Mark Cuban is better at selling his product — the Dallas Mavericks and the experience of being their fan — than just about any other owner out there. It’s part of how he turned that franchise around. Sure, he spent so they could be competitive on the court, but also he changed the game and fan experience so that Dallas sports fans wanted — no, needed — to be a part of it.
Jump to the start of a new season, one removed from a title, following a summer where they didn’t land Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. Cuban is looking long term but still has a team to sell for this season.
And so he is selling O.J. Mayo as the guy who could step forward. And while you always should be wary of what a salesman tells you, what Cuban told the Dallas Morning News about the former Grizzlies is spot on — this is a defining year for Mayo.
“I think he can be a star and I think O.J. knows that this is his make-or-break, who-am-I-really-going-to-be-in-this-league year. And Coach [Rick Carlisle] is going to give him that opportunity. We’ll see what happens.”
Mayo never seemed to find a comfort zone in a Memphis offense that worked to get Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol the ball in the post. Mayo has been a volume shooter, not an efficient one. He averaged 12.6 points last season but shot just 40.8 percent last season. He took 11 shots a game last season but 7 of them were from beyond 16 feet. He’s been pretty average.
In Dallas Dirk Nowitzki remains option number one, and often option two, but Mayo is going to get his chance. He is going to be asked to score, but you know Cuban and the Mavericks are going to be tracking him with advanced stats and if his shot is off, if the team struggles when he is on the floor, if he is not efficient, his minutes will fade.
And he will have blown this chance. Because Cuban is right. This is it.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:
After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.
Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.
After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.