent Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to Denver. The ideal situation is getting Dwight Howard AND Deron Williams with Dirk. If that means building the rest of the roster with spare parts, so be it.
When do you see the Mavs and the rest of the league returning to NBA level basketball? The games have been tough to watch so far.
I think there's going to be much more ugly basketball this season than normal. That's just life with a lockout-crunched schedule. The Mavs' toughest month as far as the schedule goes -- in games, not competition -- is January. Maybe the Mavs can play something resembling good basketball on a regular basis after that.
What's the deal with Delonte West? Other than White House-gate, should the Mavs be worried about his behavior moving forward? Is he going to be equal parts distraction as he is a help on the court?
The whole White House thing was weird, to say the least. The Mavs are being mum about it, but you could pretty easily convince me of a conspiracy theory that they wanted West to think he was banned. All in all, I think West is an asset to the Mavs. He has played pretty well at both guard spots. His Twitter activity is definitely odd, but I don't see him as a guy creating drama in the locker room. The Mavs need a little bit of crazy. West has moved into DeShawn Stevenson's old locker, which is certainly fitting.
Do you expect big moves from the Mavs at the TDL this year in order to clear more cap space for this coming summer?
I don't expect big moves, but it wouldn't surprise me if they made some minor deals to clear more cap space. I'm thinking something like dumping Dominique Jones for a second-round pick in 2083.
What are the odds of the Mavs getting Dwight Howard AND Deron Williams?
Much of that depends on whether Howard gets traded before the deadline. If the Magic don't move him, I think it's actually a realistic possibility. Far from a slam dunk, but maybe a contested Dirk 3-pointer.
How come you didn't join me at the White House, Tim?
I know this isn't the real Coop. Lack of typos gave it away. The Mavs told me I was banned from the White House, and I believed them.
Where would you rank the Mavericks in the Western Conference at this point?
If the Mavs are fresh and healthy when the playoffs roll around, I think they'll have a legitimate chance to win the West again. Maybe that's an overcorrection, considering I thought they'd be one-and-done last year. But the Thunder is the clear favorite in the West, in my opinion, and the Mavs have a major mental edge over OKC. Of course, if the Lakers can get Dwight Howard without giving up Pau Gasol, that changes everything. Right now, I see the Mavs as a 6 or 7 seed, but that really doesn't matter. It's all about peaking in the playoffs for this team.
Tim, Do you think the Mavs will get Howard?
I'll be able to give a much more confident answer after the March 15 trade deadline. If he's still in Orlando then, I'd consider the Mavs the favorites to sign him in free agency.
Would the signing of Howard and Williams diminish the national popularity of the Mavericks or increase it as an anticdote to the Heat?
It'd make the Mavs one of the NBA's most polarizing teams. They'd be both more popular and more despised. That's what happened with the Heat. Of course, a lot of the Heat hate is due to LeBron's PR gaffes when he was taking his talent to South Beach. I don't think you'd have that element in Dallas. I seriously doubt Mark Cuban would have any problem being a love-'em-or-hate-'em franchise.
Let's say the Mavs don't get Dwight or Deron (Heaven forbid)... What the HELL do they do then? Will there be enough "B List" stars on the market for the Mavs to build another contender?
I think what would happen then is that the Mavs would explore making a major addition via the trade market. There's a steep dropoff in the free agency talent pool after Howard and Williams, but with the new CBA, teams that have cap room have a lot more freedom to make trades. It also wouldn't stun me if free agent Steve Nash decided to team up with Dirk again, although I can't see the Mavs paying him huge money.
Since this is all Howard/Deron talk, would a Mavs first round exit in the playoffs (or missing the playoffs) hurt our chances of signing them in free agency?
It wouldn't help, but I don't think it'd have much, if any, impact. Let's focus on the pie-in-the-sky scenario of them coming to Dallas together. They would know they'd have an unselfish star already here in Dirk. They'd know that they'd have a creative front office that will do whatever it can to win. And they'd form an elite PG/big combo in their primes. That's an attractive situation, if the Mavs can make the money work.
Big if here, but one can dream. Could you see a guy like Jason Kidd or Terry staying here for less money if the Mavs somehow got Williams and Howard in the offseason. Kidd as backup PG?
I think those are very realistic scenarios. Kidd doesn't care about being The Man. He just wants to win and wants to play a couple more seasons. He also happens to be represented by the same agent as Deron Williams, who was a huge Kidd fan while growing up in The Colony. Terry's role wouldn't change at all, and he's on record as wanting to retire as a Maverick. He also happens to be represented by the same agent as Howard.
Is Deron staying until the end of season or is their a chance the Nets try to trade him....
I'd be stunned if the Nets traded Williams. They gave up a ton to get him last year with the hopes that he'd be the face of the franchise as it moves to Brooklyn. Maybe they panic if it keeps going like it's been going in New Jersey, but that's be a complete reversal of the plan.
What is the game plan at this point for the Nets or Lakers to convince Orlando to deal Howard to either of them?
If Howard goes to the Lakers, the Mavs make Williams their top priority. I'd bet on him signing in Dallas if that's the case. If Howard goes to New Jersey, the Mavs forget about getting a superstar (or two) in free agency this summer and move to Plan B.
Thanks for joining me, folks. Gonna wrap it up now. Only six more months of free agency speculation to go!!! Oh, and the rest of the season ought to be interesting, too.