DONUT 1: THAT STRATEGY
Mark Cuban says, in regard to the Dallas Mavericks landing in the No. 9 spot in the NBA Draft when there were ways for his 33-win team to better than position, “Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games.’’
And the Mavs owner notes to me (here in our “Nine Is Fine’’ piece), “Ping-pong balls gonna do what ping-pong balls gonna do.’’
DONUT 2: BUT …
Beyond my belief that Dallas “organically tanked’’ too late — for on Jan. 27, when the Mavs were the fifth-worst team in basketball, the “elimination’’ was already all but official — was there really a strategy?
“We had a strategy that was laid out with six or seven games to go that we were going to play our veterans early, shut them down late and have to finish games with younger guys, and we were going to let the chips fall where they may,” coach Rick Carlisle says. “We end on a high note (with a Game 82 win at Memphis), which is cool. But hey, I think the important thing is that you develop a strategy and you follow it, and that’s what we did.
“And so, we’ll look forward to all these things coming up here with a lot of enthusiasm.”
OK. We look forward …
DONUT 3: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
Donnie Nelson’s long-suffering wife Lotta is accustomed to this.
It’s Mother’s Day, and the Dallas Mavericks boss’ gift to his sweetheart is …
“I’m leaving for Europe,’’ Donnie tells me.
It happens most every spring. Nelson, among the planet’s most pre-eminent experts on international basketball (and, of course, basketball) left Sunday for a two-and-a-half-week tour of the fertile grounds of The Old County. He’s joined by two scouts and they’ll see almost countless prospects.
But I’ll also note this: As much as Dallas knows and likes Frank Ntilikina, he’s a couple of slots lower on Dallas’ Big Board than most of the media “experts’’ know.
DONUT 4: THE CAP DOESN’T FIT
A national outlet connects the Dallas Mavericks with Seth Curry, Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry. Whether we all are being snarky or serious, we say part of 'The Art Of The (Proposed) Deal' is to be able to show your math.
Some facts on the flaws of thinking the Mavs can sign a big fish beyond Nerlens Noel, here. (P.S.: Dallas absolutely plans to retain Noel, and one source from another NBA team says Noel will absolutely get max-money offers from other bidders, so ... the Mavs will be backing up the Brinks truck here.)
DONUT 5: MAVS LOTTO HISTORY
What’s in store for the Mavs as a lotto team? They have made eight selections in the annual process.
1991: Doug Smith - Missouri (6th overall pick)
1992: Jim Jackson - Ohio State (4th overall pick)
1993: Jamal Mashburn - Kentucky(4th overall pick)
1994: Jason Kidd - California (2nd overall pick)
1995: Cherokee Parks - Duke (12th overall pick)
1996: Samaki Walker- Louisville (9th overall pick)
1998: Robert “Tractor” Trailer - Michigan (6th overall pick *Traded for Dirk Nowitzki*)
2013: Kelly Olynyk - Gonzaga (13th overall pick *Traded to the Boston Celtics for Lucas Noguiera and two future second-round picks*)
A mixed bag.
DONUT 6: BUT THE HISTORY OF NINE?
The ninth overall pick has produced a great number of exceptional basketball players over the years.
1981: Rolando Blackman - Kansas State (Dallas)
1983: Dale Ellis - Tennessee (Dallas)
1984: Otis Thorpe - Providence (Kansas City *Now Sacramento*)
1985: Charles Oakley - Virginia Union (Cleveland)
1991: Stacey Augmon - UNLV (Atlanta)
1997: Tracy McGrady - Mount Zion Academy (HS) (Toronto)
1998: Dirk Nowitzki - Germany (Milwaukee *Traded to Dallas*)
1999: Shawn Marion - UNLV (Phoenix)
2002: Amare Stoudemire - Cypress Creek HS (Phoenix)
2004: Andre Iguodala - Arizona (Philadelphia)
2007: Joakim Noah - Florida (Chicago)
2009: Demar DeRozan - USC (Toronto)
2010: Gordon Hayward - Butler (Utah)
2011: Kemba Walker - UCONN (Charlotte)
2012: Andre Drummond - UCONN (Detroit)
DONUT 7: PLAYER SEASON IN REVIEW
And more to come, including a scoop as it relates to DeAndre Liggins ...
DONUT 8: QUOTABLE
"We're doing a lot more background checks. We're making sure there's nothing that we miss that would screw things up." - Mark Cuban, on 105.3 The Fan, regarding Dallas’ first-round pick.
DONUT 9: WAR ON DRUGS?
To illustrate my level of naivete when it comes to drugs …
It was 1981, and a bunch of us fellas mapped out a baseball spring-training trip from Greeley, Colorado, to Arizona. I needed my mom’s advice on one thing: The other guys would, on this trip, be smoking pot. What should I do? Should I try it? Would I get a second-hand high? If I‘m in the same hotel room with a pothead, would I become a pothead?
So, yeah, I asked Mom. About me smoking pot.
Oh, by the way, I was 21 years old.
Some time has passed, but I remain largely ignorant when it comes to the culture of marijuana, whether it’s fun recreationally, whether it’s beneficial medically, whether it’s a viable coping method for the mental and physical battering that an NFL player must endure to survive.
But I do know this: Recreational marijuana use is legal in eight states, and medical marijuana is legal is about 30. And yet the NFL continues its “War On Drugs,’’ almost certainly knowing it’s a war it cannot win.
Which is, basically, nothing.
DONUT 10: THE DING THING
Simmer down, people. Allow us to clear up the realities here, where I write, “The Dallas Mavericks plan to sign Chinese swingman Ding Yanyuhang this summer, and there is not really a downside to this ... unless you have expectations of him as an actual player.''
DONUT 11: STOP THE DRAMA
ESPN’s Tuesday pre-Lottery show was a bit of a bust, for two reasons.
One, they couldn’t persuade Lonzo Ball to participate. (Keep an eye out here; I’m told by NBA scouts that one of the fair criticisms of him is that he doesn’t like the spotlight, isn’t vocal as a leader, and didn’t show up for the Scouting Combine in Chicago because he wasn’t comfortable being interviewed by teams.)
Two, ESPN manufactured drama by pretending that it’s “Markelle Fault vs. Lonzo Ball’’ for the No. 1 pick. And it’s no such thing.
Fultz has been atop Dallas’ board for months, and remains there. I’m told that’s pretty much the case with all the NBA teams. Furthermore, the gap between Fultz and Ball is larger than the gap between Fultz and then Jackson and DeAaron Fox.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
Even as Dirk Nowitzki turns 39 (on June 19), the Dallas roster is likely about to get younger. Rick Carlisle would like you to know that he’s up to the task.
“I had a lot of young guys in Indiana, and people kind of forget that,’’ he says. “The team I inherited there was quite young. You know, we had Reggie Miller, who was a great veteran and entering his late-30s at the time, so I think that fact probably skewed it a little bit, but I’ve been around young teams. It’s exciting.’’