Good news for the Mavs: Rodrigue Beaubois' broken foot is getting better all the time

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rodrigue_beaubois_dallas_mavericks.jpgOver the summer, the Dallas Mavericks shot for LeBron James, but fell short. They tried for Dwyane Wade, but no dice. Then came Joe Johnson, but he wasn’t interested. They altered their plan of attack and were linked to Andre Iguodala and Al Jefferson in trade discussions, but the Mavs couldn’t get a deal done.

Erick Dampier’s “instantly expiring” contract was the currency through which the Mavs hoped to accomplish all of this, but it couldn’t fetch any of those talents. Instead, Dallas traded Dampier — along with Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera — to the Charlotte Bobcats for Tyson Chandler. Tyson. Chandler. He’s a serviceable center in his own right, but considering just how highly the Mavs had valued Dampier’s cap-clearing deal, he wasn’t quite the bounty they were looking for.

As such, Dallas will have to improve from within if they’re to go deep into the playoffs this season. Some of that improvement will likely stem from Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood’s familiarity with Rick Carlisle’s system; both players were acquired at last season’s trade deadline, and while they played reasonably well for Dallas through the end of the ’09-’10 season, neither was a fully integrated part of the Maverick game plan. Butler and Haywood are now a bit more comfortable, and Coach Carlisle a bit more in tune with each player’s strengths. That’s not quite the same as acquiring an additional star, but it should give Dallas a boost.

Still, even when taking Butler and Haywood’s improvement within the system and Chandler’s addition into account, the Mavs don’t look to be all that much better than they were last season. To make matters worse, most of Dallas’ other regular contributors are more likely to see slight drops in their production rather than increases, as age begins to catch up to this cast of vets.

No one in the Mavericks’ rotation is going to see their performance take a nose dive on Father Time’s account. Not yet, anyway. The Mavs aren’t getting any younger though, and they’re not going to make any significant jumps from the wrong side of 30.

There are two notable exceptions to the Mavs’ veteran rule. The first is Dominique Jones, Vegas Summer League standout and the No. 25 pick in this summer’s draft. Jones is relentless in his drives to the basket, and that skill alone could score him some playing time despite the Mavs’ depth on the wings. The other exception is Rodrigue Beaubois, the now second-year guard who changed games for the Mavs last season with his speed and shooting ability.

Beaubois is incredibly talented, and many consider him the key to the Mavs’ season. If Beaubois can tap into his abilities and take a step toward basketball self-actualization, Dallas’ inability to acquire another star during the offseason could be a moot point. Beaubois has the potential to be that good.

Of course, with so much hinging on Beaubois’ development, it’s only fitting that his progress would be stalled by injury. A broken bone in Beaubois’ left foot has sidelined him since early August, and the status of the Mavs’ great hope for the season opener is unknown. His foot is getting better and better though, as Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas reported from training camp:  

…the young Dallas Mavericks guard is showing daily signs of improvement in his recovery from left foot surgery, coach Rick Carlisle said Thursday.

“He’s not doing anything on the court yet except some spot shooting and then the [stationary] bike in practice,” Carlisle said. “Then we bring him back [to the American Airlines Center] and he walks and runs in the underwater treadmill. But, he’s getting a little better every day and at the right time he’ll be back into it.”

Beaubois is out of his protective boot, and committed to working hard through camp in spite of the limitations of his injury. He’ll bike, lift, and watch film to prepare for the coming year, in the hope that whenever he’s finally cleared by the team doctors, he’ll be physically and mentally ready to compete. Luckily, Dallas has the depth to buy Beaubois all the time that he needs, and the Mavs will no doubt be cautious in calling for Rodrigue’s return to the court. There’s simply too much at stake for the Mavs to rush this.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.

Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

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The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Potential none-and-done first-rounder Hamidou Diallo returning to Kentucky

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The more I’ve looked into the 2017 NBA draft, the less impressed I’ve become. There are a few bright spots in the first round relative to an average draft – No. 2, 5ish-10ish, 17ish-22ish – but I’m not convinced this is the generationally strong draft it has been touted as.

In the absence of prospects who offer secure promise, why not turn to upside? Hamidou Diallo offered plenty and was increasingly viewed as a first-rounder.

Yet, he’ll return to Kentucky for his freshman season.

Diallo:

A highly ranked recruit, Diallo began last school year at a prep school then enrolled at Kentucky for the spring semester. He practiced with the Wildcats, but never played.

Then, he went to the combine and posted excellent measurables: 6-foot-5, 6-foot-11 wingspan, 44.5-inch vertical and strong agility and sprint scores. Just 18, Diallo might have been the second-youngest player drafted this year (behind only Ike Anigbogu).

It wouldn’t have taken long – likely somewhere in the middle of the first round – for a team to bite on all that potential.

Instead, Diallo returns to Kentucky and must now show his ability to actually produce in basketball games. If he does, there’s no limit on how high he goes in the 2018 NBA draft. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret missing the opportunity to get drafted before his game got picked apart.

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

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Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.