Jason Kidd bolts to the New York Knicks

I’m not sure who is worse off after this move – fans of the Dallas Mavericks of fans of the New York Knicks?

Are the Knicks really better after signing an ancient point guard? It also sounds like they’re going to pay big money to keep Jeremy Lin. He’s a good player but will he be worth the salary? The Knicks are still a mess.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks that won a title last year are officially dismantled. They made a big push for Deron Williams, but that smart strategy didn’t pan out. Now Kidd is gone along with Jason Terry and most of the gang that surrounded Dirk for the title run. Now what?

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Dwight Howard drama leads NBA free agency

I’m guessing most people are sick of hearing about Dwight Howard and the drama he creates. Fans of the Orlando Magic have to be totally disgusted at this point, but this is the modern NBA.

There are plenty of stories of teams like the Lakers and the Rockets going after Howard, but he tells Yahoo! Sports that he’ll only sign an extension with one team.

Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard told Yahoo! Sports he will not re-sign with a team outside his preferred list that trades for him, and emphatically denied that he ever used the term “blackmail” to describe how Magic officials convinced him to waive his early termination option.

As the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and other teams prepare possible trade offers for him, Howard told Yahoo! by phone that, “There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that.”

Howard wouldn’t specify the team, but multiple league sources believe that it is the Brooklyn Nets.

Naturally this makes it even harder for the Magic to get fair value for Howard, which is probably what he wants.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics have resigned Kevin Garnett and are hoping to lock in Ray Allen and Jeff Green to extensions. O.J. Mayo may be a stretch for them as he can get more elsewhere, while Jason Terry could be an option.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors are going all in trying to bring Steve Nash back home to the Great White North.

Here’s an interesting story that gets into the behind-the-scenes drama of Portland’s max contract offer to Roy Hibbert.

One big fish will be Deron Williams who will be choosing from among a number of teams including the Mavs and the Nets.

Laughing at LeBron

Miami Heat’s LeBron James (C) drives through Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and Brian Cardinal (R) during Game 6 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Dan Wetzel from Yahoo! Sports sums up the mood in Cleveland very well after watching the LeBron James meltdown in the Finals:

Late Sunday night, a crowd of Clevelanders gathered here to watch their onetime hero turned all-time traitor, and with each disinterested LeBron offensive possession, each failed LeBron chase down of Jason Terry, each embarrassing LeBron crunch-time turnover, the prevailing emotion was simple.

Laughter.

They weren’t hating LeBron here. They were laughing at him.

LeBron started it, of course, laughing at Cleveland nearly a year ago when he took himself to a Boys and Girls Club in Connecticut of all places to announce on national television that he was taking his talents to South Beach. That South Beach has about a million nightclubs and technically no basketball arena said it all.

So on Sunday, Cleveland laughed right back.

All over Flannery’s and places like it across Ohio, they cracked oft-told jokes. (“I asked LeBron for a dollar, he gave me 75 cents back. He doesn’t have a fourth quarter.”) They showed pictures on their cell phones mocking LeBron as a quitter. Bartenders rang bells and shouted things like, “Last call for LeBron.”

He’s right. I watched it and I was laughing away throughout the fourth quarter. We saw LeBron’s limitations under pressure, but everyone else around the country bought into LeBron’s excuses. His teammates weren’t good enough. They didn’t rise to the occasion. He couldn’t win in Cleveland.

Well, he couldn’t win with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh either. And he wilted. His performance was an embarrassment.

If you want to understand how people felt in Cleveland, read the entire article.

And as Wetzel said at the end of his column, “LeBron James had the right to leave. And Cleveland has the right to laugh.”

Who will win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award?

Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry reacts after hitting a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during second half NBA basketball action in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It’s award season in the NBA and today I’ll take a look at the top Sixth Man of the Year candidates. Not only will I try to predict who will win the award, I’ll also discuss who should win win the award. Those are two separate questions and they may have two separate answers.

First, to narrow down the candidates, I took a look at the winners from the past 10 seasons:

Yr Player TM G GS GS% MPG PPG RPG APG TOT WINS
2001 Aaron McKie PHI 76 33 43% 31.5 11.6 4.1 5.0 20.7 56
2002 Corliss Williamson DET 78 7 9% 21.8 13.6 4.1 1.2 18.9 50
2003 Bobby Jackson SAC 59 26 44% 28.4 15.2 3.7 3.1 22.0 59
2004 Antawn Jamison DAL 82 2 2% 29.0 14.8 6.3 0.9 22.0 52
2005 Ben Gordon CHI 82 3 4% 24.4 15.1 2.6 2.0 19.7 47
2006 Mike Miller MEM 74 9 12% 30.6 13.7 5.4 2.7 21.8 49
2007 Leandro Barbosa PHO 80 18 23% 32.7 18.1 2.7 4.0 24.8 61
2008 Manu Ginobili SAS 74 23 31% 31.1 19.5 4.8 4.5 28.8 56
2009 Jason Terry DAL 74 11 15% 33.7 19.6 2.4 3.4 25.4 50
2010 Jamal Crawford ATL 79 0 0% 31.1 18.0 2.5 3.0 23.5 53

Notice that all 10 winners had the following in common:

— They started fewer than 45% of their teams games.
— They averaged at least 11.6 points per game.
— They averaged at least 18.9 total points, rebounds and assists.
— They were all on teams that won at least 47 games. Eight of 10 winners were on teams that won 50+ games.

Using this criteria to narrow down the legitimate candidates for the 2011 Sixth Man award, we’re left with this list of 11 candidates. To give us a little leeway, they all started less than half of their teams games, they averaged at least 17.3 total points, rebounds and assists, and they play on teams that have at least 38 wins on the season.

I also included Efficiency Per Minute to see how productive each player is in the minutes he gets. Bigs tend to do better in this statistic because it’s easier to post rebounds than it is to register assists and big men tend to shoot at a higher percentage because they play close to the basket (so they have fewer misses, which weight efficiency down).

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Where do the Mavs go from here?

In the Daily Dime, Marc Stein discusses the short-term future of the Dallas Mavericks after their first round loss last night to the Spurs.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban didn’t trade for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood in February, taking on millions in extra salary and luxury tax in the process, to make such a swift return to the early playoff misery inflicted by Golden State in 2007. Dallas became the first No. 1 seed in league history to lose a best-of-seven series in the first round that year … and just became the first No. 2 to lose in Round 1 since the NBA went to a best-of-seven format in 2003.

“We’re a failure,” Mavericks guard Jason Terry said. “We failed. There’s no other word but failure. That’s how we feel right now.”

Cuban himself acknowledged after the Mavs’ Game 1 triumph that the F word — yes, failure — was going to be the reaction all over town and all over the league “if we don’t win a championship.”

“We’ve got a great base,” Cuban said. “We’ll have a chance to work with each other [in training camp before next season]. You could see some of the uneasiness because we haven’t had a full season to play together, and that showed a few times, but we’ll pull all the pieces together and we’ll go at ’em again next year.”

Cuban’s “we’ve got a great base” comment implies that he’s not planning to blow up the roster. Dirk Nowitzki, however, is suddenly a candidate to join an already stellar free agent class this summer, though it’s still far more likely that he’ll re-up.

But back to Cuban — the whole we-haven’t-had-enough-time-to-gel line of reasoning is starting to wear thin. Butler and Haywood had 27 games to work the kinks out — how long does it take to develop the necessary chemistry? That’s an entire season for most college and high school teams, and most of them gel just fine. Chemistry can develop over time, but typically speaking, it’s either there or it’s not.

Complicating matters is Cuban’s tendency to drastically alter his roster. In February of 2008, he swapped Devin Harris and two first round picks for Jason Kidd. Last summer, he signed Shawn Marion. And this February, he pulled the trigger on the Butler/Haywood trade. Who’s to say that he’ll be able to control himself when a few more aging, expensive stars become available at the next trade deadline?

As long as Nowitzki is around, the Mavs will be competitive. If he returns to a team that already has Butler, Kidd, Marion, Jason Terry and Roddy Beaubois, Dallas will once again win 50 games and make the postseason. But with the way that they were worked over by an aging Spurs team, does anyone really think the Mavs will make another Finals appearance anytime soon?

It has to be frustrating to let a title slip through your fingers in 2006 and then spend the next three or four years trying to get back to that level. Under the current circumstances, the Mavs seem destined to be a Western Conference also-ran. I don’t blame Cuban for trying to build on what he has, but unless there’s a major infusion of talent — I’m talking a top 10 or 15 player acquired via sign-and-trade — it doesn’t look like the Mavs are a real threat to make the Finals.

That’s the nice thing about knowing that you’re rebuilding. There are no delusions of grandeur.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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