NBA AM: Chandler Predicted Mavs’ Slow Start
Tyson Chandler Predicted A Mavs Slow Start: The arrival of center Tyson Chandler to Dallas at the beginning of last season kick-started the team’s significant defensive improvement and was a huge factor in the club winning the championship.
Predictably, once the offseason began Chandler became one of the league’s top targets in this year’s free agency crop. However, what did come as a surprise was Dallas’ reluctance to offer Chandler a long-term deal despite being the team’s defensive anchor during the title run.
The Mavericks also decided to part ways with JJ Barea and Caron Butler, while swingman Peja Stojakovic opted to retire. Dallas replaced the departures with forward Lamar Odom and guards Vince Carter and Delonte West.
As a result, the Mavericks have started the 2012 season in a slump looking as former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki called the team “old, slow and out of shape.”
Chandler foresaw a slow start for the Mavericks this season and told Mark Hale of the New York Post the following:
Honestly, I kind of saw it coming because when you put a team in a situation where you say, ‘You’re the defending champions, but we’re not necessarily trying to repeat,’ and when I say that, I’m not saying that they don’t have the pieces there, I obviously think very highly of those guys, but I say that because they offered everybody one-year deal.
So they knew nobody was going to necessarily accept that. … And when you have veteran guys in the locker room, the type of guys they got, in this time of their career, it’s tough to face that.
I think they’re just going through a little lull right now. But I’m hoping for those guys that it turns around because there’s truly good guys in that locker room.
Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson defended the club’s decision pass on Chandler and Barea in free agency on Norm Hitzges’ KTCK-AM 1310 radio show. Nelson cites going in a different direction as a measure to keep their financial flexibility for the future.
It’s also important to note the 2012 free agency class could include All-Stars Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.
“It worked out well for both (Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea),” Nelson said. “We feel like both these guys have a great opportunity to have successful careers elsewhere. We have the flexibility to be in the marketplace next summer. If you look at a guy like Lamar Odom, [Delonte] West and [Vince] Carter, we feel like we’ve got the firepower to make another run at it.”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Mavericks have sacrificed a chance to repeat as champs for a shot at a key free agent next summer.
Zaza Pachulia Seeking Bigger Role: The Atlanta Hawks have been on the rise in the Eastern Conference standings over the past few seasons primarily driven by the play of All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford and talented forward Josh Smith.
One veteran player who hasn’t received media attention throughout the Hawks’ ascent is center Zaza Pachulia.
From 2006-07 Pachulia served as the Hawks’ starting center and averaged a strong 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, while playing roughly 30 minutes per contest.
However once the team drafted Horford, Pachulia was promptly relegated to a reserve role and his minutes also took a plummet.
But with a condensed 2012 season, due to the lockout, with plenty of back-to-back sets, Pachulia entered training camp looking for a bigger role within the team’s framework.
“I’m always thinking that way and trying to keep myself ready,” Pachulia told HOOPSWORLD on his desire to be more involved. “Most of the times, especially in the playoffs, my minutes have gone up [anyway]. But especially with this kind of schedule, I’ve been saying since day one that we need everybody – everybody has to be ready. “
Whether Pachulia manages to wrestle away more minutes in head coach Larry Drew’s rotation remains to be seen, but what’s not lost on him is the underlying pressure that the team’s core group must produce more than a second round playoff appearance this season.
If the Hawks stumble in the postseason again without forward progress their front office, spurred by an extremely fickly fan base, may entertain the idea of overhauling the team’s roster.
Pachulia readily admits there are pros and cons to a possible roster shakeup, but ultimately believes the Hawks’ decision to ride the “team chemistry” wave will pay off.
“Sometimes chemistry does [help] and sometimes you need to change,” Pachulia said. “Sometimes changes are good. That’s why you have front offices and management so they decide. But for me personally, to be with these guys for some years now I feel so comfortable, of course on the court but off the court as well. I talked all summer long with Marvin (Williams), Al, Josh Smith and even Jamal (Crawford) even though he’s not with us. I love these guys. This is my family. Great guys. Great character guys. “
Pachulia believes those summer talks during the lockout with his long time teammates held everyone to a higher standard of accountability about staying in shape, which led to the Hawks entering training camp as one of the best conditioned teams returning from the lockout.
“Everybody was kind of worried for each other,” Pachulia said to HOOPSWORLD. “We didn’t know what kind of shape everybody was in but it appears everybody has done something and spent some time in the gym. It’s a great thing and real professional. “
DeMarcus Cousins Maturing? One of the leading storylines leading up to the 2010 draft revolved around center DeMarcus Cousins. But it wasn’t just his superb level of play which had front offices around the league buzzing; questions surrounding the big man’s attitude also took a prominent position.
Cousins posted a solid rookie campaign last season averaging 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 38.5 minutes per game. As a starter (62 games) Cousins posted 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest.
However, Cousins also had a few notable run-ins with head coach Paul Westphal throughout his rookie season which once again placed the spotlight more on his attitude rather than his strong on court play.
Over the past summer Cousins received plenty of advice from established league veterans on how to act like a professional on and off the court.
Cousins says he has already implemented the advice into his daily life and promises more growth this season and beyond.
“I was around Chuck (Hayes), and I was around (Rajon) Rondo, and they both gave me lots of advice,” Cousins told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “I even got a chance to spend time around LeBron (James) and KD (Kevin Durant). Those are big-name players. Just being around them at events outside of the NBA, all of that helps.”
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats on the docket for today, starting with HOOPSWORLD senior writer Tommy Beer at 12:30pm EST. Next up is salary cap guru Larry Coon who goes live at 3:00pm EST. Rounding out the day’s chat schedule will be HOOPSWORLD newsline editor Mark Nugent who will host his weekly installment at 5:30pm EST.