'I love the NBA,' Rick Carlisle says. 'Next year will be my 30th year in the league so I've been…
Mavs at 41-41 Donuts: Video And Analysis
DONUT 1: Life is cyclical (we hope!) ...
Life is cyclical. More often than not, if you aren't happy with what surrounds you in a given moment, wait it out. If you find you've stumbled upon nirvana, take the time to breathe it in, relish the beauty of something destiny cannot allow to last … for beauty, happiness, cannot be allowed to grow stale, to be taken for granted.
The journey of the 2012-13 season truly began mired in a tweet of a Nets logo, in the squashed hopes of a homecoming not meant to be. On the court, it began where you never hope a season to … at its highest moment … in an opening day victory over the over-hyped Los Angeles Lakers.
Like any voyage over a wide expanse of time, there were ups, downs, hopes, losses and ultimately … disappointment.
As the Dallas Mavericks became the first team in the Western Conference since the 1980-81 season to finished .500 after being 10 games under .500 during the season with a 99-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets – err, Pelicans now -- in the season's final game ... we're left to both linger in and begin to move away from the frustration of the 2012-13 season.
"I expected us to battle back and I expected us to get to (and) above .500," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It didn't happen, but we never lost our spirit; we never lost our belief and our effort.
"Those are all good things, but I'm not gonna try to blow sunshine up your butt and try to tell you that we're happy to be .500. That's just not how things go here."
DONUT 2: Going out with a bang …
Playing against his former team, Darren Collison embraced the attitude Rick Carlisle had hoped to see from O.J. Mayo the game prior.
On a festive "Fan Appreciation Night,'' Collison had his second-highest scoring performance as a member of the Mavs, with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He added four assists, two rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers … giving his best effort to ensure the team that let him go regretted doing so for at least one night.
The Mavs will have the ability to make Collison a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer. The 25-year-old mirrored the team he played for, interspersing flashes of potential with masses of frustration and inconsistency and riding the rollercoaster at point guard that saw Derek Fisher, Mike James, Dominique Jones and Roddy Beaubois all join Collison in getting their chances to grab the reins at the position …
Ultimately, Mike James finished as a starter, but Collison continued to get his fair share of minutes. While he may have come up short in meeting the requirements of the role he began in – as did too many on this roster, something all 14 lottery teams must admit – it will be interesting to see how the market plays out for Collison, and whether the opportunity for him to return as a backup will present itself.
"I want to stay,'' DC told DallasBasketball.com in an exclusive late-night interview. "Some of what went on made this my toughest season every in basketball. Sometimes I wasn't sure I was getting the most fair shake, but we all worked together and made the most of it. The chance to come back and be better with Dirk, to work together with me and O.J. ... that's what I want.''
Here's DC with the media-at-large:
Given Cuban's comments on the lack of BBIQ from the guards, and the very apparent weakness at the point guard position this season, some might think it seems virtually impossible to envision his return as a starter. But he could be a viable option as a backup, a role that earns him praise from his coach. Or, at 25, he could grow in a way where his performance matches his attitude, a Collison strength all year long.
DONUT 3: Going out with a whimper …
O.J. Mayo gave an encore to the performance against his former Memphis team, a lackadaisical showing that left Carlisle sounding like a hurt parent enveloped in disappointment, with … more of the same.
Mayo finished with five points, 2-of-6 field goals, two rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. Oh, maybe the effort wasn't quite as lacking. But the numbers certainly are.
Over the last 11 games, Mayo has averaged: 8.0 points, 33.7 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 4.4 assists and 2.5 turnovers.
As we discussed in detail here , Mayo ended the season tumbling down a cliff of scoring productivity while showing improved decision-making – before a late cascade of errors – but impacting the game less and less … like the living version of Marty McFly, we watched as he faded from the photograph of the Mavs season.
With a player-option of $4.2 million for next season, Mayo holds his future in his own hands in some regards. While it would not be wise of the Mavs to ask him back in the same role he began this season, as a hopeful "Robin" to Dirk, there will be a decision to be made there … by Mayo … and by the Mavs.
Mayo never developed a strong rapport with Dirk, and proved unable to slide into the Jason Terry role so many had hoped for, but there were signs of a capable rotation player. What's that worth to the Mavs … and with the power initially in his hands, what's it mean to Mayo?
Was this closing whimper a goodbye … simply a fitting ending to a season tattooed in disappointment … or just a bump in the larger journey?
We talked one-on-one with OJ well after the game, near the Mavs parking garage, and we intend to do more of the same on Thursday, trying to get a feel for what might be ailing a guy that Rick (and many of the rest of us) has grown so fond of.
DONUT 4: The last bastions of a championship …
Only two players were active Wednesday night that took part in the Mavs championship two years ago: Dirk Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
Dirk finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and one block in 28 minutes.
Marion closed the season with 15 points, 7-of-12 field goals, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in just under 31 minutes.
Wearing our memories of glory, we watched them become shrouded in the frustrations of this season … and though we wince to see their season conclude as 16 other teams prepare for the playoffs, we can't help but see the mercy of banishing the last 82 games to the past. Marion ends as the Mavs leading rebounder for the second consecutive season, Dirk with a post All-Star break worth of proof (19.4 points, 51.3 FG%, 42.3 3PT%, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers in 21 games) that he hasn't yet been put out to pasture.
They've seen better days, and better days are sure to come … we hope.
Dirk hopes so, too, as you see in his Video Visit:
"I've been saying it all season long: It's a big summer for us," said Dirk. "We'll see what Mark and Donnie can come up with. They're always geniuses at making stuff happen. We need a big summer, obviously, to compete again for the championship and not for the eighth seed."
DONUT 5: No More 1-year deals? …
Many fans may find as much joy in a comment from Mark Cuban before the game as anything that took place in it.
"I don't see us signing just one-year deals anymore," Cuban said. "I think we want to grab onto some people to be a part of the longer-term solution."
While this doesn't represent a complete change in philosophy from the core principles of "Plan Powder," it does show a slight shift from the approach that has delivered an unsustainable level of turnover to the roster the last two seasons … one of many factors that have left the Mavs on the dreaded treadmill of mediocrity since their crowning achievement two years ago.
In sentiment, it's what so many have wanted to hear. In practice, it's much easier spoken than attained. To pay pieces worthy of contributing to long-term success … you have to find them, and they have to reciprocate the desire to have them in Dallas.
This was among many pregame themes constructed by Tony Cubes that merit deep examination. There is "Mark's 'Dear John' Letter." And Cuban's "Seven Stages of Grief.'' And his promise of "more transparency'' so fans can understand the organization's motives moving forward.
Give us a couple of hours (OK, it's so much material, maybe a couple of days) to plow through it all, and we'll get it framed and presented to you properly.
Meanwhile ... let the games begin, as the work shifts to those that play off the court. The suits are officially on the clock.
"Cuban and Donnie have got some work to do this summer,'' Marion said, "to get us back to where we want to be and where we should be."
More from Trix:
Oh, and Dirk The Recruiter is on the clock, too.
DONUT 6: Moving on …
The Dallas Mavericks do so with only four players with guaranteed money for the 2013-14 season: Dirk, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham.
It seems unlikely that Shawn Marion would opt out of the final year, and $9.3 million, of his contract, but it must be noted that he does have that option.
There is a team option on Bernard James.
O.J. Mayo has a player option for $4.2 million.
With qualifying offers, Darren Collison and Roddy Beaubois can be restricted free agents if the Mavs desire them to be, or their rights could be renounced.
Josh Akognon, Elton Brand, Mike James, Chris Kaman, Anthony Morrow and Brandan Wright are now unrestricted free agents.
This is a bunch of words to essentially say: let the whirlwind begin.
It's good to win the last game,'' Carlisle said. "It gets everybody feeling a little bit better about things. But we've got a lot of work to do."
DONUT 7: Mavsellaneous …
*Al-Farouq Aminu finished with 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, 14 of which came in the first eight minutes of the game … with 0.2 seconds left in the first half Dirk Nowitzki was credited with a rebound and the Mavs entire team finally exceeded the number of rebounds Aminu had in those initial eight minutes.
*Follow the Mavs on Twitter: Mike Fisher and Michael Dugat keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
*For the fifth time this season, the Mavs were out-rebounded by 20-plus. For the first time in those five instances, Dallas was able to win the game.
*New Orleans had 27 second-chance points, the most Dallas has allowed this season.
"Thanks for the all support throughout the whole year,'' said Dirk, addressing the sellout crowd before tipoff. "We hope to see you next year."
*Mavs players and coached will conduct Exit Interviews on Thursday morning at the AAC. DallasBasketball.com will bring it to you in words, pictures and videos.
DONUT 8: One more highlight for Vince ...
Vince Carter finished with nine points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals in just under 27 minutes … and shared a part in one of the game's bright spots.
Carlisle pulled Carter and Marion with 3:18 to play. The Dallas crowd rose to their feet and ushered them from the court in a wave of applause and gratitude … a group "thank you" to two Mavs who earned as much.
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DONUT 11: Yes. Life is cyclical. ...
More often than not, if you aren't happy with what surrounds you in a given moment, wait it out.
What will likely be remembered as the "Dirk-Injury" season has come to a close. The search for what comes next officially begins in earnest. The season began washed in the chaos of uncertainty, of an impossible to predict roster and chemistry. It ends in the same fashion … buried deep within the realm of the unknown.
The only certainty is that there will be change. We've seen the last of the 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks roster. What comes next … we wait and hope the cycle spins back around in the Mavs favor.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
"I'm glad we got the win and were able to close out the season and stay .500. We should have never been in this position in the first place, but it is what it is and we never gave up and we ended the season .500, so that's definitely a positive. ... It's better than having a losing season, but at the end of the day I'm sad it's over with and I wish we could turn back the hands of time.'' -- Shawn Marion.