Monday Mavs Donuts: Soothed By Spurs?

Vince's (temporary?) Exit. ... Marion's coming 'That's What's Up' moment ... Dirk as the unofficial assistant GM ... No rewards for the disease in LA ... Lance Stephenson and the 10-foot pole ... A conflict with conventional wisdom ... Come inside and chomp on a dozen Monday Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Conventional wisdom …

The Dallas Mavericks took the regal Spurs to seven games. Maybe no team in the West will test them so, and certainly not their second-round foe, the not-ready-for-prime-time Blazers, who are quickly down 0-3.

Therefore, the Mavs are supposed to take some comfort in their Round 1 relative success?

No thanks.

Dallas falling short in Round 1 still, to me, feels less like an "accomplishment'' and more like an "opportunity lost.'' I don't know if I'm being half-empty or half-full or right or wrong, but it's the way I feel.

The Mavs' Game 1 loss ... DeJuan's rejection ... Dirk's struggles ... All of those were chances for Dallas to be in Round 2, to be the team ahead of Portland, to be the team relying on its seasoned ability to deal with pressure as it became more powerful the deeper it progressed.

So no "feel good'' from me. Conventional wisdom? Maybe. But "conventional wisdom" isn't changing the way I feel.
DONUT 2: Vince's Exit...

No, not his exit from Dallas. His Exit Interview, in which the Sixth Man talks to about "flattery.''

DONUT 3: The 10-Foot Pole …

At one point this season, lots of Mavs watchers were covetous of a certain budding superstar in Indy.

And even today, Dallas could vulture its way to free-agent-to-be Lance Stephenson by overwhelming him with up to a four-year $62-mil offer.

It needn't be that large. But it could be, if the Mavs or any other team wanted to blow the Pacers out of the running. has surveyed a trio of NBA personnel people regarding Lance-to-Dallas. The stunning results - including a '10-foot-pole' line - exclusively here.

DONUT 4: The assistant GM ...

Dirk isn't leaving here any more than Cuban is leaving here.

That's why we refer to him as the fourth corner on "The Triangle Of Trust.'' He can joke about the salary management will end up paying him this summer as a free agent because in a weird, rare, awesome way, Dirk IS management.

"I'm pretty sure I'm not going to sign Kobe's deal, unfortunately,'' he said last week, certainly meaning the joke to be self-effacing rather than a dig at Bryant, but ...

Kobe's version of being "the Lakers' unofficial assistant GM means he gets 45 million cap-eating dollars.

What does Dirk's version mean? It begins with the Mavs' renouncing his Bird Rights. Which sounds like an awful, scary thing on the path towards Dallas carving out a whopping $31 million in cap room.

Allow us to walk you through Dirk's steps so it's a little less scary.
DONUT 5: Relating up …

It is true that faith-based coach Mark Jackson conducted much of his Warriors business with a holier-than-thou attitude. As a person who shares Mark's faith I think it's true, too, that a faith-based coach doing so is hypocritical.

He's fired because he didn't "manage up'' and "manage sideways,'' meaning he dealt successfully with the players underneath him but poorly with other Warriors employees -- including his bosses.

Said owner Joe Lacob: "In Mark's next job, he probably needs to do a better job of managing up and sideways. Managing down, managing to his players, he obviously did a pretty good job. Most of his players seem to really like playing for him and played hard for him. That's really important in the NBA. I would assume if you asked him, he would realize – maybe give him some time to answer this – he could probably do a little better job of managing up and sideways, is the way to put it.''

This is in the judgment of his bosses. That's all that matters -- and it matters infinitely more than the judgment of peers or media members who think Jackson's been done wrong after having won 51 games.

This is the sort of trick a first-time coach often struggles with. It's therefore interesting to see the Warriors flirting with the idea of handing the reins to Steve Kerr, who at this moment has exactly as much experience as an NBA coach as Jackson had when they hired him.

If Kerr succeeds wherever he lands, it won't be just about relating down. It'll be about relating sideways and up, too -- as is the case for any person, no matter their salary or power, in any business where somebody else is ultimately the boss.

And Jackson will need to learn from the same.

DONUT 6: Quoteboard ...

"I don't know if some of teams called America's Team have earned it, being a Bears fan." -- Clippers coach Doc Rivers buying into the idea that the Clippers are now embraced as "America's Team'' while the Cowboys' star has faded.

Silly. You don't have to be a Cowboys fan, or even a football fan, to recognize that the Clippers are a blip on the radar screen in comparison to most any NFL team -- and certainly a Cowboys franchise that was given the "America's Team'' tag in the midst of five Super Bowl titles and still-virtually-unmatched popularity.

"America's Team'' isn't just about won-loss records. And it certainly isn't about the country spending a couple of weeks feeling sorry for a Sterling-diseased basketball team that big portions of the population had previously not given two squats about.

DONUT 7: Goals achieved? …

Be better. Be fun. Entertain us. Show us tomorrow could matter before Dirk strolls with his uniquely awkward grace into the sunset. And maybe "make playoff noise.''

The Mavs did all of that. The 2013-14 season was a step forward … and our Michael Dugat is here to make sure this truth -- the accomplishment of goals (some of them admittedly modest) is not lost.

DONUT 8: Stat O' The Day ...
Shawn Marion's five seasons: 399 games, 346 starts (including playoffs). Unique statistical accomplishments. Unique approach to life. And a championship.

The Mavs are very slow to put jerseys up in the rafters. But we can easily envision, a few years down the line, Marion's name in echo in the rafters above his number 0. ... and we will make damn sure we take notes on a retirement speech that promises to be unique.

That's what's up.

DONUT 9: Dirk for 14th …

It's exactly right, right? Major support for the winner KD, plenty of support for the legit LeBron, a couple of goofy homer votes mixed in ... and Dirk finishing 14th in MVP voting.

Exactly right, right?

DONUT 10: More disease ...

"I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness,'' says Donald Sterling, and in his post-basketball endeavors maybe that apology will aid him.

But it won't help him here.

Meanwhile, I assume the NBA is all over this next wrinkle. Mrs. Donald Sterling is an accomplice in every single deed her racist hubby has perpetrated. If he's made $2 billion on the backs of the minorities he so hates, $1 billion of that is hers. ... and her $1 billion has been gained the same way.

Move him along and have him take Shelley Sterling -- and her vows to continue doing everything she can last as she has since 1981 to make the Clippers great -- into sports oblivion.

Because her remarks in that regard speak volumes. She has done nothing to make to make the Clippers great since 1981. I mean, how many times since 1981 have Shelley and Donald's Clippers been great? predicted it at the time and it still lingers as a possibility: These are litigious people not used to having anything but their way. But words have power. And the Sterlings' post-scandal words cannot be judged as being more powerful or sincere than their pre-scandal words ... and actions.

DONUT 11: The headline-grabbers …
It is a headline-grabber nationally to suggest the obvious: The Mavs would like their long-desired chance to bid on possible July 1 free agents LeBron and Carmelo. It is a headline-grabber locally to suggest that ex-Mavs center Tyson Chandler is also on Dallas' wish list. But ...

Click here. Let's leaf through the "buts.''

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

"You know, Vince played all 82 this year. That's amazing for a fossil.'' -- Dirk.

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