DONUT 1: A time for optimism - still
It is here. The start of the Dallas Mavericks season. I wrote recently that this is a "time of optimism'' if for no other reason than ... if not now, when?
So maybe we end up lowering the bar of expectations; indeed, I'll be fascinated today to visit with Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle and listen for whether they are careful to note, as is their usual wont,"that this is a championship organization''with "the only goal being to contend for a title'' and verbiage like that ... verbiage that has been true and can be true ...
Or ... it can be something we all say because it is what we think we're supposed to say.
And I personally have no use for that.
I vote for "Optimism Properly Framed.'' This is an organization that was devastated by the wriggling-off-the-hook of DeAndre Jordan. I know Cuban believes that Dallas has recovered as nicely as possible. I think that is so. But for the most part, post-2011, that's where the Mavs have perennially been: Recovering nicely with O.J. Mayo. Recovering nicely with Monta Ellis. Recovering nicely with TY's (all-too-brief) return.
These supplemental swings were not enough. Oh, they were enough to "recover nicely,'' but they were not enough to insist "this is a championship organization.'' So Job One for me today -- alongside exchanging hellos and asking questions and shooting video and having fun, which Mavs Media Day has been for me for all of DB.com's 16 seasons -- is to find where the bar of optimism and the bar of success are truly perched.
Is it about developing the kids? Is it about a "two-year program''? Is it about "Dirk's Golden Years"? Is is about doing anything necessary to make the top eight in the West and then rolling the dice and accepting the thrills that can result of that? Is it about making certain one of the most valuable assets in all of sports -- Rick Carlisle -- exists in this final season of his contract in a way that ensures it's NOT the final year of his time in Dallas?
I don't know if we can unearth all of those possible truths today, in part because I'm not sure Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki themselves know what is "true'' yet. But I know the fun investigation of it all starts today ... and DallasBasketball.com is honored to have you along for our ride. Thank you for that.
DONUT 2: Injuries and whatnot
We know for a fact that JaVale McGee, Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons will spend at least part of this training camp "ramping up'' -- as opposed to the fantasy idea that everyone is 100 percent. We addressed that here last week, one of the reasons it's very difficult to forecast a high level of Dallas success in 2015-16. (In CP's case, he apparently got "Jumbo Shrimp'' surgery -- something oxymoronic about "minor microfracture,'' but we shall see.)
In fact ... Here are your Western Conference title odds:
|San Antonio Spurs||12/5|
|Golden State Warriors||3/1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||18/5|
|Los Angeles Clippers||13/2|
|New Orleans Pelicans||20/1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||100/1|
I made the statement the other day that there are seven teams that are "on-paper better'' than Dallas. Vegas essentially agrees with me. I don't know all of their reasoning but I'm telling you mine: I don't know what they're going to get out of JaVale McGee (even though he may be, as Cuban says, "an athletic freak''), Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons and I don't know when they're going to get it.
DONUT 3: Another injury (scoop)
Salah Mejri is a 7-2, 235-pound center from Tunisia who carries with him the hopes of his homeland (he’s the first North African-born player to sign with the NBA) and carries some Mavs hopes as well. He’s got some springy skills and a guarantee in his $525,093 salary.
But he’s also got a “broken leg’’? DB.com has the scoop on Salah here.
DONUT 4: Rick and Deron
There is a theory (a myth?) that attaches itself to many coaches and it's attached itself to Carlisle, I think: "He's too tough on point guards.''
I found that to be true of Avery Johnson when he was here, the evidence being "The Little Dictator's'' unwillingness to bend even when allowed to team with one of the greatest PG's of all-time in Jason Kidd. I do not find it to be true in Carlisle's work with many of his guys, most recently Barea and Devin.
And if you think I'm going to blame Rick Carlisle because the oddly reprehensible Rajon Rondo didn't work out here, you must be a newcomer to DB.com.
So ... oh, if only Deron Williams -- reputed coach-killer -- will buy in! Deron has not been good to his head coaches in the past (poor Jerry Sloan!) and maybe some of his head coaches haven't been good to him (Avery again!) but here comes a chance for Rick to make his mark on the reclamation project that is DFW prodigal son Deron Williams. ... who we are "falling in love with all over again.'' ... and man, we sure hope Deron is prepared to truly return the love.
If he does so, two trends/theories/myths/legends can be busted:
1) That coach Carlisle is too hard on point guards.
2) That point guard Deron is too hard on coaches.
DONUT 5: Oh, the roster!
We should probably take a moment to tell you who is actually on the basketball team -- 20 guys strong, to be trimmed to 15. Our David Lord -- the best in the business -- helps us not only with the names, but also with the financial numbers:
Any Dallas Mavericks list begins with Dirk Nowitzki ... unless it's a list of salaries, as we've compiled below for the 2015-16 season ... salaries and commitments and 20 candidates to go through the upcoming training camp:
A lot to gobble up there, we know. Some notes and details and explanations ...
DONUT 6: Salary notes for 2015-16
McGee - ** $250,000 guaranteed if waived before training camp (deadline 9/29/2015), $500,000 guaranteed if waived during training camp but before season begins (deadline 10/27/15), $750,000 guaranteed if waived after season starts but before the date in January after which all contracts are fully guaranteed
Powell - ** $0 guaranteed unless he is on the roster opening day of the season, after which contract is fully guaranteed
NDour - # 1st year salary for the odd amount of $1 over the minimum, which carries no ramifications other than the extra $1
Famous - ** $10,000 guaranteed if waived before the date in January after which all contracts are fully guaranteed
Ashley - ** $50,000 guaranteed if waived before the date in January after which all contracts are fully guaranteed
Wilson - ** $50,000 guaranteed if waived before the date in January after which all contracts are fully guaranteed; # 1st year salary for the odd amount of $1 over the minimum, which carries no ramifications other than the extra $1
DONUT 7: Stay in touch!
You can find DB.com almost everywhere and be a part of DB.com in so many ways. ...
And please consider an investment of just a few bucks a month to Go Mavs and Go Premium!
DONUT 8: See you at The Maverick Bar!
Texas-flavored burgers that are the talk of the town. A choice of beers with a list of 80 to choose from. A 200-inch screen along with 30 TVs for your Cowboys, Rangers, college football and of course Mavs viewing pleasure. And live music on the weekends!
Our hangout is The Maverick Bar in Carrollton ... make it your neighborhood hangout, too!
DONUT 9: Playoff talk
We mention the teams in the West, and the odds, above. A challenging tangle. But NBA playoff seeding is about to get untangled.
It happens all too often, a poor team somehow getting a postseason berth above a superior team. Why? Because that "poor team'' won its division … an outmoded concept that once upon a time had to do with which side of the Mississippi River your gym was located on …
And now that’s dead. Now? In short, a division title guarantees nothing. In fact, you could win your division and not even make the playoffs.
DONUT 10: Shooters or athletes?
We're working on a project for this week about how Zaza as a passing center can be helpful on a team of shooters ... like this one might be. Reflect back on a Dirk quote and put this in the gumbo:
“It’s pretty obvious now that the league goes in a direction where everybody on the floor has to be able to score,” Nowitzki said. “All the good teams can score 110, 120 every night. There’s a lot of SmallBall now. You can’t have enough athletes, but you need enough shooters.”
What we start to find out on Tuesday at training camp: Does Dallas have athletes? Shooters? Both?
DONUT 11: Mavs Fan Jam!
- Exclusive event T-shirt
- Buy One, Get One Free tickets to select Mavericks Pre-Season home games
- All proceeds benefit the Mavs Foundation
DONUT 12: The Final Word
"I can't wait. I’m so done with everything else now. It’s time to get back to basketball and just getting back in the gym.'' - Mark Cuban.