Beyond the Raptors: Dallas Mavericks

Another week before the Raptors start a manic month or so of activity, so until then, we will talk a little ball about the Mavs, Dirk, Beaubois and Bosh (and maybe a lil Turk).

The gossips claim that the Raptors have a deal worked out for Turkoglu that will be consummated on draft night, we can only imagine who that team could be (I have a feeling it will be either Philly or Charlotte). I can only speculate that
this move will serves two purposes:

1. Rid us of Turkoglu
2. Bring in a complimentary piece to Bosh

The fact of the matter is that Bosh wont be making a decision until he is allowed to talk to some teams, and see what they have to offer; at which point he will either sign on the dotted line, or give Colangelo his short list of teams he wants to play for.

Either way, unless we trade yet another lottery pick (and throw DeRozan in), I expect this trade to make the Raptors better in both the short/long run. Take that however you want, but we all have another week to go nuts on the ESPN trade machine.

I had a chance to talk to Rob Mahoney from The Two Man Game about the Mavericks, and what the f*ck happened.

Sam Holako: WTF happened???

Rob Mahoney: Well, that depends on who you ask. Talk to the Maverick faithful, and the team peaked too early; after riding a big winning streak following the Mavs’ acquisitions at the deadline, the team had faded going into the playoffs. Talk to the realists, and they’ll tell you of a Dallas team that never could quite get it together defensively, and lacked the offensive versatility to protect Dirk from aggressive coverage. Ask an extremist, and you’ll likely hear stories of how centuries-old prophecies as told by soothsayers around the globe foretold of Rodrigue Beaubois’ ascension, and Rick Carlisle’s stubborn denial of the rookie’s destiny led to an extended fourth quarter benching in the decisive Game 6 and a destruction of the natural order of the universe.

Needless to say, it’s all a bit complicated. Still, the easy part is that the team just wasn’t ready. They weren’t good enough on either side of the ball to get past San Antonio in the first round — much less a potential match-up with Phoenix or L.A. later in the playoffs — even if they fell just short in almost every loss.

SH: One thing I have admired about the Mavs/Cuban is that they have continually retooled via big moves in an effort to win a championship (Butler, Haywood, and Marion). However, I’m not so sure Carlisle was/is the right guy for the job (although I’m a big fan of his). You touched on his benching of Beausboise a little; while I’m not convinced he would have saved the season if played, I can’t help but think that specific event was symptomatic of a larger issue. Is it time to reduce Kids role on the Mavs and increase Patrices? Does Carlisle have what it takes to make this happen without things detiorating?

RM: I really do think he can make it happen. Carlisle has shown a lot of flexibility during his time in Dallas (his reluctance to play Beaubois was the exception, not the rule), and that’s crucial. I mean, he benched Caron Butler in a playoff game. It was the right move, but the real question is how many coaches would even be willing to do that? That was a lot of salary left sitting on the bench and a former All-Star, but Caron was hurting the offense and Carlisle knew it.

Coaches need to be willing to play whichever players give the team the best chance to win, regardless of standing or reputation. Carlisle has shown that he’s willing to do that (except with Beaubois, apparently, but again that’s more a fluke), and he’ll continue to alter the rotation until he’s satisfied.

For what it’s worth, the Mavs — from Rick Carlisle to Mark Cuban to Donnie Nelson — have made it clear that Beaubois will have a bigger role next season, both playing off the ball as he did this past season and with more time as the back-up point. That probably won’t indicate much of a drop-off for Kidd, but the team may be more conservative with Jason’s minutes in the regular season.

SH: What’s this kids upside? Not very often you hear people scream about benching a late first round pick in favour of Jason Kidd.

RM: It’s incredibly high. The physical tools are all there — the speed, the length, the athleticism, the body control — and once he finds ways to properly utilize all of his gifts, he’s going to be a force. In the meantime, he was only second on the team in points per minute, led all rookies in PER and true shooting percentage, and shot 50-40-80 from the field. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but at the same time I wouldn’t call him “raw”; his instincts serve him well. He’s coming along at the defensive end as well, but he played defense like a rookie. I expect a little more nuance in his defensive performances in year two, with a better understanding of opposing players’ tendencies, how he fits into a team defensive concept, etc.

I see no reason why Beaubois can’t be a star in this league for a long time. All of the components are there, it just takes time and a little opportunity.

SH: An issue that has split Raptor fans into two groups is the notion of Chris Bosh as a max player. Some of us, myself included, feel that he is an elite level player in the league who is worthy of a max contract (in terms of his worth on a championship team, I feel he’s more a Pippen than a Jordan), while others violently disagree. I want to ask that question of you, can a championship team be built around Nowitzki at this stage of his career? Is he a max player? Would the Mavs be better off dealing him and rebuilding around Beaubois?

RM: For the record, I think Bosh is a max player and I’ll defend that notion to the grave. Similarly, Nowitzki is still a max player, even if he may take a lower-than-max deal to help out the team.

You can still build an offense around Dirk Nowitzki, it’s just not the easiest thing in the world. There is no template to follow, because Dirk isn’t a traditional low-post player or a super-quick point guard or an athletic swingman. The league has never seen anything quite like Dirk; there have been players with similar skills, but no one that combines Nowitzki’s unique versatility, talent, and efficiency. He just needs the right components around him on both ends of the court to secure a title, and he’s never really had that.

Even in 2006 when the Mavs went to the Finals, the thing that really put Dallas over the top was Devin Harris’ ability to penetrate. Harris is the only post-Nash point guard the Mavs have had that could really attract defensive attention. Jason Kidd, for all of his talents, doesn’t command coverage. He doesn’t penetrate particularly well, and he’s not forcing defenses to adapt to his movements. Similarly, Erick Dampier has been the most successful center of the Nowitzki era. I appreciate Damp more than anyone, but if the Mavs had a superior center in the last few seasons, Dirk could have a title to his name.

He still could, but it’s going to take some kind of adjustment. The guys currently on the roster — Jason Terry, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, et al — are talented, but probably not talented enough nor do they possess ideal skill sets. It doesn’t take a monumental change, but Dallas needs a few upgrades, and given that, Nowitzki could still be competitive for a title. There may be a day when the Mavs would be wise to build around Beaubois, but it’s not today. Or tomorrow. And probably not the day after that, either.

SH: Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger, but he still has a few years at an elite level in him. Cuban has shown the chops to make things happen, and has continually loaded up year after year with players that have put together great regular season teams, but failed in the playoffs. What players should he be targeting this offseason to compliment Dirk; or is trading Dirk the only answer?

RM: If I had my pick of any potential acquisition, I’d shoot for Dwyane Wade. Not exactly a great center that can anchor a defense, but he’s an elite scorer, a terrific playmaker, and an excellent defender that fills a positional need. That said, Wade won’t be giving the Mavs the time of day, which makes some of the other players that could be on the market this summer — guys like Joe Johnson and Andre Iguodala — far more reasonable targets.

Bosh is a bit of an odd fit in Dallas. Offensively, he’d be a dream, but I’m skeptical of Bosh and Dirk’s ability to coexist on defense. That said, he’s a hell of a player, and if the Mavs had a shot of nabbing him, they’d do their best to take that shot.

That shot would be something like Erick Dampier (or really, his instantly expiring contract that wouldn’t cost Toronto a penny), Rodrigue Beaubois, and DeShawn Stevenson’s expiring contract. If the Mavs were particularly desperate, they could agree to take on Hedo Turkoglu in exchange for Caron Butler, but that would sour the deal rather substantially in my opinion. It’s not a knockout for the Raps, but I honestly don’t see Toronto getting any return value better than Beaubois; he’s young, talented, and inexpensive, and would really only come with the additional cost of Stevenson’s one-year $4.15 million deal. Beaubois may not be Chris Bosh, but he’d be an excellent young piece that when paired with DeMar DeRozan, could give Toronto the most athletic (and one of the most exciting) backcourts in the league.

Damn interesting proposal if you ask me. Have to say, if Bosh said he didn’t want to play for the Raptors anymore, and the Mavs agreed to take Turkoglu in a S&T, gotta say this deal gives us lots of options in the short and long term.

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