Tag: Donnie Nelson

Jason Terry Tyson Chandler

Jason Terry lobbies for Tyson Chandler’s return to the Mavs


Tyson Chandler shocked the known basketball world yesterday with an acknowledgement that he doesn’t expect to be back with the title-winning Dallas Mavericks next season. For a variety of reasons, the Mavs have reportedly underwhelmed Chandler with their offers thus far, and their starting center — and the key to their half-court defense — could walk in free agency as a result.

Yet the Mavs’ Jason Terry will be there through every step of the process, whispering in Chandler’s ear and insisting he return back to the team that made him a champion. From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

“You can’t see my fingers or toes, but they are crossed hoping Tyson’s coming back because he was a big part to what we have accomplished here,” Terry said. “And, we’ve laid a foundation. To go back and take a step backwards would be terrible. Not saying that we wouldn’t have a chance to win this year if Tyson does not come back, but definitely puts things up against us.”

…”I’ve spoken to him every day for the last two weeks and he wants to be here, he wants to be a Maverick next year,” Terry said. “Now, it’s on ownership to make it happen.”

…Terry said he’s been actively recruiting Chandler to stay in Dallas. The 7-foot-1 center who finished third in last season’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year is considered a top-three free agent with Denver Nuggets center Nene and New Orleans Hornets power forward David West.

“He’s big. Again, without Tyson on this team last year I just don’t know if we win a championship,” Terry said. “It’s just letting him know how much we want him to be a part of this team this year.”

Chandler’s on-court impact is both significant and highly visible; it was easy to see the difference he made with the Mavs last season, and GMs around the league are trying to bottle that same defensive impact for their teams. If Dallas were fully committed to the preserving their championship core, Chandler’s departure wouldn’t be a very realistic possibility.

But Chandler and the Mavs are caught in a tricky situation. There is a desire on both sides to keep Chandler in Dallas, and the two-year buffer preceding the new luxury tax penalties kick in would theoretically allow the Mavs to retain Chandler and sort out the tax implications later. Yet with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson looking to manage Dallas’ cap room for 2012 and drive the payroll back towards the tax line, Chandler could be left with an insufficient offer from his incumbent team.

Cuban and Nelson are doing their best to balance championship contention in the coming season and the construction (or at least attempted construction) of a competitive core for the coming decade. Chandler — and the massive contract he’s soon to sign, in Dallas or elsewhere — just so happens to be the key piece that will push the Mavericks down one path or the other.

NBA Playoffs: Mavs win with offensive potency despite the absences of Butler and Beaubois

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five
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As the Dallas Mavericks are doused with the effusive praise that comes with being a conference champion, let’s not forget that their incredible accomplishments have come despite their two X-factors watching in suits from the sideline.

It’s odd to discuss a team headed to the NBA finals in terms of substantial setbacks, but there’s simply no other way to address the season-ending injury to Caron Butler and the gradual irrelevance of Rodrigue Beaubois. Both were supposed to be significant players for Dallas this season, and it’s a testament to the team’s depth and the efficacy of those available that the Mavs stand atop the Western Conference.

Butler is by far the more significant loss, as the Mavs knew exactly what he could offer this particular team during this particular season. Dallas’ early success on both ends of the court was because of Butler’s adjustments to better accommodate the team; gone was the ball-stopper of a year ago, and in his place stood an effective perimeter defender willing to move within the offense and play within himself.

The Mavericks were a tremendously successful and dynamic team with Butler in the fold; imagine them as they are now, but with an effective, involved version of DeShawn Stevenson. Butler connected on 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and 45 percent of his attempts overall — notably improved marks from his initial half-season of adjustment in Dallas following the 2010 trade deadline. He seemingly found his place within the offense and the team as a whole, and though Butler posted a PER of just 14.2 (relatively average, but low by the standards of his career), his value in terms of defense and shot creation far exceed that number.

As for Beaubois, this season’s Mavs lost out on an unquantifiable potential impact. He was the team’s second-best per-minute scorer a season ago, and an efficient bucket-getting machine. This year was supposed to be an extension of that same theme, a development and growth of Beaubois as a player and a point guard. Yet as much as Beaubois’ future was discussed in terms of what could be (both from a skill and positional standpoint), all of that rhetoric was a thinly veiled assessment of what would be.

Beaubois was deemed untouchable by Mark Cuban because he was seen as a sure thing, and public assessments of his game were equally optimistic. At worst, Beaubois would be a tremendous scorer capable of driving and shooting his way to 20-point nights on the regular. His length and athleticism give him great defensive potential, and his relative inexperience with the game left plenty of growing room for Beaubois’ budding passing and ball-handling abilities.

Beaubois may still hold those same natural predispositions for NBA effectiveness, but this season — one in which he was held out of 54 games because of complications surrounding an offseason foot injury — has understandably tarnished his perceived potential. Something for Beaubois never really clicked this season; his scoring instincts misled him, and he oscillated between periods of extreme passivity and offensive overextension. The scoring that had been at the core of Beaubois’ game deserted him, and while he still scored 17.1 points per 36 minutes, Beaubois’ efficiency plummeted. At moments, he looked like a dime-a-dozen undersized two guard, capable of scoring in bursts but largely inefficient.

Yet despite the losses of the actual and the potential, the Mavs persevered. Shawn Marion stepped into more minutes and an expanded offensive role, the kind which had been denied him by Dallas’ almost superfluous depth. Peja Stojakovic recovered from the mysterious back injuries that had kept him off the court in Toronto, and became a semi-regular contributor. Yet even more importantly, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea rebounded from their slow starts. Barea didn’t top 40 percent shooting during a month of the regular season until January, and his 3-point shooting hit almost comical lows in the mid-teens. ‘JET’ improved his field-goal shooting by 6 percent between January and February, and hasn’t looked back.

Neither player was limited by the system or even the clutter on the depth chart, but simply had failed to tap into the specific strengths of their games during the season’s opening months. Throw in a fully transcendent performance from Dirk Nowitzki, and you have the current, actualized product.

They didn’t need a big trade for a quasi-star wing or any kind of revamp — just consistency. Just an established effort to work through the season with the players available, with the knowledge that guys like Terry and Barea were better than their performance indicated. Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Mark Cuban knew that Marion was still a capable offensive player. They knew that Stojakovic could contribute in spots, and while he couldn’t replace Butler, he could at least hedge the loss of his perimeter shooting. And perhaps most importantly, they knew Nowitzki could still act as a sufficient centerpiece without additional help, and Jason Kidd could be trusted to pull everything together on both ends.

This run to the NBA finals required the perfect mix of ingredients and circumstance, but so do all runs to the finals. It’s only because of the persistence of this roster, coaching staff and front office that this group was able to grow, thrive, and take the Western Conference by storm.

Rashad McCants’ future with the Legends still uncertain

Rashad McCants
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Nothing is ever easy with Rashad McCants.

After spending last season outside the NBA looking in, McCants signed a non-guaranteed contract with Dallas late in the preseason, and was cut almost immediately after. From a media perspective, the Mavericks’ intentions seemed rather obvious. However, McCants reportedly was told he would have a chance to make the team, and that never happened. Dallas, and GM Donnie Nelson, had other plans.

Regardless of who was told what, the Mavs’ signing and dismissal of McCants was a strategic move to procure the guard’s D-League rights for the Mav-affiliated Texas Legends, which are co-owned by Nelson. But for a time, it looked like the Mavs and Legends may have miscalculated. If McCants really was as incensed as his agent’s comments would suggest, then perhaps the red tape that prevented McCants from being assigned to any other D-League would be ripped to pieces in the name of hurt feelings and miscommunication.

That doesn’t appear to be the case, as McCants was named to the Legends’ 15-man training camp roster. However, that inclusion doesn’t technically mean anything; Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that according to Percy Miller (one of McCants’ personal advisers), McCants intends to fully pursue several leads on NBA jobs before reporting to Legends camp. McCants may be a Texas Legend yet, but only if the team is willing to wait for him.

If when all is said and done McCants is willing to play for the Legends, he’s a no-brainer to make the team, and may not be long for the D-League world at all. McCants is an NBA-caliber player, and would undoubtedly be a focal point of Nancy Lieberman’s offense. That said, there’s still plenty of time left before the D-League season begins for things to turn sour. McCants’ career has had too many strange happenings for us to simply assume that his inclusion on the roster makes this a done deal. It’s likely that McCants will be a Legend next season based on his current inclusion, but stay frosty.

Maybe we haven’t seen the last of Don Nelson after all

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Don Nelson’s tenure as head coach of the Golden State Warriors was marked by one shining moment and countless infuriating ones. Between Nelson’s influence on personnel decisions, his rotations, his handling of players, and the general quagmire that plagued the Warriors organization as a whole, few things seemed to go right in the Bay. Moving on from that trend by ditching Nelson and promoting Warriors assistant Keith Smart was in the franchise’s best interests, even if Nelson had become an almost comically overused scapegoat for the Warriors’ various ailments by the end.

Now Nelson is undoubtedly living the Hawaii life, enjoying his long-time home away from his NBA homes. And presumably, he’d be doing so for a long, long time. He’s coached NBA basketball since 1976, and at a cool 70 years of age, it seemed safe to say that Nelson’s days of coaching pro ball were behind him.

His son, Donnie Nelson, general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t quite so sure that’s the case. From Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse:

“Never say never,” Donnie Nelson told FanHouse of his dad possibly returning to the bench. “I thought when he was the godfather (in Dallas after handing the coaching reins to Avery Johnson in March 2005), I thought that was the perfect existence. But he wanted to coach again. With him, you just never know.”

Despite his ballooned reputation, I’m not going to pretend that Nelson, hindrance to the Warriors though he was, is some kind of basketball evil. He still has value to an NBA team and its players, though Nelson minor is correct to assert the role of godfather/consultant as something of an ideal existence for his father. The full-time grind of head coaching seems to be a bit much for Nellie at this stage, and we can only hope that he sees the gig in similar terms. A comeback to basketball in a less prominent role could be a boon for both Nellie and the team that chooses to employ him, but an assumption that the legendary coach is ready to continue business as usual from the bench could be costly.

Some confusing news is coming out of the new Warriors regime


When Joe Lacob and Peter Guber won the bid for the Warriors, immediately, talk started of how the Warriors could face changes in the front office and especially, coaching situations. There’s been conflicting reports about the future of Don Nelson, with some Thumbnail image for New Warriors Logo.jpgMost importantly, Kawakami reports that no decision will be made about Nelson until Lacob and Nelson meet, and there’s no timetable for that meeting. Kawakami projects this may cast some doubt on whether Nelson will remain, due to the new ownership accepting the extension of team president Robert Rowell prior to the sale, though no official decision has been made regarding Rowell. However, with every day that passes before such a meeting, and with the new ownership unlikely to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors before mid-October, the odds of Nelson staying this season increase.

The new ownership likely won’t be approved until two weeks into training camp, which isn’t exactly a great time to whip the ship in a different direction.

There are a lot of decisions for the new ownership to make, and a lot of sticky situations to resolve. But the timing may simply not allow for them to get going in the direction they really want this season. The winds of change are going to come. But they’re not gusting yet.