Author: Matt Moore

Mavericks apparently had a “players on expiring contracts” issue last year


At the end of the piece we brought you yesterday from the Dallas Morning Newsabout how Dirk Nowitzki’s feeling good, feeling great, ready, ready to celebrate, there was an interesting little stick at the end.

Nowitzki also made it clear that he is in no mood this season to hear about players who are on the last year of their contract or feel like they are headed for another destination in the off-season. That mentality crept into the minds of some players last season.

“We are all professionals, and I expect everyone to play at a high level and give it their best no matter what their contract situation is,” Nowitzki said. “It is an honor to represent the Mavericks and that is how we will approach it.”

via Dirk Nowitzki excited about Mavericks’ overhaul, says knee is good to go | Dallas Mavericks Blog.

So that’s a not-so-subtle shot at former teammates who were running up the whine tab last year trying to get contracts they didn’t end up getting. Jason Terry’s a reasonable suspect here, as he talked quite a bit about where he might go in the offseason, including Miami, something that had to tweak Mark Cuban if he read it. But that would be pretty shocking considering how much Terry was valued in the locker room. Jason Kidd also spoke on record about the situation, but never made any sort of disruptive claims. Whoever was upset last year at least kept it in house.

But you can’t really blame them. The Mavericks had several guys looking for their last payday of their careers. These things do take a toll, especially after watching Cuban let Tyson Chandler and Jose Juan Barea walk just months before.

Well at least it won’t be a problem for a whi… oh, wait. Five players have expiring contracts this season and have eleven players whose contracts expire between now and July 1 of 2014. It’s part of the business. Dirk can hope things will be different and with a different crew, it might be. But as long as Cuban values flexibility (as well he should) this is going to be a side-effect.


Keyon Dooling denies Heat rumors, says he’s done with the league

Boston Celtics' Dooling celebrates a teammate's basket against the Miami Heat during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Boston

So Keyon Dooling retired last week, and it seemed weird and sudden. Then, almost immediately, reports surfaced that Dooling was going to join the Miami Heat.

Now, Dooling has issued a denial of those reports to Fox Sports Florida, (hopefully) ending one of the most irrelevant sagas of the late offseason:

So much for Keyon Dooling wanting to join the Miami Heat.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday that, word was, the point guard — waived by Boston on Friday with the belief he would retire —  had interest in the Heat. But the native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., denied that.

“No truth!” Dooling wrote in an email to FOX Sports Florida. “I will never play NBA ball again.”

via Dooling confirms retirement, no interest in Heat.

So Keyon Dooling will not be bringing his lack of playmaking and erratic three-point shot to the Heat. Maybe. Look, we’ve seen this before. Guy says “No way, I’m done!” and then later is like “Oh, wait, I love money so, so, so, so, so much.”

Happens every year. And with the prospect of being able to sit out training camp and contend for a title on the table, don’t rule anything out just because Dooling’s willing to walk away right now.

But at least we can move on. The world can exhale.

After a rough year physically, Dirk Nowitzki is “good to go”

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz  in Salt Lake City, Utah

Dirk Nowitzki’s training and conditioning were all screwed up by the lockout last year. Understandably, after  finally accomplishing the dream of winning the title, Nowitzki, along with the rest of the Mavs, enjoyed their offseason. The uncertainty of the lockout lead to a lack of training and so when the season started, Nowitzki was not prepped for the season, hadn’t gone through his usual routines.

Throw in a knee problem, and you had all the issues last year. He had a mid-season boot camp to try and get right physically, but it never  really got back on track. With a normal offseason, though, Nowitzki says that physically, he’s in position to get back to being Dirk.

Second, and more important, Nowitzki feels wonderful physically. His right knee that gave him such trouble during the first half of the shortened season in 2011-12 no longer is a concern to him.

That’s huge.

“I tried to keep in shape all summer long so that it would not be hard to pick up my usual training routine,” Nowitzki said in an email interview. “I feel great. My knees feel fine, and that’s important. I am ready to go.”

via Dirk Nowitzki excited about Mavericks’ overhaul, says knee is good to go | Dallas Mavericks Blog.

That’s great news for Mavericks fans. With a younger roster that will need time to gel, and players who have uncertainties about how they will react in new roles, the team will rely on Nowitzki as much if not more than ever. But most importantly, it looks like we’ll get the real Dirk Nowitzki back, and that’s a win for everyone, except whoever he’s playing that night.


Is Billy King a lock for Executive of the Year?

Billy King

That’s right, I’m doing a prospective Executive of the Year post in September. Training camp doesn’t start for a week. What do you want from me?

Mikhail Prokhorov told reporters this week, via the New York Post:

Prokhorov on the job @bkdefend did retooling the @brooklynnets roster: “I think, I’m sure, I do believe he’ll be the GM of the year.”

via Twitter / TimBontemps: Prokhorov on the job @bkdefend ….

Is this thing a lock? No team will make a greater gain in wins next season. The Timberwolves went up marginally last year so a jump this year is expected but won’t be as dramatic. The Warriors may actually have put together a greater improvement and a smarter long-term roster, but they don’t have the market or starpower that the Nets do. Any other team would be a massive surprise.

So you have to think that King will wind up getting it, just based on team improvement. It’s kind of an odd choice, considering the GMs vote on it, and they all know that long-term the Nets have put a pretty hard ceiling on themselves and it’s not one of a championship. They’ll be great, but it would take moving a massive contract for either an aging or underwhelming player for them to throw in a piece that leads to a championship.

But there’s the other scenario. They just click, and the chemistry makes them an unlikely title contender. I can’t see it happening but God knows that doesn’t mean it can’t come out that way.

And the bigger result may be this: There may be simply no one else who seems like a good choice.

Possible exceptions: Rod Thorn, Masai Ujiri

Note: How amazing would it be if Arron Afflalo jetpacked into a superstar while Glen Davis got himself together and the Magic made a playoff run and Rob Hennigan won? It’s never going to happen, but oh the justice.

Note 2 (Update): If Dwight Howard comes back earlier than expected and the Lakers don’t have any injury issues and they win as many games as is likely. Mitch Kupchak is certainly a strong candidate.

Does Miami’s championship prove that any system can work with the best talent?

Miami Heat player LeBron James hoists the championship trophy as team mate Dwyane Wade looks on stage at a rally in Miami, Florida

This is something I just kind of stumbled on this morning while reading a post from earlier this month about how Pat Riley said about how smallball is “who (the Heat) are, now.”

I, and others have written a lot about how the Heat’s lineup to finish the season, with Chris Bosh playing a combination 4/5 and LeBron James playing a combination 1/3/4/5 was indicative of how the league has developed more and more into a smallball league. And we’re seeing several teams this season playing faster and smaller. Boston was already playing Kevin Garnett at the 5 last year, Denver is talking about Danilo Gallinari at the 4, The Mavericks will likely have lineups with Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand as their 4-5 combo, and the Knicks have made noise about reserve lineups featuring Amar’e Stoudemire at the 5 and Carmelo Anthony at the 4.

Do the Heat represent some sort of illustration of how the league has shifted?

Maybe the better question is if Miami is a great example of how what matters is talent, and how that can make any system, even smallball, work.

The common joke response to “what did Miami do to make smallball work?” is “Have LeBron James” and while that can get annoying after a while, ignoring everything that Erik Spoelstra and company put into the structure of the offense, it does present a bigger part of the puzzle. James enables the Heat to be able to have success with his system. And while they may not have had success with the Triangle, or Princeton offense, or Seven Seconds or Less, they have made this one work, despite its limitations, because of the strength of their roster. Not every system would (or did) work for the Heat. See: 2011. But this one does.

And it opens up the idea that perhaps the secret to these super-teams lies in unconventional answers to traditional questions, even if they rely on some key cliches long-term. The Heat are still a defensive team first. The Nuggets brought in Iguodala to improve their defense. But the idea that speed can’t be successful when the playoffs come is being proven wrong with the caveat that you need to wreak havoc with stops and turnovers on defense first.

There’s not a great chance of success for teams who are not Miami to win with smallball. But in the long-term future of the NBA, it does show that if you get the right pieces, you can win it all with the kind of play that so often gets disregarded as “not playoff basketball.”