Another Hard-Earned Loss
The Monday visit from the Charlotte Hornets resulted in a game at the AAC that was tied 17 times, the lead changed hands 18 times, and both teams had leads of 9 points or better.
The Mavs led by 11 at one point—and they nearly came back from a 9 point deficit in the 4th quarter.
It gets exhausting saying this over and over again, but it was closer than it looked—but then again, it wasn’t.
The Mavs sandwiched a lot of really hard-nosed basketball with pockets of amateurish sloppiness. As a result, they had to claw back just to have a shot to tie it with under a minute, got their shot blocked, gave up a three with under 30 seconds to go, and went fairly quietly after that.
A 109-101 finish (see our game coverage here) that was just another “Almost good enough” outing by the Dallas Mavericks. ... though it did leave a bad taste in the mouths of a couple of Mavs leaders.
Upon Further Review
In immediate review of the loss, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle cited a rebounding problem and a possible lack of effort in that area. Wesley Matthews talked of the team needing to play like "crazed dogs'' and failing to do so here.
But Rick also said he'd need to go back and look at film before coming down to harshly here.
Now, you look at the numbers ... the Mavs didn’t turn the ball over as much as the Hornets, the Mavs were better at dialing up assists, and the Mavs shot the three better than the Hornets.
But, yes, the Mavs also gave up 20 more rebounds and they were dominated in the paint—especially in the 4th.
In those post-game comments, Rick said that if you think of every rebound as a 3-to-5 point swing, it makes a huge difference. And, his logic there is pretty sound. Giving up a rebound is a possession you don’t get and a possession the other team does get.
Even if you only assume a conservative one-point swing, per every three rebounds, the Mavs would have won this contest.
So, at Tuesday's Mavs practice, Rick was asked if, upon further review, this was a rare "effort'' problem with his Boys in Blue.
"Maybe,'' Rick sneered, "we were resting on the laurels of our one-game winning streak."
Some Ex-Mavs Crumbs
Big surprise to nobody: Rajon Rondo was suspended one game for “behavior detrimental to his team” after a verbal spat with a coach during the Mavs manhandling of his Bulls squad on Saturday. (Our review of the game is here).
We can only assume that “Conduct Detrimental” will be the name they one-day plaster on the back of Rondo’s “nickname jersey.” Doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “J. Shuttlesworth” but at least it will capture Rondo’s decade-long career.
In other unsurprising (but less snarky news), there was a retracted tweet that Chandler Parsons’ might be headed for another surgery. It seems that, at least for now, that report was incorrect.
We hope Parsons isn’t done for the season. If his last game this season was his 4 for 7 showing in a win against the Mavs—it will be the wrong kind of poetic. For now, it seems he’s still day-to-day, but the fact that so many of us took it at face value is a sign that this season isn’t looking great so far for Chandler Parsons.
So, if you pay attention to what owner Mark Cuban tells DB.com and what he says in general, you can come to the conclusion that the Mavs are aware that their season is in rough shape -- at 4-15 they project to being a 17-game winner -- but are unwilling to throw in the towel just yet. They hope to climb back into contention (somehow) so they're not ready to deal sale-able assets.
ESPN reiterates our belief that several sources around the league do indeed see Bogut as valuable enough that the Mavs could grab a first-round pick from a contending team ... but the Mavs aren't ready to part with him, because they have the slight prayer that they'll BE a contending team a month from now.
Our unfair guess: They won't.
And right now, or mid-December or so (when all assets become tradable) might just be the best time to go shopping for a first-round pick from a contender -- especially a fringe contender. We've seen how quickly a team can go from viable contender into a lottery team (see the Dallas Mavericks, and possibly even the Memphis Grizz without Parsons and Conley).
Grabbing a first-round pick from a team that expects to be in the bottom 10 is like a lottery ticket for hope ... with very little down side.
Pull something like this off, and either the Mavs end up with two picks in the first round, one in the first 10 and one in the bottom 10 --or, that fringe contender has a bad run, doesn't make the playoffs, and the Mavs are picking a couple of guys in the top 15 in what most consider a deep draft.
But, if you wait long enough into a season that teams start to see their draft picks as more valuable than their current season, you're going to see a market less interested in Bogut. Especially if Bogut twists an ankle, or maybe has Hibbert fall back on his right knee.
If they wait until all is lost, Bogut's value might be among that "all."
All of this is on hold for now, of course, as it relates to Bogit, because Hibbert did fall back on Andrew's right knee on Monday, and there is a hyperextension, and Bogut could be sidelined for a month ... and so, sure, Cuban/"sources'' especially now get to say, "We're sitting on Bogut.''
Because Bogut is sitting.
And Tuesday night ...
Possible Trade Partners?
With all of that in mind ... which contending NBA teams could really use a solid big man? This might be worth a bigger story later--but we can tell you one team off the top of our heads, at least until the last week or so: The Milwaukee Bucks.
Old pal Jason Kidd doesn't seem to know what to do with centers (see Zaza Pachulia and now Greg Monroe). But, with a well-rounded veteran like Bogut, he'd have fewer ways to mess things up.
Monroe, arguably a center on the rise just a few years ago, somehow worked his way out of Jason Kidd's system and into a backup role over the first month of the 2016-2017 season.
In theory, had the Mavs moved quickly, they might have shipped the aging Bogut for the out-of-favor (yet wildly talented) Monroe, and still demanded a draft pick for the courtesy of taking on Monroe's much larger salary.
Unfortunately, it looks like Monroe is slowly finding his place and his minutes in Milwaukee again. Each day he improves his stock, he becomes harder to pry away at a reasonable (and even favorable) price.
Another Likely Landing--Though Less Profitable
The Cleveland Cavs no doubt like what Tristan Thompson brings to the table ... but even on one of the best teams in the league, he's not playing demonstrably better than Bogut.
But, the Cavs don't want to get rid of Thompson. He's good, he's young, and he knows the system.
But, I'm certain they wouldn't mind having a backup with more pedigree than the aging Chris Andersen. Especially since Andersen, a 4, is the duct tape they've found for the backup center position.
The problem with this trade idea: The Cavs aren't likely to fall out of first place in the East -- and that means they're definitely not a candidate for a suddenly improving draft pick.
If the Mavs sent them Bogut, they'd probably pick somewhere between last all the way to second to last in the first round. We'd hope there is definitely better value out there -- unless Cleveland can also offer them something else to improve the value.
And while we're fishing around for ideas: A Deron Williams to Cleveland scenario can be envisioned, too.
If you need some perspective on why the Mavericks would wait until the last possible moment to make these trades, you need look no further than our piece here on DB.com about "Indefinite Dirk'' and the panic that surrounds his progress, or lack thereof.
The gist of it? Dirk isn't done yet. Dirk flat out said, "I'm all-in. I wanna play. This is obviously not a career-ending injury that I got."
Dirk is out indefinitely, but he's not definitely out. In fact, at some point, he's definitely in.
So, until the moment that the Mavs have zero hope of reaching the playoffs, zero hope of extending the postseason chances of the greatest Maverick of all time--there is some theoretical motivation for Cuban to avoid the moving of key players who can help Dirk win.
As long as the ultimate trajectory of the Mavs is even a little indefinite, so too are the the chances that they flip assets and look to 2017 and beyond.
We think that is unfortunate. But when we hear Tony Cubes say things like, "The worst record in the league has a 75-percent chance of not getting the No. 1 pick,'' we fear, if only just a little bit, that it is real.
D-Will Gets Sloppy
In the 3rd quarter against the Hornets, the Mavs built an 11-point lead and had the ball. Wes Matthews was wide-open miles from any defender. Instead of whipping a crisp and clean pass, Williams sent a lazy toss toward Matthews. The defender easily picked it off.
Mejri probably threw a tough pass to Williams—but Williams didn’t do much to fight for it.
A few moments later Williams falls down and gives up an easy bucket on defense.
It wasn’t all Williams’ fault, but he has a bad habit of playing a little too cute, and a little too stylishly—and this team plays best when its dirty, gritty, and relentless.
To recall Wes' words:
Deron finally settled down and got back to work -- especially once Barnes came back in and reestablished the tone -- but we’d like to see the attacking mentality stick around regardless of the personnel. ... because if the Mavs don't gain themselves some mental advantages, they aren't going to have many advantages at all.
Williams' erratic play would continue to late in the 4th quarter, when after a strong Barnes move to the inside. Barnes missed inside, battled for the offensive rebound, and got it to Williams.
Rather than reset the offense and look for a good shot, Williams rushed a brutally ugly three, and then failed to get back on defense, which led to an easy Hornets bucket.
The numbers say D-Will played well; he had a double-double and he's now just the fourth Maverick ever with consecutive 12-assist games. The others: Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Derek Harper.
And the coach says he played well, too; said Rick: “Well, he’s doing a good job of distributing the ball, but I’m very encouraged by how he’s moving and how he’s playing. The shotmaking isn’t all there yet, but that’s coming. And it’s just a matter of continuing to work into the conditioning and rhythm aspect of it, but he’s playing very well. I like his effort on defense, too.”
OK. We'll keep watching.
The Three-Point Shot
Usually, we get to hear about how badly the Mavs shot from beyond the arc—and after a 5 of 17 start, we thought we were going to be singing that song again after Monday.
But, it turns out, the Hornets would not be out-hoisted. They missed over a dozen three-point attempts before finally hitting one with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Dallas was back in the gym on Tuesday here at the new facility, and yes, the 3-point efforts continued.
This is not a good team from deep. But it's a necessary weapon in today's game. Practice makes ... closer to perfect, we suppose.
Is Harrison Barnes a Robin, or a Batman?
As Harrison Barnes goes, the Mavs go—the problem is, some of the Mavs (and plenty of the refs) haven’t gotten the memo.
Barnes went out of his way to take (and make) high-percentage shots on Monday. He didn’t take his first three-pointer until the second half.
He made this an evening of driving to the basket, battling for both offensive and defensive rebounds, and he posted a line of 10 of 21 shooting, 29 points, he earned and made all 7 of his team-high 7 free-throws (and had a couple of non-calls so bad that they had Rick Carlisle yelling in the face of the refs and picking up a technical).
Unfortunately, other players are incredibly resistant to the reality that Barnes is the Alpha Dog on the floor right now, and they don’t all emulate his aggressive and intelligent play.
Deron kept taking bad shot after bad shot, many of them long twos or missed three pointers. He hit only 33 percent of his shots—yet he still ignored Barnes a few times down the stretch when he called for it.
Sometimes we wonder if Williams wants to be Batman (as he's been in his career) while also pondering whether he's really even good enough to be Robin. His assist totals suggest he might make a good Alfred, or maybe a decent utility belt—but if he’s not willing to drive more, or get the ball to any of the people out there shooting the ball better than him (Powell, Gibson, Barnes), or get back on defense after a bad offensive possession—he may not be the best answer at point guard.
Of course, with Dallas as wounded as it is at that position and elsewhere, how many other options are there?
Satnam Singh, the Mavs’ second-round pick from the 2015 NBA Draft and a member of the Texas Legends, is the subject of a new Netflix documentary titled “One in a Billion,” which will make its global debut today. "He's a movie star!'' jokes Mavs/Legends boss Donnie Nelson ... The Sixers hire former Mavs forward Elton Brand as a player development consultant. ... J.J. Barea, Nowitzki and Bogut are all out Wednesday vs. Sacramento for the 7:30 tip at the AAC. Seth Curry is questionable. ... Mark Cuban on Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr advocating marijuana, which Kerr used to help alleviate the pain in his back last season: “That’s Steve’s personality. Steve will say what’s on his mind and understand that it’s going to get a rise out of people. He probably said it because he’s curious what the response was going to be. He probably wanted to create the conversation.” ... Carlisle absolutely raved about the greatness of Boogie Cousins, saying that he can't think of a center in recent memory who can match him for all-around play. "A beast,'' Rick said.
Points in the Paint = Points on the Attack
As we said above, the Mavs got eaten alive on the boards on Monday, and they gave up a lot of points in the paint. (All bothersome because of how muscular Dallas was in that win over Chicago.)
During one stretch in the 4th, when the Mavs were easily within reach of the Hornets, they settled for a lot of long-twos and bad threes, then watched the Hornets drive hard to the basket on the other end of the floor.
Every time the Mavs remembered to attack the basket, good things happened for them (including a late run that helped them cut things to a single possession game in the final minute)—but every stretch in which they forgot that simple old-school mentality, the score swung hard in favor of their opponent.
We could probably type that sentence every week for the rest of the season, and be pretty confident that we'll end up right. As with our concept of/prediction of Organic Tanking, we're not happy or proud to be correct; we're just correct.
The Final Word
“It seems like we get one guy back, and somebody else goes down. It’s definitely been tough. We’d like to be a lot more healthy than we are. We’d like to have Dirk out there, J.J., me for more games and Bogut for more games, but we can’t control certain things. So, we’ve just got to keep on trucking.” - Deron Williams