DALLAS — It truly has been a pretty busy week for the Dallas Mavericks. Once the disappointment of not landing Deron Williams and seeing such Dallas stalwarts as Jason Kidd and Jason Terry take their respective skill sets elsewhere had faded, Donnie Nelson and company got to work on what might have to be called plan C or D.
And by all accounts, the Mavs have done pretty well for themselves. The retooling of the 2011 NBA champs started on Thursday, when it was revealed that Dallas had pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Ian Mahinmi, who was likely heading out of town anyway, to the Pacers in exchange for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones.
Of course, getting Collison, one of the more underrated point guards in the entire Association, was definitely a big deal for the Mavs, who only had one point guard on their roster in first-round pick Jerod Cunningham. But head coach Rick Carlisle was also pretty stoked about adding Jones, a well-traveled former Duke star who has played for four other teams before joining the Mavs earlier this week.
“Well, we’ve liked Collison for a long time. So we’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to trade for him. We have a need a point, which is obvious and so he helps fill that need. Dahntay Jones is a guy that is a premier defender who can bring toughness to our team, who has had a couple of really good years shooting the three and so we feel like his toughness and experience can add something as well,” Carlisle said.
And on Friday morning, it became official that Dallas had added another piece to their roster for the upcoming season in veteran big man Chris Kaman, who had spent last season in New Orleans. The Mavs inked the big Michigan native to just a one-year deal, but the man calling the shots on the Dallas bench was pretty pleased to see his club add such an accomplished big man to his roster as Kaman this week.
“Well, he’s a terrific low post scorer. He’s a very good midrange shooter for a seven-footer. I don’t think we’ve ever had a center here that can step out and shoot the 18-foot shot consistently that’s been the caliber of player that Chris Kaman is,” Carlisle said.
The Mavs head coach also likes the fact that Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki have a history of playing together with the German national team since Kaman has due U.S. and German citizenship and realizes such chemistry should pay big dividends in the coming season.
“Sometimes Dirk’s the tallest guy for us but he’s always the four in our system. He’s never been able to play with a five man that shoots it like that,” Carlisle said. “Those are a couple of the reasons [why we love Kaman]. We just feel like he’s a guy that is a great kid. He and Dirk have played together and they’ve played well together and we like him for our franchise.”
Carlisle had addressed the media on Friday morning after the Mavs’ summer league team had their final practice as a group before heading to Las Vegas in advance of Sunday’s start of the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League. Of course, his remarks to the leering press came several hours before the Mavs would learn whether or not the club’s bid for Elton Brand, who was amnestied by the Sixers earlier this week, would be the high bid and whether or not Dallas would be adding its second former Duke Blue Devil in as many days.
Of course, the Mavs did indeed have the high bid for Brand and if the big fella can stay healthy, which has been something of an issue during his NBA career as he has battled Achilles, shoulder and back injuries among others, then the ex-Dukie could be a nice option off the bench at power forward. Not only can Brand still score in the low post, but he could still provide some nice interior defense, two great qualities to have in someone who comes off the pine to give starters a breather.
And let’s not forget that speaking of the NBA’s clause, the Mavs exercised their version of the Get Out of Jail Free card on underachieving center Brendan Haywood. Some had thought Dallas wouldn’t use their amnesty clause on the big ex-Tar Heel, but it looks like the Mavs, much like most of their fanbase as well as the media, had seen enough of Haywood, who was known more for his string of lackluster performances if not total disappearing acts, which often included missing plenty of free throws and often in quite embarrassing fashion.
But while many are saying I told you so about Haywood, who had earned a well-deserved reputation as an underachiever with the Wizards before being traded to Dallas in February 2010, playing well enough with the Mavs to earn a six-year, $55 million deal from owner Mark Cuban, the fact the club was willing to admit it had made a mistake on the ex-UNC big man is definitely huge. Now it will be interesting to see which NBA team chooses to pick up Haywood, because he is still owed a nice chunk of change for the duration of that big contract he got just two summers ago.
One thing the Mavs have yet to add is a three-point shooter, but after summer league practice on Friday, their head coach was far from concerned. That’s because even he realizes that free agency has been going for just under two weeks and with camp not opening until mid to late September, he knows he and the rest of the organizational brass have some time to add some additional pieces before the club heads to Europe to start preseason in early October.
“Well it’s July 13. It’s not Sept. 27. So we feel like there’s a lot of summer left,” Carlisle said. “We’re still involved in talking to a lot of different people about a lot of different situations and we love shooters. We’re going to address that as we move forward here.”
So it’s very possible the Mavs aren’t quite done when it comes to adding players. One name Dallas has been linked to is Raptors point man Jose Calderon, whose days in the Queen City are numbered after Toronto acquired Kyle Lowry in a trade with the Rockets earlier this week. Speaking of Houston, even though the Mavs signed Brand that has evidently not dimmed their interest a single bit in Rockets forward Luis Scola, who has also been amnestied by the denizens of Clutch City. Dallas will find out on Sunday afternoon if indeed lightning has stuck twice and they also had the winning bid for Scola.
It was about 10 days ago that Mavs fans were wondering how bad things were going to be for the ’11 NBA champs this season. But with several solid moves this week, one trade, one signing and using the amnesty clause on one of the bigger bits of dead weight on the Dallas roster, Donnie Nelson and company have renewed the faith of the basketball fans in the Metroplex. And with another move or two up their sleeve, expect the Mavs to add at least one more name if not two before they’re done. Either way, it’s been a heck of a week, a nice way to head into the Vegas Summer League, the first chance to see what the three members of the Mavs’ 2012 draft class has to offer.