Tag: Mike James

Tyson Chandler, Ricky Rubio

Tyson Chandler: ‘I’m going to make’ Mavericks defend


In 2011, Tyson Chandler finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. In his lone season in Dallas, Chandler upgraded the Mavericks’ defense, turning it into a championship-worthy unit.

Since, Dallas hasn’t had anyone near Chandler’s defensive level.

The Mavericks have received just two All-Defensive team votes, and the selections were laughable anyway. Mike James got a (first-team!) vote in 2013, and someone thought Monta Ellis was a top-four defensive guard last season.

There’s no question a team with Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Ellis will score. But can Chandler get Dallas back on track defensively?

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

The Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup is loaded with scorers, but …

“I’m going to make them defend,” Tyson Chandler said, interrupting in the middle of the sentence. “We’re going to defend. You can score as many points as you want, but at the end of the day, defense wins championships and that’s what we’re going to do.

“Guys don’t have to be the best individual defenders in the league, but we are going to be a great defensive team. You have to do your assignment. We’re not going to take plays off.”

Chandler is going out of his way to assert his positive impact on a team’s culture, and I like what he brings (back) to Dallas.

But I’m not convinced Chandler can “make” his teammates defend, either by coercing them into giving greater effort or providing better rim protection behind them.

When Chandler left, the Mavericks’ defense went from eighth in the NBA at 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than league average to… eighth in the NBA at 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than league average.

The Knicks were a crummy defensive team last season and allowed even more points per possession when Chandler played.

In the year between, Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year. There’s no question he’s a good defender. But I think it’s fair to wonder Chandler, who will turn 32 before the season starts, can have the same impact at his age.

If the Mavericks are going to have defensive success, it will require a variety of factors – Rick Carlisle’s coaching, the effort of the team’s offense-first players and, yes, Chandler.

Is he still that elite defender? Yeah, maybe.

But the challenge is just as much on Chandler as his teammates to prove their defensive effectiveness.

Bulls, Thunder hot on the trail for Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol, Ryan Kelley, Kevin Durant

Pau Gasol might want to get paid $10 million per year, but it’s tough seeing him commanding that high a salary.

Contenders – like the Spurs and Heat – are interested, but they lack the cap space to make big offers. Teams with cap space might not want such an old player.

But Gasol might get his choice among the NBA’s top contenders. In addition to San Antonio and Miami, the Bulls and Thunder are in pursuit.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Thunder could offer Gasol the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and remain below the projected luxury-tax line, though any unlikely incentives that are met next season could push them over the line. They’d have less than $500,000 in leeway, though perhaps the actual tax line is set higher than currently projected.

Oklahoma City could also waive Hasheem Thabeet’s fully unguaranteed salary to gain extra wiggle room or replace him with a veteran like Mike Miller.

Amnestying Kendrick Perkins – probably a non-starter anyway – alone would create no extra room for Gasol, though it would put the bi-annual exception – rather than a minimum contract – in play for Miller.

The Bulls brass flying to Los Angeles to meet with Gasol certainly puts their pursuit on another level. Time spent in the air and meeting with Gasol is time Chicago’s executives can’t be meeting with other free agents.

Presently, the Bulls can offer the same amount as the Thunder, but Chicago’s road to greater cap space – amnestying Carlos Boozer and waiving the unguaranteed contracts of Ronnie Brewer,Mike James andLouis Amundson – is much easier to traverse. Those moves would give the Bulls room to offer Gasol a deal starting up to $10,741,949.

That would likely be more than enough salary to lure Gasol, but the Bulls would essentially pay double for that roster spot. After all, they’d still have to pay Boozer, even if he doesn’t count against the cap. I’m not sure Jerry Reinsdorf would accept that just to get Gasol. Possibly, Chicago is armed only with the same non-taxpayer MLE the Thunder have at their disposal.

One advantage the Thunder have is Gasol is the best free agent linked to them thus far. They can devote all their attention to him. The Bulls, on the other hand, have clearly put Carmelo Anthony first.

Days from turning 34, Gasol might take a discount to play for a contender. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka plus multiple intriguing young role players, the Thunder are definitely among the 2015 title favorites. Upgrading from Perkins to Gasol would make them much more dangerous. Gasol would add interior scoring Oklahoma City lacks, and he defends well enough – especially relative to the slowed Perkins.

If the Thunder sign Gasol, they might even eclipse the Spurs as the 2015 favorites.

Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer are the pivot points in Bulls’ pursuit of Carmelo Anthony

Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks

Derrick Rose, whose play varies from MVP-caliber to non-existent due to injury, is the Bulls’ most important player and biggest X-factor.

Carmelo Anthony knows this, which is why he wanted to see Rose in action. Assuming Melo is satisfied – if he’s not, likely none of this matters – Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer become essential to any negotiations between Melo, the Bulls and Knicks.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Sources said both the Bulls and Anthony, should he choose Chicago, want to keep Gibson for a core that would significantly improve their chances for an Eastern Conference championship.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

But the Knicks, according to sources, will not cooperate with any plan that involves them taking back Boozer.

It’s no wonder the Bulls and Melo, if he signs there, want to keep Gibson in Chicago. He’s a very good player – a top-shelf defender and rebounder and, at times, aggressive scorer. He makes his team better.

He also makes $8 million next season, a roadblock to Chicago creating enough cap room to sign Melo.

If they amnesty Boozer, waive the fully unguaranteed contracts of Ronnie Brewer, Mike James andLouis Amundson, renounce all their free agents and trade Mike Dunleavy, Anthony Randolph, Tony Snell and Greg Smith without receiving any salary in return – the Bulls could offer Melo a contract that starts at $16,284,762 and is worth $69,535,934 over four years based on the projected salary cap.

That’s far short of the max salary – $22,458,402 starting, $95,897,375 over four years – Melo could get signing outside New York, and it might be difficult to move some of those contracts (Randolph and maybe even Dunleavy) without offering a sweetener.

The bigger challenge would be convincing Melo to leave more than $26 million on the table – and that’s not even considering how much more the Knicks could offer him.

The Bulls could bump the offer to a max deal by also dealing Gibson without returning salary, but Melo might not want to play in a Gibson-less Chicago. If Melo is going to the Bulls to win now, he knows Gibson is a big part of that.

Chicago could bypass this issue by arranging a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. Of course, that requires convincing New York to agree.

If Phil Jackson wants to take a hardline stance against sign-and-trading Melo, I could understand that. As you can see, the Bulls would have a difficult time keeping their core together while making space for Melo. Another prominent Melo suitor, the Rockets, could strip their roster to just Dwight Howard and James Harden, and they still wouldn’t have enough room below the projected cap to offer Melo his full max starting salary. By refusing to entertain sign-and-trades, Jackson might significantly diminish the odds Melo leaves the Knicks.

But if Jackson is willing to conduct a sign-and-trade, refusing to take Boozer is asinine.

Neither the Knicks nor Bulls need to enter negotiations under any illusions about what Boozer is. He’s a player with negative value whose expiring contract would be used only to make the deal’s finances work.

A simple trade of Boozer and one of Brewer, James or Amundson for Melo would allow Melo to receive his max starting salary. New York would have no obligation to Brewer/James/Amundson beyond the trade and none to Boozer beyond next season. Considering the Knicks don’t project to have cap space until 2015 anyway, Boozer wouldn’t interfere much, if at all.

Of course, New York would never go for that.

Brewer/James/Amundson is a worthless piece, and like I said before, Boozer has negative value. It’s up to the Bulls to tweak the deal to include other positive assets – future draft picks, Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott – that compensate the Knicks for both parting with Melo and accepting Boozer. Armed with all its own first rounders, a Kings’ first rounder if it falls outside the top 10 in the next three years and the right to swap picks with the Cavaliers outside the lottery next season, Chicago has the tools to create a tempting offer.

But to make the finances work – unless they include Gibson, whom Melo wants left on the team – the Bulls need to include Boozer in the trade.

Boozer is nothing more than a contract to make the deal work. Sure, he might give the Knicks a little interior and scoring and rebounding in the final year of his contract, but neither New York nor Chicago needs to value that when determining a fair trade. Boozer is a contract.

He’s also a contract who could be useful in another trade for the Bulls sometime before the trade deadline for the same reason he’s useful here. Expiring contracts grease the wheels of larger deals.

Why is Phil Jackson so opposed to this? Maybe he understands the situation and is just posturing. If so, it’s a little annoying, because it’s not necessary. The Bulls, who might just amnesty Boozer, understand his value.

If there’s more to this, and Jackson thinks Boozer’s mere presence would harm the Knicks, he could always tell Boozer not to report. That would still allow New York to trade Boozer later without risking him infecting the team with whatever Jackson believes Boozer carries. (That Boozer has fit in Chicago’s strong organizational culture suggests these fears are unwarranted.)

If Jackson is willing to discuss a sign-and-trade, he should listen to offers that include Boozer. The Bulls will surely add valuable assets in exchange.

But if Jackson flatly refuses and Melo still wants to sign in Chicago, he faces a dilemma – playing with with Gibson or making $26 million extra dollars over the next four years.


Ray Allen considering retirement

2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability

The Miami Heat are old, and aside from LeBron James, they look spent.

The Heat might have aged out of title contention, even with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They need a younger, more-energized supporting cast.

So what’s next for Ray Allen, who turns 39 next month? Not only is he Miami’s oldest player, he’s the oldest by three years!

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:

the guard said retirement is an option.

“I guess everything [is factored into the decision],” he said Thursday before the Heat lost to the Spurs, 107-86, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “You get away from it, you sit down and get an opportunity to think about it. It depends on how my body feels. I love the condition I’ve been in over the last couple of years. It’s just a natural progression.”

“I don’t look at this as an age thing for me, it’s never been an age thing,” said Allen, who was averaging 9.6 points in the playoffs entering Game 4. “I always laugh because I see the birthdates of the some of the younger guys. They’re born in the ’90s. In the ’90s! I was kicking it hard in the ’90s.

Allen hasn’t lost a step in the quote department. “They’re born in the ’90s. In the ’90s! I was kicking it hard in the ’90s” is pure gold.

But Allen has lost a step on the court.

Game 4 showcased what Allen brings in his advanced age. He made 2-of-4 3-pointers, but he also committed four fouls in 30 minutes and was -18.

Shooting ages well, and Allen will remain an NBA-caliber shooter for a long time. The key question is whether he can continue doing anything else well enough to get on the court.

Now that Derek Fisher has retired to coach the Knicks, Allen is the NBA’s third-oldest active player – behind Steve Nash and Mike James. But Allen has kept himself in such good shape, he often reminds us of his Jesus Shuttlesworth days.

If Allen wants to play next year, he’ll get signed. Teams will covet his shooting, at least attached to a minimum-salary contract. And his famous work ethic makes him a role model every team desires, regardless of how he produces on the floor.

He’s also played professional basketball for 18 years. Maybe he wants to move onto the next stage of his life.

To his credit, he’s positioned himself where the decision is his.

Mavericks remake themselves (again) around Dirk Nowitzki, and this time it might work

Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki

Vince Carter made the clutch shot. Monta Ellis led them down the stretch. Samuel Dalembert was the steady hand.

Who are these Dallas Mavericks?

Dallas nearly completely turned over its roster since its 2011 championship – only Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain – but the Mavericks have finally found the veterans capable of delivering their first playoff series win since then.

With Carter’s game-winning 3-pointer clinching a 109-108 Game 3 win, Dallas took a 2-1 series lead over the No. 1 seeded San Antonio Spurs. Unlike the NBA’s other potential 1-8 upset, this series isn’t just about whether the top seed blows it. At 49-33, the Mavericks are the one of the best No. 8 seeds ever.*

*Behind only the 2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder and 2007-08 Denver Nuggets, both of whom went 50-32

Dallas wasn’t re-built conventionally. The Mavericks haven’t hit on a first-round pick since 2004 (Devin Harris). Instead, they’ve mined the scrap heap for veteran reclamation projects to accentuate Nowitzki’s unique skills – an uneven process that has resulted in more misses than hits. Rudy Fernandez, Lamar Odom, Delonte West, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Eddy Curry, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Troy Murphy, Derek Fisher, Mike James and Dahntay Jones have all come and gone.

But the veterans who remain are getting it done.

Carter, who led nine teams in scoring, has re-invented himself as a sixth man. He’s no longer tasked with dominating the ball, spotting up more often for 3s. His defense became surprisingly effective in Dallas, remaining decent as he’s aged. And he’s still capable of performing new tricks:

Ellis signed with the Mavericks as an uncontrollable and inefficient shooter, but Rick Carlisle has tamed Ellis’ wildness by better-positioning the shooting guard in the Mavericks’ offense. In the fourth quarter yesterday, Ellis shot 5-for-5 to score 12 points and lead the Mavericks back from a five-point deficit with two minutes remaining.

Dalembert, whose maddening punctuality has remained an issue in Dallas, got it together in the Mavericks’ biggest game of the season. With 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, Dalembert provided effective defense in a game where both offenses dominated. Dallas allowed 106.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court yesterday and 125.2 with him off it.

And then there’s Jose Calderon, the other addition to the Mavericks’ starting lineup. He threw the inbound pass to Carter and is doing what he always does – making pinpoint passes, shooting efficiently in limited volume and playing matador defense. He’s not a reclamation project. Dallas just recognized his skills when offering him a four-year, $29 million contract last summer. The Mavericks have also recognized his shortcomings, using Marion to guard Tony Parker and allowing Calderon to hide off the ball.

Will all that give Dallas the first-round upset? It would help if Nowitzki, who scored 18 points yesterday after posting 11 and 16 in Games 1 and 2, did a little more, but even that might not be enough.

As good as the Mavericks are – they would have been the No. 3 seed in the East – the game gap between them and the Spurs (62-20) in winning percentage is about as close to the average 1-8 gap as the smallest one.*

*Tie, Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32) in 2010 and Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) vs.Denver Nuggets (50-32) in 2008

Gregg Popovich is still searching for ways to match up with Dallas, using 22 lineups in Game 3. San Antonio certainly isn’t done.

But after a couple years of relatively wayward years, getting swept by the Thunder in 2012 and missing the playoffs in 2013, neither are the Mavericks.