The Newest Mavs Won't Hurt the Balance Sheet, But How Much Will They Help on the Court?

Categories: Sports

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On this season of The Shark Tank ...
Rob Mahoney runs The Two Man game, an ESPN-affiliated Mavericks blog, and occasionally writes about basketball for Unfair Park.

Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have never exactly run the Mavericks like an ordinary NBA franchise. They built a team around a gangly German kid, and leaned on a bleached-blonde, seldom-used Canadian point guard to be his sidekick. (See correction below). They salvaged misfit veterans from all across the league and pieced them together in innovative ways. They took chances, swallowed losses, kept moving. They hired "stat geeks" before it was cool. They paid huge luxury tax penalties year after year, despite not operating in a premier market or profiting from a lucrative TV deal.

And most recently: They went to war with a cast of older players and a unique roster construction -- and somewhat impossibly ended up winning the whole damn thing.

So it should surprise no one that Cuban and Nelson approached free agency in a manner unlike any former champion. Although Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea all put in great work for the Mavericks last season, sentiment was placed aside in the name of prudent financial planning. Dallas has put more of an emphasis on financial flexibility than ever before, and long-term deals for that trio were deemed counterproductive to the team's goals.

Cuban himself essentially said as much to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, setting up the expectation for a quiet, uneventful free agency period. We should've known better; the Mavs even approach financial restraint with a unique sensibility, as Cuban and Nelson have added four intriguing players to the mix without committing to any lengthy contracts -- a minor miracle in today's NBA.

Here's a closer look at the newest Mavericks and what they'll bring to team on their economical salaries:

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LAMAR ODOM
Previous team: Los Angeles Lakers
2010-2011 Stats: 16.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per 36 minutes
Miscellanea: Reigning Sixth Man of the Year; dunks on the moon; sells a bottled unisex fragrance with his wife, Khloe Kardashian; exists in a perpetual state of candy eating.

Nelson has made some strong moves over the course of the off-season, but none more impressive than the costless acquisition of Lamar Odom. Somehow Dallas managed to turn a traded player exception (a trade facilitator created in credit as a product of New York's sign-and-trade for Tyson Chandler) and a future, highly protected first round pick into one of the top forwards in the game. That's straight-up alchemy, and Nelson deserves every bit of praise he'll receive for his golden touch.

Odom doesn't fit any clear positional need for the Mavs, but his versatile game opens all kinds of possibilities. He's listed at 6-foot-10 but manages to run the pick-and-roll just as well as a ball-handler as he does as a roll man. He has a fluid post-up game but also spots up on the perimeter for threes. He's all over the court, and -- more frightening still -- it's difficult to find an area of the game in which Odom doesn't excel.

Odom's head drifts into the clouds at times, and his limitations have more to do with those flighty tendencies than any skill-related deficit. The structure of the Mavs' system and organization should give Odom some guidance in that regard, but Dallas will ultimately end up experiencing Odom at his multitalented Technicolor highs and at his drabber, complacent lows. It all comes with the territory, but the total product is well worth the bargain bin price.

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VINCE CARTER
Previous team: Phoenix Suns
2010-2011 Stats: 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 turnovers per 36 minutes
Miscellanea: (Formerly) one of the greatest dunkers the universe has ever seen; really wanted his college diploma; former pingpong buddy of Jason Kidd; an antagonist in Toronto, Orlando, Phoenix, and Like Mike.

Carter deserves much of the flak he receives, but underneath the lightning rod is a fairly solid offensive player. He won't do much for the Mavs defensively, but Carter should give Dallas some quality scoring and occasional playmaking from the wing. For a meager $3 million salary -- and no long-term obligation -- that's a steal.

Carter could very well end up starting for Dallas, and would present a more complete game at a position so often filled by one of the Mavericks' specialists. Gone are the days of the stand-still shooter; Dallas obviously did quite well by having DeShawn Stevenson in the starting lineup, but Carter is -- even at this stage in his career -- a far more dynamic player. He'll still have to earn every minute of court time thanks to a crowded wing rotation, but look for Carter to function as a nice supplementary scorer this season, aided by the free-flowing mechanics of the Dallas offense.

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DELONTE WEST
Previous team: Boston Celtics
2010-2011 Stats: 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.4 turnovers per 36 minutes
Miscellanea: We pretty much covered all that this morning.

West is, by all testament, a good guy to have in the locker room. Yet the realities created by his bipolar disorder are deemed problematic by some teams that choose to avoid what they deem to be additional hassle. That's their right; every team in the league has the power to draw its own lines when it comes to roster additions, even if those determinations unfortunately leave players like West out in the cold.

Dallas is no such team, and the Mavs have agreed to add West to the roster on a one-year deal for the league's minimum salary. It's a great fit in terms of basketball skill, but the Mavericks also have the consistency and culture to make things as easy for West as possible.

That kind of stability should allow Dallas to benefit from the play of a pretty impressive two-way talent. West has a nice all-around game, and he's the dreamy brand of complementary player who can thrive either with or without the ball. West isn't a huge scorer or a jaw-dropping playmaker, but he's solid across the board and brings some pesky perimeter defense to boot. We've seen West do good things for the offensive flow of virtually every team he's played on, and he'll continue to facilitate things as a pivotal member of the Mavs' second unit.

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Via.
BRANDAN WRIGHT
Previous team: New Jersey Nets
2010-2011 Stats: 13.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers per 36 minutes
Miscellanea: Actually watches the NHL; stands 6'10'' but boasts a 7'5'' wingspan; does not pronounce his name this way.

Wright doesn't have the pedigree of the Mavs' other acquisitions, but he provides youth, length and athleticism at a pretty decent value. At worst, Dallas has used a roster spot and a minimum salary to acquire a big who runs the floor very well and understands how to fill open space. At best, the Mavs have picked up a project worth developing, capable of finally building on his post-up repertoire, offensive rebounding savvy, and incredible quickness.

Wright's by no means a sure thing, but at such a low cost and with a roster short on bigs, why not take a closer look?

This story originally implied that Cuban drafted Dirk. He did not. Our apologies for the mistake.


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25 comments
Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

By the way, Mavs peeps, Bob Sturm's book about last season is out. I snagged it on Amazon for my Kindle, it's been a great read so far.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

The missing piece of the puzzle:

The return of Kris Humphries !

Last year, for NJ, 74 games, 10.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG in 28 minutes.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Excellent write-up. I'm not concerned with any of the additions on-court abilities, I'm concerned about their off-court antics. I'm hoping these guys fit in and the keep the same great chemistry they had, but the risk of West going bonkers, Odom getting drug into whiny Kardashian "Dallas isn't LA" BS, and Carter's ego inflating beyond control seems to be high. I hope mellow Dirk and Kidd have a really strong influence on them.

Seems to be the Mavs are trying to go all-in on DWill next summer, and it's sounding like a Dwight run may not be out of the question either.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Let the Kardashian circus begin!!!!!!

Kardashians and Dallas sounds like a match made in Reality TV heaven.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

These trades are only made to cover up a rebuilding year.  Bring the circus to town (Lamar Odom), and no one will notice were a 6th seed. Then get a guy that was great, like 10 years ago (Vince Carter), and a guy that drives around town on his motorcycle, with a shotgun!  I see what your doin' Cubes.  

ps-Is this THE Rob Em?  The one that used to make banal, flaccid ridden sports points that were irrelevant, and useless?  THE ROB EM, who frequented The Sport, and is on "the list" of turds with:

-Jackie Floyd-Mary-Scott-dr, g.

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

Two weeks ago, I wasn't looking forward to the season but now I can't wait.  This team clearly has more talent than last year's team.  It remains to be seen what the chemistry is like and that's what it's all about.

It will be interesting to see how carlisle works odom in since his natural position would be a 4.  I expect him to be much more consistent than he was in LA.  Who can be consistent playing with kobe?  One game kobe takes 35 shots and the next game he decides he's not going to shoot until the 4th quarter.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Quality wriiteup, I'm surprised Fernadez was shipped away so quickly and for so little?  Your thoughts on that would be appreciated.  We traded a fiirst round pick in exchange for him, and thentrade him off for a 2nd round pick in 2016? WTF?

Your synopsis of Wright should of been: He has wings, nuff said..I can see how that would be an extreme advantage for a basketball playerman.

I hear we're probaby in on Stevenson too..me likey the Abe neck tattoo guy...and he likes to party! He and Delonte should be the subjects of a reality show...probable title: COPS.

 POW!

Jessie Spano
Jessie Spano

I can't wait for the first time Khloe Kardashian gets on the jumbotron at the game.  The boos are going to be deafening.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

The revisionist history continues. Cuban is NOT the guy who brought Nash and Dirk to the Mavs:

nash - traded to mavs 1998dirk - drafted by mavs 1998cuban - purchased mavs 1-4-2000

Stern Sucks
Stern Sucks

Got news.  Unless he changes his attitude, Odom will lay an egg in Dallas.  It's up to him.

Gary
Gary

Excellent post.  Please do this often during the season.

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

Oh, and one more thing, chandler's defense is highly overrated.

Storm_71
Storm_71

We all do little buddy......... we all do.

Rob Mahoney
Rob Mahoney

Yikes -- brain fart. Point stands, but it's been corrected.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Rob was probably a Laker fan back in 98..or in grade school...take it easy on him.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

of course, to be specific, dirk was acquired in a trade on draft day, 1998

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dear Gary,   If this THE Rob Em, you DON"T want to get him started-so please don't encourage him!

Thank You,    Kergo /Provisional Gub'ner/Caddo Indian Guide

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Because? And Richie?

"I say so" will not be accepted as a valid response.

Pk998
Pk998

Yeah, we always cut Richie some slack for mistakes like this.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

No worries. I'm being especially cantankerous today anyway. We're all lucky to hit 50% on our joke success.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

OK Scruffy, I'll admit:  I was going to post 'It's overrated'  as user "GuyInTheNextCubicle" but dammit, this blog went ahead and used by DuckDuckGoose name.

A weak attempt at a weak joke and it backfired.

Hey, I imagine the book is pretty darn good.

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