Posted on: April 24, 2010 1:23 am
Mark Cuban hired Rick Carlisle to coach the Mavericks because his research showed this: Carlisle was the best in the NBA at getting production out of players he was coaching for the first time.
In Game 3 of what has evolved into the most physical and compelling playoff series thus far, the three players Cuban acquired for Carlisle at the trade deadline hardly played at all in the second half Friday night. Caron Butler, the cornerstone of the Mavs' big deadline deal with the Wizards, didn't play at all after the second quarter. With a 94-90 loss to the Spurs, the Mavericks fell into more than a 2-1 deficit in the best-of-7 series. They fell into an identity crisis.
Sitting in his usual spot next to the bench, Cuban must've had no idea he would've been in such close proximity to the players he so painstakingly acquired to push the Mavs into title contention. Dallas got virtually nothing from Butler (two points in 14:48) and Brendan Haywood (four points and four rebounds in 17:57). DeShawn Stevenson, the other player who came over from Washington in the Josh Howard trade, got a DNP-CD. Shawn Marion, acquired by Cuban last summer in a blockbuster deal, was 3-for-9 from the field with seven points in 16:34.
Forced into another undesirable halfcourt slugfest with the Spurs, Carlisle decided to play small throughout the second half with J.J. Barea instead of Butler -- hoping to push the pace. It's not that it was a bad idea. It's just that the Spurs were still able to exert their advantages defensively and attack Dallas' suspect defense off the dribble at key moments -- especially in the fourth quarter. Butler didn't return to the floor again after committing his third turnover, a defensive three-second violation, with 3:38 left in the second quarter.
The way this series has unfolded, there seems to be no way around it going seven games. So the Mavs aren't in deep trouble. Not yet. Once they gave up home-court advantage by losing Game 1, the Mavs knew they'd have to win one game in San Antonio. That game pretty much has to be Game 4 on Sunday, because nobody is winning three straight games between these two old rivals.
"Anything can happen," Tony Parker said in the TV interview after the game. "Any time we play Dallas, we know they can win here. There's going to be another big one here on Sunday."
To beat the Spurs in San Antonio, I think it was pretty well proven Friday night that the Mavs need Butler not only to play, but to play at a high level. Getting some sort of contribution from Marion would be nice, too. The Mavs, who entered the playoffs feeling they had their best shot at a championship since they were up 2-0 on the Miami Heat in the 2006 Finals, have a real problem on their hands. That problem is a proud, crafty, championship-tested Spurs team that is starting to look and feel like its old championship self at just the right time.
Carlisle has until Sunday to come up with the right formula to send this series back to Dallas tied 2-2. As much as Cuban trusts Carlisle -- he sings his praises to anyone who will listen -- the pressure that comes with ignoring the millions of dollars in talent that Cuban handed him at the trade deadline cannot be overstated.
As hard as it would be for Cuban to accept losing in the playoffs to the Spurs, just imagine how hard it would be to accept losing to the Spurs with his prized acquisitions sitting a few feet away from him on the bench.
Posted on: February 13, 2010 3:11 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2010 8:02 pm
DALLAS -- Jason Kidd likes the trade that would fortify the Mavericks' title hopes, bringing Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson from Washington for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. But Kidd, an All-Star point guard, said Saturday it's not all the Mavs need to get back on track.
"It could put us right there with the best, but at the end of the day you've still got to play the games," Kidd said on the practice court during All-Star weekend. "So on paper, it doesn't win you a championship. The big thing for us is we got to turn it around because we haven't been playing well as a team anyway. First off, we got to start winning no matter if there's a trade or not."
Butler, having a horrendous year in Washington, would give the Mavs the scoring threat that Howard was unable to deliver -- assuming the change of scenery will restore Butler to his former All-Star level. But the key to the deal could be Haywood, whose shot-blocking and post defense could help solve the problem that had Dallas limping into the All-Star break.
The Mavs went into the break with five losses in seven games, prompting owner Mark Cuban to declare, "We suck right now." The problem has been defense, particularly on the perimeter. Dallas went into the break having allowed 100 points or more in eight consecutive games. According to adjusted plus/minus guru Wayne Winston -- who for nine years headed the Mavs' quantitative analysis team -- Kidd, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea were the worst culprits. With Haywood protecting the basket, all of them should improve.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 6:32 pm
Nobody wants to go to New York right now, considering the weather. But if talks progress on a three-team trade proposal involving the Knicks, Rockets, and Wizards, Tracy McGrady might be on his way to the Big Apple by the time the snow is cleaned up.
Though sources cautioned that no deal has been finalized, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the teams have discussed a swap that would send McGrady to New York, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Houston, and Al Harrington to the Wizards. Other pieces would have to be involved, but those are the main ones.
The holdup, according to one of the sources, is indecision on the part of the Rockets and Knicks to sign off on the proposal. The second person familiar with the scenario characterized it as one of many discussions the Wizards are actively engaged in as they try to clean house in the wake of Gilbert Arenas' season-wrecking firearms suspension.
Among those discussions, other sources say, involve Butler going to Dallas in an exchange that almost certainly would include Josh Howard. If the Mavs are able to follow through on their desire to trade Howard, they essentially must do so before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Howard has a team option at $11.8 million for the 2010-11 season, and as such couldn't be traded after the season unless the Mavs picked up the option -- which would guarantee Howard's contract for next season.
As far as McGrady, what would the Knicks' motivation be to import an aging star coming off microfracture surgery -- one who has played all of six games this season? Thus, the hangup. Teams have balked at the Knicks' efforts to divest themselves of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry, both of whom are hampering New York's plan to clear further cap space for its free-agent shopping spree this coming summer. Moving Harrington's expiring contract (and another piece to make the trade work under CBA guidelines) and taking on McGrady's $23 million expiring deal wouldn't dramatically improve the Knicks' cap position for 2010-11. The motivation, therefore, would be hoping that McGrady has enough left to help push the Knicks back into the playoff picture. As of Wednesday, New York was 6 1-2 games out of the eighth spot.
Newsday reported Wednesday that Knicks president Donnie Walsh has visited Chicago seeking an answer to that question. Since the Rockets banished him in December, McGrady has been splitting time between Houston and Chicago, where he's worked out with personal trainer Tim Grover at the Attack Athletics gym. Walsh, according to Newsday, could be planning another trip. What he sees could be the tipping point in what would be one of the most significant deals to occur before the deadline.
Posted on: August 17, 2009 4:44 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2009 2:15 pm
We knew the NBA offseason was going to be weird when Hedo Turkoglu flew to Portland to sign with the Blazers, then changed his mind and flew to Toronto instead.
Now, we know things are out of control when Quentin Richardson gets traded four times and that's not the most disturbing thing that happened this summer. Not even close.
My colleague, Gregg Doyel, already has opined on the bizarre unraveling of Stephon Marbury and proclaimed the NBA to be rife with steroid abuse. But now we have the Wizards' Brendan Haywood unnecessarily questioning Marbury's sexual orientation in an ill-advised radio interview. Maybe my mind has been numbed by Dwight Howard's repeated Twitter updates that begin with, "Yuuuuuaaaaaaa ...." but enough is enough.
The only bit of worthwhile opinion in Haywood's interview came when he said this of Marbury: "I have no idea what’s going on with the guy. It’s almost like he’s trying to end his own career." That's pretty much guaranteed at this point. But Haywood didn't have to go there.
UPDATE: Haywood offered the obligatory "I'm sorry if I offended anyone" apology in his blog Tuesday. Meanwhile, some of my Twitter followers pointed out that I missed two more annoying incidents from this offseason: the battle for Twitter followers between Chris Bosh and Charlie Villanueva (yawn), and my pal Ron Artest's ceaseless promotion of a new musical artist, Shin Shin, during a trip to China.
Oh, and did I mention that both Artest and Marbury have given out their phone numbers on Twitter? Go ahead, call them up.
All I can really say at this point is: 1) All of this proves NBA players don't use steroids during the offseason because they're way too busy acting like idiots, and 2) I've never been so eager for the preseason to begin.