SNEAK PEEK: Premium Mavs All-Access Practice

Dirk's tests his 'quicksand' knee. Roddy B's bounce. Video Visits with a bunch of Mavs. Trade gossip. DeShawn and 'boneheadedness.' Peja's Official! 3 trade gossip items. You want to know what happens INSIDE Mavs practice? You want to know what you get when you go Premium Mavs? Here's a Sneak Peek and what you're signing up for ...

DIRK'S TRAINER-SUPERVISED TESTING: He dunked repeatedly while leaping off his right leg.

Then he dunked repeatedly while leaping off his left.

Then he dunked repeatedly off two legs.

Then he repeatedly spun around a dummy defender in Jason Kidd and dunked some more.

Then he repeatedly spun around Dallas Mavericks trainer Casey Smith – who watched the entire end-of-practice testing session with a watchful eye – and dunked yet some more.

The "lift'' was there in Dirk Nowitzki's in-practice jumpshots and the lift was certain there in the post-practice workout designed to test and push the limitations of The UberMan's sprained right knee, which in New Jesey he said makes him feel like he's moving "in quicksand.''


Dirk, though, looked explosive in his moves to the basket, and the condition must be getting there, too, because following that work, and then some consultation with Smith, Kidd and coach Rick Carlisle, Dirk took to the sideline and bolted through a series of baseline-to-baseline wind-sprints featuring exaggerated high-knee kicks with every step.

We can report that Dirk Nowitzki is high-stepping, spinning and dunking his way out of that quicksand.

NO PEJA, YES PEJA: We speculated (well, actually, "educated-guessed'') that once Peja Stojakovic arrived in Dallas, he'd be a candidate to be a starter.

But let's slow down. Peja is here … and the Mavs need somebody who can make a danged 3 … and he even watched the Monday practice … and has learned that he'll take a physical this afternoon to clear up any issues concerned his knee.

But he's not a starter yet because until 4:15, he wasn't officially with the Dallas Mavericks yet. That changed with a Mark Cuban afternoon tweet, a few hours after practice, announcing the done-ness of the deal. (A few minutes later, Dallas announced the Ajinca-to-Toronto deal, which includes Dallas' worthless rights to Euro Georgios Printezis.) Up until then, here's what the principals were saying ...

Mavs GM Donnie Nelson: "Yes, he will be with us. (Waiting) is part of the NBA landscape.''

(We've got that landscape broken down into 12 simple steps here.)

Donnie Nelson, hold some court:

Peja was to be a Mav (though no one is saying if he'll be in uniform for Tuesday's visit from the Clippers) even if the league held up a protest arguing that the trading of Alexis Ajinca to Toronto was done in illicit coordination with Toronto's releasing of Peja, who has intended to sign with Dallas for the last three weeks. If necessary, Dallas would've simply released Ajinca (or Sasha or whomever).

Coach Rick Carlisle sounds upbeat about what Stojakovic will bring.

"He's going to be an asset for us,'' Carlisle says. "I don't want to be unfair to him by making this appear to be something where he's going to walk in here playing X number of minutes and be a starter and be making every shot. We got to make sure he's ready from a health and conditioning standpoint. And that may take some time. And whatever amount of time it takes, we're going to take it.''

But, adds Nelson: "We think he's healthy. … and he can shoot it. He's the kind of guy, you gotta guard him as soon as he enters the gym.''


You've noticed the round beige Band-Aid being worn just below the throat of DeShawn Stevenson, right? Well, you have now. And I'm telling you, Johnson & Johnson might want to watch out for "Stevenson & Fisher,'' because we're about to start a business ...

RODDY B'S PUSH: I am willing to put a couple of Francs on this:

Rodrigue Beaubois will be back in uniform for the Mavs by the next road trip.

Carlisle was rather playful when discussing Roddy B's recent work, breaking his policy of not discussing unavailable players while attempting to mimic Beaubois' broken English. But as we reported last week, Roddy B's sideline work is greatly intensifying. Now he's not only sprinting and not only jumping, but also cutting … and initiating contact … and seemingly bearing down as his five months of relative inactivity due to a broken foot is about to end.


We noted this morning in Donuts that needing to see Roddy B on the floor well before the Feb. 24 trade deadline constitutes a timetable of sorts for his return. One Mavs insider who read those Donuts concurs, and adds: "It'll be so much of a lift for this team, and so much of a different look, that it'll feel like they just made a big trade.''

DeSHAWN DeBATE: Is It A ‘Boneheaded Move' To Play DeShawn At The 3?

That's the question posed to the Jury: "How much if any can DeShawn Stevenson play the 3 if needed?" It's a Premium-level conversation, we present it free to you, and the answers come from the members of the jury: Our David Lord, our Michael Dugat … and DeShawn Stevenson himself.

Reader ‘rbrooks83' poses the questions in the Mavs Premium Forum: Is DeShawn OK at the 3? If the Mavs end up trading for a 2-guard, could Stevenson continue to get minutes at forward?

D-LORD: In my book, not at all. No.

I'm a big disbeliever in the idea that SG and SF are interchangeable. The difference in size and quickness at the two positions changes every player's effectiveness and potential, and I think that fact is dismissed too casually within the Mavs' front office.

At 6-5, he matches up nicely size-wise against SGs who average 6-4 to 6-5. Against SFs who average 6-6 to 6-9, he's overmatched size-wise advantage becomes a handicap, just by the switch in positions.

Also don't lose sight of the fact that a SF has to play under the basket and on the baseline in the Mavs' zone, with major responsibilities in rebounding ...while the SG will play up top and challenge shots on the perimeter, try to cut off passing lanes, and so on. Some overlap, but major differences.

MDUG: He's already been playing some small forward, and hasn't done too poorly. When Terry was starting, Stevenson was starting at SF and Marion was at PF.

D-LORD: Michael, I think most look at Stevenson like you do: "He's already been playing some small forward, and hasn't done too poorly. When Terry was starting, Stevenson was starting at SF and Marion was at PF. He can do it, but it's probably better to keep him at his natural SG spot."

Probably, the Mavs think that, too.

But in theory, I thought using him at SF was wrong, and my Eyeball Test made me think it was awful to put him there … so awful that it makes me question the judgment of Carlisle, who is getting paid millions to get these decisions right.

Because of our this exchange, I just went to look up (at the results of playing DeShawn at SF.

While I'm not a big believer that PER or win share or +/- tells the whole story, as general stat numbers they at least give us a good flavor for what's probably there. Here's the story they tell, and it's not pretty.

At SG - Stevenson's PER 15.8, Opponent held to 8.8, winning percentage 56%, +/- of + 10.5 per 48 min
At SF - Stevenson's PER 12.1, Opponent held to 15.6, winning percentage 40%, +/- of - 1.1 per 48 min

Changing positions, by those numbers, changes him from a pretty useful player making a positive contribution, into a scrub. It kills two positions.

Let's recognize that much of that SF play was recent, when the absence of Dirk no doubt affected those numbers, and also limited Rick's choices. But it was still an awful choice Carlisle made and I think it further handicapped an already-struggling offense to put DeShawn at a position where he's overmatched and loses his ability to contribute. If you kill two positions with your injury fill-in choices, you've given your team little-to-no chance to win. Bad choice, Rick.

MDUG: Let's compromise. He can do it, but it's probably better to keep him at his natural SG spot ... where he has played better than he has fared at SF.

One thing to consider, by the way, regarding DeShawn's future here: if the Mavs make a larger trade, there's at least a fair chance Stevenson is a part of that deal. He has a moderately-sized expiring contract (of $4.1 mil) and has improved his worth as a player this season (though if a team is looking to save money, they'll likely value his contract over his skills). Because of that, he is a decent asset. So, just thought I'd point out, this could be a moot point if a deal is ever made.


Anyway, I'm not saying I love DeShawn at the 3 …

D-LORD: No, I'm saying it stronger than that. With Dirk out, Carlisle moved Stevenson to the 3 a lot.

And it was a boneheaded choice in my book, as Rick turned an effective SG into a lousy SF. (Same thing happens when he plays Barea at SG,as Rick turns a decent backup PG into a terrible SG matchup).

With Stevenson being a lousy 3, it weakens two positions by playing him there. In my opinion, that's simply a bad coaching move. I understand the level of desperation with the injuries. Still, a bad coaching move.

MDUG: D-Lord, we're probably approaching an argument of semantics, and you allude to my following points in your post, but ...

First, two of the four games Stevenson started at SF he had to guard Kevin Durant (who will dirty most players defensive stats) and Hedo Turkoglu. Both are horrible matchups for Stevenson on both ends of the court, who doesn't have the height to seriously alter what they want to do (and are abnormally tall SFs), or shoot over them.

Of course, with no Butler, Stevenson was going to spend some time guarding Durant regardless of where he technically started.

Were Butler in the game, or Marion starting at SF, he guards Sefolosha (or Harden when he comes in) and Richardson - much better matchups ... meaning much prettier stats. These two teams show a much more drastic difference than most in the gap between guarding the SF and SG ... delivering a much harder hit to his stats than most would.

Second - on offense, he was being asked to be much more aggressive than his game dictates, which really hurt those numbers. He's a strong spot-up shooter this season, not such a great put the ball on the floor and attack guy.

Undoubtedly these factors significantly altered his stats ... as you do allude to in your post.

The only reason I don't hold Carlisle too accountable is his lack of other options. Beyond Marion it was Cardinal, Ajinca, Mahinmi, Barea, Terry, Jones or Kidd ... none are solid choices, and probably all worse than Stevenson ... and because he played SF, they were all able to stay in their natural positions.

The bottom line is the same, and we agree on this ... it would be best to keep Stevenson at SG. But I'm interested in what DeShawn himself would have to say about this.

Yes. So am I. So I asked him.

DeSHAWN STEVENSON: Your thoughts matter, too, sir.

Are you convinced yet? Got your few pennies-worth yet? Read on and enjoy one-of-a-kind All-Access Pass for Premium Mavs Members!

WHAT THE MAVS GET IN PEJA?:'s Kammrath helps us break it down, examining in this chart the last three years of Peja and what "slippage'' is represented there:








Off P/M




Def P/M




Adj P/M
















































What do we see?

Peja has astounding plus/minus numbers over the last three years. Despite being in his 30's he has consistently been a very positive force while on the court. Not surprisingly in 08-09 and 07-08 he had very positive offensive plus/minus numbers while having a small negative impact on the defensive end (though some of that might be due to the pace played by the team when he was on the court). Then last year his offensive plus/minus numbers slipped and he had a +3.09 point impact on the defensive end. From our perspective this supports our own Eye Test that Peja is quite capable of being a semi-tenacious defender when he puts forth the effort and has even been effective at harassing our own Dirk Nowitzki.

Peja's PER numbers have slipped the last two seasons due to his slippage in FG%. The last two years more than half his field goal attempts have been from three and so the drop of his three point percentage below 40% is partly responsible. His 37% three point shooting over the last two years is down for him (he is a career 40% three point shooter) but is still a very respectable and productive number.

The three-time All-Star isn't the same player he was during salad days in Sacto and NO, but he's a life-time 40.1-percent shooter from 3-point range. And as I said to somebody at practice today: The Mavs ARE going to continue to shoot 3's. So they might as well hand the ball to somebody who can actually make ‘em.

J-KIDD MEETS THE MEDIA: Four-game homestand. Time to bring it?

MAVSELLANEOUS: Tyson Chandler was attempting to win a free-throw contest, but when he hit a bad patch, DeShawn Stevenson called for a medic. "Shot Doc, we need you over here!'' yelled DeShawn at assistant coach Gary Boren, the team's long-time free-throw guru. … Mavs GM Donnie Nelson is hosting some basketball coaching dignitaries from China, including Yao Ming's former head coach and the head women's coach for the Chinese National Team. … Ajinca is still here in Dallas waiting to make his move to Toronto or wherever … I asked someone how serious Peja's knee ever was. After all, Stojakovic hasn't played since Nov. 26 when he scored 13 points in 15 minutes in a game. We agreed to come to the conclusion that mostly he was suffering from the "Canadian Flu.'' ... Last two guys on the floor: The kids, DoJo and Roddy B … Armstrong apparently owes J.J. Barea some money. A lost bet or something. "You got it?'' JJB asked of Armstrong, who reached into his pocket and pulled out a random piece of scrap paper that is probably not legal tender in any country. … Jason Kidd jokes that Peja "might be our best foreign shooter – though Dirk might not agree with that.''

BIG WOOD BY HIS LONESOME: A rather sad sight:

Just as Shawn Bradley once did, Brendan Haywood shot his post-practice free throws alone.

Usually guys fall into a Buddy System, but Big Wood made for a stoic, a solitary and, if I may, a sympathetic figure.

Interestingly, though, Carlisle tossed him a bone of support. A BIG bone, considering the recent ascension of Ian Mahinmi (a helluva story which we are cooking up for Tuesday, by the way).

Haywood, Rick says, "is as hard a worker as I've ever had at center.''

SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE: It is Donnie Nelson's contention that the Mavs locker room is ready to be "at war'' over the Packers-Steelers Super Bowl to be staged in two weeks in Arlington.

"It's Caron Butler and me on this side,'' says Donnie, who grew up near Milwaukee while Uncle Nellie coached the Bucks, "and it's (Steelers fans) Mark Cuban and Brad Davis over there.''

Yeah, but … there are almost half the guys in that locker room … guys from Germany and Puerto Rico and Eastern Europe and France … who don't care, Donnie.

"All I know is that I'll be busting out my industrial-strength Cheesehead hat,'' says Nelson, who will be attending the game. … maybe not actually wearing that ridiculous hat.

TRADE GOSSIP TIMES 3: Three items worth chasing … and believe me, I'm in pursuit:


1. Nene has Dallas on his wish list? The Mavs know nothing about this, in terms of being contacted or doing the contact. But I promise you they are intrigued. In the most preliminary way possible ... but intrigued.

2. The wait is on with Charlotte. The question is, if/when is Michael Jordan going to begin shedding salary?

3. We've learned that Tayshaun Prince still holds a prominent position on the Mavs' what-if list. And while he was previously a cog that maybe could've been gotten in the ‘Melo trade, changes in the Denver-NJ relationship do not change Dallas' high opinion of Prince, or how he might fit here.

RICK'S PRESSER: The Mavs coach wants you to know that the Clippers, the visitors to the AAC on Tuesday, aren't the Clippers anymore.

"They're a completely different team," Carlisle says. "Their last 10 of 15 games they've been winning able 70 percent of the time. And they're extremely athletic, they've gotten better offensively and defensively and they present major problems on the boards, in large part because of (Blake) Griffin."

Here's more of the coach's Monday meeting with the media, his best 90 seconds, featuing his Peja review:

THE LAST WORD: We collect our quotes courtesy of the Quoteboard, and here you go: "(Peja) is one of the greatest shooters to ever play the game.'' – Rick Carlisle.

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