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Dallas Mavericks Primer

July 2, 2012

With the NBA Draft just finished up, trades rumors going fast and furious, and NBA Free Agency beginning there is a lot of Mavs talk to get to. Below I’m breaking down all the Mavs related stories to give readers a quick refresh.

NBA Draft:

I was pretty disappointed that with SF/PF Terrence Jones, PF Jared Sullinger, and C Tyler Zeller available the Mavs decided to trade down. Word is that the Mavs had three players targeted (Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb, and Royce White) at #17 and when all three were off the board they made the pre-arranged trade with the Cavs. Don’t underestimate how much the Mavs might gut this roster in the coming days so I’m not completely against a 1 for 3 trade but with legit talent available at #17 I still preferred staying put and taking someone. Instead we chose three lesser talents with their breakdowns below:

PG/SG Jared Cunningham: He’s a 6’5 combo guard with very good quickness and athleticism who will try and replace a little of the scoring the Jet provided off the bench. Long term some think he will be a steal if he can develop into a legit PG as he has a little Russell Westbrook in him. He’s a top notch defensive player (Pac-12 1st Team All Defense) and is especially adept at collecting steals as he was Top 10 in steals this season and 1st in steals last season among prospects. Yet most had him either as an early to mid 2nd rounder so it’s a bit of a reach at #24. As an average shooter (34% 3pt, 74% FT) who has a 1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio I have my doubts he’ll ever develop into a true PG which mean’s he’ll be an undersized SG with above average quickness and good defensive skills.

PF/C Bernard James: He’s 27 years old due to his time in the Air Force which immediately means he’s more mature and more popular than the average player. So much so that one writer insinuated that he’s going to become the face of the Texas Legends which is the Mavericks D-League team. Mark Cuban is the consummate businessman, watch him on Shark Tank it’s a surprisingly fun show, yet I’m not cynical enough to agree with that assessment. At 6’10 230 with a 7’2 wingspan he has the size to play center and the center position is probably the Mavs weakest spot right now so the selection makes sense. Also he averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game so there’s potential if the Mavs give him a chance. Yet all he’s likely to do short term is replace Ian Mahinmi as the team’s #2 center and long term his prospects are rather bleak due to his age and lack of skill level so I’m not very impressed with this pick.

SF Jae Crowder: This pick is the one selection that got me intrigued. I’m not alone in that sentiment as draftexpress.com actually ranked Crowder higher than the Mavs first two selections and his selection goes a little against the normal Mavs philosophy. They’re a team that values length over bulk and usually takes long, thin players with high skill level. Crowder is not that type as he’s considered a Ron Artest style SF who at 6’5 ½ 242 is heavier than some centers. He’s the reigning Big East Player of the Year who was the unquestioned leader of this year’sMarquette team. He’s absolutely ripped for his size and appears to be an extremely hard worker as his entire game has dramatically improved the past two years. Yet while his shorter, thicker frame makes him a surprise fit for the Mavs his basketball IQ and leadership skills make sense. He’s a top notch defender and while his oversized frame makes it unlikely he can ever be a create his own shot type of SF he has a good blend of shooting touch (35% 3pt, 74% FT), basketball IQ, and peripheral skills (8.4 reb, 1 blk, 2 stl) that makes me really love this selection.

Overall: Sam Amick from Sports Illustrated gave the Mavs a D+ saying “Cunningham averaged 17.9 points last season, but he was not considered a first-round pick by most teams I talked to.” The general consensus is that the three players the Mavs took have value but there were superior players on the board at the time of each of those selections. I generally agree with them, especially on the first two picks, yet it’s obvious that the Mavs took three players who are high in basketball IQ, defensive ability, and character. These three players fit the Mavs locker room philosophy that shies away from the squeaky wheel or questionable character player. Last season they took a few chances on players such as Lamar Odom and Vince Carter and it didn’t pay off so it makes sense that they went back to their high character approach again. While they left a lot of talent on the board the Mavs did get away from drafting foreigners, long term projects, or offensive minded players who can’t defend anyone. These type of picks have been a regular inclusion in drafts the past decade and almost always flopped. This year’s picks aren’t great yet any or all of them could develop into quality role players who can defend their position and have the athleticism to make an impact in numerous areas. It wasn’t a good draft but I really like the Jae Crowder pick and think there are some things to like in each selection. I’d give this draft a C.

Free Agency:

The Mavs are in New York as we speak in an attempt to woo Derron Williams to Dallas. That decision, one way or the other, will start the dominos falling and thankfully it should be completed within the next 48 hours. Derron has to report to Las Vegasby July 5th for Team USA and wants whoever has his services to begin the construction of the roster around him so he will most likely announce his decision on Tuesday or Wednesday. My guess is he decides privately tonight, sleeps on it, and in the morning announces his decision. Before this weekend I had the Mavs winning the Derron sweepstakes at 80% as I think Dallas’ best players, owner, and track record all are superior toNew Jersey’s yet Dwight Howard has thrown a wrench in that. If Derron thinks Dwight can be traded for with a combination package of Brooks Lopez, MarshonBrooks, and picks I can’t see how Derron would spur the Nets. They just re-signed Gerald Wallace and adding Dwight Howard would set them at PG and C with All-Stars and at SF with a very good player who is quite capable as a #3 scorer and defender. The other positions could be filled out with role players and they’d immediately be the #2 team in the East yet that’s if Howard is traded to them.Houston has been adamant that they don’t need an extension with Howard to consummate a trade soOrlando very possibly could decide thatHouston and it’s 3 first rounders makes more sense in a trade than anythingNew Jersey could offer. If that scenario plays out or if Derron Williams doesn’t want to stake his future to the prospect ofNew Jersey getting Howard then I would expect him to sign withDallas. Dwight Howard’s trade demand makes Williams’ signing much more questionable but I still believe that anything short of Howard being traded toNew Jersey will result in the Mavs winning the Williams sweepstakes. Suddenly the Houston Rockets could be the Mavericks best friend.

Additional items:

-The Mavs added Keleze Azubuke (probably misspelled but who cares) to the 1 for 3 draft pick trade withCleveland. I liked him as a few years ago withGolden State he was a killer shooter but right now the Mavs are all about cost savings and this saves them about $1 million.

-The Mavs traded Lamar Odom in exchange for Tadija Dragicevic, cash, and an $8.9 million trade exemption. It’s essentially a salary dump as it gets Lamar back toLos Angeleswhere he wanted to be and saves the Mavs from having to use salary cap to cut him. Unsure if the $8.9 mil trade exception has to be revoked to sign Derron Williams to a max level deal but if not it would allow the Mavs to sign him and then trade for a $9 mil a year player to further fill out their roster.

-The Mavs exercised the 2nd year on Vince Carter’s contract. It’s a very reasonable deal at $3 million and the team has already called around to get possible offers lined up in case they need to shed the deal to get further under the salary cap. For now Carter is a Maverick but it’s likely he won’t be a month from now.

-Not only have the Mavs called around about possibly trading Carter but discussions involving Haywood and Marion have been discussed. It’s widely assumed that Haywood will be untradeable due to his large contract and will have to be amnestied yet some are arguing the Mavs could unload Haywood if they added a sweetener or two in the deal (1st round picks, Roddy B., cash, etc.). He’s owed $27.2 mil over the next 3 years so it’s a steep deal but as a solid center it isn’t outrageous and he no longer is a guarantee to be amnestied. A team like the New Orleans Hornets might consider taking that contract provided Cuban adds $3 mil in cash and future picks. It’s a long shot but it’s at least now in the discussion. An easier salary dump would be Marion’s contract as he’s playing at a top notch level and the things he brings to a team: leadership, defense, rebounding, high percentage shooting, unselfishness, are something that fits well with a lot of clubs. I would be incredibly disappointed if Marion was traded for nothing in return but the Mavs know it’s their easiest way to get the cap space for Derron Williams and appear willing to do it if they must.

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