All-Access: Inside Mavs' Pre-Lakers Practice

How's the Mavs' mood? What are they saying? What about the Lakers coming in? Why were Cuban and Donnie in The Crow's Nest? Dirk's first full practice, Caron's first interview, Tyson's not contagious and Roddy B is ... well, you'll have to see for yourself! We've got all the quotes, all the video, all the insights. Come inside for Your All-Access Pass!


As an indicator of the seriousness of the day – the losses, the Lakers, the potential transactions ahead, I suppose – sitting on landing above practice were owner Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson. The suits (well, Mark's not a "suit,'' but you know what I mean) do not attend every practice. But there they were … Cuban visiting jovially with the sidelined Caron Butler, Donnie exchanging thoughts with consultant Ro Blackman … and then Donnie punching away furiously on his cellphone.

Calling teams? Calling agents. Calling to order pizza for the staff?

I don't know. But the bosses were there. And the texting was furious.


During one of his drills at the end of practice, Beaubois sort of got his feet tangled up with one of the assistant coaches.


No, actually, good news: He did it on purpose, kinda playin' Footsie while jumping through the traffic. It was the best sight of the day, Rodrigue Beaubois feeling comfortable enough on his broken foot to do a basketball dance on it.

Another nice view:'s exclusive video of Beaubois' sprints … And listen ... while it's ONLY windsprints, it is a beautiful thing. ...

Which was followed by Roddy B all but collapsing to the floor in the farthest corner of the gym. … legs splayed out wide … chest heaving.

Eventually, assistant Darrell Armstrong got his attention by bowling a ball directly between Roddy B's splayed legs – Roddy B intercepting the ball before it, you know, hit the pins.

And then Roddy B kept the ball and went into an elaborate dribbling exhibition, all while still reclined on the floor.

Dirk on Beaubois: "Roddy can help us. But don't put too much pressure on the kid. He's 22. Let's wait and see what he can do.''

When will we get to see? The way Dirk talks, the way Roddy B dances, you sense it is soon.


Nowitzki echoed what the organization has been telling for weeks, that before the club pulls the trigger on any trade, it needs to see Dirk and Roddy B and Tyson and all other hands on deck.

"We've got to get healthy and then we'll see what happens," said Nowitzki, who engaged in his first full practice since spraining his knee in OKC on Dec. 27. "I think Mark and Donnie always look at improving this organization and giving it our best shot. We'll just wait and see what happens, but as far as I'm concerned, there's no immediate help coming. … We've got to look within the locker room and get it done."

Key word? No "immediate'' help?

Listen and look at The UberMan's media session:


Butler is supposedly out for the season following knee surgery, but this was a first opportunity for him to spend a lengthy time with the fellas. He sat on the trainer's table with a bulky soft cast on his right leg and before Casey Smith tended to him (and before the cameras gathered) I visited briefly one-on-one with Tuff Juice.

"I'm hoping to be on the bench (on Wednesday for the Lakers game),'' he said. "I'm seeing the doctor before then to get permission on how much I can sit and stand and move around.''

"I think they miss you,'' I said to him, referring of course to the six-game losing streak.

"I think I miss them,'' Caron replied, referring of course to … everything.

Butler also spoke of his desire to come back THIS year … of how emotional it was to get hurt in Wisconsin with so many loved ones in attendance … and his belief in his mates. Check the video:


Maybe, Tyson Chandler said, the problem is Tyson Chandler.

Should we keep our distance from you?''' I asked Chandler.

"Let's talk,'' T.Y. said. "The doctor says I'm not contagious.''

Chandler told me that he had the flu, and that his temperature had risen to a point of concern over the weekend, the reason the doctor advised him to rest while the team played two games over the weekend.

"We've gotten down,'' Tyson said of the club's emotional state. "We've taken a step back. … When we have everybody, we have commitment and trust … We need to get back where we were, and bond together.''

"I don't want to say ‘desperate,''' he said. "Let's say there is a sense of urgency.''

So what is the problem that drove Dallas to this point, where the Mavs have in three short weeks plunged from second place to fifth place in the West?

Tyson says Dirk and Caron and Tyson are the problem.

"You don't replace a Dirk, you don't replace a Caron, and the couple of games I sat out, you don't just replace that,'' said Tyson, who was sick all last week. "I know this: When we're all together, there aren't many teams that have this sort of personnel. You don't get the opportunity to play on a team this good very often. The quality of team we have … we really need to seize the moment. Just seize the moment.''

Let's seize some Tyson Chandler interview video:

I asked T.Y. after he'd finished up with the media-at-large if the fact that he was drenched in perspiration was due to the arduous Tuesday workout or due to him sweating out the rest of that illness.

"It's extra from being sick, I guess,'' he said. "But let's get it out of there.''


DoJo did not experience a very good day in a shooting drill from the arc. One assistant chided him, "How can you miss so many when nobody is even covering you?''

Eventually, even Caron good-naturedly piled on.

"I gotta leave,'' Butler said in a stage whisper so Dominique could hear him. "You just built a whole stadium, what with all those bricks.''


What DoJo did do well: Working inside, in the post, on a drill in which he used bullish moves to get to the rim … Under the watchful eye of assistant Dwane Casey, Big Wood, ‘Lex and Mahinmi stayed late, the three of them rotating into one-on-one drills focusing on interior defense … Our Kevin Brolan observes that while the team has reason to be mopey, it's hard to do with Armstrong around. He's ringing a loud bell, giving everybody the business, often the last staffer on the floor. A pepperpot. … The practice session was an hour long … Believe this or not, but Brendan Haywood puts in at least as much free-throw practice time as anybody else … Nothing Sasha is especially doing wrong, but I am told the Mavericks are far from automatically ready to re-up his 10-day contract … A Mavs staffer asked Chicagoland native Shawn Marion how many tickets he might need for the Mavs-Bulls game later this week. "Um, maybe 60?'' ‘Trix replied. … The overall mood? While this team is in a funk – emotionally maybe, on the floor for sure, in a way reminiscent of where Dallas was three years ago before the Kidd-Devin deal was done – I'd say this looked like business as usual. Same joking, same friendliness, same little things, like Jet jogging over to Tyson and patting him on the chest as if to say, "Welcome back.'' ... No FS Southwest on Wednesday. The national network wants to see the Mavs. (Oh, and the 31-12 Lakers) ... Dirk said something else about Roddy B: "He probably only had a handful of good games last year. It's not like he had an unbelievable season. So let's just wait and let him get healthy and see what he can do." Consider the bar lowered for some. Not for me, though. Roddy B had more than a "handful of good games.''


A briefly scary moment, so brief that maybe nobody (well, not nobody!) noticed: Haywood and Ajinca stepped on each other's foot in an interior drill, both of them coming up only slightly lame. They kept working and the soreness obviously passed. Hey, maybe the fact that two centers weren't injured on one innocuous practice drill is a sign that Dallas is NOT snakebit!


Is there no escape? Tyson felt obliged to bring them up, thus soiling an otherwise pleasant conversation.

"It's no coincidence that San Antonio has the best record in the league," T.Y. said. "They've had the whole team healthy for the whole year. I'm not discounting all the good things that they've done, but it makes it a lot easier when you're healthy."


"When things are going bad, the only thing that gets you out of it is sticking together and fighting through it," said Carlisle … who said much more in his meeting with the media:


Dirk was still conducting the final interview of the day, and the three backup centers were still working with Casey, when the buzzer sounded. Time to move. Up the stairs they went. Film study was scheduled, and for a team that has so little margin for error, film study must be attended. And on time.

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