Mavs Donuts: Jazz At Dallas + The Heavy Load

DALLAS - Charles Barkley thinks Dallas 'might be the best team in the West' and 'looks great on paper.' But as we approach Game 2 with the Jazz in town, the paperwork isn't done. Mavs Gameday Donuts!



DONUT 1: Dirk's Load

Dirk Nowitzki, in DB.com's humble opinion, needs to be the horse that the Mavs ride, certainly when the game is on the line, as was the case in the Tuesday opener at San Antonio, a 101-100 loss in which Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis were the end-game go-to guys of record.

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Meanwhile, Nowitzki shot only 11 times in 32 minutes, making seven of them for 18 points. ... and as we note above, this whole season is still largely a game of "Dirkopoly.'' And I mean that in a good way.

“We always want to get him as many easy shots as possible, but we don’t want to dump the whole thing on him either,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We want to get him as many high-quality touches as we can. Do we want to get him more great looks? Sure. Is that easy to do? No, it’s not, because teams really gear up for him, and when they do that, we’ve got to have other guys step up.”

DONUT 2: JJB's role

As DB.com reported Wednesday, J.J. Barea "Back To The Future'' move here represents an investment in a repeat of his success in Dallas under the terms of a one-year, $1,310,286 deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

To make roster room, Dallas waived guard Gal Mekel, and we are told the club is working to help him land elsewhere.

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Barea would had been due his $4.5 million salary had he been claimed off waivers from Minnesota. But he cleared waivers at 4 p.m. Wednesday and shortly thereafter forged a deal with the Mavericks.

Barea was an undrafted street free agent in 2006 when he surprised and made the roster. Shortly thereafter he became a rotation player, his high mark coming when he started the last three games in the NBA Finals in 2011.

Barea parlayed that success into a handsome four-year, $18-million contract with the Wolves, but now the 5-11 waterbug starts anew with Dallas, where the undersized backcourt features point guards Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris. But the Mavericks are using a combo-guard concept so Barea could also play some 2-guard behind Monta Ellis, and in fact, that may be the primary role for him as he'll don jersey No. 5 (with Monta already owning Barea's old No. 11). ... and he's at Mavs shootaround today.

DONUT 3: D-League Donut

Our first mention of the Texas Legends today is all D-League: As we reported last night, Mike James, the 39-year-old NBA veteran guard who played with Dallas in the 2012-13 season, is back in basketball and back in the Metroplex, sources telling me he's signing on with the Legends.

This, in the strictest sense, is a Frisco story and not a Dallas one; James' path back to the NBA will almost certainly not include trips down 75. But ... with James likely serve as the starting point guard, in Frisco, he'll join Eddie Najera and top assistant Nick Van Exel in helping mentor young Yuki Togashi, the 5-7 Japanese star who will come off the bench at the 1 in Frisco. ... So, if you really view Togashi as a prospect (I'm skeptical), there's your connection.

The 6-2 James averaged six points and three assists in his year in Dallas, when he started 23 of his 45 games with the club.

DONUT 4: Sarge is back!

But here's a D-League move that truly speaks to "development'' for a Mavs name. Dallas, as you know, recently waived young center Bernard James despite his guaranteed contract. (Good on Mark Cuban, eating this contract, as with Mekel's, to upgrade the roster.) But "Sarge" has decided to retain ties with the organization, NBA sources telling me he's agreeing to a deal with the D-League Texas Legends.

James, a 2012 second-round pick who re-signed with the team this summer, had a guaranteed contract with Dallas this year worth $915,243. He keeps that in his pocket that even as the Mavs replaced him on the 15-man roster with Charlie Villanueva, a nine-year veteran who signed a non-guaranteed contract to come to camp with the Mavs.

"Sarge,'' a high-character guy with an Air Force background, never climbed Dallas' depth chart. But he will work to develop in Frisco with the D-League Texas Legends, with whom he was dominant in his single assignment last February, scoring 38 points on 18-of-20 shooting, with 18 rebounds and four blocks.

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As you know, R.J. Choppy and I will have the Legends telecasts again this year, and Sarge adds to what should be a heck of a show.

Oh, and I'm back with FOX Sports Southwest's TV coverage of the Mavs, too, as a studio analyst for "Mavs Live'' (the pre- and postgame shows with Dana and Bob) and on "Mavs Insider'' every weekend with Ali and Earl K. Sneed.

We'll be taping an episode of that show on the floor tonight before Jazz at Mavs ... hope to see you there!

DONUT 5: Previewing Jazz at Mavs

It's a 7:30 p.m. tip on FOX Sports Southwest with the young Jazz rolling into Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back, after last night's 104-93 loss at home to Houston.

There is a travel challenge for Utah here; a game last night, a cross-half-the-country red-eye flight, and rise and grind today. But there is also a talent challenge; they had no answer last night for Dwight Howard inside (22 points and 10 rebounds) and rookie head coach Quin Snyder needs to figure out a way for the Jazz to survive outside, as well.

The Rockets hit 14-of 27-from 3, including 7-of-8 from corner 3's, as noted by Jazz voice David Locke. The Jazz countered by making just 3-of-18 from the arc.

The Mavs need to shore up their defense in terms of percentage allowed as well, given that San Antonio shot 53 percent on Tuesday. But overall, this figures to be quite a challenge for a Jazz that was 0-4 last year in its meetings with the Mavs.

DONUT 6: Give 'em a click!

Here's McKinneyDentist.com ... with us since 1995! Give "the finest dentists in the land'' a click and a call!

Thanks to Red Rock Bar & Grill, our north Dallas hangout for live music and sports!

Meet LS Wealth Strategies, with Woody and Bill helping to guide my family and available to do the same for you!

And Dee Lincoln's, the famous DFW restauranteur now with a new location near Park and Preston!

DONUT 7: Deciphering the Rotation

Does Rick use SmallBall out of necessity or because he likes it? When should Dirk go back into the game? Who deserves to be "the closers''? How deep is Dallas?

Our David Lord digs into these questions with answers in "Deciphering The Rotation'' here.

DONUT 8: Be in touch

Keep it here on DB.com as we will keep you posted in a variety of ways from inside your team ... Here on the HOME page, and here on DB.com Boards ... Thanks for joining us as we launch our 15 season inside the Mavs!

Oh, and if you want to be a Mavs Insider with Premium coverage? Click here to take our free 7-day trial and then for 10 cents a day, you are among the most informed Mavs followers on the planet! Go Mavs and Go Premium!

Also, hook up on Twitter with Fish, Mike Marshall, Michael Dugat, Jonny Auping and David Lord.

DONUT 9: Quotable

“I had a good wind, even down the stretch, to make some moves. I felt better driving again than in the last couple of years, so that was encouraging for me, but unfortunately we didn’t come out with the win.” -- Dirk Nowitzki, with words that are indeed encouraging.

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DONUT 10: Tapping the brakes

Are fans excited about JJB's return? Sure. Even GM Donnie Nelson enthusiastically terms it a "homecoming.''

But some of us with longer memories also know that there are ups and downs with Barea, even though his final note in Dallas was so, so up: In starting those last three games of the 2011 Finals as a 2-guard, Barea stunned LeBron and Company with 40 points, eight rebounds and and 14 assists in 78 minutes, shooting 16-of-32 from the floor, including 5-of-10 on 3's.

I would keep the bar of expectations much, much lower than that here. Deal?

DONUT 11: Meet your Mavs!

We've got player profiles of all the Mavs -- their numbers, their quotes and their expectations -- here ... part of our wall-to-wall coverage of all things Mavs as DallasBasketball.com begins its 15th season! Thank you for your friendship and support of all we do!

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DONUT 12: The Final Word

I think the West is the toughest I’ve ever seen in the NBA. I think the Dallas Mavericks might be the best team in the West. But I think this year — I just don’t see the Spurs repeating. … I think the West is the best it’s ever been. I don’t like making preseason predictions, because we haven’t played any games yet, but I tell you what, that Dallas Mavericks team looks great on paper.” - Charles Barkley.

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