Mike Monroe: Mavs taking circuitous route to success

DALLAS — The Spurs this season will suit up four players from their 2003 NBA title team, and that’s one more than the Mavericks retained from the outfit that overachieved its way to the 2011 championship.

Even allowing that Stephen Jackson played for five teams before Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford brought him back in March, the Spurs’ commitment to continuity stands in contrast to what the Mavericks have done in 16-plus months since winning their first title.

The only Mavericks who remain from the 2011 title run: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Roddy Beaubois.

This doesn’t mean the Mavericks are any less committed to winning another title, just maybe not this year.

“Winning the championship that year, it was kind of tough to bring the boys back,” Nowitzki said at Mavs media day Friday. “We had a bunch of guys who were free agents. We decided to keep our salary cap open for the first time in my career.

“Unfortunately, last year we had some big fish available, and we didn’t get them. So you can do one of two things: Blow the whole thing up and start over, or keep signing guys to short contracts to stay a player in the free-agent market the following year. That’s the route we took.”

It’s the smart course but doesn’t sit well with all those Mavs Fans For Life. As he greeted eight new players with guaranteed contracts, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle cited the high expectations they were about to discover.

“My feeling is people know what we’re about as an organization and what our city is about,” he said on media day. “You show up, and you’re playing for a title, regardless of what people may or may not think about your roster or how many new guys you have. We don’t care about that.”

As jarring as the dismantling of the Mavericks’ roster has been, it makes sense long-term. Clearly, Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson knew their team had overachieved in 2011, catching fire at just the right moment. Didn’t Nowitzki and Jason Terry hit every clutch shot in the playoffs?

It’s tempting to say that J.J. Barea had a once-in-a-lifetime performance when he averaged 16 points in the last two games of the Finals. Then again, he was also dating Miss Universe at the time. Safe to say, he was at the very top of his game. But could the Mavericks depend on that type of performance with a multi-year contract?

Letting Tyson Chandler leave in free agency also made sense, especially with the expectation that Dwight Howard would be available in the summer of 2012.

The Mavericks looked at the rosters of the Heat, Bulls, Spurs, Lakers, Thunder and Celtics and realized they would again have to overachieve to keep up with those elites. Was that realistic long-term?

Freeing up enough salary-cap space for Howard and Deron Williams in the summer of 2012 was a gamble worth taking. It was a gamble that lost but for the right reasons. Now they have Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Darren Collison and cap flexibility aplenty next summer.

With a team built on the fly, the Mavericks will likely compete for nothing more than first-round home-court advantage this season.

But it is understandable that they dare to dream. They overachieved once; why not again?


Twitter: @Monroe_SA

Mavs give Top 10 list on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’

The Dallas Mavericks have been busy the last several days.

The championship celebration in Dallas Thursday came after a visit by “Late Night with David Letterman” for a presentation about the “Top Ten Good Things About Winning the NBA Championship.”

For the edification of Spurs Nation, the players’ reasons are listed below. Or they are available on.

10: Shawn Marion, “I don’t have to sit here and lie about how winning isn’t important.”

9: J.J. Barea, “The congratulatory sext from Anthony Weiner.”

8: Rodrigue Beaubois, “Helped take the sting out of hearing Hef’s wedding was cancelled.”

7: Brian Cardinal, “It’s every kid’s dream to lick the Larry O’Brien Trophy.”

6: Rick Carlisle, “U.S. Constitution permits NBA champs to sit in on national security briefings.”

5: Tyson Chandler, “Celebrating with my kitties.”

4: Caron Butler, “Why didn’t anyone tell me we won?”

3: Jason Terry, “Now I can ask Mark Cuban for a raise.”

2: Mark Cuban, “If you thought I was cocky and obnoxious before – get ready.”

1: Dirk Nowitzki, “It might land me a Kardashian sister.”

It was an interesting, eclectic choice of presenters.

Considering his importance to the team, I wonder where Jason Kidd was when the remote crew showed up?

Dirk and ‘The Jet’ lead the Mavs to another wild fourth-quarter comeback

A game away from his first NBA title, Dirk Nowitzki knows that the Dallas Mavericks still have much work to do.

That’s why Nowitzki wasn’t in a particularly jovial mood after Dallas claimed a 112-103 victory over Miami that gave them a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series.

“There’s really nothing to celebrate,” Nowitzki told reporters after the Mavericks went ahead in the series for the first time. “We’re going in there Sunday swinging, like we did today, from the jump, and hopefully steal one Sunday.”

The Mavericks will have a chance to wrap up their first NBA title in franchise history Sunday night in Miami, where the series returns for the rest of the games.

Nowitzki tallied 29 points, including the go-ahead dunk with 2:45 left that was a part of a clinching 17-4 run to finish the game.

The main reason for the triumph was Dallas’ blistering shooting. The Mavericks hit 56.5 percent from the field, including 13 of 19 (68 percent) from 3-point range.

Nowitzki’s game was supported by a strong contribution from his supporting cast. Jason Terry came off the bench to score eight of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Five Dallas players  notched double-figure scoring efforts.

“It’s what I do. It’s my job,” Terry told reporters after the game. “All season long, ever since I’ve been a Maverick, I’ve been the guy in the fourth quarter they rely on to either make plays or make shots. Regardless of what’s going on throughout the three quarters of the game, in the fourth quarter I know I’m depended on to come through.”

Nowitzki chuckled when he heard  about Terry’s comments about his late-game exploits.

“We all know Jet is a confident young man,” Nowitzki said. “He always has a lot to say to us in the locker room. He’s always talking. He’s just an energetic guy. He loves to talk and he loves to hear himself talk.”

It pushes them closer than the Mavericks have ever been to a title, but they have to nail one down one more win to accomplish the ultimate goal.

“It’s not a best of five series; it’s a best of seven. So the first team to four wins,” Nowitzki said. “So we couldn’t celebrate tonight, even though it was a big win for us. The series is not over.”


Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki: Went for 29 points, six rebounds, three assists and was plus-14 in the Mavericks’ 112-103 Game 5 victory over Miami.

Dallas G Jason Terry: Came off the bench to produce 21 points, four rebounds and six assists in the Mavericks’ comeback victory over the Heat.

Dallas G J.J. Barea: Tallied 17 points and five assists in the Mavericks’ triumph over Miami.

Dallas G Jason Kidd: Notched 13 points, six assists, three steals, two rebounds and was plus-13 in Dallas’ victory over Miami.

Dallas C Tyson Chandler: Produced 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots and was plus-14 in the Mavericks’ victory over the Heat.

Dallas F Shawn Marion: Tallied eight points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and was a game-best plus-21 in the Mavericks’ victory over the Heat.

Miami G Dwyane Wade: Overcame a hip injury to produce a team-best 23 points, eight rebounds and two steals in Miami’s loss to Dallas.

Miami F Chris Bosh: Notched 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Heat’s loss to Dallas.

Miami G Mario Chalmers: Came off the bench to produce 15 points, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range, in the Heat’s loss to the Mavericks.


Miami F LeBron James: Might have produced the quietest triple-double in NBA Finals history after scoring only two points in the fourth quarter when his team needed him to close. James was 8-for-19 from the field, missing all four 3-pointers, with four turnovers and was minus-11 in the Heat’s loss to Dallas.