Fish & Coop On Rudy & Mavs Draft Night
On what was predicted by many to be an uneventful night, the Mavs stirred things up in such a manner that requires an item-by-item detailing, plus analysis. Here goes:
ITEM: Rudy Fernandez has wanted to escape Portland for quite some time, noises that have earned him fines and a rep as a whiner. In the summer of 2010, he even reportedly created a "wish list'' featuring the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Celtics and Heat.
ITEM: While the Mavs might not have been on Rudy's list, he's been on their radar for quite some time ... and the blip became larger in recent days as Portland and Denver discussed ways to exchange point guards and picks.
ITEM: The deal, from the Dallas perspective, in its official form:
The Dallas Mavericks have acquired guard Rudy Fernandez and the rights to Petteri Koponen from the Portland Trailblazers and will send the 26th overall selection Jordan Hamilton to Denver and the 57th overall pick Tnaguy Ngombo to Portland. Denver will acquire Andre Miller and Portland will acquire Raymond Felton in the deal.
ITEM: The expert who probably least likes the deal? Our man Chuck Cooperstein:
ITEM: Rudy is among the most cooperative guys in the league, media-wise. From a distance he seems ... soft. But maybe it's just because he's nice?
'So happy to be in the best team in the NBA,' Rudy tweeted. 'Dallas!'
ITEM: Dallas swapped both of its picks in Thursday's NBA Draft to Portland for Fernandez and for Euro-stash point guard Petteri Koponen.
There is some buzz suggesting that Koponen, the 6-4 point guard from Finland who is a standout in Italy, might be more likely to come to the NBA now ... possibly because he has a comfort level with Dallas people that he did not have with Portland people.
What merits further study: How Koponen compares as a prospect to another big point guard being stashed, Mavs property Nick Calathes.
ITEM: Fernandez has experienced some dubious moments in Portland, more than once publicly announcing his desire to break his contract (he has one guaranteed year left on his deal at $2.18 million (and then a $3.2 mil qualifying-offer deal for 2012-13).
In short, you can't complain about Rudy's money. He's a buy-low bargain, we say.
ITEM: That is, unless Texas' Jordan Hamilton (who Dallas selected and then moved along) becomes a stud. But the Mavs clearly do not see that happening. Indeed, we are told that while 20 through 40 represents chances to get an "NBA-caliber prospect,'' Dallas is convinced no stars are likely to emerge from that pack.
"The balance,'' said Nelson, is that the Mavs passed on a draftee who "is a young one versus one that's been around the league for a few years and can help us win right away.''
ITEM: Fernandez is a 6-6 shooting guard and is 26 but has three years of NBA experience. In his rookie year, he showed great promise as a 3-point marksman. In a regular-season game against Dallas this year, he completely corralled JJ Barea on defense. But in the playoffs against Dallas this year? He did neither.
What he would like to recapture is some of this Euro brilliance:
He can do that.
Heck, maybe it's his lousy showing in that Round 1 matchup that made him so expendable to the Blazers.
ITEM: We think the deal is a crowd-pleaser in this sense: The Mavs are not laurel-resting. They are shuffling the deck -- or, as we suggested earlier this week, "churning the bottom of the roster'' in order to get better.
Dallas remains, as it should be, in a win-now mindset.
"We're in a championship-push mode,'' Nelson said, just weeks after using "championship-push mode'' to win one.
ITEM: The biggest impression Rudy's left on most fans came in the Gold Medal game of the 2008 Olympics against the Redeem Team, where he was very impressive.
ITEM: Sidebar: What's up with the Mavs and staffer Tim Grgurich?
We spoke to Mavs GM Donnie Nelson about the story out of LA that has Mike Brown coveting Mavs special asst Tim Grgurich ...
"He knows we love him,'' Donnie tells me. "He know what we think of him.''
We are told Grgurich has extremely strong relationships with people in this organization now, including everybody from Rick Carlisle to Jason Terry to Shawn Marion, with whom he shares UNLV ties.
In LA, Brown covets Tim ... though I think the LA paper might be wrong in projecting him as an 'assistant coach,' as Tim would likely prefer to remain out of the spotlight.
So, Donnie, what about LA wanting him?
"Everybody wants him,'' Donnie said. "He's universally considered the best assistant coach on the planet. 29 other teams want him. All we can do is make certain he knows we're on the top of those 29.''
If it's about money, title, freedom and success, nobody can match what Cuban/Nelson/Carlisle can offer.
But Grgruich marches to a different beat. So not until he informs Cuban/Nelson/Carlisle of his plans, and then not until a reporter stumbles into one of those three for a timely update, will we have our answer.
As you may have figured out by now, Tim Grgurich isn't exactly the type to stage a press conference to announce his 'Decision.'
ITEM: The Mavs remain very high on Dominique Jones. A specific comparison is being made to Moe Ager, with a point: Moe didn't put in the work. DoJo? When he was assigned the job of being the "scout team Wade'' during NBA Finals practice, that assignment came with a purpose.
It was a reward for the work he's put in.
Rick Carlisle has been putting in work, too. One-on-one stuff with DoJo's shot. Don't give up on the kid yet.
ITEM:Fernandez, from Spain, has shown terrific athleticism at points in his career. He averages 9.1 points per game and was labeled by Nelson as a "potential'' starter.
That seems unlikely given Dallas' wish to retain free agent Caron Butler and the return to health of premium prospect Roddy Beaubois, both of whom can play the 2-guard. Fernandez' acquisition would seem to serve as insurance should the Mavs lose DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic (and maybe J.J. Barea) from their world championship roster.
Fernandez is a good shooter shooting poorly ... can create off the dribble ... and figures to battle DoJo and Corey Brewer and others for backup minutes.
And if he doesn't win a front-line job and doesn't like it? Let him take his cheap contract to Spain or wherever. This is low-risk, medium-reward.
And again, the idea of the Finnish kid -- true prospect though he may be -- rolling into town and taking over seems unlikely, too. ... though if you review his Summer League work after being drafted in 2007, you see he has a knack for distributing the ball:
Donnie's take: "Petteri is a young combo guard who was a first round selection in 2007 (30th overall) and is developing nicely in Europe."
ITEM: Speaking of JJB again: We came away from the AAC feeling that Dallas is preparing to lose him ... to not go beyond the MLE-level money ($5 mil or so) for a guy who is not destined to be the starting point guard and whose presence would block Roddy B's progress.
The Mavs want to keep him. But not if somebody blows him away with minutes and money.
ITEM: Because we don't like to pretend to know more than we do, we've always argued that a team on Draft Day can't be judged by its picks ... but should rather be judged by its execution of a plan. (Unless you really want us to critize Dallas for completing this deal by selecting Tanguy Ngombo at No. 57 and sending his rights to Portland.)
The Mavs saw no immediate help in this draft. They want immediate help to remain a championship level team and know they might lose a FA or two.
So they executed their plan.
Now, there was an odd media moment when Donnie announced the trade without announcing it ... here, have a look ...
This was "our A scenario,'' Donnie said.
And so we give them an "A'' grade for it.