The Dallas Mavericks have gone from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy to getting blown out two games in a row on their home floor to start the season.
It’s ugly. Younger teams ran the Mavs into the ground and Dallas’ transition defense was nonexistant. It should get better, but it’s ugly now and next up is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yikes.
Tyson Chandler — the anchor of the Mavericks championship defense who left for New York because they only offered him a one-year contract to stay — is not surprised at the slow start. He told the New York Post he saw it coming when he and other veteran free agents only got one-year deals.
“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 deals,” he said.
“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.”
We knew it would be different, but the chemistry is going to take time in Dallas. They won a ring with a core built around Dirk Nowitzki that had been together for years and knew how to make the whole more than the sum of their parts. They moved the ball, their defensive rotations were crisp because guys knew where the others would be and trusted them after years of repetition (Chandler just fit neatly into that puzzle). This year the players are different and that trust has to be rebuilt. It will get there but it takes time.
Mark Cuban has made his gamble — he has chosen cap space and a run at free agents next summer over going for the repeat title. If he lands Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams and others, he’s brilliant. If not, well, it may be a tough few years for Mavericks fans. And that probably wouldn’t shock Chandler, either.
Gordon Hayward dunks on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker (videos)
The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.
Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….
Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.
Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.
Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.
There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.
Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.