Darren Collison has not had an easy season. He was benched for Derek Fisher earlier in the year, despite the fact Fisher couldn’t actually move on the court. He’s been yanked off the court for guys like Mike James, and he’s survived the Roddy Beaubois experience.
At no point has it looked like the Mavericks were willing to commit to Collison as their starting point guard right now, let alone any point in the future.
But Collison, to his credit, is not easily deterred. Many other players would have mailed it in on a losing team, but Collison is still playing hard and wants to be a part of the Mavericks’ future:
“I hope so,” Collison said when asked if he wanted to stick around long term. “I love Dallas. I love the fans. The fans have been good to me, and the organization has been real good to me. Coach has worked with me and helped me be a better player every day. I haven’t had that in a long time.”
Via Eddie Sefko | Dallas Morning News
Collison will be a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning the Mavericks can match any offer made to him in free agency so long as they issue a qualifying offer and don’t renounce their rights to him. It’s hard to tell what direction Dallas will take with Collison, mainly because they’re in such a weird spot as a franchise. The best players for Dallas are all on their last legs (Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Elton Brand) and the young players aren’t good enough to keep the team competitive on their own. There’s no real future piece to build a franchise on, unless you’re much higher on O.J. Mayo than I am.
Although Collison is the hard working, resilient type of guy you want around, he’s still an average point guard at best. You simply don’t invest money and playing time into average players if you want to be anything other than mediocre. Collison is still young at 25 years old, and he is shooting the ball at the best percentages of his career, but he struggles to get guys the ball in good spots and he has almost no in between game. Collison would be a great backup point guard, but Dallas really can’t put the cart before the horse.
When Danny Ferry’s racism scandal came to light, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer publicly supported his general manager. Budenholzer called the “African” remarks about Luol Deng “very much out of character” and said Ferry was trying to learn from his mistakes.
And while Budenholzer might not have done anything privately to contradict his public statements, his tone apparently differed with Ferry and then-owner Bruce Levenson last fall.
Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
Budenholzer very much owed his job to Ferry. His former Spurs colleague had pleaded with Levenson that the Gregg Popovich assistant was the man for the position. Yet Budenholzer felt Ferry should resign, lest the Hawks be subsumed in disruption when training camp opened, and he made his wishes known in a heartfelt conversation with Ferry and Levenson at that time.
In some respect, Budenholzer was just doing his job as coaching – trying to maximize his teams chances of on-court success. Ferry didn’t resign. He took a leave of absence that lasted until he agreed to a buyout this summer. That was apparently enough to avoid a paralyzing distraction. The Hawks won 60 games and reached their first conference finals since moving to Atlanta.
Ferry’s departure also significantly benefitted Budenholzer personally. Budenholzer ran the Hawks’ front office during Ferry’s leave, and the new owners have installed him as the teams permanent president.
The only other four active coaches with personnel control experienced much more success before getting the dual president/coach title.
Gregg Popovich coached the Spurs to four championships and 11 playoff berths before they named him president in 2008. Doc Rivers won Coach of the Year with the Magic and then guided the Celtics to a title during his 14 seasons before the Clippers plucked him to run their franchise. Stan Van Gundy steered the Heat and Magic to the playoffs in all seven of his full seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, before getting hired by the Pistons. Flip Saunders won more games than every other Timberwolves coach combined, is responsible for every playoff win in franchise history and made four trips to the conference finals (including thrice with the Pistons) over 16 total seasons before Minnesota gave him the huge role.
Budenholzer has been a head coach just two seasons, including a 38-44 debut year. He has done a good job, winning Coach of the Year last season, and he might make a good team president.
But he lacks the track record most coaches need to gain such status. Budenholzer, more than anything, was at the right place at the right time.
The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.
So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.
If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.