Archive for the ‘Dallas Mavericks’ Category

On Wednesday, we heard Bryan Colangelo say that Jose Calderon wasn’t thrilled about the Raptors’ acquisition of Kyle Lowry. Tonight, ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Calderon’s representatives have told the Raptors “that Calderon welcomes their attempts to trade him.”

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The Raptors twittersphere blew up late this afternoon after Michael Grange tweeted the following:

 

Raptors fans grimaced in disgust over the realization that the Raptors passed up on two surefire Hall of Famers in Kid Canada and Dirk in exchange for a guy who never fully capitalized on his talents (Vince Carter) and another player who made just one All Star appearance (Davis).

While it’s easy to throw expletives Glen Grunwald’s way in hindsight, let’s please take a step back and consider what Shannon said. As Grange points out in his tweet, the timeline for this declined trade was “2001ish.”

Whether it’s the 2000-2001 season or the 2001-2002 season we’re talking about, or somewhere in between, Raptors fans and Canadian basketball fans would have rioted if Grunwald pulled the trigger on a deal to ship Vince Carter out of town. At the time, the Raptors were a promising Eastern Conference team on the rise. Few people remember that the Raps were seen as Eastern Conference favourites, or at least one of the favourites, after losing to the 76ers in the 2001 East semis and later signing Hakeem Olajuwon.

Not to mention, while we were all left with an extremely bitter taste in our mouths over the way VC made his Toronto exit, let’s remember what he was in and around the year 2001, and that was simply the most electrifying basketball player on the planet, and certainly the biggest basketball draw in the world.

He was that big. He was the best player on a team that some thought could be a championship contender within a year or two, and he would have been only 24-years-old. In terms of stats, Vince was averaging around 27 points per game to go along with approximately five rebounds, four assists and over a steal and block per game.

Antonio Davis was an All Star big man in 2001, giving the young Raptors around 14 points, 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks on a nightly basis.

Nash was a 26 or 27-year-old point guard, averaging around 16 points and seven assists per game. He was very good, but he was a far cry from the lead guard that went on to win back-to-back MVP awards and cemented his hall of fame legacy as one of the best pure point guards of all time. As for Dirk, he was already scoring over 20 points per game while adding over nine rebounds, and he would have only been around 23-years-old.

If you were going to rank the four players at the time of the proposed deal, I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone would have Vince at the top of the list, followed closely by Dirk, with Davis and Nash seen as a toss-up for third and fourth.

At the end of the day, while it may sting to think about the fact that Nash and Nowitzki could have laid the foundation for a perennial contender North of the border, no Raptors fan can realistically look back and say they would have been content with this deal in 2001, even despite the fact that the Raptors would have acquired a Canadian legend and a budding superstar.

And it’s because no matter what their passports said, in and around the year 2001, there was no bigger professional athlete in Canada than Vince “Air Canada” Carter.

I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t think trading Jose Calderon is as dire a need as a lot of other Raptors fans believe. It’s not the worst thing in the world if Calderon is the team’s starting point guard heading into next season. Having said that, I’m obviously still of the belief that if you can find a deal that gives the Raptors more flexibility, draft picks and young assets to build with, I’m all for it.

With that, and given that the NBA’s trade deadline is now just a week away (Thursday, March 15), here are three realistic trade proposals I’ve come up with involving Calderon and the Raptors. The key word here is “realistic.” I didn’t try to find trades that land the Raptors a superstar or a first round pick from a cellar dwelling team. These are all deals that I believe could conceivably help both teams involved and that would all work, according to ESPN’s trade machine.

Trade 1: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Portland for Raymond Felton ($7.5 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

This is the trade most fans are talking about, and it does make a lot of sense for both teams. Portland gets an obvious upgrade at the point in Calderon, who they can keep next season, while the Raptors get a point guard who can simply finish the season in Toronto, but more importantly, the Raps get an expiring contract. I would want the Trail Blazers to throw in a draft pick, as Calderon is a much more valuable player than Felton is right now. The problem is that the Blazers could be a lottery team, and I can’t see them parting with a lottery pick just to acquire Jose.

Trade 2: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Atlanta for Kirk Hinrich ($8.1 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

While Josh Smith could be on his way out of Atlanta, as off right now, the Hawks are still a legitimate Eastern Conference playoff team that I can’t see blowing things up and rebuilding just yet. They could be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but there are also stretches where they look poised to make another deep run. With this deal, Atlanta improves greatly at the point and gets a lead guard who does a fine job taking care of the ball, something I’m sure a playoff team might value. Just like with my proposed Portland trade, the Raptors get a half capable point guard on a fairly large expiring contract to finish off this rebuilding season. And just like the Portland deal, I’d still want the Hawks to throw in a draft pick to even things out. Atlanta should be picking somewhere between 17 and 25 in the draft, so they might be more willing to cough up a first round pick than the Blazers. Though perhaps second round picks are more realistic in these proposed deals.

Trade 3: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Utah for Devin Harris or for Trade Exception and draft pick

While I see a Calderon for Harris swap as “realistic,” I would not support such a trade. Harris will still be owed $8.5 million next season, so the Raptors would basically be downgrading their position at the point simply to save a couple million dollars next year. For anyone thinking Devin Harris is still a younger point guard with some untapped potential, he’s actually only 17 months younger than Calderon. This would be making a deal simply for the sake of making a deal. It doesn’t make much sense for the Raptors. As for the other proposed trade with the Jazz, the Raptors could simply take on a $9.7 million trade exception (from the Mehmet Okur trade) and perhaps even take Utah’s second round pick. Minnesota owns Utah’s first round pick this season (lottery protected), and I doubt the Jazz would be willing to part with Golden State’s top-seven protected first round pick. A trade for the exception, without a player coming to Toronto in return, would give the Raptors more financial flexibility over the next year and would likely give them a better chance in the draft lottery.

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If the Mavericks weren’t in the running for Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard this summer (and I believe they are the dark horse team that could scoop up both), I’d suggest a Calderon for Kidd trade that nets the Raptors a $10.1 million expiring contract. While I think Calderon would be an upgrade over Kidd for Dallas, I don’t think the Mavs would be willing to mess much with their chemistry or would be willing to mess with their advantageous cap situation this off-season.

Worth mentioning: The two teams who might just need Jose Calderon the most, or at least who are in most need of a point guard, are the Lakers and the Magic. The problem is that neither team has the type of assets Toronto covets and even the Lakers’ trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal wouldn’t cover Calderon’s nearly $10 million salary this season. For the Lakers or Magic to acquire Jose from the Raptors, the deal would have to involve a third team or more. If L.A. or Orlando can get a third team involved that brings attractive assets to the table for Toronto, then either team could be in the mix.

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All of the proposed deals mentioned involve the Raptors clearing cap space for this off-season, but it’s important to remember that Toronto probably doesn’t figure into any of the big free agent targets’ plans. If Calderon had two years or more left on his deal, I’d want the Raptors to rid themselves of that contract as soon as possible. But realistically, Jose’s contract doesn’t hamper the Raps this summer (Toronto should have at least $10 million in cap space) given the team’s still modest expectations.

This is why as enticing as cap space would be, I still say that the Raptors should be looking for draft picks or young assets in potential Calderon deals. If there isn’t a good deal to be made, then there’s nothing wrong with letting Jose run the offence with a team that will once again be young and fairly inexperienced next season.

Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Rasual Butler, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Dallas: Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood

Injury report

Toronto: Aaron Gray is back on the shelf with ongoing heart issues.

Dallas: No injuries to report.

The Mavericks are just the second NBA defending champs to start the following season 0-3 — the 1969-70 Celtics started their season 0-4 after winning the 1969 championship, and that was because Bill Russell had retired. The Mavericks probably should have won last night, but Kevin Durant did what we know he can do. I will be very, very surprised if the Mavs don’t come out tonight in Dallas and lay a royal smackdown on a helpless Raptors squad. Dallas lost their first four games in the 2006-07 season and still went on to win 67 games, so let’s not bury them just yet.

The DeRozan-vs.-Carter matchup should be entertaining, as always, but Carter’s only averaging 19 minutes per game so far (at a putrid PER of 8.7) so that’s really not much of a matchup anymore. Then again, if you watched last night’s Mavs game, you know that Vince is still capable of firing the occasional dagger.

If Dwane Casey is feeling adventurous tonight, it would be fun to see how James Johnson can handle guarding Dirk Nowitzki. I mean, better him than Bargnani, right? Jason Terry is the only other Maverick averaging double-figures in point, so if the Raptors want to pull off an unlikely upset here, that might be their best strategy.

Random thoughts…

  • Did you catch the end of Mavs-Thunder last night? If so, how did you react when Carter put the Mavs up by a point with 1.2 seconds to go? I laughed my ass off because I can’t bother to be mad at him anymore and it’s amusing to me that he’s still capable of hitting shots like that. Of course, Durant’s follow-up game-winner was that much more enjoyable because of what preceded it.
  • Are you going out to a New Year’s party tomorrow night? I think I’m probably staying home, although I did get this intriguing invitation:

Patton Oswalt has been getting some Oscar buzz recently for his performance alongside Charlize Theron in Young Adult, but I’ve known him for years as one of the funniest stand-ups around. Here’s his legendary routine on KFC’s Famous Bowls.

Shawn MarionHow’s that one saying go? Something about how it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish? That applied tonight as the Toronto Raptors caught the Dallas Mavericks flat-footed in the first quarter and jumped out to a shocking 22-3 advantage. Considering that the Raptors actually beat the Mavericks in their previous matchup in December, you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Raptors simply had the Mavs’ numbers.

Of course, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play the previous game, while this time around Dirk was in and Andrea Bargnani was out with the infamous “flu-like symptoms”. Ed Davis got the start and it looked like the Raptors were playing a lot of zone while Davis and Amir Johnson played together to compensate for their lack of size. Needless to say, it worked early on but not so much after the first six minutes of the game when the Mavs started hitting their shots.

Bargnani’s absence did seem to help the Raptors’ interior defence somewhat as they actually outscored the Mavericks in the paint, 52-46. The Mavs had the advantage in virtually every other category, however, with more three-pointers, more free throws, and fewer turnovers.

There’s no shame in losing to a team as good as the Mavericks, but it’s pretty damn annoying to see the Raptors get off to such a great start and then piss it away like that. A couple of things worth noting about this game: This was the Mavericks’ second-biggest margin of victory of the season (which is amazing considering how the game started) and the Raptors are now 1-6 this season when Bargnani is not in the lineup.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon — 35 Min,  15 Pts, 7-10 FG, 3Pt, 1-2 FT, 8 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Mavericks Player of the Game: Dirk Nowitzki — 34 Min,  31 Pts, 11-20 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 7-10 FT, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

Goat of the Game: Sonny Weems –  11 Min,  3 Pts, 1-3 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 0-0 FT, 0 Reb, 1 Ast, -14