DONUT 1: WHAT YOU WISH YOU WERE
The Utah Jazz are the team you wish the Dallas Mavericks were.
They are in the NBA Playoffs and they have cut down a dragon to get to Round 2, having topped the Clippers to earn the coming shot against the Warriors.
Now, it's been a painful climb. The Jazz just won their first playoff series since 2010. If you think we here in Dallas struggle with our identity as a "destination city," imagine the identity crisis in Salt Lake City?
And, of course, with the increase in success calms an increase in hard decisions that must be made ... as the Mavericks (circa 2011) know all too well.
The Jazz feature Gordon Hayward, who made the All-Star team for the first time this year. And center Rudy Gobert. Hayward is 27, Gobert is 24.
This is a young and interesting 50-win team that if you squint just a little bit reminds you of the Mavericks back in 2001, when Dirty, Filthy and Nasty surprisingly advanced in the NBA Playoffs over a team made up of their elders… The Stockton-Malone Utah Jazz.
Ah, but those big decisions and big expectations that come with big success. …
Hayward will likely opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, angling for a max deal. When you hit on a bunch of first-round draftees — and man, did Utah hit — you gotta eventually pay ‘em.
Derrick Favors was a 2010 Round 1 Pick at No. 3
Hayward was a 2010 Round 1 Pick at No. 9
Alec Burks was a 2011 Round 1 Pick at No. 12
Rudy Gobert was a 2013 Round 1 Pick at No. 27 (yeah, he was available even after Dallas skipped on Giannis Antetokounmpo and took Shane Larkin at 18)
Dante Exum was a 2014 Round 1 Pick at No. 5
Rodney Hood was a 2014 Round 1 Pick at No. 23
Trey Lyles was a 2015 Round 1 Pick at No. 12
The bills will come due, first with Hayward. But before that comes the Round 2 test against the incredible Warriors. If Utah doesn’t continue to grow from here, this bunch might not be remembered for much.
But a young, exciting, 50-win team with a chance?
It’s what the Mavs once were. And what we hope they can be again.
DONUT 2: BIG BALLERS
Dirk Nowitzki's Heroes baseball game is slated for June 24. Tickets go on sale May 2 ...
This has become one of DFW's biggest, most important and most enjoyable traditions. Please join us and be a part of it!
DONUT 3: DISMISSING MELO
For leverage-losing reasons I cannot fathom, New York Knicks boss Phil Jackson has announced his willingness to give away Carmelo Anthony in trade.
“We’ve not been able to win with him on the court,’’ JackZen tells the world. “I think with the direction with our team, he’ll be better off somewhere else.”
For talent-hungry reasons I complete understand, the smart gang at DallasBasketball.com has worked to investigate a match.
But I’m told we should go ahead and unplug The Big Calculator. I've got the scoop on the Mavs' thoughts on 'Melo here in Mavs Premium ...
DONUT 4: AND WHY?
David Lord writes:
We like to discuss Carmelo in part because he is clearly available. But I think the Mavs' answers that Fish has gathered reflect a more reality-based outlook on such an idea, including the following ....
*It's unlikely he would approve a trade to Dallas
*And the Mavs don't want to mess with anyone who is less than 110-percent committed, especially with that salary
*He will be a free agent after a year and be looking for $35 mil in a new deal ... so there'd be a decent likelihood that he'd be one-and-done in Dallas
*He would alter everything being built for the future, and eat up ton of minutes that they'd rather invest elsewhere. Therefore, he would distract the team from its mission of building a true contender over the next few years, and delay that quest from reaching fruition
*His game and spacing on the floor is way too similar to Barnes'
Put all of that together, and I think the bottom line is that the Mavs look at CA as a waste of time to even think about. So they are completely dismissive of the idea. And they're almost certainly right.
DONUT 5: VALUING WESLEY
Wesley Matthews posted the other day on Twitter, writing, "Lol love the hate when they hate to love.''
That's sort of cryptic, but for now, we'll assume it has something to do with Wes as a Mavs trade piece.
Cap-wise, there is sense in looking at him that way, even as Mavs owner Mark Cuban insists to me that the Ironman is of great value not only as a player but as a key to locker-room chemistry.
There are issues with simply saying that some of Dallas' cap challenges can be solved with a Matthews trade, the first of which is, it takes two to tango.
The Mavs think that "culture'' thing is the other issue. I would argue, though, that the Mavs culture can and will survive because this is still "Dirk's room,'' and because it's about to be "Barnes' room.''
Isn't that leadership enough?
DONUT 6: DRAFT NUGGETS
We've dropped a number of Draft Nuggets on you in recent days; click into Mavs Archives and put a name in the Search Box to find your guy.
Here's another one:
Dennis Smith Jr. is viewed by Dallas as a "score-first, ball-dominant'' point guard, I'm told. In Rick Carlisle's move-and-share offense, the ball-dominant point guard is a less-than-ideal fit.
File this away as we ponder ...
DONUT 7: WHAT DO YOU GET AT 9?
So maybe Smith is gone by 9 and that decision doesn't have to be made by Dallas. Or maybe the Mavs can beat the odds and jump into the top three in the NBA Draft.
In the last five drafts, the No. 9 team in ping-pong balls ended up drafting ninth. So that's where we focus our attention here. Historically, what do NBA teams get when they draft ninth?
DONUT 8: DOC, DeANDRE AND PAUL GO DOWN
The LA Clippers are the first team in NBA history to blow a series lead in five straight postseasons.
Karma, maybe. The leaders of this bunch intentionally signed on to work for sleaze-bag owner Donald T. Sterling, and kept cashing his checks, and never registered a word of protest until his "girlfriend'' exposed him as a sexist, racist pig. DeAndre Jordan turned his back on an agreement to sign with Dallas in a virtually unprecedented act of non-adulthood. And Chris Paul continues to ride a reputation as "one of the best point guards ever'' without actually having accomplished very much.
The LA Clippers are the first team in NBA history to blow a series lead in five straight postseasons?
Yeah, that's a shame.
DONUT 9: THE TWO-HEADED PROBLEM
Something else at work with the Clippers:
A coach serving as his own GM, or a GM serving as his own coach, creates issues. Besides trying to squeeze two 24-hour-a-day jobs into one 24-hour day, the coach/GM has to find a way to love his players as people (a coach's job) while also viewing them impersonally as "commodities.'' So when the Clippers are offered a trade for, say, Blake Griffin, Doc the GM can be saying "yes'' while Doc the Coach is saying "no'' ...
And the deal never happens.
The first guy I ever saw who understood the issue and solved it properly? Jimmy Johnson, who in his first season with the Dallas Cowboys was involved with Jerry Jones in contract negotiations with players. The job required Front-Office Jimmy to tell a player he's "not worth the money,'' and then required Coach Jimmy to trot out on the field to tell the same guy that he's capable of being "the best player in the NFL.''
By 1990, Jimmy wasn't involved with Cowboys contracts anymore.
DONUT 10: 'WRONG IN EVERY WAY'
Marc Stein is among the high-profile layoffs at ESPN. I’ve expressed my views on Marc to the man himself, and I’ll do the same here:
Stein is the NBA gold standard for honorable journalism without the hyperbole. He has, over a 26-year association with me, been generous with his time, and he's been generous in his praise and support of DallasBasketball.com, too.
No one is more rightfully particular when it comes to giving credit, either. Literally of hundreds of Mavs-related angles have ended up being "absorbed'' into the ESPN ether, and too often, our original information has appeared there, without credit.
But never with Stein, who has acknowledged our work, in print and on the air, dozens of times over the course of what is now almost 20 years of DBcom.
Cuban is speaking for the entire NBA community here.
DONUT 11: FINNEY-SMITH SEASON IN REVIEW
Dorian Finney-Smith came to the Mavericks as yet another undrafted free agent in the summer of 2016. The thought was that Finney-Smith would be a nice addition to the summer league/preseason rosters, but not much more. Suffice it to say, he surpassed those expectations, and became a valuable part of the Mavs roster by the end of the season.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
For those Mavs fans bemoaning the fact that JaVale McGee has followed up his one lackluster year in Dallas with a season in which he's a helpful piece for the Warriors as they chase another ring: McGee will be a free agent again this summer. And probably in 2018. And probably in 2019 again. And so on. And so on.
If you really think he's "reformed'' to the point where he's the key piece to a Mavs turnaround, you can acquire him anytime you wish.
Knowing the JaVale we know ... now that you think of it this way ... Are you sure you want him?