Stretching the Field: Mavs are in overhaul mode
By Shawn Clarke, NBA Contributing Editor
(Sports Network) - Let's hope O.J. Mayo doesn't celebrate swapping zip codes the way Jason Kidd did when he recently joined the New York Knicks.
Crashing your car into a telephone pole may seem entertaining for the characters in the "Jackass" movies, but Kidd wasn't fooling around while operating his SUV in the Hamptons allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
Arraigned on a misdemeanor driving-while-intoxicated charge and released without bail, Kidd left a gaping hole in his reputation and also the Dallas backcourt when he opted to head back east. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has softened the blow somewhat with his latest moves, and has been taking pieces off the board like Bobby Fischer in a chess match.
The Mavericks acquired talented point guard Darren Collison, a young floor general with plenty of upside, and swingman Dahntay Jones from Indiana in exchange for center Ian Mahinmi. Kidd played in 48 of a possible 66 games in 2011-12 and averaged 6.2 points and 5.5 assists in almost 29 minutes per game. Collison displayed more durability with 10.4 points and 4.8 assists in just over 31 minutes in 60 games.
Stats don't lie, but it's not the most important aspect of a player's game. Kidd brought veteran leadership and knows the quirks of his former Dallas teammates. That's something Collison will have to try and accomplish this offseason or he'll be hearing it a lot from Dirk Nowitzki.
"Darren is a young, explosive point guard with tremendous upside. He has proven that he can lead a playoff team and we are excited about his potential," Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said.
One of Kidd's former teammates, reserve Jason Terry, headed east as well when he joined the Boston Celtics. Terry's departure is more detrimental than losing Kidd because production outweighs leadership in the NBA. Terry is one of the top reserves in the game, and can also start, and was second on the Mavericks with 15.1 points per game last season. Terry and Shawn Marion led the Mavs in games played with 63 apiece -- one more than Nowitzki.
Meanwhile, Mayo is the new kid on the block for a team trying to reorganize after losing two key pieces to their championship puzzle. It appears Mayo will take the place of Terry as coach Rick Carlisle's go-to guy off the bench and recently tweeted the news.
"I will be signing with dallas!," Mayo said via Twitter.
Cuban liked the move and used the Twitter machine to express that.
"Welcome to the family OJ. We are fired up !! MFFL Mavs/Mayo Fan For Life!."
Mayo has been a poster boy for sturdiness, missing just 11 games in his four-year career, and reportedly inked a two-year deal. The rest of Dallas' acquisitions have signed one-year pacts so far. Mayo can play both guard positions and goes from a promising Memphis team to an already-established Dallas squad that suffered a championship hangover last season.
Dallas was swept by Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs, one year after hoisting its first title banner, and lost out on the Deron Williams sweepstakes, prompting the move to snatch Mayo.
Dallas missed its inside presence when Tyson Chandler joined the Knicks. Brendan Haywood's best days were in a Carolina blue uniform, Brandan Wright was good for giving others a breather and Mahinmi is now gone and didn't contribute much besides potential, which Indiana fell in love with. Haywood was Dallas' amnesty option and he has recently signed with Charlotte.
Well, Cuban and the Dallas brass pulled some strings to bolster the frontcourt with the addition of big men Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. It's not Dwight Howard or Luis Scola, but both Kaman and Brand are good for 13 and 7 on any given night for an aging team with about a three-year window left for success.
You have to give credit to the compulsive Cuban and his relentless pursuit of always having a winner on the court. He may have lost out on two of the prized free agents on the market in Howard and Williams, but nobody can blame him for not trying to keep the Mavs' faithful optimistic heading into 2012-13.
Time, patience and familiarity with the new players can go a long way. It just may take a year or two and some early playoff exits to finally make it work.
07/17 13:14:00 ET