The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks agreed to a six-player trade last Wednesday that landed center Tyson Chandler back in Dallas, where he won an NBA Championship in 2011.
The trade sent Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas in exchange for Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, and Shane Larkin in addition to the 34th and 51st pick in this year’s draft.
The Mavericks gave up two starters – Calderon at point guard and Dalembert at center – but received the best player in the deal in 2013 All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year Chandler, giving the Mavs a much needed defensive boost.
Last season, Dallas was excellent on offense, averaging 104.8 points per game, but lacked in defense ranking 26th in the league in rebounds per game with 40.9 and 20th in points allowed with 102.4.
Chandler, who played in just 55 games with the Knicks due to injury, averaged 2.9 offensive rebounds per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 1.15 blocks per game. While his presence on the court is an established fact, his health since leaving the Mavs’ championship roster in 2011 is suspect: Chandler has missed 43 games over the last two seasons.
However, as great of an asset as Chandler is on defense, the Mavericks will miss Calderon on the offensive side of the ball. Calderon was a consistent threat from the land beyond, with a regular season 3-point percentage of .449. Yet, Calderon was often criticized for his defense, missing action in ‘crunch-time’ when defense was a necessity.
The trade to acquire the 32-year-old center shows that the Mavs are focusing on building a roster to win now. The organization is excited about the upcoming season after taking the 2014 champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games in an intense series.
For Coach Rick Carlisle, acquiring Chandler is a step in the right direction.
“The guy is such an injection of enthusiasm and energy,” Carlisle said. “There have been few players that I’ve seen in 30 years in this league that have become so respected and so beloved in a market as Tyson has here in one year. He just has the exuberant enthusiasm that’s infection, and it rubs off on everybody.”
Chandler believes that he can not only match his performance of 2011, but improve.
“Absolutely, I think I can be better,” said Chandler. “I finished the season healthy. I was already looking forward to this summer because I felt like there were so many things I could improve on.”
After missing out on landing big names in free agency for two straight years after their championship run, Dallas is now in a favorable position to try their luck at landing Carmelo Anthony also from the Knicks.
Chandler has wasted no time in recruiting former teammate Anthony for his current team.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team and the organization,” said Chandler. “But I’ll tell you one thing: Dallas isn’t a bad place to be. It’s a great opportunity, and clearly we’ve done it in the past. It’s not a hard place to sell. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
It would be natural to expect that the results of the 1-8 and 2-7 matchups would be more predictable than the 3-6 and 4-5 matchups in the Western Conference. If the first few games showed anything though, it’s that these series will be intensely close and fiercely competitive, much closer than the seeding might suggest. Let’s take a look at what makes these series so intense.
San Antonio Spurs vs Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan are facing off for the sixth time in the playoffs. To say that these rivals are familiar with each other and their playing style is a gross understatement. The Spurs, like always, have built a well-refined offensive machine that not only capitalizes on the rejuvenation of the Big Three, but also on the talents of Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green. Popovich has once again put out a team that plays hard and knows how to close games, which was extremely evident in the first game between these two foes. The way the Dallas Mavericks played was no surprise either. As ridiculously and unbelievably efficient as their offense can look at times (ranked No. 2 on Hollinger offensive efficiency rankings), their glaring defensive deficiency limits their ceiling. Up by 10 points with about six points left, the Mavericks couldn’t get a stop as the Spurs switched to another gear. The lineup of Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, Dirk Nowitzki, and Brandan Wright that featured a net rating of plus 26.6 per 100 possessions in the regular season will probably be something we see a lot more in upcoming games. Whatever happens, a matchup between these two rivals will always be ultra-competitive.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Memphis Grizzlies
Amidst the Spurs excellence and the Pacers ineptitude, the Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t exactly been the talk of the NBA as of late. Nevertheless, expect Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to comfortably beat the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies might have grabbed game two, but athleticism that the Thunder roster has at the PG, SF, and PF position is just too overwhelming to keep under wraps for a whole series. The Grizzlies’ penchant to play hard on defense will earn them a couple wins, but there just isn’t enough of a scoring punch to keep up with the OKC offense. Ranked 16th in offensive efficiency during the regular season, the Grizzlies need a couple role players, Courtney Lee and Mike Miller, to step up in a huge way to have a real shot in this series.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Golden State Warriors
This series is bound to have the most entertainment value in the first round of the playoffs. Sparks fly whenever these two in-state rivals play. The two high octane offenses are powered in very different ways- the Warriors through their tremendous shooting prowess and the Clippers through the penetration of Chris Paul and the athleticism of his supporting cast. Despite the Warriors victory in game one, the Clippers are bound to gain eventual control of the series due to one significant reason - the absence of Andrew Bogut. With Bogut, the Warriors have a tremendous defensive anchor capable of guarding Deandre Jordan and controlling the paint. Without him, they have a defense that can’t hold up for the duration of an entire playoff series.
Houston Rockets vs Portland Trailblazers
Dwight Howard came to Houston for one reason - to win championships. After an untimely Rocket collapse in game one, it's time for Howard to step up as the leader of the team to set a tone of urgency. The Rockets have all the talent they need to stop the Trailblazers. But, they can’t let Lamarcus Alridge go off for 45+ points and Damian Lilliard go for 30+ points and still expect to win. The recipe for the Rockets is to get the ball out of the hands of Alridge and Lilliard. In fact, the Trailblazers had the worst bench in the NBA this season. The Rockets must make the Trailblazers pay for their lack of depth.
Student entrepreneurs presented their startup business ideas to a group of business owners and investors including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star on Shark Tank, and Cotter Cunningham, local founder and CEO of RetailMeNot.
The 14 student groups are within Longhorn Startup, which is a program that offers support and mentorship to student startups.
Joshua Baer, co-founder of Longhorn Startup and founder of Capital Factory, said the event was a chance for students to present their companies, as if they were pitching to investors. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event Thursday. Capital Factory is an Austin-based company that helps local entrepreneurs launch startups.
“This is a culmination of the work of this semester,” Baer said. “We have over 200 investors registered to be here. Most of the 14 groups are not ready for that, but it’s okay. A lot of investors want to get to know people before they invest in them.”
Baer said there was previously a system of support for graduate students in startup businesses, but very little was offered for undergraduate students before Longhorn Startup was founded.
Robert Metcalfe, engineering professor and co-founder of Longhorn Startup, said they were able to offer new resources and registered classes for undergraduate startups.
“We decided to look for something that wasn’t being handled,” Metcalfe said. “There’s a lot of startup activity at UT. It was undergraduate students who were not being helped.”
Biomedical engineering senior Ani Sharma presented MicroMulsion, a new technology for cell culture research.
“I was definitely nervous,” Sharma said. “I thought I’d forget my first line, but it went really well. I’m really happy with the presentation.”
Sharma said he has learned through the semester what it takes to put together and commercialize a product.
“I just want to hear the feedback people give me as we look to move our business forward,” Sharma said.
Cuban said he would be interested in investing in about half of the companies he saw.
“The difference here from Shark Tank is that you have to have sales,” Cuban said. “But other than that, I would say some of the pitches I saw here tonight were better than ones I’ve seen on Shark Tank.”
Cuban discussed his past experiences with business, from his teenage years when he sold stamps to his current ownership of the Dallas Mavericks. He also gave advice to entrepreneurs.
Cuban said an entrepreneur needs to know their business, industry and product. He recommended looking at companies that fail as well as companies that succeed.
“I like to retweet stories about companies that have failed because that’s the most valuable information and those are the hardest stories to find,” Cuban said. “Everybody wants to tell you about their success, but the ones that fail are the most telling.”
With the first NBA exhibition game only a week away, there are several reasons to be thrilled about the 2013-2014 NBA season. The landscape of the NBA is undergoing major transformations this season, ranging from the retirement of commissioner David Stern to the birth of a dynasty in Miami. This season will play a big role in determining the legacy of LeBron James, the fall of past powerhouses — Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks
— and the rise of others in the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. With that said, let’s see how the Western Conference will play out this season.
1. San Antonio Spurs- Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Calling the Spurs too old to compete, saying Tim Duncan is too old to be an elite power forward, and counting the Spurs out season after season is nothing but insanity. The Spurs will once again show why they are the class of the NBA Western Conference.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder- The Oklahoma City Thunder was an outstanding team last year. But they never seemed quite the same after the departure of now-superstar James Harden. Will general manager Sam Presti’s financially conservative decision to let go of Harden backfire on the surefire championship contender? We can only wait and see.
3. Los Angeles Clippers- There are only four coaches in the NBA today who have won a championship- Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstera, Rick Carlisle and Doc Rivers. The Los Angeles Clippers now have one of them. With a championship-worthy coach in Rivers, Chris Paul and the still-improving Blake Griffin, the Clippers are primed to take the next step in the playoffs.
4. Golden State Warriors- The acquisition of Andre Iguodala was arguably the best steal of the NBA offseason. With the entire free agency revolving around Dwight Howard’s arrival in Houston, a bigger story was missed. The Warriors, NBA Western Conference semi-finalists of last year, have acquired an elite wing stopper and much needed veteran leadership. The maturation of superstar Stephen Curry and the health of Andrew Bogut should determine how far this team can go.
5. Houston Rockets- Dwight Howard has landed in the perfect spot. He is being coached by arguably the best post player of all time — Kevin McHale. He is mentored by one of the greatest centers of all time — Hakeem Olajuwon. He is alongside the best shooting guard in the NBA — James Harden. If Howard continues to whine or not take the Rockets deep into the playoffs, expect it to be a disappointing season in Houston.
6. Memphis Grizzlies- This team can play defense. Marc Gasol anchoring the defense and Tony Allen on the wing is certainly a recipe for defensive success. However, the Grizzlies can go for long stretches without an elite scoring punch.
7. Dallas Mavericks- It’s hard to believe the Mavericks won a championship just two years ago. The Mavericks of last year resemble nothing of the 2011 Mavericks that had mastered the art of flow offense and zone defense. However, with a healthy Dirk Nowitzki ready to prove himself and the additions of Monta Ellis and Samuel Dalembert, the Mavericks should sneak into the playoffs.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves- Health is the biggest problem here. If Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are healthy for whole season, there is no doubt the Timberwolves will finally make the playoffs.
With only a few weeks remaining in the NBA’s regular season, the race for the 8th seed, or the last spots in the Western Conference playoffs has heated up.
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently holding on to the 8th seed by a half a game lead over the Utah Jazz, and behind the Jazz are the Dallas Mavericks who are only a game back. The Portland Trail Blazers have also quietly made their way in to the picture and are only three games back for the number 8th spot. Here’s how it looks.
8. Lakers 37-36
Some very important games remain on the schedule for each team as well.
The Lakers host the Mavericks on April 2nd in a game that will be very important for both team’s playoff chances, and the Lakers also travel out to Portland on April 10th. The Lakers odds of making the playoffs may have gotten even slimmer with both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash going down to injury last night against Milwaukee.
The Dallas Mavericks travel to both Portland and Los Angeles before seasons end, giving them a great shot at sneaking their way in to the 8th spot. They’ve quietly worked their way in to the picture, and now it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that the Mavericks will make the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers play each other two more times before the end of the season, with one of those meetings being tonight in Portland.
All four teams have ample opportunity to earn the 8th spot and it could easily come down to the very last few games of the season. Since these teams are all set to play against at least one of each other, the tie breaker scenarios could end up getting very complicated come the end of the year.
The always tough Western Conference is holding up to its reputation, but for whichever of these teams does make the first round of the playoffs, the Spurs who are sitting at the top of the west won’t be a very friendly match-up.
Highly touted freshman shortstop C.J Hinojosa started strong in his first series with the Longhorns, batting .545 with two extra-base hits in three games against Sacramento State last weekend. Despite already committing three errors this year, Hinojosa should be a serious contributor both offensively and defensively for Texas.
After kicking off the season with a series win over the weekend, the Longhorns will look to pick up their third victory of the year Tuesday against the UT Arlington Mavericks.
Texas (2-1) will send freshman Chad Hollingsworth to the mound for his first career start. The right-hander, who made his collegiate debut as a reliever on Saturday, went 13-2 with a 0.50 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 97.1 innings as a senior at Robinson High School in Waco last season.
Hollingsworth will attempt to match the performances of starters Parker French and Dillon Peters over the weekend. French pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out five players to pick up the win Friday, while Peters allowed just two runs in seven innings during Sunday’s victory.
The Texas lineup will also look to continue its strong play, as it recorded at least 10 hits in each of its first three games. Junior Mark Payton has responded well to batting cleanup, as he hit .583 with three runs and five RBIs over the weekend. Freshman shortstop C.J Hinojosa also made a nice impression in his Longhorns debut, batting .545 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
Head coach Augie Garrido was pleased with the Longhorns’ start to the 2013 season.
“Well it wasn’t a sweep but it was, I think, good baseball by both teams,” Garrido said. “I think that a lot of good things were done by both teams throughout the weekend. Both teams hit the ball frequently and hard and put pressure on the defenses.”
UT-Arlington also had a successful opening weekend, as the Mavericks swept Louisiana Tech. They scored 20 runs in the three games of the series, and five players batted at least .375 against the Bulldogs.
At the mid-point of an NBA season, uncertainties tend to become certainties, questions tend to get answers, and teams tend to settle into a relative standard of playing level. In general, the identities of teams begin to coalesce. This traditional expectation applies fruitfully to the San Antonio Spurs. However, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are still in a nebulous zone, far from forming their identity, realizing their potential, and meeting that baseline expectation for mid-season.
At this point, the San Antonio Spurs embody the persona of a championship contender. Anything less than that would be to underestimate the potent Spurs offense and Popovich’s genius. The Spurs (36-11) currently stand at the apex of the Western Conference standings and scream contender status on a daily basis. The elite point guard play of Tony Parker, the resurgence of the greatest power forward Tim Duncan ever, and a top 5 supporting cast makes the Spurs seem invincible year in and year out. Currently boasting seven players averaging nine points or more ( Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard), the Spurs rarely depend on the same players to step up on a nightly basis. The sharing of responsibility, the culture instilled by the Spurs system, and the wealth of supporting talent explicates how the Spurs put up consistent wins despite the occasional absence of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. At this point during the season, the Spurs know who they are and what they want. They are a clear-cut contender.
The Houston Rockets (24-22) currently stand at the eighth position in the Western Conference standings. The Rockets show flashes of brilliance and the potential their team holds. However, their playing style is often plagued by their inexperience and inconsistency. One thing is for sure though; the Rockets have their franchise foundation piece in James Harden. Harden is on his way to becoming the NBA’s best shooting guard, fortifying his relentless athleticism with his experiences as the number one option. The Rockets know they go as Harden goes. However, with the average age of the Houston Rockets roster around 24, they still have a long maturation process to undergo before realizing their true potential and identity.
Although they have recently won six of last eight, the Dallas Mavericks (19-25) lack any sort of identity of consistency. With 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki still trying to find his Hall of Fame form and missing the All Star Game for the first time in over a decade, the Mavericks have been in a state of fluctuation and confusion. They lead the league with 17 different starting lineups. Over the past three games, they have had three different starting centers. Nevertheless, Rick Carlisle has mentioned that he is attempting to establish a more consistent lineup and rotation. Once Dirk Nowitzki encapsulates the superstar style of play he is capable of, Darren Collison and OJ Mayo begin to produce on a more consistent basis, and the team commits to defense, the Mavericks have a chance to make a late-season surge for the playoffs.
When the Spurs step on to the court at this point of the season, you know what you’re going to get. However, the same cannot be stated for the Rockets and the Mavericks. As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” With the Mavericks and Rockets, you just never know.
The number of franchises playing without their All-Star players or prospective All-Star players is nearly ludicrous. Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love (just returned), Ricky Rubio, Danny Granger, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose and Amar'e Stoudemire have all missed a significant chunk of the season.
A good team is able to play well with favorable circumstances. But, great teams, the teams that exude championship caliber poise are the ones that muster wins with significant setbacks and injuries.
On the Miami Heat’s road to the 2012 NBA Finals, the Heat had to overcome the absence of their explosive power forward and third scoring option Chris Bosh for several playoff games against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics. This nearly pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination, but the poise of Lebron James willed them to the ultimate goal.
In the Dallas Maverick’s road to the 2011 NBA Finals, the Mavericks had to overcome a season-ending injury to second-leading scorer Caron Butler. The Mavericks needed other role players Jason Terry and Shawn Marion to step up and eventually produced an outstanding offensive team due to the poise and leadership from veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd.
In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in a highly contested Game 7, because they could not overcome the loss of defensive anchor and starting center Kendrick Perkins to a PCL tear in Game 6. These moments define the character and makeup of a team’s grit and resilience.
Thus far in the 2012-2013 season, a few teams have illustrated the ability to overlook their losses and continue to fight. A few have not. Let’s take a quick look at these teams.
Despite the absence of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks have maintained a record above .500. OJ Mayo’s timely rise to stardom keeps the Mavericks more than just afloat and right in the midst of the fiery Western Conference playoff hunt.
The 76ers front office fought hard to bring franchise player Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. However, with Bynum’s knee issues lingering potentially into mid-season, Jrue Holiday had to become the franchise’s savior. He has averaged nearly 18 points and eight assists a game to keep the 76ers afloat until Bynum’s return.
The Timberwolves probably had the most arduous task -- they had to play without electrifying playmaker Ricky Rubio and their most productive power forward Kevin Love. However, Nikola Peković stepped up in a big way to make up for the rebounding and scoring deficiencies caused by Love’s absence.
The Pacers should technically be performing the best because of their dependence on a more balanced and collective offensive attack. David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill are all excellent scoring options. However, this team has failed to live up to expectations with a sub .500 record thus far.
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers were confused to say the least while trying to play the Princeton Offense without Nash. However, with the dismissal of Mike Brown and arrival of new coach Mike D’Antoni guiding the offense in LA, the Lakers have managed to win four of their last five.
Considering that a Rose-less Bulls was a .600 team last season, the Bulls going .455 thus far is actually quite disappointing. Perhaps it is becoming evident that the Bulls cannot compete in a superstar league without their own superstar.
New York Knicks:
The best team in the NBA thus far. They have done this without All-Star power forward Amar'e Stoudemire. Quite honestly though, they are so much better without Stoudemire. A Knicks team with either Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire would fare well. But, a Knicks team with both suffers from severe defensive lapses, rebounding deficiencies and chemistry issues.
The grit and resilience developed through these arduous times often define a team. Only time can tell which of these teams have developed that resilience.
No team has undergone a more profound roster makeup over the past two years than the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only remaining productive pieces from the 2011 NBA Championship team.
The current backcourt of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison screams potential. OJ Mayo, former 2008 #3 draft pick, had averaged nearly 20 points as a starter during his first two seasons in the NBA. Darren Collison averaged nearly 18 points and double digit assists when running the pick and roll offense in New Orleans. Now that these two players are put in positions where they can succeed-OJ Mayo as a starter and Darren Collison utilizing the pick and roll tool in the flow offense he will be commanding, it is quite possible that these players will reach the zenith of their basketball productivity.
The frontcourt of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Chris Kaman at first glance seems like an outstanding asset. A top-10 player in the league, an elite defender, and a top 5 low-post scorer is not indicative of too much concern. However, it should when Dirk Nowitzki will be absent for the first month of the season, recovering from an arthroscopic surgery, and Chris Kaman is one of the most injury prone centers in the league. It seems like the frontcourt really cannot get any consistency until midseason. That will translate to a lot of initial struggles for the Dallas Mavericks, having to learn to play without an offensive legend in Dirk Nowitzki and then having to put him back into the system. There is certainly a tall order on the Mavericks roster this season.
Last but not least, the bench of Elton Brand, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dahntay Jones, and Jae Crowder is a highly effective and variegated unit that complements the starting lineup. This group has gritty defenders, shooters, paint players, veteran experience, and young athleticism to help establish a productive unit. So, let us hope that Rick Carlisle will somehow mesh these pieces in the right manner to extend that streak of twelve consecutive years in the NBA playoffs. Let us hope.
With the NBA trade deadline looming there is still an uncertainty on which NBA uniform Dwight Howard will be wearing after March 15.
The Orlando Magic have made it clear that they want to make a long term deal with the superstar center, but run the risk of losing him without receiving any compensation if he leaves due to free-agency next summer. The Magic have already suffered through a similar situation when they last NBA-great Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers through free-agency.
Magic owner Rich DeVos concedes that Howard has all of the leverage on deciding which team he will suit up for at the start of next season. “Howard is going to look at his options [and choose] what's best for him and that may or may not coincide with my desires," DeVos said.
Howard has said he is open to staying with the Magic, but also has a wish list of other possible destinations. His list includes the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and the Chicago Bulls.
The Lakers and the Nets are the likely suitors to prepare an in-season trade offer. The Lakers would have to part with both forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum. While the Nets would have to give up numerous valuable players to work an in-season trade, similar to what the Knicks surrendered for Carmelo Anthony. The Nets would then be in position to offer max contracts to both Howard and point-guard Deron Williams.
The Mavericks and Bulls are hoping that Howard remains with the Magic throughout the season and becomes available in free-agency.
The Mavericks simply don’t have the trade assets to land Howard this season, but they are well-positioned to make a bid for him during free-agency. The Mavs are committed to creating more than $30 million in salary-cap space to bid on both Howard and Dallas-native Deron Williams.
The Bulls were the last team to make the cut on Dwight Howard’s wish list. Known as one of the deepest teams in the league and currently holding the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls might just approach this season’s play-off run with their current roster. If the Bulls fail to make the NBA Finals, they will likely make a serious attempt to make the Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard dream duo scenario into a reality.
The Magic are intent on leaving the trade-talk until after the All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb.26. The 18 days between the All-Star Game and the March 15 trade deadline will be critical for the future of both Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic franchise.