Mavs Donuts: Be Ready For 'Be Ready'
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DONUT 1: ... The Dallas Mavericks Poll created on DB.com Boards: Which prospect player earns a permanent spot in the rotation?
There are choices there, and talent, too. But a permanent spot in the rotation for anybody in that crew?
Our answer is "None of the above." Our answer is "Be ready."
DONUT 2: "Be Ready" ...
We've made quite an issue of this during Rick Carlisle's tenure here. He said "Be Ready" in an innocuous way, and DB.com has for five years pushed it so hard it's pretty much T-shirt-ready.
But when you eyeball this roster and at its two distinctive tiers of players (in our opinion, if not Rick's) ... And then you examine the coach' button-pushing track record ...
Put us down for thinking there will only be six or seven "permanent rotation" players and a mad-yet-orchestrated night-to-night scramble for beyond-that burn.
DONUT 3: The top 6.5 ...
The easy rotation calls? TY, Dirk, Parsons, Ellis, Nelson, Harris and maybe Wright.
Everybody else, including vets Jefferson and Felton (not included in the above poll)? A tier down. Situational. Night-to-night.
DONUT 4: No indictments here ...
That's not an indictment of those players' value or a blight on their talents. Every one of them has a chance to play a key role for a club with lofty goals that start with a top-four finish in the impossibly grueling West.
Not an indictment from Rick. And certainly not an indictment from us, and we can prove it. ...
DONUT 5: We love Greg Smith ...
OK, "love" is a tad strong for a guy who has largely made his bones as a Rio Grande Valley Viper. But Smith's listed at 6-10 and says he's still growing. He's 250 but he's agile. He's just 23 with a year of evidence in Houston the he can survive as a scrappy rotation guy.
We don't understand why Houston waived him (yet another bizarre decision by Morey, in our biased opinion), unless they had already given up hope on getting rid of Asik. ... Which they eventually did, in a giveaway that might constitute yet another botched move.
On video, he has a really good shooting touch from close-in, his preferred game being close to the basket. He's got good hands and, hey, if Rick is going to spend time helping Ivan Johnson work on 3's he will never be allowed to take, maybe there's some range-finder in this kid, too.
And because we are as cap-conscious as we are (yes, Mark Cuban, we read the CBA nightly as if it's a bedtime story) we find this worth noting: At the end of the year, Smith will be a restricted free agent if given a very small qualifying offer, so there is a great possibility that on the cheap, he could be a Mav for quite a while.
Those are all reasons to like him. They are not reasons to lock him into a rotation slot just yet.
DONUT 6: Is it rag-dolling? ...
When "Be Ready" works to the tune of championship contention, it is lauded by all -- including the guys who serve as human chess pieces.
Like Shawn Marion.
The Mavs feel he wouldn't have reacted well to being an underpaid bench player. We address Marion-to-Cleveland in depth here but the short version: Remember after the Caron Butler acquisition at the end of the 2010 season when Dallas lost in the playoffs to San Antonio, while Trix and Butler were being shuffled in and out of the lineup?
And how that was "rag-dolling''?
When everybody buys in and it works, it's "Be Ready'' and we print T-shirts.
When they don't and it doesn't? Well, we never printed up any "Rag-Dolled'' shirts, did we?
DONUT 7: DeJuan as evidence ...
Do we have evidence that DeJuan Blair didn't fully buy in last year?
Maybe, as now that he's in Washington, the Post is able to write:
There was a point last season when basketball was no longer fun for new Wizard DeJuan Blair. Known for his bright smile and intensity, the burly forward-center was in his first season with the Mavericks after spending his first four NBA seasons as a contributor for the perennially successful Spurs, and the game just wasn’t the same.
“It was just a lot of things I wasn’t into at the time,” Blair said.
Ah, but we'll argue that he did buy in, however reluctantly, because his unhappiness over not being a star, or even a starter, never seemed to impact his practice or game efforts. And indeed, in this same story, the Post and Blair add:
That changed during the first round of the playoffs, when Dallas took on the top-seeded Spurs. Heavy underdogs, the eighth-seeded Mavericks pushed the eventual champions to the brink, falling in seven games. Blair was a key cog, posting two double-doubles against his former teammates. And he had fun doing it.
“I think that series was something I needed for my career and the confidence I needed for my career as well,” Blair said. “It was just a lot of fun playing against your old team and seeing how good you can be against the best teams. I stepped up to the challenge and I did a great job and I had fun at the same time. You watch those games, I was smiling. So basketball became fun again.”
Aha. "Be Ready'' worked -- even though DeJuan wasn't enjoying his forest-from-the-trees perspective while immersed in it.
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DONUT 9: When do we meet? ...
It was about this time last year when the Mavs conducted their introductory presser featuring all the new guys, along with Mark Cuban's pronouncement that he wanted his underdog team to "make playoff noise.'' Which, heck, they did indeed do.
When is this year's presser? When do we meet all the guys mentioned above, the 6.5 guys as well as the "Be Ready'' guys? Why the delay?
No, it's not because a trade is brewing. It's because they are waiting for Chandler Parsons to be back from USA Basketball ... and maybe waiting for Chandsome to get off Tinder.
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DONUT 11: A trade? ...
There are a surplus of point guards here. We suppose there's a small chance the Mavs could have a trade lined up for late August to move Raymond Felton (simply because they were prevented from packaging him until then), but we really doubt that will happen. ... in part because our conversations with Mavs officials suggest to us that they want to see him in uniform and that they value him as a reclamation project of sorts.
(P.S.: And if they are correct, Felton will have more value later than he has now.)
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Other than that, we'd expect that the core we see is what we'll have all year -- certainly to February -- and Rick will play "not-so-mad scientist'' with lineups and rotations over the course of season to figure out what might get them to, and through, the playoffs. Our feeling is that Dallas doesn't think it needs to chase different or more players, but rather to maximize the skills of the talented group already assembled.
And to make sure one of their gifts is the intellectual ability to buy into "Be Ready.''