Friday, January 16, 2009

Donnie Nelson Turns Nothing Into Something

I have some fond memories of the Mavs' 2006 run to the Finals, and there is no doubt that DeSagana Diop was an essential cog in that team. But when the two-headed center that the Mavs employed suddenly transformed into a one headed center tied to a head-shaped doorstop, things got ugly. So from Dallas' perspective, it makes perfect sense to ship Diop to Charlotte in exchange for Matt Carroll and contract filler Ryan Hollins.

Dirk and Brandon Bass both present considerable defensive problems when they're forced to defend the post. That's where Diop was supposed to add to this Mavericks team. Needless to say, that hasn't exactly been the case. Diop is one helluva soldier in regard to his unwillingness to act up or cause problems when faced with limited playing time, but unfortunately, that is where my compliments of Diop's season end. He's always been an offensive liability and it seemed like his D had finally caught up. He struggled to defend stronger foes and really has problems with the pick and roll. He doesn't have the foot speed to keep up with centers when they step out, and watching him try to guard a point guard on the switch is a bit like watching a cat chase his own tail. It's harsh, I know, but the time for niceties is long past for the Mavs. Now, it's about finding the right guys for Coach Carlisle's attack, and that directive is executed beautifully with the acquisition of Matt Carroll.

Dirk, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd are excellent at opening up the corners for their teammates. Devean George (28.9%), James Singleton (14.3%), Gerald Green (29.4%), and Antoine Wright (25.6%)have gotten plenty of open looks from the corners. And plenty of those opportunities have ended up with a shot that makes me vomit in my mouth, ever so slightly. Green could get there, and damn do I want him to, but for the time being he's a sparkplug at best and a 'factory which has the sole purpose of manufacturing turnovers' at worst. The rest of the crew ain't bad (Well, except for Singleton. Sweet rebounder, but I wouldn't mind if I never saw him take another three.), but they're not good enough for a team that wants to shoot as often as the Mavs do. The idea is that with Carroll in the corners, the offense could really open up. He's having a down year that would make Larry Hughes blush, but he's also a career 40.3% shooter from deep -- nothing to scoff at.

The perk of this trade is that there is virtually no downside. Diop was playing marginal minutes anyway, and a combination of Bass and Singleton will likely fill in the gaps. But beyond that, I see two pretty big advantages for the Mavs:

  • Yes, Caroll is owed $21.5 million over the next five years. But that contract is also front-weighted, meaning that his $5 million salary for 2008-2009 is as high as it gets. In the heavily asterisked summer of 2010, Carroll will be on the books for just $4.3 mil. Not bad at all, especially when compared to Gana's $32 million deal over the same five years ($6.5 in 2010).
  • Suppose that Carroll throws up a brick fest during his time with the Mavs, continues his tear of 2008-2009 sucktitude, and becomes a complete waste of space. Carlisle has shown that he isn't shy about jerking around minutes, and he simply won't play Carroll if he doesn't deserve it. Be it in practice or in games, Matt Carroll is going to have to earn every minute he plays in a Maverick uniform.
Ryan Hollins is a non-factor that was likely included for salary/warm bodies that play the center position reasons.

To some extent, I do feel bad for the Bobcats. They can use the frontcourt depth, but since the summer I've felt like the trade game could turn into a hot potato game of Diop's contract, and my money says the music just cut out. Game over man, game over. Enjoy paying a back-up big enough money to cripple your free agent plans, guys.

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