DONUT 1: Making lemonade ...
The Dallas Mavericks are getting the earliest possible start on things. Guys have been in the basement for a month. Media Day is Sept. 28. Training camp opens the following day, a few days ahead of the rest of the league. And then comes the preseason trip to Europe.
“We’re going to have 31 days (of practice) before we play our first game, which is going to be helpful for us because we’ve all got to get to know each other and we’ve got to develop a team personality,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, putting a positive spin on the early start and the hectic schedule.
Elton Brand, part of Monday’s public introductions of the new Mavs that included O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and Dahntay Jones, was more frank in assessing the plans.
"It’s a double-edged sword,'' Brand tells DB.com of the trips to Berlin and Barcelona. "I'd rather stay here and get acclimated to my teammates. But it does allow us to start early, and it gives us a chance to bond and get together.''
DONUT 2: A Better UberMan? ...
That "bonding'' is already occuring down in the AAC basement. Dirk Nowitzki has made appearances to work on his cardio. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said The UberMan is as hungry as ever.
"I just think Dirk is going to come back stronger, ready to play, ready to prove something,’’ Cuban said. “He is going to love the circumstances ...''
Those "circumstances'' include the apparent devotion of the newcomers, which marks a sharp contrast from the Loafin' Lamar drama of a year ago. (One season-ticket holder at the event even asked the players a question about "feeling at home,'' a dig at Odom that had to be explained later to the new guys.)
DONUT 3: "We're gym rats'' ...
“We’re gym rats,” said O.J. Mayo, who has been among the leaders in the basement workouts for the last month. Roddy B's also been down there. So has rookie Jae Crowder. So have most of the guys, many of them for the last month, most of the new fellas following Mayo's lead and finding living quarters within five minutes of the AAC.
“Mayo is setting a great example for the younger, younger guys,” Carlisle said. “He’s really enthusiastic about being here.”
The workouts include cardio stuff, scrimmages, and -- in the case of Mayo and Crowder and others -- two-a-days. Crowder tells DB.com that he goes into the basement twice daily: Once for the 8:45 a.m. meeting with Mayo, Brand, Roddy B, Collison and others, and then again at 8 p.m. for a shootaround workout with his father.
"And then I go home for a meal cooked by my personal chef,'' Jae told me. "That's my mom, Helen. She moved here with me. She's my personal chef.''
More coming up with Jae in an exclusive DB.com Video Visit!
DONUT 4: Loving Dallas ...
Mayo said he always considered Dallas a "destination city,'' something many of us locals have a parochial worry about. Kaman cited his fondness for Dallas (as well as his friendship with Dirk) for the reason he landed here. And Brand also cited The UberMan Factor.
"Definitely, we want to keep Dirk's window open as long as possible to win another championship," Brand said. "We're hungry because we don't have championships and he does. Hopefully, we make just job a lot easier."
(DB.com goes 1-on-1 with Brand and they talk about the 'gifts' Elton wants to bring to Dallas in this exclusive interview.)
By the end of the nearly two-hour press conference, some of the new guys were even sounding like veteran Mavericks. When asked by a fan why it seems the Mavericks never seem to get their due, Brand smiled and said, “We cherish the underdog role. Nothing has ever been given to this franchise.”
DONUT 5: A long-term foundation? ...
“Our goal,'' Cuban said, "is to have these guys in Mavericks uniforms for a long, long time.”
That is certainly the right thing to say at a press conference when sitting alongside "these guys'' and when preaching stability to a season-ticket-holding audience.
In the cases of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, though, it might actually be true.
All five of these guys are on one-year contracts (Mayo with a player option). There is no promise that comes with that paperwork. The "big fish'' chase isn't going away.
“You want to have a team you can keep around for a long time,'' Cuban said. "You don’t want to have to go through this every summer.”
Mayo turns 25 this year. Collison is 25. They both have star quality, know each other very well from working out in LA (Mayo is a former USC guy, Darren a UCLA guy), and both have a "chip on their shoulder,'' said Collison.
DONUT 6: Ronzone joins staff ...
It was hinted at over the summer and Donnie's now made it official -- even though, in a continuation of Cuban Era Mavs tradition, Tony Ronzone may not have an official title.
Ronzone has a deep resume in NBA scouting and will likely contribute to the Mavs in that department. The other high-profile newcomer to the staff, of course, is Jim O'Brien (pictured), the former NBA head coach who moves into the chair vacated by Terry Stotts, now the head man in Portland.
Oh, and rumors of one more new/old pal, too: We've been clamoring for one more Mavs "big body.'' Would our ol' McKinney Ave party buddy D.J. Mbenga work for y'all?
DONUT 7: Want more Mavs? ...
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DONUT 9: The overview of Meet The New Mavs ...
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DONUT 10: MavVirus ...
One theme from the question-asking fan base centered on the lack of "respect'' and "credit'' the championship Mavs get.
Carlisle very simply referenced the banner and the rings and talked of how the teams ignore the "noise.'' Cuban created a t-shirt-worthy slogan befitting a billionaire.
"I'm a cash guy,'' Tony Cubes said. "I don't care about credit."
DONUT 11: The Runnin' Mavs? ...
Do the Mavs really want to be a running team?
Kaman and Brand, along with Dirk, might be slightly alarmed to hear Rick say, "We’re not going to be a trudge-it-up-the-court-and-pound-it-inside-every-time team. When you do that, it compromises your ability to be a good movement team.''
That certainly works for Collison, and for O.J., and for Delonte and for the kids, should they play. But ...
“We’re going to run,” Rick insisted. “Our point guards are going to push the ball and our wings have to run.''
Yeah, yeah. And the thirtysomething bigs?
"Our big guys,'' Carlisle said, "will go as fast as they can go.”
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
The truth is, Dallas will want to be multi-faceted and versatile here. Carlisle is talking about how "smallish at the guard position'' Dallas is and how therefore, "We’re going to have to be vigilant about picking people up for 94 feet and making it miserable for them. And we're going to have to push it. ...''
At the same time, the Mavs will need to be able to control pace, to win in the half-court, and to get easy baskets from their bigs when necessary.
But those things aren't as fun to consider as "The Runnin' Mavs'' are. So let Carlisle have his summer fun as he insists, "We're gonna push the s--- out of it."