Tag Archives: Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki remaining with Mavericks as expected

DirkDirk Nowitzki was never a free agent in the traditional sense. The Mavericks’ future Hall of Famer stated time and again that he had every intention of resigning with the only team he has played for. Now, it appears there is an agreement in place that will keep Nowitzki in Dallas.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on Thursday afternoon that the Mavericks and Nowitzki verbally came to terms on a three-year deal worth approximately $30 million. The third year of the deal is reported to be a player option meaning that Nowitzki could return to free agency in the summer of 2016. Dirk will also retain his no-trade clause.

It was reported that Nowitzki would hold off on inking any deal with Dallas until the team sat down with Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was in Dallas on Wednesday and met with representatives of the team at Mark Cuban’s house after dinner at Nick and Sam’s in Uptown.

With the meeting over, the Mavericks wrapped up negotiations with Nowitzki. As expected, he took a considerable discount so that the team would have financial flexibility to pursue other free agents this summer.

Anthony has been Dallas’ main free agent target since he opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. The Mavericks are also rumored to be interested in Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Luol Deng, and a bevy of other players. Dallas must also decide which of their own free agents to re-sign.

Even though he wasn’t going anywhere, Nowitzki was the most important player to sign this summer. His cap hold on the team hovered around $26 million. It had to come off the books to free up money to improve the roster.

With the rest of the summer shrouded in uncertainty, the Mavericks and their fans can continue to rely on Dirk. And why shouldn’t they? He has yet to disappoint.

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Ribeye to Eye: The Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

Even the East is juicy this year

Doyle Rader and Travis Huse discuss the NBA’s Eastern Conference, namely the playoff situation (what do you think of this segment’s tentative name?):

DR: Before we get rolling on how we feel the Eastern Conference playoffs will look, I want to address something that I saw last night. Now, I didn’t watch this game, I feel sorry for anyone that did, but I kept an eye on the score throughout the night because, well, I simply didn’t believe what I was seeing. The Detroit Pistons demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers 116 – 77. Now, the 77 points that Cleveland scored are deceiving. On the surface it appears to be a respectable, albeit low, total. It most certainly was not. At the end of three quarters the Pistons were up 100 – 50. Yes, they had a 50 point lead. 50 points! My God! This is the NBA. I know that there is a very vague level of parity that exists in the league, although it often cannot be found on a nightly basis, but what an embarrassment. At least the Bobcats weren’t the worst team in the NBA for one night.

OK, had to get that off my chest. What do you think about the Eastern Conference playoff picture?

TH: I don’t even know how you let the Pistons drop 100 on you. In the middle quarters, the Pistons scored 71. The Cavs only scored 6 more points than that in the entire game.  Oof.

Home court appears to be set, with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and Indiana Pacers spread enough apart that no one will be able to chase them. Bulls’ losses at Miami and Indiana could give the Heat a slight chance to make the top seed, but that’s a tough thing to imagine. Due to the NBA Playoff format, Boston will nab the 4th seed after winning the Atlantic Division. The remaining four spots are a murkier view.  With Dwight Howard‘s back injury and the myriad of front office issues the Orlando Magic have faced, it’s hard to imagine them competing with the Atlanta Hawks for the right to play Boston.  That being said, they seem to be a more cohesive, team-first organization without Howard.  Teams with a distinct desire to win will remember this when Dwight-a-palooza 2.0 hits next season, and will likely pass.  He’s more meant for the organizations that have a need for PR purposes than ones who need to win.  Every team has a joker, a guy you can’t rely on (Luke Babbitt, Metta World Peace, Stephen Jackson with 29 NBA teams), but it’s not exactly the best formula for winning if that guy also happens to be your superstar.  Recent history has shown that in order to win, your best bet would be with a humble star (Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki), instead of the splashy names. Orlando’s not a postseason threat to anyone in limbo, but they might make a last push in order to save face. Knicks can have the 7th seed, whatever.

The 8th spot is something to consider, though.  Could the Philadelphia 76ers really fall out of the picture with only 5 games left in the regular season? Absolutely. The Milwaukee Bucks are only a game and a half behind, and they play the 76ers at home. Since the trade deadline, this Bucks team is almost, sorta, maybe clicking, somehow.  A loss here could spell doom for Philly.

DR: Humble stars? Are you forgetting Kobe Bryant? He may actually be humble off the court but on the court he is quite loquacious with his game.

You’re right about the Magic, though. They are dead in the water and I’m pretty sure that Atlanta has the tie breaker over them so it’s doubtful that they move up in the standings, especially with Howard resting his back injury for the foreseeable future. Some have even speculated that he could sit out the playoffs too. Drama Dwight knows how to play ‘em doesn’t he? The Magic will be a first round exit; the top three teams in the East are too good.

As for Philly, they are taking all their cues from the 2007 Mets. This was a team that I predicted was the scariest team in the East at midseason. I was way off with that one. It is simply mind blowing that they could fall apart this bad. There has been plenty of blame to throw around but it is the whole team that needs to accept responsibility for this showing. Andre Iguodala scored more than 20 points last night for the first time ALL SEASON. This is a well balanced team at virtually every position, and hypothetically, they can rely on scoring from all their pieces but this is crunch time and their balance is dwindling. It is completely conceivable that Milwaukee catches them.

New York is locked into the 7th seed behind the might of Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. What a flawed and exciting team. I’m pretty sure that they can only exist with one star healthy at a time if they have any hopes of winning. Jeremy Lin led the team at one point, Stoudemire did it early on, now it’s Melo’s turn. It’s the oddest damn thing that they cannot coexist.

TH: Kobe’s an outlier, though, simply because of his self-concept as the post-Jordan Jordan. He’s his biggest critic, and he forces his teammates to play at the best of their ability. Dwight, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James have been habitual excuse-makers, and it shows when they’re really tested in the playoffs.

As for the Knicks, I still think they can mesh. Mike Woodson has done a great job with Melo so far, and if he can get Stoudemire to buy into him (not his plays even, but Woodson the man), they’ll work. Melo’s triple-double against the Celtics is firm evidence that he’s much more likely to defer a bit to his teammates than ever before. As soon as the Knicks can get Anthony to pass the ball, we’ll see an increase in his shot selection, and they’ll be able to run high pick-and-rolls with STAT, and then they’re golden.  The Knicks need two things on offense, from my perspective. They need unselfish play from Anthony in pick-and-roll situations, and they need to move the ball from left to right in the halfcourt.  If they get defenses paying attention to that sort of movement, it will free up a TON of space for the stars to drive.

DR: With Amar’e coming back from injury soon, Woodson has indicated that he will insert him backing into the starting lineup. Thus, Carmelo will move back to small forward as he has been playing the four spot. I just wonder if this is going to hurt their defense moving forward since Stoudemire isn’t known as a defensive anything. But it looks like we will see a Knicks Heat first round series so that should be fun.

Anyway, there is one team flying under the radar right now and that is fairly unbelievable. The Indiana Pacers are cruising! They have won 10 of their last 11 games and are simply clicking on all levels. The change of tempo that Leandro Barbosa has brought to this team is remarkable. Danny Granger is efficient and resisting the ‘hero-mode’ urge more than usual. Roy Hibbert is a double-double machine and Tyler Hansbrough has returned to his ever scrappy play that we saw in the first round against the Bulls last year. Oh, and they have David West. This team IS dangerous, yet, no one is talking about them at length outside of the guys at eightpointsnineseconds.com. Whether they play Orlando or Atlanta in the first round, the Pacers should see the second round for the first time in a while.

TH: I love this Pacers squad so much.  They were a boatload of fun last season, and all the guys they added are quality.  Of course I have to love George Hill, but David West was such a wonderful pickup for these guys.  I truly feel that this time next year, once the Magic and Celtics and Hawks suck, they will cement themselves as a perennial contender and a new Bulls-Pacers rivalry will form, maybe one that puts Indiana on top.

DR: The job that Frank Vogel has done with this team is remarkable. They have won more games already this season, in a shortened year, than they did all of last year. There aren’t many teams that can make that claim who are making the playoffs.

I think, though, one of the biggest concerns going into the playoffs is the health of the star players. Derrick Rose has been hurt, Rajon Rondo landed hard on his coccyx last night, Howard is hurt, how will Amar’e integrate, and to a lesser extent, Zaza Pachulia is also hurt. Teams like the Bulls and Celtics need to be healthy if they expect to compete deep into the playoffs. I know players will play hurt in the post season with everything on the line but with the season wrapping up it might be wise just to rest players. Miami is already doing it. In fact they will probably be the most rested team by the time the postseason begins.

TH: I’m not going to lie, I burst out laughing when Zaza’s name came up. Only in Atlanta. Not exactly worthy of the “Highlight Factory,” but with Al Horford out, you take what you can get.

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What’s in a Game?

Even with less games, one game means much less in a lockout-shortened season.

I spent some time today with Doyle running over last night’s Mavericks-Thunder game, both teams’ chances in the West, and the strenuous (or is it?) relationship between the Thunder’s stars.

TH: Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder managed to dismantle the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks.  The loss, though, is not too surprising, as the Mavs were without Lamar Odom and Brendan Haywood, and Jason Kidd is still out with his calf injury.  Dirk Nowitzki had a spectacularly awful game (2-for-15 shooting) and Rick Carlisle was thrown out of the game after punting a ball into a boy’s face.  How do you, Doyle, feel as a Mavs fan about this loss?

DR: I don’t think that the term “dismantle” is appropriate in this instance. This was a game that the Thunder should have won since they have been deemed the Golden Child of the Western Conference. You mentioned the absences on the Mavericks’ roster last night so this should have been a cake walk for OKC, but it wasn’t. This was a competitive game with the Mavericks finding ways to either lead or stay in contention until the final minute of the game. If Nowitzki did not shoot so poorly, clearly his knee is still bothering him, and if the Mavs had some shots fall late, the outcome of this game could have been different.

TH: The one worrying thing for the Mavs is this:  Nowitzki’s had a few bad games, is this all because of the knee or could there be a mental problem that’s causing his trouble?  He’s been complacent often this season, and watching the game against the Spurs (his first game back, I know), Dirk doesn’t seem as fearless as we’ve come to expect.

DR: I’m not as concerned with Nowitzki as I’m sure many are. It would be easy to blame his issues on the lockout but that is a cop-out that is used all too often in this shortened season. We are about a fourth to a third of the way through the season so I expect Dirk to miss more time this year for rest and conditioning. This is true for almost every player who will be injured this season. I also do not think that his recent struggles are mental either. Against the Thunder he stepped into several bold shots in the fourth quarter. Those shots simply did not fall. He’ll be fine as the season progresses and despite being the face of the franchise, the Mavericks have other players who can step up and fill the void when they are called on.

Dallas has the highest scoring bench in the league and also has one of the deepest. The likes of Jason Terry, Odom (when not dealing with a stomach bug), Vince Carter, Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, and Brandan Wright have all shown that they are more than capable of contributing to the team when called upon. Sure, Dirk being in a funk is disappointing but it is not catastrophic for the team.

TH: Agreed, and playoff seeding is going to be strange this season.  We’ve already seen how younger teams are capitalizing on bigger minutes for their stars, teams like the 76ers, Clippers, and Thunder.  If they manage to keep their high playoff seeds, it will be interesting to see how the older, more experienced teams like the Mavs, Spurs and Lakers re-allocate minutes. Last lockout, an 8th seed made it to the Finals.

But defense wins championships, and that is what ultimately gave the Thunder an edge over the Mavericks.  Without Kidd, the Mavs have to rely on a combo of Roddy B. and West, and there are simply too many contending teams with point guards who will take that matchup to task.  Western teams like OKC and the Clips would fare differently against Kidd’s perimeter defense and smart hands.  Here are a couple questions for you: Do the Thunder deserve their current record?  How do you envision the rest of their season?

DR: I’m not certain that having either Beaubois or West on the court is a bad thing against some of the elite point guards in the league. Both are younger and quicker than Kidd is and therefore have to capability of keeping pace, or at least better than Kidd, with the likes of Russell Westbrook and others. Also, both Beaubois and West bring a different set of skills to bear when on the court. West is a tenacious defender who likes to come off the bench and play alongside Terry thereby alleviating West’s need to score as much even though he is an able scorer. He is on the floor to hairy the opposing point. Where Roddy excels is by pressuring his defender on the offensive side of the floor. Much like Westbrook, Beaubois has an innate ability to penetrate the lane, though he does so with less bombast. Kidd is still a handful with his passing, court vision, and IQ but he has lost a step and the Westbrooks of the league will exploit that. Having West and Beaubois helps the Mavericks be a flexible and more difficult team to matchup with.

As for the Thunder, of course they deserve the record they have, they have won 17 games thus far and you cannot take that away from them. Bill Parcells that is famous for saying “you are what your record says you are,” and for the Thunder that means they have the best record in the West. However, that is not to say that the Thunder are perfect. In fact they are far from it. They are an extremely talented team, let me put that out there first, but they are also extremely inexperienced. On the break, OKC is one of the most dangerous teams in the league, perhaps second or third to only the Heat and Clippers, because they are fast and have the ability to finish at the rim. Westbrook is the spearhead and plays like a charging bull, lowering his head and relentlessly moving forward despite obstacles. Add the scoring threats of Kevin Durant and James Harden and you have the third most potent offense in the league. It is that offense, though, that gets the Thunder in trouble.

On the break, everything works well. However, in the halfcourt the Thunder often look lost and their offense stagnates. Frequently, Thunder players stand and watch the ball handler try to create for themselves in an isolation situation. Yes, the Thunder’s big three are great individual scorers but a Joe Johnson-esque ISO bogs down the entire offense and instills a heavy reliance on long jumpers or contested drives. With the skills that these players possess it is shocking that the Thunder are not more creative offensively, Scott Brooks, in my opinion, deserves a lot of blame for this.

When the Thunder offense is mobile in the halfcourt they create boundless mismatches but these go ignored far too regularly. In the game against the Mavericks there was a possession where Harden had the ball and was determined to take the shot, with Shawn Marion guarding him I believe, while on a switch Terry was defending Durant. Harden did not make use of the obvious advantage his team had in that situation and wound up missing the shot he took. Why Brooks is not irate or frustrated that this scenario repeats itself seemingly every game is anyone’s guess. The Thunder have a lot of growing to do if they are actually going to grow into the team everyone thinks they are. Until that happens they should be looked on as a new version of D’Antoni’s Suns. A good team that won’t make the Finals.

TH: I’m not so sure they won’t make the Finals, with the Western Conference being weaker than it has been in years.  The Chris Paul trade fiasco essentially knocked the Lakers from contention, alienating Pau Gasol and losing Odom to the Mavs for peanuts.  Dallas lost enough players over the summer that this year almost seems like a mini-Mark Cuban rebuilding effort, and San Antonio appears limited in roster movement until Tim Duncan decides to retire.  When was the last time any of these teams appeared so fragile?  Already headed this way, the lockout and compressed season has hit older teams harder than anyone would have expected.

After last year’s Conference Finals appearance, the Thunder have the experience and resilience to make it, but it hinges upon favorable seeding matchups and Westbrook’s shot selection.  Durant has shown more leadership this season, but it might take an MVP trophy for the rest of the team to realize that he’s the clear #1; also, an increased role for James Harden could produce stagnation, as he loves watching the ball leave his hand.  You’re absolutely right that the blame falls on Scott Brooks.  He needs to explain to his team, in clear terms, that Kevin Durant is the best basketball player on the Thunder.

Durant’s been strikingly supportive of his teammates, and I love it.  Superstars in the league now tend to throw their team or their coaching staff under a bus if it suits their personal aspirations, while Durant’s shown a commitment to the city, its team, and management.  But maybe they’d be a more cohesive team on the court if he were to drop the humility a tad, and stepped up and took sole ownership of the team.

DR: I’m not certain that Durant becoming more of a focal point for the offense to flow through is necessarily the right course of action. That could elicit a #MeloSystem style of offense. I would like to see Scott Brooks shoot an email to Sebastian Pruiti and request some suggestions for plays in the halfcourt. They could be much more fluid if he did.

You are right though, the West is wide open and the Thunder need to exploit it, but they need to first battle through the surprisingly tough Northwest Division. If the playoffs began today they would have to face the Trail Blazers in the first round. That is far from a desirable match…but nothing in the West will be ideal this year.

Yes, the Thunder are a good team but their mediocre defense and lack of ball movement could be their eventual undoing. Until that time they need to enjoy the ride. Oh, and…something, something, Westbrook and Durant hate each other, something. There, I think I just covered the main issue that we have been dodging.

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The Dallas Mavericks visit the White House

The NBA champion Dallas Mavericks finally had their opportunity to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama. Initially, the league did not schedule a trip for the Mavericks to visit the White House as the team was not scheduled to play the Washington Wizards in D.C. due to the shortened season. Mark Cuban would have none of that and arranged the visit.

Honestly, I cannot be unbiased about this moment, nor can I write about it in an even-handed fashion. This moment simply made me happy and proud. I have been a Mavericks fan since I discovered what basketball is and seeing the team standing behind the President is wonderful.

President Obama makes plenty of cracks about the Mavericks’ age, Jason Terry‘s Larry O’Brien Trophy tattoo, and Dirk Nowitzki‘s talent for singing. One of the best moments is when the President displays a bit of homerism saying that it will be the Chicago Bulls who he meets next year. Everyone involved was clearly having a good time.

On a side note, Ian Mahinmi got swag. Check out his plaid print shirt, bow tie, Black rim glasses, and black cardigan. Baron Davis and James Harden have been put on notice. Mahinmi’s hipster status is untouchable.

Video via PBT

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Dirk Nowitzki’s Pitching Duel with MLB

Move over, Big Unit.

Yesterday was a landmark day for Major League Baseball. It was the start of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden were on the mound with an injured veteran to throw out the first pitch, and the crowd was electric. Baseball could do no wrong yesterday, except they did.

The Texas Rangers reached out to Dirk Nowitzki, the most recent person to lead a Metroplex team to a championship, and asked him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at one of the Rangers’ home games in Arlington during the World Series. Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks leapt into the national spotlight when they defeated the favored Miami Heat for their first NBA title in June. It seems that Nowitzki, who was named Finals MVP, is a perfect choice to be a representative of the area but the MLB did not think so.

Major League Baseball gave no real reason to deny Nowitzki the opportunity to throw the first pitch, his submission by the Rangers was simply declined. Some speculated that it was because MLB front office types did not want to be seen as not showing solidarity with their counterparts in the NBA who have locked out the players for 111 days and counting. However, Marc Stein of ESPN, who broke the story on Wednesday, believed the decision by MLB was based on Nowitzki not having “broad-based” appeal.

Shortly after the news broke about the decision to not have Nowitzki toss a first pitch a slew of negative reactions lit up the internet. In the never ending public relations battle that is professional sports (see: Stern, David), Major League Baseball struck out. Baseball is a funny sport, rooted in its past, but it must adapt to its present as well. denying Nowitzki was a further example of the stodgy hierarchy of baseball neglecting to notice the world outside their sport. Nowitzki is a regional hero. He has been the face of the Mavericks for over a decade. Perhaps MLB officials never noticed him or basketball, but in the world of the internet and Sports Center, that is unlikely.

With the negative press swirling, Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball who was not involved in the original decision, and the Major League brass rescinded their earlier ruling on Nowitzki. Whether it was the bad press on the day that the World Series started or not wanting to become the latest Bryant Gumble opinion piece that changed their minds the public will likely never know.

Nowitzki will be throwing out the first pitch before game three on Saturday.

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My Bologna has a First Name, It’s K-O-B-E

Buongiorno

All summer teams across the globe have sought the services of the lockout Kobe Bryant. He has had offers, requests, and pleas China, Turkey, and Italy. It looks like Vitrus Bologna, of the Italian League, has finally seen their lure bob and have a bite on their line. However, it might take some time, and a complex agreement, to reel in the biggest fish in the NBA.

If Bryant were to play for Vitrus, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, he would want the entire league to benefit from his presence there, not just the team he plays for. As of Friday, that is what his representatives were trying to work out. Bryant also wishes, if the lockout continues, to cause the least amount of disruption to the Italian League’s schedule if he does join Vitrus.

Yet, for more teams to benefit from the arrival of Bryant, Vitrus’ schedule would be altered so that games in which he appears will be played in larger venues. Other teams are not so keen on the idea of changing the schedule. Furthermore, Legabasket rejected the idea of creating a revamped schedule for Vitrus.

What is interesting is that the Lega Serie A, the league that Vitrus Bologna plays in, would not alter its schedule to boost the overall profits of every club that faced Bryant while he was there. It is no secret that Italy will be the next country that will be bailed out so that they do not go into default, Greece was bailed out this week. Is this just how business is ran (into the ground) in Italy? Bryant has the power to draw crowds that the Italian League has never before seen. A simple schedule alteration cannot out weigh the benefits of having an international superstar on the court, if only for a few games. Perhaps they should look to Dirk Nowitzki to play in their league, it is the Germans who are bailing out the rest of Europe anyway.

Not only are there scheduling issues that need to be resolved, but there is also the matter of paying Bryant. The original deal with Vitra Bologna would have paid him $3 million for 10 games over the course of 40 days. Any deal would, of course, also contain an opt-out clause allowing Bryant to return to the NBA if the lockout is ended. There had been speculation that a percentage opposing teams’ ticket sales at away games would be used to pay part of his salary. That was before talks fell apart late on Friday.

All the while Bryant is in Italy working on a deal, he is keeping his ear to the ground. As the labor talks enter a crucial weekend, it is believed that, if needed, he would swoop into New York and enter the fray of negotiations. Luckily, his clutch stats will not have any bearing at the bargaining table. Until he receives the call he, along with his representatives, will continue to work for progress in Italy.

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Dirk Leaves One High Over The Plate

Dirk Nowitzki, Germany’s first shuuto pitcher.

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