DONUT 1: C'mon inside! ...
It's here! Mavs Media Day is another of those Basketball Christmas Days. It's the warm-up to the lauching of training camp. It is heavy in cliche quotes, over-kill optimism, silly staged photographs, artificial warmth between athletes and reporters ... and by gosh, as has been the case for DallasBasketball.com for 14 straight years, we love every overdone, stagy and artificial moment ... and here it all comes tumbling down our chimneys!
Stick with us all day and we'll do what we've done for 14 years: Provide you with the best in notes, quotes, analysis, insight, one-on-one interviews, photos, exclusive Video Visits ... featuring Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of your Dallas Mavericks!
Happy Basketball Christmas!
DONUT 2: The (DeJuan) Blair Switch Project ...
Obviously, we'll spend a huge part of the day (and the preseason, and the season) chronicling the presence of Dirk Nowitki; we've been doing it for 14 years and there is no reason to stop now.
But there are many Mavs storylines that begin to unfold today. And if they can unfold in a way that benefits Dallas while taking a piece out of a rival ...
Well, that's DeJuan Blair's intention, certainly.
Blair's got himself a minimum deal that will pay him $947,907 for the 2013-14 season. This after Blair, 24, was drafted with the seventh pick in the second round by the Spurs four years ago and seemed to have concerns about his knees (he has no ACL's) and about his lack of height.
Blair is just under 6-7. But at nearly 270 pounds and with the in-the-lane skill set to play center and power forward (he has a massive wingspan) and therefore may be capable of playing much bigger than that height.
Some Standing Reach shop-and-compares:
Blair: 8 feet, 10.5 inches
Bernard James: 9 feet, 0.5 inches
Brandan Wright: 9 feet, 0.5 inches
Milsap: 8 feet, 9.5 inches
Josh Smith: 8 feet, 10.5 inches
Blake Griffin: 8 feet, 9 inches
David Lee: 8-10.5
Blair's wingspan has allowed him to average 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game during his four seasons in San Antonio as a part-time starter who fell into Pop's doghouse last year. So he's long of reach and wide of body and has a nasty streak of sorts.
Oh, and regarding his much-discussed knees? DB.com's Jeff Stotts notes that in his four year career, Blair has missed a total of just two games due to knee-related problems or any sort.
Can he be Elton Brand and roll to the hole in a Dallas offense that will include ballhandling starting guards Monta and Calderon? Can he be the non "milk-drinker'' Rick Carlisle thinks every team needs? Can he embody evidence of a rare Spurs personnel gaffe?
Amid whispers from when Tiago Splitter took up his minutes in San Antonio that he's developed a poor attitude, Pop countered last postseason, "DeJuan’s been very professional. I haven’t played him very much at all and he’s stayed in shape, he’s ready to go, he's part of the team.''
DeJuan Blair is now part of this team. And it's high on our list to see just how "ready to go'' he is.
DONUT 3: Playoff noise? ...
A few weeks ago, Brandan Wright said, "Everyone (who'd been signed this summer by Dallas) at one point in their career has been written off. So we have a lot to prove."
This is a time for positivism, of course; a record of 0-0 can and should do that to you. So owner Mark Cuban is raving about Wayne Ellington as "a knockdown shooter who you can't leave open'' and about Sam Dalembert as "a true rim protector.'' Rick Carlisle is excited about Devin's two-month prognosis after toe surgery, projecting him as a weapon at both guard spots, thinks DeJuan Blair "is a huge pickup for us (because) we need that physical play,'' and sees Monta Ellis an a "very good playmaker,'' the fastest player to ever wear a Mavs uniform and a nice fit as Dirk's "Robin'' as
Ellis, always confident, sees it the same way.
"The years I had at Golden State, I think I had to do about 60 percent of everything,'' said the former Warrior and Buck. ""It's a great opportunity. A new beginning and I'm looking forward to it. ... "I'm going to be Dirk's sidekick. We've come here to win games, and that's all.''
In total, Cuban, as he is prone to do, loves his assemblage of talent.
"I love the team we've put together,'' Cuban said. "Dirk has a lot more to give and we've put a lot of great players around him. ... "I love the fact that everybody is throwing us under the bus. ... I'll be very disappointed if we don't make some playoff noise."
At least in terms of the calendar, "playoff noise'' is a ways off for a team that failed to qualify for the postseason last year for the first time in more than a decade. The new players are part of the push, as is new front-office leader Gerrson Rosas.
"I am very confident in this organization,'' said the former Rockets executive, hired this summer to work alongside Cuban and Nelson. "I'm excited with the focus and passion we have on all levels."
"Everyone ... feels like they have something to prove and want to be a part of this,'' said Carlisle, and yessir, until today reveals other truths and memes, that is your 2013-15 Dallas Mavericks theme.
DONUT 4: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow our Mavs coverage on Twitter, where our live coverage of Media Day will unfold all day! The whole 75-Member Staff will be in the AAC basement with the team today and here's the places to follow and the buttons to push to get all the notes and quips and observations and photos and whatnot ...
We'll keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs ... today and every day!
Also, be part of the Mavs conversation on the best discussion forum in the NBA, The DB.com Boards!
DONUT 5: The Monta Ellis Q-&-A ...
Monta is about to get grilled, in a good way, on all things Mavs. So consider this a pre-grilling: A Q-and-A with Monta conducted by our 105.3 The Fan colleagues Ben & Skin. And somewhere in there, I sense a tennis challenge brewing between Monta and Dirk ...
DONUT 6: The latest on Dirk ...
Dirk Nowitzki has, according to accounts from inside the AAC, logged as much summer workout time as he has in his career. "Not tanned, not rested, but ready,'' in other words. Meanwhile, we'll check up on Shawn Marion's MRI tweet, caution you that Shane Larkin is "on schedule'' but might not be ready as soon as some reports would have you believe, and note that we've already sustained one Mavs practice injury:
I'm told assistant coach Darrell Armstrong jumped into a 5-on-5 game the other day and -- as a 45-year-old trying to compete with people half his age -- sent him hamstring into oblivion.
Hopefully, that's the worst injury news I'll have to report around here.
DONUT 7: The Cuban Questionnaire ...
Almost certainly today, Mark Cuban will be asked for his opinion on the NBA concept of putting players' nicknames on the backs of their jerseys.
Because you read DB.com, you can know Cuban's viewpoint now. Oh, and mine, too, as it conflicts with Mark's.
DONUT 8: Feeling Alive ...
On the eve of the start of camp, coach Rick Carlisle shares his excitement with DB.com:
"The thing about this job is, you look forward to every day, and you look forward to engaging every day,'' Rick tells me. "My job is special in that it makes me feel completely alive every single day.''
I go 1-on-1 with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and you can only read it here on DallasBasketball.com.
DONUT 9: A true reason for optimism ...
A true reason for optimism: This year, the basketball will start (and hopefully) finish in the hands of people who know what to do with it.
Carlisle believes the club's level of experience is a plus.
"The thing I like about this group is that we have more experience than we did last year,'' the coach said. "Our nemesis last year were close losses."
And why? Erratic passing from the point-guard spot is a reason that tops my list. That's something Jose Calderon's track record says he solves.
"I'm going to try and get everyone involved and get the ball in the right positions,'' Calderon said. "I'm a team player.''
There are debates all over the internet about Calderon's salary, suggesting he's being overpaid. My first argument: He's being paid almost half as much in Dallas this year as he was paid in Detroit last season. My second argument: Nobody who witnessed Dallas' PG play last year believes $6.9 mil in 2013-14 is excessive if the problem gets fixed.
DONUT 10: Thanks to Red Rock! ...
Our North Dallas hangout for sports and live music? It's Red Rock Bar & Grill! They help make DB.com what it is ... thanks, guys!
DONUT 11: What Balkman brings ...
The Dallas Mavericks are bringing Renaldo Balkman to next week's training camp, Mavs president Donnie Nelson confirmed to DB.com on Thursday.
What does Balkman bring to camp? A combination of defensive rep and volatility rep.
The former Knicks first-round pick has a non-guaranteed deal with the Mavericks, and is one of the max of 20 in camp. But Dallas already employs 15 players with guarantees, so ...
Consider this a "re-surfacing." Maybe at most.
Balkman is just 29, and his accomplishments as a 6-foot-8 defensive ace are not that far in his past. The 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Balkman has career NBA averages of four points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.9 minutes, appearing in 221 games for the Knicks (for whom he was a factor) and the Nuggets (when his "disappearance" began.)
Balkman has been out of the League since 2011-12. He has since played in foreign leagues and in March ran into serious problems in the Philippines when he ran afoul of a ref, got physical with a coach and assaulted a teammate.
Balkman's presence in camp may not really be about his future as a Mav, but rather about a chance to overcome his recent past.
There are other non-guaranteed guys with other challenges. They include young center Fab Melo, who you can read about here if you're interested in the finances of why he is in Dallas.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
An argument for Vince Carter as a Hall-of-Famer? We've got you covered. And because basketball is a team game still driven by individual acts that could be deemed "selfish,'' we cover that, too: A HOF-level season for Vinsanity can mean a successful "Playoff Noise''-level season for Dallas.
So, starting today, let's unselfishly team up to be selfish, Mavs fans!