NBA@2: “Panic” In Dallas?
Last week there was a rising feeling in panic in Dallas, as free agents Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and even JJ Barea found other homes in free agency. The truth is the Mavs made no attempt to sign any of their key free agents, preferring instead to sign older vets to short-term deals in order to preserve cap space for next summer’s Deron Williams chase. Still, as those members of the Mavericks’ championship squad evaporated the panic wasn’t only in the minds of the fans.
“There was a lot of panic inside the front offices, too,” says Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson. “Our plan is to give ourselves another chance of winning a championship while also maintaining flexibility in the future. Life’s a gamble. We really feel that we’re in a position where we can fight for a championship this year, and we do have the flexibility to stay healthy as a franchise in the future.”
Repeating as champions will be exceedingly difficult, but Nelson is confident that head coach Rick Carlisle can find ways to put his new older core to good use in attempting to accomplish that goal.
“In my two years with Rick, and last year in particular, I don’t know of someone that has been creative with his lineups like Rick has been. He had the pressure of the Finals and had the intestinal fortitude to throw a guy (Brian Cardinal) into the Finals that had not really seen the light of day. He goes from using Peja (Stojakovic), who was really effective in helping us win that LA (Lakers) series, and then he switches it out. He understands the versatility of this team, and I think if anyone has an appreciation for shooting it’s Rick. Now, all of a sudden, we can put five guys on the floor who can spread the court and all of them can make threes.”
There’s no question that the Mavs have made a couple of upgrades, with Lamar Odom better than anyone who platooned at the three last season and guys like Delonte West and Vince Carter promising to bring offense and defense into the fold. The two players who may be called upon the most, however, may well be Brendan Haywood and Roddy Beaubois, who will be expected to replace Chandler and Barea, respectively.
“We’re different, but a lot of teams are different,” says Nelson. “Obviously, we need Brendan Haywood to step up and to be our man at the center position. We need young Roddy Beaubois to step up and be our JJ this year, but if you look in the past, last year in training camp we were debating whether we should start Brendan or Tyson, and the a couple of months later is was the same with Roddy and JJ. The fact that Roddy is healthy and he’s had a couple of years now under his belt, those are real good factors.”
As for Haywood, Nelson is confident that he can be the starting center the Mavs believed he would be when they signed him two summers ago.
“He’s done it his whole career, so yes. He’s a starting center in the league. Obviously, he does it different than Tyson. His game is different, but we’re fully confident in Brendan.”
The Dallas Mavericks certainly have their work cut out for them in repeating as NBA champions, but they do have experience on their side. If their veterans can survive the grueling 66-game marathon they might just surprise the NBA world again . . .and grab one more trophy for Jason Kidd before he retires.
Next Up For Houston: Samuel Dalembert
The Houston Rockets have been thwarted time and again in their search for a starting center to replace the retired Yao Ming, and while they have been pressing Jordan Hill to step into that roll from an internal perspective, the search for a better option goes on.
The Rockets have had multiple discussions with free agent center Samuel Dalembert, traveling to Miami on at least one occasion to have a face-to-face powwow. Now, with all other options seemingly off the table, the Rockets have again turned their attention to the former Sacramento King and Philadelphia 76er.
“We have interest in Sam,” Rockets GM Daryl Morey said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “If it makes sense for him and us, we would love to have him. … It’s in negotiations between the two of us looking for a fit. He’s got a lot of options and we’ll see if it makes sense here.
“I think he’s somebody who could add presence in the middle, rebounding, shot blocking that could help us out,” Morey said. “That said, I think our young guys are some guys that could develop and give us that, as well.”
Indeed, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale has spoken a number of times about how much encouragement they are trying to build in Jordan Hill, and sources close to the team say Hill has easily been the best big man in camp. Those same sources laughed at the idea that Hasheem Thabeet could start or even play a meaningful role on the team, and said Hill was really the best option available, not a great option overall.
Dalembert is certainly no Marc Gasol, Nene or Tyson Chandler, a few of the other players pursued by the Rockets since free agency commenced, but he may be the best option left as the free agency market quickly dries up.
Trade Exceptions Expiring
There aren’t a lot of trade rumors out there today, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see some talk heat up with a number of key traded player exceptions set to expire today.
The Orlando Magic, in particular, need to make more of a splash to keep Dwight Howard interested, so it seems likely they would look to use the two they currently hold – $6.3 million from the Marcin Gortat trade and $1.8 million from the Rashard Lewis trade.
The Denver Nuggets hold a big one, the $17.1 million they got in the Carmelo Anthony trade, as well as a $1.7 million TPE from the Renaldo Balkman trade.
The New Jersey Nets have a $1.3 million TPE from the Troy Murphy trade, though they are having a hard enough time filling out their roster with the cap space they built up.
The Houston Rockets have a $7.4 million TPE from the Shane Battier trade.
The Los Angeles Lakers have a $5.5 million TPE from the Sasha Vujacic trade.
Finally, the Utah Jazz have a $1.8 million TPE from the Deron Williams trade.
These exceptions expire today, so if teams are going to use them we’ll see movement soon. Make sure you’re checking out HOOPSWORLD’s 2011 Free Agency Diary for the latest on the trade front!
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