The Dallas Mavericks have Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion, but they can’t win without Dirk Nowitzki. Having Caron Butler sidelined for the season and Rodrigue Beaubois still recovering from injury don’t exactly help matters, but Nowitzki is the type of player who makes all things go, and transforms a roster of oddly fitting pieces into a would-be contender.
Nowitzki has missed the last eight games with a knee injury, and the Mavericks have struggled accordingly. Six of those eight games have resulted in Dallas losses, offering one of the most successful NBA franchises of the last decade a rare glimpse into regular season irrelevance. Say what you will about Dallas’ playoff track record, but they have a history of performing extraordinarily well during the regular season, largely by relying on Nowitzki’s superhuman scoring abilities. The Mavs are trying to make do without Dirk, but the team looks outmatched almost every night. Despite a pretty talented roster and some big names, the Mavericks just don’t function properly without having Nowitzki around as an anchor.
That’s just fine with Tyson Chandler, who would rather have Dirk back later than sooner, so long as it means the team’s star is fully healthy for the long haul. Here’s Chandler’s take, via Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:
“As tough as it is to take losses — I’m a very passionate person and I take every loss personally – I would much rather have him down the stretch when it counts,” Chandler said. “This is not the playoffs. We’re not winning any championships right now. But, I’m not going to kid you, it is build throughout the season. The thing we have to do is bunker down as individuals defensively and really try to turn this thing around.”
Frankly, this is the only mindset the Mavs can afford to take. Losing is hard on the members of any team (and particularly on a player as fiercely competitive as Chandler), but if Nowitzki were to come back early from his injury, the Mavs would risk season-long disappointment. It’s best for Dirk to rest as much as possible now in the hope that his knee doesn’t become a recurring problem. If it does, any chance Dallas had at offering serious playoff resistance would crumble away. The Mavs need Nowitzki back, but they also need him performing at an MVP level. Anything less and they’re merely fodder for the Spurs or Lakers in the post-season.
In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.
Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.
Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.
Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.
The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.
The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.
Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”
O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.
Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.
For a couple of seasons now, teams have tried to beat the Golden State Warriors by making the game ugly — slow, grinding, physical, and the opposite of the free-wheeling game they like. Only one team has had any real success with that strategy, and it has LeBron James on it (and even that wouldn’t have been enough if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself).
So why not beat them at their own game?
That’s what Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey thought when he added Lou Williams to the roster, he said.
There is a sense around the Warriors that the Rockets may be a bigger concern than the Spurs, because Houston can score with them. Don’t confuse that with worry in the Bay Area, they are the best team in the West if healthy, but the Rockets may be the team they face off against in the conference finals.
And if that happens, Lou Williams is going to play a significant role.