DONUT 1: WELL, WELL-RESTED
In case you cannot remember, because the Dallas Mavericks last played LAST WEDNESDAY at Golden State, Our Boys In Blue are 2-6, and while in these Donuts we are going to get to the very bottom of the jar to taste some so-far goodness here, I really want to touch on why in the heck an NBA team is asked to play a road back-to-back at Los Angeles and then at Oakland on a Tuesday and a Wednesday ... and then is ordered to go home and play with the kids for four days off.
Is Dallas involved in some sort of Spurs-like "Rodeo Road Trip''? Is the AAC otherwise booked? (Nope. The Dallas Stars are also out of town.) Were all the other NBA teams too busy in the last four days to come out and play?
I invite you to give DB.com a look here to review what Harrison Barnes and the Mavs did to the Lakers last week ... and then how a "scheduled loss'' (an actual term used by NBA people) very much dictated what was destined to happen a plane ride and an overnight nap and 24 hours later with Dallas' losing visit to the Golden State Warriors. As my story illustrates, that was an Election-Day carryover with coach Rick Carlisle giving a "concession speech'' of sorts as soon as he turned in a lineup card that was literally made up of Barnes plus four guys with recent D-League ties.
I know schedule-making is a complicated puzzle. And we know the NBA is never going to peel back from the income generated by its 82-game marathon. But back-to-back games aren't good, or fair, for anybody. And four days off following the back-to-back seems to suggest an easy opening for reshuffling the scheduling deck.
DONUT 2: SPEAKING OF NBA MATTERS
A new CBA is coming up the road, and beyond the most obvious benefit -- no work stoppage -- it deserves deep analysis from the very smartest minds.
DallasBasketball.com employs such a mind. Want the best stuff on the new CBA? Read the incomparable David Lord here. ... on how the survival of basketball's Golden Goose will impact teams' roster decisions, Dallas and beyond. Best in the biz here.
DONUT 3: AMNESTY WES?
And one more note on the subject of NBA rules and CBA changes and funny money: Our man Mike Marshall suggests strongly in our recent "Locked On Mavs'' podcast that Wesley Matthews' future in Dallas is an amnesty future, and that such a move could leave the Mavs with only $40 million committed to the 2017-18 roster -- a boom for acquisitions.
In this podcast, Marshall even names names of the sort of guys who could be targeted ... and issues a promise for what Dallas will do in the NBA Draft next summer. It's all part of our "Mavs Things We Think We Know'' podcast. Come and get it! And then discuss it all here on DB.com Mavs Discussion Boards!
DONUT 4: MAVS AT KNICKS
Dallas (2-6) is at the New York Knicks (3-6) tonight at Madison Square Garden in a 6:30 CT time, and it's a chance for the Mavericks to flash some offense, as they ranked just 26th in the NBA in points.
The Mavericks will be missing point guard Deron Williams (calf) so JJB and Seth Curry carry a larger load against a New York club that's held an opponent under 100 points just once this season.
NY does have names, though. Derrick Rose. Carmelo Anthony. Courtney Lee. Kristaps Porzingis. Brandon Jennings off the bench.
Luckily for Dallas -- which has won five straight in the series -- the Knicks are playing their third game in four nights.
DONUT 5: DIRK UPDATE
It's a good sign.
It started last Thursday with some hope of a Dirk Nowitzki return via Steiny-Mo reporting that he's returned to the practice floor. It continues now, even as I'm pondering Dirk's "Point of No Return'' ... because The UberMan is in New York and hoping to go against the Knicks tonight. Said Nowitzki over the weekend:
“I did probably half the practice (Saturday). We’ll just see how (the Achilles) responds. At this point we’ll just go day-by-day. Obviously, we all know I’d love to play eventually in some of these games. It’s two of my favorite road arenas coming up here, so it would really hurt to miss those. We’re taking it sort of slow, revving it back up, and we’ll see how it feels the next couple of days.”
Yes, part of Dirk's motivation is enjoying playing at Madison Square Garden and (on Wednesday) at the Boston Garden.
Hey, if it gets him on the floor healthy, I'm all for it.
DONUT 6: QUOTABLE
Carmelo Anthony "is a great offensive player,” said Harrison Barnes, who will likely draw some of that assignment tonight. “He’s one of those guys that kind of transformed the game in terms of being that 3 that plays the 4 consistently. He’s one of those guys, so I look forward to that matchup. It’s going to be at MSG, so that’s always fun. And it will be good.”
DONUT 7: SUSTAINABLE BARNES?
Speaking of Barnes: Those so-far numbers are terrific. "Elite,'' you might say, in some categories. Barnes is averaging a team-high 22.6 points along with 6.1 rebounds per game this season, and he's shooting 49.3 percent from the field.
But his work comes with questions. (Not his work ethic, which is beyond question, a very, very good thing.)
How much of this is sustainable? No, I'm not saying he's got to "sustain'' at 27 points a night; it's more about go-to and go-through. Is that sustainable?
Is Barnes something more than a fine supplemental player having a good couple of weeks? Is a true building block? A Robin waiting on a Batman?
For now, though, the Barnes-vs.-Chandler Parsons question doesn't even come up anymore among MFFLs that I talk with. Now it's all about Barnes vs. The Next Level. And that's pretty cool.
In fact, for Barnes himself, is about "The Next Level'' as it relates to a Nowitzki-less future. HB's money quote:
"It's no secret that Dirk is going to be leaving this team and the Mavs are going to be entering a post-Nowitzki era. We have to be prepared for that. That's why I'm working every single day, working with the coaches, so I can do my part and make sure I'm ready. Whether that time is now or that time is whenever, I need to be able to step into that [role] and have it be a seamless transition."
DONUT 8: STAT O' THE DAY
Jessica and Dirk this weekend welcomed to the world their third child, Morris, 7.9 pounds and 21 inches. And it's always funny how MFFLs project mini-Dirk ages and years and heights and figure Max and now Morris to be "future Mavs'' But 21 inches is in the normal range of a newborn, which is 18 to 22 inches.
So let's take the pressure off the kid!
DONUT 9: FORGIVE AND FORGET?
Our Steven Kilpatrick reflects on "NBA Homecomings'':
On Thursday, Dwyane Wade return(ed) to Miami as a member of the Chicago Bulls. I have to admit—as a Mavericks fan who suffered through a lot of Wade bank-shots and free throws back in 2006, it’s strange to see him in a new uniform. There’s something pure about being able to bring that perfect amount of sports hate (not real hate - sports hate) to a player and a place.
And then Wade played against the Heat. And Barnes played against Golden State. And we start thinking about how fast all the good stuff comes and goes, and whether we should hold onto the hate instead of embracing the good. Steven's fine column on "NBA Homecomings'' is here.
DONUT 10: CREDENTIAL KERFUFFLE
In short, as you see here in the joint statement from the involved parties, ESPN simply agreed to the reasonable request/offer Cuban made before ESPN declined ... at which point Cuban went bull-in-a-china-shop unreasonable.
As I've said for a week here: You might take issue with Cuban's style here. But his cause was just. His point was correct. And ultimately, ESPN itself agreed with that.
DONUT 11: DR. TWITTER
I get irritated by "Coach Twitter'' who seems to think he knows more than an actual coach. But imagine if it's YOUR body in question, and it's "Dr. Twitter'' who thinks he has insights into it?
Sic 'em, Dirk!
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
“I would say that many of us have concerns, but we also have to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to show that he can deal with all these things. I respect our coaches that were outspoken about it because that’s the essence of our country is the ability to speak your mind.’’ - Rick Carlisle, as quoted in the FWST.