Well, it's been a while since I've written a Mavs report so a lot of
little things have happened.  [With the team's continued lousy
performance, it's not likely that I'll restart the game reports this

The Mavs have played mostly pathetic basketball for the past two weeks or
more.  I've gone from rooting for the team to win to simply rooting for
them to break 80.  

Games with points   100+  99-90  89-80  79-70  69-   Average
Since the trade      4      5      10     3     3      86.1
March and April      2      3       8     3     2      84.0
Last 10                     1       6     3            81.5

Sure, the Mavs have been hit with some injuries (especially to the
guards), but the team's offensive setup has been pathetic.  Some blame
can go to the players' lack of execution and inability to simply put the
ball in the hole, but a lot of the blame has to rest on Jim Cleamons'
shoulders.  All season long (even with the players Cleamons' had in
training camp) the team has looked lost on offense and seems limited to
two basic plays (3 on the side or big man up top) when they are not
running (and the team rarely runs now) and often puts up a shoot with 
only 5 or less seconds left on the shoot clock.  And I'm still upset about 
Shawn Bradley not getting any touches on offense when Boston had 6-9 
Antoine Walker on him and only getting about 2 touches when Washington 
had 6-10 Chris Webber on him (more on Bradley later).  Last night, Bradley 
had 7 points in the first 6 minutes.  I was only slightly off when I said 
to my dad that he wouldn't see any more touches the rest of the quarter - 
he got another touch and basket with 3 minutes left.  If a guy is scoring, 
you keep going to him until the other team finds a solution.  I've seen the
same thing happen with Michael Finley.  Finley would get hot and the next
thing you know the team is running plays with  Finley on the weak side and 
he doesn't get his hands on the ball for several minutes.  I've disagreed
with a lot of things Cleamons has done this season, but I haven't been on
the "Cleamons must go" bandwagon and felt that he would eventually develop 
into a solid coach (unlike Buckner who just seemed clueless).  He may
still become a good coach, but it's not going to be in Dallas and I won't
be surprised when Don Nelson fires him and hires a former Nellie
assistant.  I had a sense of "what if" last night when I saw Cleamons
talking with Johnny Bach.  Bach, who has an excellent reputation, might
have been the guiding hand that Cleamons needed.  [Cleamons talked with
Bach this summer, but Bach was negotiating with Detroit when Cleamons was 
 Yet another wasted year.

Another problem with this team is that no one besides A.C. Green knows how
to rebound or block out.  Bradley relies on his height too much instead
of position and is often batting the ball around instead of putting both
hands on it.  And no one else seems to go after the ball (okay, Samaki
Walker has some in the limited minutes he's seen).  Maybe the players are
concentrating too much on getting back on defense, but that doesn't
explain the high number of offensive rebounds the other team is getting.

The one good thing that Cleamons has installed in a couple of games lately
is the trap.  It has helped us stay close in some games and has caused the
other teams trouble.  [Of course, we don't know how to deal with the trap

As for the players:
I love Erick Strickland.  He's got heart, he's got desire, and he's got a
love for the game.  He's not afraid to have the ball in his hand with the
game on the line or to take the ball right at a player (re: Anthony
Mason).  And he put moves on John Starks and Jason Kidd that left both
players wondering where he went.  The rook's a class act to.  He's always 
signing a ton of autographs before the game and has committed to 
appearing at the Mavs' summer camps even though he is a free agent.  As
for his game, he's a solid defensive player (his low defensive stance is
what stuck out during his first stint with Dallas) and he obviously 
learned a ton during his CBA stint _and_ he can hit his free throws.  
He's averaging 11.8 points, which is 8th amongst rookies - all above him 
were lottery picks, and 14.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in the 
last 14 games he played.  It is evident in the games that he's been out 
that the Mavs miss his enthusism and energy.  And if you don't believe me:

LA Lakers coach Del Harris: "Anybody that combines that kind of raw talent
with his energy is going to be a factor.  He's going to give guys fits and
they won't even know his name."
Don Nelson: "I love Erick Strickland.  He represents everything we want in
a player.  I knew the first time I saw him play, he was the real deal."

His weakness is that he is used to playing shooting guard and will have to
master the point guard role.  But with his dedication to the game, I'm
sure that many others will be praising him next season - I just hope it is
in Dallas.  He also commits some rookie mistakes, but is learning from 
those errors.  He is on IR right now with a sprained right thumb (the cast
is now off and I expect him to return in the next game or two).
The down side is that he is a free agent this summer.  Unless the Mavs
find a loophole or the NBA changes its rules, if the Mavs are over the cap
this summer (which they likely will be), the Mavs are limited to giving
him $264,000 (20% increase on $220,000) next season.  Other teams will
be able to offer what ever they have under the cap or, if they are
eligible (over the cap, have already re-signed one of their own free
agents, and didn't use it last year), the $1,000,000 exception.  There is
talk that the NBA will create a work around that will allow teams that
find a talent signed to minimum to keep that player [and for those
gripping about this problem, remember that the league would prefer teams
to be under the cap], but such a thing would not likely be instituted this
summer [the Lakers are also going to face the same problem with Travis
Knight and Phoenix lost Chris Carr last season].  Don Nelson ask the
league to allow the $1 million exception to be allowed for use on a
team's own free agent, but the league is resisting.  The good news is that
Nelson really wants to keep Strickland and, unlike past Mavs regimes,
would be willing manipulate the cap to do so.  Strickland also would like
to stay in Dallas, but I'm sure he would go elsewhere for more money.  My
favorite method about how to keep Erick is the Jim Durham loophole.
Durham [Mavs TV guy] suggested that the Mavs use the Minnesota pick to
draft Strickland and sign him to the 3 year rookie salary slot.
Strickland wasn't drafted last year and, from what I heard [I don't have
the rules myself], they couldn't find anywhere in the rule book
prohibiting the drafting of an undrafted player who has played in the 
NBA - thus it being a loophole.  Sure the NBA would protest such a thing
(as they did with the Chris Dudley loophole), but it would be so nice to
see the Mavs finally take advantage salary cap instead of the usual being
screwed by it.  [I asked someone in the Mavs organization about this and
he said that I had been watching too many sub-80 games and that Strickland
wasn't eligible.]

Where would this team be without Michael Finley?  I bet they wouldn't even
break 60 points.  In the 25 games since the trade, Finley has averaged 20.2 
points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists.  He hit a couple of games in there
where he had to adjust to the extra defensive attention he is getting.
The guy is a solid player and can explode to the basket.  Like most of the
Mavs, he needs to work on his shooting percentage.  The only real question
I have is where is that great defensive player Phoenix was raving about?
He did a good job on 6-12 Kevin Garnett back in February, but lately he
only done a decent job on D.  Granted he is playing (IMHO) out of position
at small forward and having to defend much taller players and is expending
much more effort on offense.

I'll admit that I've never been in the Bradley camp.  He has done some
nice things in Dallas, but he has a reputation of being a 2nd half season
player.  I'll reserve my judgement on him until I see what he does the
first few months of next season.  Some suggestions of things for Shawn to
work on in the summer:  jumpballs, rebounding, and developing an offensive
mindset.  At his height [before anyone says it, Muresan can't elevate],
the Mavs should control every opening tip.  They rarely do.  Bradley needs
to work on timing and control his tips.  He sometimes gets the tip but
tips it to the wrong player.  As for rebounding, get both friggen hands on
the ball!  And use your feet to get better position instead of leaning
over people where the refs tend not to give you the benefit of the doubt
and call over-the-back fouls.  On offense, Bradley seems hesitant when
he gets the ball.  When he gets the ball in the post with one man on him,
he needs to go right up with it - either hook or short jumper.  Now he'll
hold it, wiggle around, maybe put the ball on the floor, and often pass it
back out.  Watch some film of Arvydas Sabonis.  And start thinking "score,
score, score, score, ..."  Look for his free throw percentage to slowly
improve as he has someone helping him and I've noticed an improvement in
his form and confidence.  Bradley will also likely set the team record for
points by a center.  Sean Rooks averaged 13.5 points in 92-93 (Donaldson's
highest was 10.8 points in 86-87).  Bradley is currently averaging 13.7

Derek Harper is Harper - same game as always.  He reached a career
milestone during the Indiana game (3/26) when he scored his 15,000th
point.  He became the 75th player to score 15,000 points.  He also became
the 10th player to have 15,000 points and 6,000 assists joining Oscar
Robertson, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Reggie Theus, Isiah Thomas, Lenny
Wilkens, Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy, and Nate Archibald.  And joined Isiah
Thomas as the only players to have at least 15,000 points, 6,000 assists,
and 1,800 steals.

Robert Pack has been out injured during most of his time in Dallas.  He
has good energy and can slash to the basket.  He needs to work on his shot
selection, though (shooting 40% FG in Dallas).  He is sponsoring a section
of seats in Reunion called Pack's Posse [only Harp's House and Mock's
Block (Walker) remain of the 8 player sponsored sections from the start of
the season].

As I mentioned above, A.C. Green has been great on the boards.  He's also
been good at hitting the open 15-foot jumper when the Mavs really needed a
basket.  Green has kept us in some games.  Unfortunately his deserved
playing time means fewer minutes to develop Samaki Walker.  Maybe Cleamons
is a little concerned about his job or maybe he feels that Samaki needs to
earn his minutes, but there is no way A.C. should be averaging 33.2
minutes and Samaki 14 minutes.

As I said, Samaki Walker is not getting enough minutes.  He has been
plagued with injuries the entire season has missed the last two games with
a sprained right foot.  He has done mostly a decent job when he has been
in the game and can sneak inside for the offensive boards.  He needs more
minutes to develop.

Khalid Reeves has been out since March 15 with a strained tendon in his
right foot.  They are expecting him to return soon.  He hasn't shown much
in the games he has played in.

Did Ed O'Bannon really ever have a game??  For the first time, he actually
showed a strong offensive move last night and I was shocked.  Maybe his
game will actually return, but most likely he'll be out of the league once
his contract runs out (if not sooner).

Martin Muursepp shows some enthusism, but needs to work on his decision
making.  He is very capable of hitting the outside shot or 3-pointer and 
can sneak in for the putback.  But he also needs to work on his D.

Sasha Danilovic has only played in 3 games with Dallas due to a sprained
left ankle and did not attempt a single shot (and hardly touched the ball)
in his first game back from IR last night.

Greg Dreiling had a very nice game against Patrick Ewing when Bradley got
in foul trouble and was a key to the New York win.  He is content to being
the occasional sub for Bradley, but has blown way too many layups.
Besides the New York game, the highlight for Dreiling was a great
performance with Erick Strickland in the first real Players on Film
segment this season.  Both were good and funny in reviewing The Nutty

Don't expect Kurt Thomas to play this season.

A couple of 10-dayers came and went (or will go)
Stevin Smith has nice hops, but needs a lot of work to stay in the NBA.
Jamie Watson was an okay filler.  Cleamons likes him, but like Cleamons'
future in Dallas, don't expect him back next season.
Jason Sasser played a total of 7 minutes for Dallas.  His only distinction
is that he became the first Dallas high school product to play for the

(well, that only took 3 hours)

Patricia Bender
Not affiliated with or representing anyone besides myself.