What's Up With Mavs Internal Talks On Corey?

ESPN writes correctly that "the Mavs have at least had internal discussions regarding … Milwaukee's Corey Maggette.'' But what you really want to know is, what are the results of those 'internal discussions'? Dig into Mavs Premium for the scoop straight from Mavs HQ:

Almost immediately following the Caron Butler injury, DallasBasketball.com examined the Mavs' options and mentioned Maggette thusly:

Corey Maggette, now of Milwaukee? The Mavs have never been especially fond of him. But he can score.

Has that changed since Jan. 2 when we wrote it? Are there "internal discussions'' that offer a different tone than that?

The Mavs' thinking on Corey Maggette truly dates back to Don Nelson's days as a powerbroker in the Dallas Mavericks organization. It was Nellie who leaned heavily towards players capable of taking an intellectual approach to basketball.

And what did Nellie think of Corey Maggette back then?

We heard him mumble Nellie's infamous catchphrase "Box o' Rocks'' more than once.

It was therefore odd when in the summer of 2008, the Warriors – reeling because they'd failed to sign Elton Brand (who left the Clippers to go to Philly) while also losing Baron Davis (also to the Clippers) – seemed t want to retaliate against those same Clippers by "stealing'' from them Maggette.

Nellie and Golden State decided to give Maggette a five-year deal worth a reported $50 million – and this was a surprise in three ways:

1. As DallasBasketball.com reported at the time, other NBA teams seemed to like Maggette – but only at the MLE level, or about half what the panicky Warriors eventually gave him.

2. Golden State was already all full up with knuckleheads, what with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington in positions of "leadership'' with the club.

3 And of course … Nellie never liked Maggette as a player. Never.

I remember the Mavs reacting to that signing with bemusement … and I mean, bemusement even from Nellie's own son, Donnie, the Dallas GM.

But Nellie's team suddenly had a perceived need. So he changed his views (however temporarily, since last summer the Warriors dumped Maggette onto Milwaukee for little but financial relief , getting back a second-round pick plus Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric.

Charlie Bell is now averaging 1.2 points per game for the Warriors. Dan Gadzuric is now averaging 3.2 points per game for the Warriors.

So Golden State swapped out a guy who has been a 22-ppg scorer in the NBA for two guys who combine for four points per game?

Why? You know why. Nellie (who predictably clashed with Maggette all last season) knows why. And believe me when I say that when "the Mavs have internal discussions regarding Milwaukee's Corey Maggette,'' it is Don Nelson's son who ends the "internal discussions'' by saying, "Let's move on.''

In fairness, there is at least one member of the Dallas staff who recognizes that Maggette does have offensive skills that would be a fit with the Mavs right now … "if.''

"He's big, he's strong, he gets to the line and he's a legit second option,'' this staffer tells me. "He wants the ball. All those things would help, if …''

And indeed, before we get to the "if's,'' let me bring in Kammrath to give Maggette his offensive due:

Here are Maggette's stats from the last three seasons before this one:

2009-2010

2008-2009

2007-2008

Plus/Minus

-5.53

-2.36

+7.17

Off P/M

-0.40

+0.62

+4.17

Def P/M

-5.12

-2.98

+2.99

Adj P/M

-2.82

-4.51

+4.42

PER

20.3

16.9

19.3

Pts/36

24.0

21.5

22.3

Rbds/36

6.5

6.4

5.7

Asts/36

3.0

2.1

2.7

Stls/36

0.9

1.0

1.0

Blks/36

0.1

0.2

0.1

TO/36

2.9

2.7

2.8

FG%

0.516

0.461

0.458

3P%

0.260

0.253

0.384

FT%

0.835

0.824

0.812

FTA/36

9.5

9.4

9.8

As you can see, Maggette has been an offensive beast the last three seasons. He has averaged over 21 points per 36 minutes all three seasons. He has had a great PER, ranging from about 17-20. He has shot the ball well with percentages around 46 percent and even one season of over 51 percent. He is a very good free-throw shooter as well and has averaged around 9.5 free throws per 36 minutes.

Kammrath notes that Maggette has some question marks on the defensive end and has a reputation as a poor defender -- though in 07-08 he had a defensive plus/minus of +4.42 with the Clippers. That may be a result of his ability to stop play with free throws and allow the defense to get set and it may also be a clue that he is capable of being an adequate defender. With Golden State he had poor defensive plus/minus numbers and overall bad plus/minus numbers as well. But with the Clippers in 07-08 he had an outstanding year across the board.

But there are those "if's.''

"If'' he wasn't a ball-stopper. The Mavs' offense is predicated on ball movement. (When the ball stops with Dirk Nowitzki, it's by design.) Maggette is an offensive player who stops the motion.

"He's a black hole,'' as one insider put it.

Listen to more evaluations of Corey that I've gathered from Mavs HQ and you will hear the echoes of Nellie:

"You're better off having better problem-solvers'' … "We always prefer guys who have good basketball sense'' … "He'll tend to go a lot of 1-on-1.'' …

And that's what's being said at these "internal discussions,'' which don't even proceed to the point where Maggette's bloated contract -- $9.6 mil this year, $10.2 mil next year and $10.9 mil the year after that -- is discussed.

This much is true about Maggette: When he is given the ball, he scores. On Friday he put up 29 points and got to the free-throw line 10 times. Since the Bucks put him back into their starting lineup two weeks ago, he's averaged 19 points, 5.7 rebounds and three assists per game.

But note that Dirk recently stated that there isn't a selfish bone in the Mavs locker room. This is the foundation of everything Dallas is doing … and unselfishness and smarts are not Maggette's foundation. The Mavs don't want to mess with the "chemistry vibe" anymore than they need to. Maggette has only been to the playoffs once (with the Clippers in 05-06). He performed well in that single appearance ,though, and had a PER of over 20. Has he simply had the misfortune of being stuck on bad teams or is there something about his game and personality that has caused his teams to struggle?

Smile

The Mavericks believe they know the answer. And in fact, maybe the Bucks are showcasing him now amid word that he's in danger of losing some minutes whenever John Salmons is ready, and he might find himself back behind Carlos Delfino is ready to move back into the starting lineup.

Why? Because the Bucks have discovered that he's a "Box o' Rocks.''

And the Mavs – who do have a need for an offensive creator but will want that person to be "more of a thinker than just a reactor,'' as one personnel guy described Maggette to me -- knew that a long time ago.

Call it Donnie Nelson's version of "Lessons From My Father'' … and know that the Mavs' "internal discussions about Corey Maggette'' have never gone too far beyond Donnie's internal discussions with himself.

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