The Hard Way: Bigs, Bobcats and Bad Karma (Dallas Mavericks 2012-2013)
By Craig Berlin
Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry — “The Future of the Bulls” in 2002
Bobcats Preview and Unexpected Roster Moves
The Dallas Mavericks head back home to the American Airlines Center for a match against the Charlotte Bobcats, their final preseason game before opening the regular season against the Lakers next week. The Bobcats aren’t likely to provide much of a test but the way things are going, anything can happen. Hopefully the season isn’t cursed.
I won’t spend a lot of time on the Bobcats because there isn’t much to tell (as opposed to the current revolving door to the court in Big D). Charlotte was a cellar dweller last year and is expected to show signs of life this season but not much more than that.
In the irony department Charlotte has more than its share. Going from being generally considered the greatest player in history to the worst owner in the league is an odd juxtaposition for Michael Jordan and his reputation is unlikely to improve this year.
Additionally, the Bobcats are piloted by point guard Ramon Sessions. Considered by many to be the single biggest loser in free agency this summer, Sessions turned down an opportunity to stay in Los Angeles with the likely championship contender Lakers and instead ended up signing with the Bobcats for about the same money. Ouch—although right now things look pretty darn similar with the Bobcats having amassed only one victory and a goose egg for the Lakers. Of course that isn’t likely to remain so during the regular season.
For Dallas fans, the roster is filled with familiar faces, most recently Brendan Haywood who is putting up almost the exact same uninspiring numbers as he did last year. Also on the team are Desagna Djop and Matt Carroll who pretty much diminishing role players.
Top draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is projected to be a solid pick but hasn’t made much headway as of yet. The Bobcats do have balanced scoring with 5 players in the 11.5-15.2 ppg range led by Ben Gordon; however no one on the team is averaging more than 5.6 rebounds, 7-foot forward/center Byron Mullins.
But of course much more is going on with the Mavs and it’s a shame the preseason can’t be extended…unless this years it’s just bad karma and we need to move on.
The Mavs are not shooting or rebounding well and have had some games with far too many turnovers. Unfortunately getting the roster settled has been nearly impossible.
While everyone expects Dirk to be out a few weeks the other injuries are certainly interfering with Rick Carlisle’s ability to find a consistent rotation, although admittedly he’s getting a good look at new guys on the front line. Chris Kaman will miss another game and possibly the season opener and Brandan Wright will also be out having turned his ankle in the game against the Thunder. Both of these guys are now nursing their second injury of the year and the regular season hasn’t even started.
I for one had written that the Mavericks really needed to make the unfortunate choice to move one of the surplus combo guards for more depth on the front line and for better or worse, they have finally done so. It likely didn’t happen the way anyone would have wished and also not to the player anyone might have anticipated but Delonte West getting his second suspension of the preseason has already led to speculation that he won’t return to the team.
The good news is that the Mavs have picked up real potential help up front in former lottery pick Eddy Curry, a gifted player who has never lived up to his potential but has worked hard in the offseason and reportedly came very close to making the Spurs’ roster.
Curry, a 7 foot, 295 lb. mountain, was the fourth pick in the 2001 NBA Draft straight out of high school following a first-team McDonald’s All American career. He has showed flashes of solid play including leading the league in field goal percentage in his sophomore year with the Chicago Bulls and putting up 19.5 ppg and 7 rebounds in 2006-2007 with the New York Knicks. These an anomaly, however, as Curry has struggled with health problems, his weight and off-the-court issues for most of his career. He played in only 24 games the last three seasons including sitting out almost two entire years until 2011 when he was signed by the Miami Heat and won a Championship ring without ever entering a playoff game.
Nevertheless, Curry came into Spurs camp in good shape and impressed the coaches. Because San Antonio is well stocked with Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter, Curry didn’t make the cut and the Mavericks signed him on Friday. A genuine wide body with real low-post skills, if Curry can stay in shape and out of trouble, he may be the biggest surprise of all.
But the Mavericks didn’t leave anything to chance this time and also added two more veterans, swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and center/forward Melvin Ely. Both will be with the t team Friday morning according to ESPN
Douglas-Roberts is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound swingman who was at Lakers training camp but waived earlier this week. He has played 155 games with the Nets and Bucks and career averages of 7.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 20.6 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Ely was a lottery pick in 2002 and has played for five different teams, averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. He spent last season with the Denver Nuggets playing in 30 games and averaging 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game.
The Mavericks now have 18 on the roster and the deadline for trimming down to 15 is Monday. That bein the case and with three big men unavailable for the Bobcats game, we can expect to see a lot of these guys which is a pretty tough assignment, none of them having had any time to practice with the team.
The signing of Douglas-Roberts is an interesting one as the shooting guard and small forward positions are the only ones where the Mavericks have good depth. In terms of both past performance and potential upside, Curry has the clear advantage over Ely and I think it is a foregone conclusion that he will take Delonte West’s spot on the roster.
The game against the Bobcats will be Friday night at the AAC, 7:30 CDT.