Mark Cuban has spirited defense of Calderon signing

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I liked the Jose Calderon signing by Dallas.

They get a quality point guard — 11.6 points and 6.6 assists a game, plays smart, had a PER of 18.2 and shot 52 percent from three last year — for a reasonable price (four years, $29 million). Remember last season with the failed Darren Collison experiment in Dallas? They had to bring in Derek Fisher at one point. The position was a mess for Dallas. Now with Calderon, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis they are in the playoff conversation.

But not everybody loved it. But Cuban went on ESPN Radio in Dallas this week and defended the move (as transcribed by the Dallas Morning News).

Now, we’ve added someone who can run a pick and roll with (Nowitzki) and know how to run it that knows how to use a screen. I’ll tell you something else, I was shocked when people thought we signed a bad deal with Jose Calderon because hey, the guy shot 50 percent from three. The market for guys who can catch and shoot threes and do nothing else was higher than what we paid for Jose. He knows how to play point guard. He knows how to get Dirk the ball. He knows the game. Never turns it over. Literally, I was like what are people thinking. He may not be the best defender, but it’s not like he was replacing a great defender. I was really surprised by the response to Jose. I think he’s going to make us a much better team.

He’s right about Calderon.

I think in the short term this season Dallas is one of those teams in the middle — they will finish somewhere between the 7 and 10 seeds. They will not be bad, the West is deep, but they are not special. The question is in future years how they lure a free agent or make a trade to get a guy who can dramatically improve them.

But Calderon will fit with any of those guys. People who haven’t watched him the last couple years underestimate him. He’ll play well for Dallas.

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.