ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez join Tim MacMahon each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavericks fans.
1. What is your ideal backcourt next summer after free agency concludes?
Gutierrez: Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wes Matthews was an ideal fit, but his Achilles injury hinders going after him. San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green could be a nice 3-and-D option. Green has killed the Mavs over time, and Dallas likes to go after players that have haunted them. Pairing Green with Rajon Rondo gives you a solid defensive base in the backcourt. The next move would be to find a microwave-like guard coming off the bench.
Taylor: Monta Ellis may be occasionally petulant, but he plays hard and he plays hurt. The Mavs don't have anyone else lined up to score 20 points a game because they're one of the worst player development teams in the league, so I'd pay Monta whatever he needs to be happy. Otherwise, he's going to put everyone else in a funk. Then I'd either pair him with Patrick Beverley or Danny Green. I like the defense and 3-point shooting Green provides, plus he understands the value of winning having played with the Spurs.
MacMahon: I think Rondo will leave because the Lakers or Knicks will end up offering a lot more than the Mavs are willing to pay for a point guard, who is far from a perfect fit. Ellis can state his case to stay, but the Mavs understand that to keep him happy, he has to be paid at least as much as Chandler Parsons (three years, $46 million). Patrick Beverley is an intriguing option to replace Rondo, especially if Ellis stays, but the Rockets can match any offer for the restricted free agent. If the Mavs let Ellis leave, it makes finding a scorer/creator a priority. Sign a Jet-like vet sixth man (Jamal Crawford or Louis Williams) along with Matthews at an injury discount and Mo Williams, who has long wanted to commute to work from his Southlake home. But the best case, at least for next season, would probably be Beverley and Ellis.
2. Can the Mavs truly succeed if they continue to rotate key players in and out each season?
Gutierrez: According to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, you have to get incredibly lucky to succeed and build chemistry without continuity. The proof is certainly in the results of the teams that are thriving in the West. Dallas has been rearranging pieces since the title team. They're eventually going to have to lock in on key components in order to see what they have as a unit, especially with Dirk Nowitzki's window closing more and more as the days pass by.
Taylor: The problem isn't necessarily changing out role players, but the Mavs' inability to draft will eventually create problems. You can't consistently rely on free agency to fill out the roster. Homegrown players help with payroll, so you're not always overpaying for guys like Chandler Parsons.
MacMahon: It’s not reasonable to expect a championship run when you turn over the majority of the roster on a regular basis. But committing to a core that isn’t capable of doing any damage in the playoffs is a pretty bad plan, too. That’s the rock and hard place the Mavs have found themselves between since breaking up the title team. They’d like to commit to a core but haven’t been able to acquire the right combination of players.
3. What is the biggest sign of hope in relation to Dallas being able to make some noise in the playoffs?
Gutierrez: That there's still time left in the regular season. The 2006-07 Mavs lost their first four games and went on to lose just 11 for the rest of the season. The 2010-11 Mavs lost four games in a row before winning their last four of the regular season. The moral of the story is that things can change in a hurry. Consistency, not talent, is the issue with this group. While there's only 10 games, there's actually three weeks left for a veteran team and brilliant coach to try to turn things around.
Taylor: Sadly, all you have to go on is hope because the Mavs have been so consistently inconsistent. If they would play as hard as they played Tuesday against the Spurs then I'd feel a lot better about their chances, but they don't. They sleepwalk through way too many quarters and halves. Let's see if we get a maximum effort performance from the Mavs on Friday against the Spurs or if they are fat and happy from the big win Tuesday.
MacMahon: Never completely rule out a team coached by Rick Carlisle. We learned that lesson in 2011, when Dallas defeated more talented teams in the final three rounds of the title run. Somehow pushing the Spurs to seven games last season, when the great Pop had the much more talented team and totally dominated the regular-season series, was another strong reminder of Carlisle’s coaching brilliance.