It’s probably painful for the Mavericks’ front office to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder during these playoffs.
Derek Fisher is essentially doing exactly what they envisioned when they signed the five-time champion point guard to a veteran minimum deal early in the season. He’s knocking down open jumpers at a ridiculous rate (61.3 percent from 3-point range), drawing charges and doing all sorts of savvy type of dirty work and serving as a plus-minus monster (plus-21 per 48 minutes).
Of course, the Mavs had no control over Fisher’s decision to leave Dallas. And Mark Cuban’s hard feelings have been well chronicled regarding Fisher’s late-season change of heart over the value of family time once a contender called.
Nevertheless, a strong argument can be made that the Mavs would have at least extended their playoff streak if Fisher would have stuck around. But he’s not even the best point guard playing for the minimum in these playoffs.
Imagine if Nate Robinson would have been on the Mavs’ roster.
Lil’ Nate is the buzz of the Eastern Conference playoffs right now – having just dropped 27 points and nine assists despite getting 10 stitches in his lip during Chicago’s Game 1 upset of the Miami Heat – but he was a journeyman desperate for a job in the offseason. He accepted a partially guaranteed minimum deal to join the Bulls.
Robinson, the 5-foot-9 former slam dunk champion, has always had a Jason Terry-like borderline irrational type of confidence. And that hasn’t always gone over well, which is part of the reason he’s played for five teams in the last four seasons.
But Robinson has the game of a hyperathletic J.J. Barea. He’s got the ability to score in bunches – as a 3-pointer shooter, off the dribble, as a pick-and-roll initiator. It’s certainly intriguing to think about how he’d fit as an off-the-bench sparkplug playing with Dirk Nowitzki.
There didn’t seem to be a fit for Robinson in Dallas last summer, when Delonte West was on the roster to back up Darren Collison and provide what the Mavs hoped would be a healthy edge. (Yeah, so much for that.)
Might the Mavs and Robinson be a match this summer? His game would definitely work in Dallas, but his playoff performance could be putting him out of the Mavs’ price range for a backup point guard.