DONUT 1: How ancient? ...
How ancient is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's opposition to the risk of NBA players participating in the Olympics? It predates Dirk Nowitzki's present conditioning concerns. It predates this decade. It predates Rodrigue Beaubois' international injury issue. Heck, the subject is so time-worn that when Cuban first broached it, Roddy B was 14 years old. It's been around so long that Don Nelson once said Cuban's belief shows he is unpatriotic.
"Why are we giving our most valuable manpower to a huge business, the Olympics, so they can try to take revenue away from the NBA and our partners?'' Cuban protested. "Where is the logic in any of this?''
When did Cuban say that? In 2004.
The Mavs owner is touching on the subject again this week and is creating yet another wave of discussion regarding whether highly-paid pros should be eligible for the Olympics, which can put them at injury risk and hurt them as assets to the franchises that pay them.
"I really don't care what anybody thinks,'' the owner told me on Thursday when I asked him about the incendiary headlines and reactions to his words. "My position stands on its own merit.''
Cuban, the provocative nature of his statements and the overreaction to them aren't the real news here; rationally discussing the issue is important and overcoming name-calling is important, too.
DONUT 2: Uncle Nellie's blast ...
Don Nelson, after he'd left the Mavs employ and was embroiled in a legal dispute with Cuban, responded to his former boss' view in 2008 by telling the Dallas Morning News, "I couldn't disagree more. It's not about the money. There is pride in these athletes. He ought to have more respect for his country. Everybody in the NBA makes plenty of money. It's not too much to ask that every four years you give something back to your country."
Again, incendiary stuff. … but maybe missing the point that is better framed every time we discuss the topic with Dallas GM Donnie Nelson, Don's son and Cuban's right-hand with the Mavs.
"I will say this about ‘national pride,'' Donnie Nelson has told me. "The beauty of America is that we all get to think and feel and speak however we wish. If you want to participate, you can. If you don't, that's acceptable, too. My view is, that's what America and being an American is all about. Specific to what Mark feels, I think he makes good points. He's allowed to feel the way he does. That's what it's all about.''
Cuban not only has complaints but also potential solutions. In short, he suggests a) that the Olympics basketball program be open to players 21-and-younger only; and b) that if NBA veterans are to play in country-against-country competition, that such play occur in international tournaments that are owned and operated by the NBA.
"And either solution works for me,'' Cuban tells me. "To me, the second is far more interesting and makes more sense.''
Cuban has harbored and expressed these thoughts since 2004. The challenge is to fight through the verbal fireworks to get anybody to listen.
DONUT 3: Let's get to tonight, with Vince (foot) hoping to play and Delonte (hammy) a game-time decision: The starting lineups, and NBA scouting info from Kyle Leath ...
|JAZZ 10-6||MAVS 11-8|
|F- Gordon Hayward||F- Shawn Marion|
|F- Paul Millsap||F- Lamar Odom|
|C- Al Jefferson||C- Brendan Haywood|
|G- Raja Bell||G- Delonte West|
|G- Devin Harris||G- Jason Kidd|
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DONUT 5: A look at the Jazz Offense:
• They are a very good transition team always looking to score easy buckets with Millsap and Heyward filling the lanes. Jefferson is an effective trailer. Harris only averages 4.6 assist per game. He will try and take ball to basket or stop and pop a lot in transition. ... Devin had a poor-shooting game in the recent loss to Dallas, but he does try to create:
• Early offense looks to get Millsap and Jefferson on the block where they are both effective with their backs to the baskets as well as being able to step out and face up.
• Primary half-court set is a 1-4 with UCLA cut by PG and then a number of options for the wings and ending with a post up/iso opportunity for 4/5.
• Not a good-shooting team from the perimeter.
• With Howard and Favors back, after missing some games with injuries, one of the best benches in the league.
DONUT 6: A look at the Jazz Defense:
• Solid man-to-man. Do a good job fighting screens both on and off ball.
• They guard the ball hard on the perimeter. You will not get a lot of uncontested shots.
• Will funnel the ball to their big men on your drives. And they take a gang-up approach to blocking shots:
• They hit hard at ball, trying to force turnovers. Dallas must be strong on drives.
• Good transition defense.
DONUT 7: A Jazz Stat Check:
• Jazz are 4th in Blocked Shots at 6.13/gm
• Jazz are 6th in Team Rebounding at 43.5/gm. • Jazz are 27th in 3pt FG% at .281.
• Bench averages right at 47 ppg.
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DONUT 9: Psychology Today ...
We explore this in more depth in Premium Mavs Coverage, but here's a sampler of how much the Mavs are working on issues above the neck:
"I expect more out of myself than you could ever expect out of me,'' L.O. is saying, and while that's a great line, we are beyond the one-quarter mark of the season and we've seen no true evidence of that.
Indeed, it's worth reviewing one more time coach Rick Carlisle's response when asked after Wednesday's loss to Minnesota whether L.O. is "engaged'':
"My assumption is that he is,'' Rick said, "that he does care. Again, we don't make excuses around here."
That is not a "yes.''
Carlisle said on Thursday that "We believe in Lamar. This has been a struggle so far, but this guy can play. … We're going to keep supporting him and keep believing in him. He's going to get better and better. … We're with him.''
So one day it's a whip and the next day it's a hug. That's the way Jimmy Johnson used to do it. It's worth a try.
One more thing on L.O.: A couple of Mavs mentioned today what Odom has said often: that Odom takes on extra responsibility by learning multiple positions. That's being used as a "reason'' for his struggles, so here's a thought: How about lessening his "extra responsibility''?
Meanwhile, Vince did practice while celebrating turning 35. His sprained foot has sidelined him for four games, and while Dallas certainly doesn't want to push him into a premature return, a Mavs stable of forwards with Dirk in a three-piece suit and Lamar off in La-La Land sure would be aided by the offensive of VC.
Vince talked of working on the mental side of having confidence in the health of the foot, so again … psychology.
Now to Nowitzki, who a week ago was instructed to take at least four games to work on "the ankle, conditioning and unspecified physical issues,'' as Carlisle put it.
"This week is a mental week, too,'' said Dirk, who will miss tonight and is still targeting Sunday against the Spurs for his return, "where you push yourself to make those moves, even though it might be a little sore or stiff."
Hey, is Dr. Phil still a Mavs season-ticket holder? Can somebody please bring him downstairs?
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DONUT 11: Scout Kyle Leath on How to Beat the Clippers:
• STOP THE BALL – Must get back in transition and stop the ball. Make them play a half-court game on offense
• BENCH – Very strong bench scoring-wise. Dallas must get solid scoring from reserves. First five vs. first five, Utah should have an edge, so the bench will be a key to winning.
DONUT 12: Hold your water, Dirk ...