NBA AM: Dirk Nowitzki’s Ideal Mavs Plan
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Dirk Nowitzki’s Ideal Offseason Plan for the Dallas Mavericks:
Following the Dallas Mavericks’ championship season in 2011, one thing was made perfectly clear by Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban: acquiring a superstar to pair with Dirk Nowitzki was the team’s number one goal. Dismissed were eventual Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, starter Caron Butler, pivotal reserve J.J. Barea and other key players with the hopes of landing a superstar.
With two-to-three potential superstars on the market this summer, it’s time for Cuban and company to put up or shut up on that original idea. Nowitzki, who turns 35-years old this summer, believes it’s imperative this team gets two difference-makers this offseason.
“If we don’t get the two monsters then we got to find another way,” Nowitzki told 103.3′s the Fitzsimmons and Durrett’s show in Dallas (via Jon Machota of DMN.com), “through sign-and-trades or other free agents that are out there.
“It’s time to take a step forward and again be a threat in the playoffs.”
Even though Nowitzki is seemingly entering the twilight of his career, the 2011 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) believes he has plenty of game left in the tank.
“I think I’ll sign another deal, 2-3 years, I’m not sure,” Nowitzki said of his future after his contract expires next summer.
Nowitzki’s outspoken willingness to take a much cheaper contract when his deal concludes following the upcoming season has to be an incentive for future free agents as well. After all, with a game patterned on outside shooting and nifty moves in and around the paint, Nowitzki has the ability to be a contributor to the age of 40.
Shooting touch and veteran savvy don’t exactly fade with age.
In terms of which free agents he prefers, Nowitzki couldn’t help but reference the top two players available in free agency – the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard and LA Clippers’ Chris Paul.
“They’re both dominant in their own way” Nowitzki said. “That’s a tough choice. I’d be happy with either one, to be honest.”
Howard admittedly rushed things and came back much earlier than anticipated from back surgery to start the year and improved as the season went on. Nowitzki believes the last few months of the 2013 NBA regular season were more indicative of Howard’s ability than the first few when he was still recovering.
“Offensively, I think he looked great the last couple months of the season,” Nowitzki said. “He started off a little sluggish there with his back surgery, but at the end he was finishing and was above the rim again.”
As for Paul, Nowitzki knows from experience just how important it is to have a point guard with the ability to get his teammates involved. Life was much more difficult for Nowitzki this past season without the newly retired Jason Kidd. It was rare to see the former NBA Most Valuable Player in his sweet spot on the floor at the elbows much this past year and that’s something Dallas must remedy this summer.
“He’s a winner,” Nowitzki said of Paul, “a point guard making plays, making things easier for everyone else.”
Dallas has plenty of decisions to make this offseason with a plethora players set to hit the market and an abundance of cap room heading into the summer. The onus is on Cuban and company to fulfill the promise made after dismantling a championship team just a few seasons ago.
For Nowitzki, that hope has become an expectation for a player entering the final few productive years of his illustrious 15-year NBA career.
We Want to Know:
The Next Great NBA Head Coach?
Over the course of his 19-year NBA career, there’s been little doubt that championship point guard Jason Kidd would eventually make the move to head coach. After all, the floor general has played an integral role in the development of players around him as far back as with the then New Jersey Nets in the early 2000′s.
Kidd, who retired this past week from the New York Knicks at the age of 40, has been rumored to be interested in the currently vacant Brooklyn Nets’ head coaching position.
One of the best in the business in today’s NBA at the head coaching position, San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich believes Kidd’s transition to that role is inevitable.
“When you’ve played in the league as long as Jason has and played for a number of coaches, he’s pretty much seen everything that the NBA can offer,” Popovich told USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick at the NBA Finals recently. “So he does have experience. If he’s crazy enough to want to be a head coach in the league, I wish him all the best. But he certainly has the intuitive skills to know what’s going on out there. Obviously, he would be able to have relationships with the players that he’s had with his coaches throughout. So if that’s what he wants to do, and that’s who they want to hire, I think that he’s got an opportunity and a possibility to be really, really good at it.”
Kidd spent over six NBA seasons with the Nets before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, a run that included six straight trips to the postseason along with an NBA Finals appearance.
“Jason Kidd was the captain of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA, and is considered the greatest player in the Nets’ NBA history,” Nets’ general manager Billy King said in a news release after Kidd’s retirement.
As a player, Kidd concluded his career as one of the best in the business in the history of the NBA at the point guard position. Kidd was no stranger to teaching his teammates and running the show on the court over the course of his 19 NBA seasons. Making the transition to coach, while more likely to assistant than directly to head coach, is merely the next logical step for the 10-time All Star.
Chauncey Billups: The NBA’s first Teammate of the Year Award Winner
Announced Sunday afternoon was a new award from the NBA to recognize the league’s best teammate. The award is named the Twyman/Stokes Teammate of the Year Award after Hall of Famers Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes.
The inaugural award winner is Los Angeles Clippers’ guard Chauncey Billups.
“Chauncey Billups defines what this award was designed to recognize, a player committed to his club, his teammates and his community,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said via press release. “He has mentored and guided countless young players to adopt his selfless attitude, dedication, passion for our game and to respect the history and example of players like Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes.”
The award was presented to Billups prior to Game Two Sunday night.
Despite actually finishing with more first-place votes than Billups, Miami HEAT forward Shane Battier finished second in the overall voting.
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