Mavs Donuts, Featuring 'Air Quotemarks'

Donnie Nelson is greeting Mavs sponsors and introducing himself in the most humbling way. 'Yes, I'm the guy,' the Dallas GM says, raising his fingers to create air quotemarks, 'who 'Screwed Up The Deron Deal.' Donnie's take, part of today's Mavs Donuts:

DONUT 1: Dang it, Donnie ...

You can't "lose'' what you never had. Nevertheless, Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson understands the perception. That's why, at last week's Mavs Masters golf tournament for sponsors, he turned the criticism on himself. It was self-effacing. But maybe it was self-preservation, too, Nelson taking a jab at himself as a way of grabbing the knife from his attackers' hands.
"July 4,'' Donnie says. "That was the day. And I'm the guy. 'The Guy Who Screwed Up The Deron Deal.''

The issue popped up again this week, Williams claiming that Cuban's absence was the deal-killer. Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. Cuban was making a TV show. So he blew it. Donnie was the point man. So he blew it. Carlisle was present at "The Pitch,'' too. And Dirk wasn't there, as I have explained before, because he considered a dog-and-pony show to be a style that didn't fit Deron or himself.

"Follow the money,'' Deep Throat once told us, and it's good advice when it comes to solving any mystery. Donnie can say the mistake was his. Deron can say the mistake was Cuban's. Cuban can say there was no mistake at all.

Follow the money. Deron's five-year deal in Brooklyn pays him $98.77; the max deal available from Dallas was four years and $73.3 million.

Donnie is willing to be portrayed as the fall guy here, and maybe he is. Or maybe it's Deron's unwillingness to concede that there are 23 million reasons he didn't sign with Dallas that deserve mention.

DONUT 2: At the Movies ...

One of the coolest tales to come out of the Mavs' early days in training camp is Darren Collison's request for film on all his new teammates, the goal being to learn everybody's "sweet spots,'' if you will.

"I thought it was important to get film on each guy, because I'm going to be trying to give these guys the ball in the right place at the right time," Collison said.

And one of the coolest offshoots of the story is Chris Kaman's response to it. He's impressed by DC's unselfish approach to the job.

"Not a lot of guys in this league approach it quite like that,'' says Kaman, a damning indictment of the attitude of some of the fellas.

DONUT 3: So what has DC learned on film? ...

Collison's quickie scouting reports on a few of his "receivers'':

*"With Dirk, you just play off whatever he's doing. You get him the ball and let him dictate.''

*"O.J. doesn't have just one spot. He can score at will.''

*(Kaman and Brand) are really skilled in the low-post. (In Indiana) we focused on getting the ball in the low-post. That will be something I focus on here now, too.''

DONUT 4: OJ Now vs. OJ The Rookie ...

The other day we were talking with O.J. Mayo about his great success experienced as a rookie. The numbers were there; in fact, overall, in his first two seasons, Mayo averaged 18 points on 45-percent shooting with 3.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds per.

"I think I'm a better player now than what I was then,'' Mayo told us. "I'm mentally and physically a better and more mature player.

Mayo admits to struggling through what he called "trials and tribulations'' and says he's handing his game over to Rick Carlisle for a makeover. (Some of those tribulations continued in Barcelona, where he looked lost while shooting 0-of-7.)

But eventually ... if Mayo's numbers match those of his first two seasons, and the Rick Makeover creates additional positives, however subtle, Dallas has its "Robin.''

DONUT 5: Pardon our dust ...

You will note the unsightly amount of dust being raised by the FOXSportsNext alterations around here, which is causing headaches for me and, I know, for you.

The powers-that-be are battling the bugs and you and I are along for the ride ... for better (eventually) and for worse (hopefully, temporarily. Please accept my personal apology for the struggles. If you are a Premium Mavs Subscriber, I'm about ready to buy you a $3 beer to soothe the headache. If you are among the maybe loyalists at any level, heck, I should buy you one, too.

Again, thanks for your patience, understanding and loyalty.

DONUT 6: "It's A Process'' Beer Commercials ...
Rick Carlisle says it a lot. Jason Garrett says it even more often.

"It's a process,'' the coaches say, telling a truth while also utilizing a crutch.

Neither man's public persona is what one would term "colorful'' and for that, in some circles, they are made to suffer.

Certainly, Cowboys coach Garrett's press-conference quotes will never be featured in a TV beer commercial.

Remember Jim Mora? "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs? You kiddin' me?'' Remember Mike Dikta? "Living in the past is for cowards.'' Remember Herm Edwards? "You play to win the game!'' Remember Denny Green? "They are who we thought they were!''

Nellie was always fun in press conferences. So was Parcells. But that isn't why they were superior coaches. Carlisle rarely calls out his players in public. Garrett is cut from that cloth. Yes, there have been times in this football season when, as I put it to Garrett, the public wants him to "throw something, yell a cuss word or punch something.''

"I think different coaches have different personalities," Garrett responded. "One of the things I learned a long time ago, really in life, as a player and certainly as a coach, is you have to be who you are. A lot of different coaches get it done in a lot of different ways. A lot of great coaches in all sports, you see a variety of personalities.

"You see guys who are really quiet, guys who are cerebral, you see guys who are ranting and raving all the time and throwing stuff at officials. There's a whole gamut of guys and people have won a lot of different ways. The one thing I would say is that I can't imagine any of those guys won trying to be somebody else and someone that they're not."

Garrett, like Carlisle, doesn't have a dishonest or disingenuous bone in his body. One big difference: Rick majored in Psychology at Virginia, and his lovely wife is a psychologist by trade. It does seem as though Carlisle, when dealing with the media at times, is dabbling in that profession.

But I believe that's part of what keeps Rick entertained by his job. Mental makeup ... chemistry ... What Jimmy Johnson once called, "the mind controllin' the body instead of the body controllin' the mind.'' Those things intrigue him.

So Rick Carlisle might f' with you a little bit.

Otherwise, Carlisle and Garrett share a level of intelligence and authority that cause players to "fear''/respect them. And it is done without press-conference lynchings and beer-ad rants.

"They're not radical things," Garrett said of what he preaches and teaches. "It's not like, ‘Hey guys, we got this new idea. We have this silver bullet.''

Wait. Did he say "silver bullet''?

There may be a Jason Garrett beer commercial here yet.

DONUT 7: Swollen news ...

"The preseason is not the time to force a swollen knee,'' said Dirk, opting out of yesterday's Euro-trip-closing loss at Barcelona. We've got a full notebook on the game here. ... along with the hope that this is simply precautionary on Nowitzki's part and not anything tied to last year's knee struggles.

Worth nothing (or "worth being alarmed about,'' if you will: Dirk tells Sefko that he "might have to do something'' about the knee ... which might be a hint at a minor arthroscopic surgery.

"Minor'' being a relative word, of course.

DONUT 8: Mavstoberfest! ...

The Mavs arent staging a Fan Jam this year ... but it's a Mavstoberfest! And I've got the details:

The date will be Saturday, Oct. 13. The event -- featuring live music, food and games -- will begin on the AT&T Plaza at 3, and then the AAC doors will open at 4 p.m. for fans to watch the Mavs practice and scrimmage at 5:30.

DONUT 9: Endorsing Delonte ...

Delonte West says he has zero endorsement deals. Not even for shoes, so he buys his own, at the store, like the rest of us schmoes.

If you are a company, big or small, local or national, do you want a piece of Delonte West?

DONUT 10: Stop the Flop ...

I'm fine with the anti-flopping laws, though I think the NBA is coming across as being what Marv Levy once called "over-officious jerks.'' To wit, NBA suit Stu Jackson's explanation:

"Flops have no place in our game – they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call," Jackson said. "Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should – after a warning – be given an automatic penalty."

Well, "fooling fans'' makes it sound like some sort of criminal larceny. But OK. "Flopping" will be defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. And now we'll have arguments about when a legit charge was drawn, arguments that will occur all the way up the ladder to the fine system, which goes like this:

Violation 1: Warning

Violation 2: $5,000 fine

Violation 3: $10,000 fine

Violation 4: $15,000 fine

Violation 5: $30,000 fine
The largest ramification stemming from the no-flop rules (besides adding more difficult judgement calls to the name, something I'm never in favor of) is occurring in San Antonio, as the Spurs have seen half their defensive playbook completely eliminated from the sport.

DONUT 11: Down-To-Earth Dirk ...

Dahntay Jones tells me Dirk is "the most approachable superstar in the world. I've never seen anything like it. I'm almost star-struck to be playing with him, and yet he's as down-to-earth as it gets.''

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

While in Barcelona, the team attended a soccer match featuring two of the best in the world – F.C. Barcelona and Lionel Messi and Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo. The match ended 2-2 and everyone was excited and satisfied and Messi was brilliant and Ronaldo was fantastic and I'm just gonna have to take their word for it.

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