DONUT 1: The Butter Knife ...
The Mavs believe they have the makings of a premier “two-man game’’ with newcomer Monta Ellis joining Dirk Nowitzki. But they need a “third man’’ to run the show – and at Tuesday’s practice they got one of their first long looks at the man for the job.
“I did everything with the team and I feel good,” said point guard Jose Calderon, who has essentially missed the entirety of training camp with a left hamstring problem. “It was a little bit slow early, but no limitations at all.”
Well, not so fast. Coach Rick Carlisle said Calderon “went through about half of the things we did,’’ and noted that while the veteran newcomer is on the upcoming preseason road trip, he will not play in Wednesday’s game at Indiana.
“We’ve just got to introduce him back into some real practice,’’ Carlisle said. “We’ll hold him out (today) and just do some precautionary work in shootaround before the game. And then as we go along here we’ll get him more and more into it. … He should do fine.’’
Calderon, 32, plans to make his preseason debut in a Mavs uniform on Saturday when Dallas is at Charlotte (in Greensboro, N.C.)
Dallas had problems last season with competent play at point guard, and in this preseason, rookie Gal Mekel has been central to some Dallas turnover issues. Calderon can solve that – and figures to mesh with Nowitzki and Ellis as well, even as they excelled offensively in Monday’s loss to Orlando.
In the second quarter of the 102-94 loss, the pair combined for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. For the game, Nowitzki finished with 24 points in 25 minutes on 9-of-14 shooting. And Ellis, signed to team with Calderon in the backcourt, scored 16 points in 27 minutes on 5-of-11 shooting.
(Get full coverage of Monday inside the AAC here.)
Nowitzki said the two-man game featuring him and Ellis will be Dallas’ “bread and butter.’’ Calderon, it seems, is ready to serve as the knife.
“We’re trying to make plays for our teammates,’’ Calderon said, “so I’ll be there just helping on that and just trying to get everybody in the right spots.’’
The right spot for Calderon is at point guard ... and we're excited to see how it helps it all mesh.
DONUT 2: The myth of depth ...
In a recent media session, Mavs owner Mark Cuban expressed optimism about this year's squad.
"Of course, I’m positive every year,'' Cuban conceded.
Tony Cubes said, "When you talk to our guys that have been here, the first thing they’ll say is we’ve got some talent and we’ve got some depth. I think we’ve got more talent and more depth than last year. But we’ll play the games.''
Tony Cubes is definitely right when he cites the health of Dirk (and in his mind, others) as a central factor. In the back of the minds of the veterans here, they still believe that even last year's 41-41 non-playoff club would've fared substantially better had Dirk not missed the 29 injury games.
"If we stay healthy,'' Cuban said, mentioning Dirk, Marion and Vince, "then I think we’ll be good.''
DONUT 3: Two problems ...
There are two problems with the foundation of Cuban's position, as much as we all want to buy in:
First, basing Dallas' 2013-14 fortunes on the good health of a trio of players with a combined age of 105 seems ... risky. Injuries are part and parcel of NBA life for 35-year-olds; in other words, The UberMan's missed games last year should not register as a surprise to anyone. Indeed, that sort of absence should almost be, if possible, planned on.
DONUT 4: The second issue ...
Depth Does Not Matter.
I know. This seems counterintuitive. Isn't "depth'' almost as ballyhooed by coaches and players and media and fans as "talent''?
Yeah. And it shouldn't be.
"Depth'' helps a team stay afloat over the course of 82 games. "Depth'' is what will allow the Mavs to plug in Sarge for B-Wright and hopefully survive the difference.
But Sarge subbing for B-Wright doesn't likely propel Dallas to the playoffs. And once a team gets to the playoffs, "depth'' becomes immaterial.
It's basketball, and once we get to The Second Season, you'd trade 100 Sarges for just one LeBron. (No offense, Sarge.) The season shortens. The rotation tightens. One great player matters infinitely more than solid players providing depth.
Dallas' backups might help this franchise recapture a playoff berth. But Dallas' talent -- the true front-line talent that begins with Nowitzki and needs to carry on with newcomers Monta and Jose and more -- is what will be the difference-maker.
Or will fail to be so.
DONUT 5: The Finest Dentists in North Texas! ...
Our neighborhood dentists, even though we don't even live in the McKinney neighborhood? It's McKinneyDentist.com, and it's been the case for Nate, Tony and me for my kids' entire lifetime.
At McKinneyDentist.com, Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood have been providing the finest in everything from technology to chair-side manner for years, to my family and to so many of you. Their great work has part of us bringing our Mavs coverage to you since 1995 ... And we're proud to be associated with The Finest Dentists in North Texas ... McKinneyDentist.com!
DONUT 6: Join DB.com Boards! ...
Membership is free and the discussions are hot!
We invite you to be part of the Mavs conversation on the best discussion forum in the NBA, The DB.com Boards! We're in our 14th season of slicing and dicing Mavs issues ... and more!
DONUT 7: Mavs tonight ...
The Mavs play at Indiana tonight, a 6 p.m. tip. No local TV is scheduled (Coop will have the call on 103.3). ... and no Ricky Ledo, either. The second-round rookie guard sprained an ankle in Tuesday's practice and isn't on this roadie.
DONUT 8: Lakers vs. Mavs ...
A good series in the LA Times on how the Lakers match up with other teams trying to qualify for the West playoffs.
Here, a Lakers-vs.-Mavs head-to-head look.
DONUT 9: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow our Mavs coverage on Twitter, where our live coverage of preseason will unfold all day and every day! Mike Fisher, Chuck Perry , David Lord and
Michael Dugat keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
DONUT 10: Oh, those steaks and burgers!
Thanks to Dee and the incredible staff at Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar for our incredible Mavs pregame dinners ... the legendary DFW restaurateur has done it again.
Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar is becoming THE "upscale casual'' place to dine before you attend events in Dallas ... And the gang from DB.com looks forward to seeing you there!
DONUT 11: "Why-Don't-The-Mavs-Get-Him?'' ...
Whenever a "name'' player with a rep as a knucklehead comes free, we get flooded at Mike Fisher and at DB.com Boards! with "Why-Don't-The-Mavs-Get-Him?'' questions.
After all these years, my response comes almost by rote: Why is he available? Do you trust the Mavs braintrust to weigh his knuckleheadedness against his "name''?
And almost inevitably comes a real-life answer better than the one I'd already provided, as illustrated here as Michael Beasley punches himself in the face.
From now on, instead of politely answering the "Why-Don't-The-Mavs-Get-Him?'' questions, I might just answer with that link.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
The Lakers are in China which means the media wants to ask Chris Kaman (the former Mav) about his memories of his last visit. That came in 2008, when Kaveman played on the German national team at the Olympics.
“'Photo! Photo! Photo! Photo!','' Kaman said thousands of fans screamed as they mobbed Dirk. "They don’t speak good English, but they know they want a picture. It’s crazy. They’re all like little puppy dogs putting a picture out for an autograph."