Sunday, 19 June 2011

NBA Saturday: Can the Dallas Mavericks Repeat?

Posted by chardyboy on Sunday, June 19, 2011 0 comments

source: By: Alex Kennedy 

The Dallas Mavericks are still celebrating their franchise's first championship, but that hasn't stopped them from looking ahead to the future. The general consensus within the organization is that the same group will be back to contend for another title next season, and the team is confident that they can repeat as champions.

"I hear they do things big in Dallas," Tyson Chandler said during the team's championship parade. "If we do it big, it can't just be one."

As the enormous crowd of 220,000 fans erupted, Chandler, with a smile on his face, channeled his inner LeBron James and mockingly shouted: "Two? Three? Four? Five?"

The Mavericks didn't have a single player on their roster that had won a championship prior to this season. After finally experiencing that success, the players aren't satisfied and want to pop bottles, celebrate in nightclubs and hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy again next season.

"Right now, I'm going to enjoy this one," Shawn Marion said. "At the same time though, we're going to go for another run. That's what it's all about. We started these playoffs with our stomachs empty, now they're full, but they're going to get even fuller."

Dallas has six players that will become unrestricted free agents this summer. Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are no longer under contract, but Mark Cuban is expected to open the checkbook and do whatever he can to keep Dallas on top. 

"If we all come back, the sky is the limit," Chandler said. "Me and Cuban have some talking to do. I told him that I was going to talk to him when he has a couple bottles in him to see if I could get a few more dollars out of him."

Butler was tremendous during the regular season and Barea stepped up during the Finals, but Dallas' priority this offseason is re-signing Chandler. He was the anchor of the Mavericks' defense and added plenty of toughness and leadership to the team. While he has been noncommittal about his future in Dallas, he has praised the city and organization that allowed him to accomplish his ultimate goal.

"The fans of Dallas have been absolutely incredible," Chandler said. "They welcomed me into the city, they made it comfortable for my family and they cheered me on every night. When I walk through the city, all I hear are positive things. Knowing what this city went through a few years ago, losing to that exact same team, I had nothing on my mind except bringing that trophy back to where it belonged."

"I felt like this was the team that could get me over the hump," he added. "This was the perfect storm, with the roster we had, and I felt that all we had to do was believe in ourselves. We believed that we could beat the other teams when nobody else in the league felt we could."

Ask anyone within the organization and they'll talk about how he changed the culture of the team.

"We have a lot of things to look at this offseason. We have to bring back the big fella, Tyson Chandler. I can't tell you how much he meant to the organization this year," Jason Terry said.

"T.C. was critical," Cuban added. "Right when he got there, we kind of viewed him as our 'Kevin Garnett.' The guy that was going to be vocal, that was going to hold people accountable. I remember having conversations with him – 'It's okay to yell.' This team has enough camaraderie and trust that you can do those types of things. He kept on bringing it. He had challenges during the year with foul trouble and different things, but when it came down to crunch time
– that block he got in the fourth quarter was legendary. I mean, that's a tide turner that I'll remember forever. We don't get here without Tyson Chandler."

Even if Dallas can retain Chandler's services, repeating will be a difficult task.

Veteran teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics each want to add to their trophy cases before their respective windows close. Then there are the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, who are no longer up-and-coming threats, but rather perennial contenders. Finally, there are the star-studded squads like the Miami HEAT and New York Knicks that will only continue to get better each and every year as they continue to improve their chemistry.

The Mavericks' competition will be fierce and the odds will be against them, but as they proved this season, that's when they're at their best.

"We've got one championship," Jason Kidd said during the parade. "Now, we need to go and get another."

NBA Draft Notes: With the NBA Draft less than one week away, the rumor mill is churning. Teams are starting to finalize their draft boards and players are getting a clearer picture of their range and what they should expect to happen next Thursday. Here are some of the draft rumors that have been circulating:

• Julyan Stone has emerged as a potential first-round pick after a series of spectacular workouts. He has seen his stock skyrocket throughout this process because he's been able to dominate individual matchups against smaller guards in workouts and prove to teams that his game will translate well to the next level. The Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in him at #41, but he may not be on the board that late because the Miami HEAT may go with Stone at #31. Miami brought in Stone for a workout and then put him through an extensive physical that included blood work and a CAT scan. Others teams, including the New York Knicks, have also expressed interest in Stone, but they'll likely have to move into the first round to draft him.

• Many of the teams that want to add a late first round pick believe their best bet is dealing with the San Antonio Spurs. Multiple executives believe that San Antonio wants to move the 29th pick, and teams such as the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns would love to take it off of their hands. Both teams will wait to see if the player they're targeting is on the board when the Spurs go on the clock before entering a bidding war for the pick.

• Don't be surprised if the Charlotte Bobcats draft Marshon Brooks at #9 or #19. Earlier this week, Brooks had an outstanding workout with the Bobcats. He was matched up against Alec Burks for much of the afternoon and multiple witnesses said that Brooks got the better of Burks on both ends of floor. Brooks dominated and the Bobcats came away extremely impressed. He has climbed draft boards throughout this process with excellent performances in front of decision makers and he has shown that he has no problem playing his game, even when matched up against those projected higher than him. A few months ago, Brooks in the top ten would have seemed ridiculous, but he has really turned heads throughout this process.

• The Utah Jazz find themselves in a bit of dilemma. The Jazz hope to grab a point guard and big man with their two picks in the first round - #3 and #12. They have made it clear that they love Brandon Knight, but drafting the one-and-done guard from Kentucky at #3 may not be the best option for Utah if they want to maximize the value of their two picks. At #12, Markieff Morris and Tristan Thompson are among the best bigs expected to be available and drafting either of those players would be a reach. The Jazz would likely be better off drafting a center first, selecting either Jonas Valancuinas or Enes Kanter at #3, and then picking either Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette at #12. That way, they get a better duo than if they were to take Knight and then a marginal talent at #12. Fredette has already cancelled a workout with the Houston Rockets, which suggests that Utah has made him a promise and that they're leaning toward selecting a big man at #3.

Summer League Officially Canceled: After much speculation, the NBA has decided to officially cancel the Las Vegas Summer League. The dates at the Cox Pavilion and Thomas & Mack Center had been reserved in case the players and owners worked out a new collective bargaining agreement on time, but that clearly won't be the case.

The Orlando Summer League has yet to officially be canceled, but it's unlikely that we'll see basketball on the practice courts of the Amway Center this summer.

There had been some talk of using at least one of the venues to host a showcase for D-League and overseas talent, as well as select unrestricted free agents, because those players wouldn't be under contract with NBA teams. Instead, Summer League will be canceled, which means that the looming lockout has taken its first victim.

That means that basketball fans need to get their fix of the NBA in the next week as draft talk continues to dominate the discussion. After that, there won't be much to talk about, outside of the CBA negotiations, for who knows how long.

The Summer League cancellation is just further proof that this is going to be a very long summer for NBA fans.


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