Mavericks tab Rashad McCants, Sean Williams for their D-League affiliate

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Last month, the NBA and D-League announced a new affiliate allocation rule, through which NBA teams are able to pick up the D-League rights of up to three of their last training camp cuts for their D-League affiliates. Effectively, it allows NBA squads to keep an even closer eye on the prospects that interested them in training camp; if those three chosen training campers decide they’d like to ply their basketball trade in the D-League, they’ll do so for their camp team’s affiliate and, optimally, under the watchful eye of the NBA team itself.

We’ve seen a number of teams lay the groundwork for utilizing this rule. It’s the simple explanation for a series of late-camp additions that would otherwise seem a bit curious. Among those additions was the Dallas Mavericks’ signing of Rashad McCants and Sean Williams, who were both subsequently waived before they did anything in Dallas at all. The Mavs didn’t ink those deals and then change their minds over the course of a few days; Donnie Nelson undoubtedly had his eye on the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ D-League affiliate which he co-owns with Evan Wyly and soon-to-be-co-owner Sonny Xiao.

McCants and Williams are both NBA-caliber talent, but have slipped out of the league based on issues that have less to do with basketball skill and more with their work ethic, focus, and off-court behavior. The latter applies far more to Williams than to McCants, but Rashad nonetheless battles a bit of a trouble-making reputation. Nelson and the Legends likely hope that McCants and Williams’ recent encounter with career mortality has humbled them, and that a stint with the Legends would represent a fresh start rather than a demotion. Only time will tell, but if McCants and Williams are willing to play ball with the Legends, it’d be a huge boon for the fledgling D-League team in the talent department.

The Legends’ roster sheet is currently blank, and should the Legends secure two quasi-NBAers as their roster starter kit, they’d have a solid foundation going into the D-League draft.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.