Raymond Felton Phone Interview

Raymond Felton Phone Conference

Listen in as newly-acquired guard Raymond Felton addresses the media regarding his trade to Dallas

Tyson Chandler Phone Interview

Tyson Chandler Phone Conference

Listen in as newly-acquired center Tyson Chandler addresses the media about his trade to Dallas

Tyson Chandler’s return sends shockwaves through Metroplex

Welcome Back Tyson Chandler!

The Mavs would like to welcome back NBA champion Tyson Chandler back to Dallas!

He’s baaaaaack.

Dallas on Wednesday reacquired former Maverick Tyson Chandler from the New York Knicks, along with point guard Raymond Felton.

During Chandler’s first and only season with the Mavericks in 2010-11, he anchored the defense of the NBA champions. You know the names that Chandler helped to slow down: LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Of course, Chandler was valuable to that title team for more reasons than just those pertaining to his on-court play. The big man was a vocal leader in the locker room, a favorite of Dirk Nowitzki’s, and a favorite of just about every Mavericks fan. We were all sad to see him go following that magical run to the title.

But he’s back now.

The Knicks’ asking price for the center was understandably high. At his best, Chandler is one of the premier defensive players in the NBA — he won the Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2011-12 season. To bring him back, Dallas had to part ways with starters Jose Calderon and Sam Dalembert, as well as last year’s first-rounder Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and the team’s two second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

Even considering what the Mavs traded away for Chandler, it’s important to keep in mind that heading into the postseason adding a starting-caliber center was near or at the top of Dallas’s to-do list. Dalembert enjoyed stretches of excellent play last season, but Chandler, who has one year and roughly $15 million left on his contract he inked with the Knicks in 2011, is the better player. And not only did the Mavs upgrade at the center spot, but they also did it without dramatically affecting their available salary cap space heading into free agency, which begins next week on July 1.

The combined salaries of the four players Dallas traded and what the team would have paid the two players selected at spots 34 and 51 in the draft add up to more than $16 million. Chandler’s contract combined with Felton’s totals approximately $19 million. In NBA terms, $3 million is a small price to pay for a player like Chandler, who at his best can be a dominant force on the defensive end — Tyson finished top-eight in win shares per 48 minutes each season from 2010-13. Felton, as well, can play a valuable role either in the starting lineup or as a backup at the point guard spot.

You can bet that Chandler’s old running mate Nowitzki is as excited about the deal as anyone else, even Skin Wade, whose reaction is a pretty good representation of every Mavs fan’s.

Nowitzki has longed to play next to a big man as effective as Chandler ever since he left the team following the 2011 season. Well, instead of signing a big man like Chandler, how about bringing him back instead? Before free agency has even started, Dallas has already addressed perhaps its most pressing need without significantly affecting cap space. That’s sure to make That Dude a very, very happy dude. Let’s not forget about Monta Ellis, either, who has a new toy to play with in the Mavs’ pick-and-roll offense. Ellis is at his best going downhill toward the rim with the option of passing to a rolling big man, and Chandler not only has the ability to set quality screens, but he also makes himself a target going to the hole. He has great hands for a player his size, as well.

The one knock against Chandler is concern regarding his health, as the center missed 27 games last season due to injury. But during his time in Dallas, Chandler never struggled through serious injury. He and Mavs head trainer Casey Smith have worked together before, both with the Mavericks and also with Team USA. If there’s one staff that can work with Chandler to avoid big health scares, it’s the Mavs’. Dallas can also add another big man in free agency to an already strong center rotation of Chandler and Brandan Wright if the Mavs see the need, as both Bernard James and DeJuan Blair are free agents. Retaining cap flexibility even when acquiring players with significant cap figures is a luxury that will serve Dallas well in multiple areas during the rest of the summer.

The Mavericks accomplished everything you’d hope a team could when pulling off a deal involving many pieces. Dallas added the rim-protecting center it needed desperately — who also happens to be a fan favorite — and a solid point guard who can either start or come off the bench, all while staying well under the salary cap. Now the Mavs can turn their attention to filling their other needs, which include backcourt depth and a perimeter defender. A Dirk/Monta/Tyson trio is as compatible and appealing as there is in basketball right now, which surely will make Dallas a desirable landing spot for some of the best free agents in the coming weeks. And unlike many other teams, Dallas already has the money and personnel to work with. Strong pieces are already in place at multiple positions. Now it’s time to add a few more.

Mavs acquire Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton from Knicks

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have acquired former Maverick and 2011 NBA champion Tyson Chandler and guard Raymond Felton from the New York Knicks in exchange for center Samuel Dalembert, guards Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and two 2014 second-round picks.

Chandler (7-1, 240) was the starting center on the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team and averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds while helping lead Dallas to its first NBA title. That season, he also earned NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors while shooting .654 from the field, which still ranks as the highest single-season field goal percentage in franchise history.

The 12-year veteran won a Gold Medal as a member of Team USA in the 2012 London Olympic Games and holds career averages of 8.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 845 games (648 starts) with Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas and New York.

The Southern California native was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 while also earning All-NBA Third Team honors. In 2013, Chandler was a first-time NBA All-Star and was voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team by coaches.

Felton (6-1, 205) averages 13.1 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals over 667 career games (611 starts) with Charlotte, Denver, Portland and New York. In 2010-11, he put up career numbers for the Knicks averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals.

The University of North Carolina product was the fifth overall selection in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. In his rookie season, Felton averaged 11.9 points and 5.6 assists in 80 games (54 starts) while garnering NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors.

Why Dallas? Part 3: The Staff behind the Scenes

As the draft and free agency loom, a question on the mind of a lot of athletes will most certainly be, ‘Why Dallas?’ In our new series we’re going to answer just that. Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line below.

Mavs Trainer Casey Smith Thanks The Fans

Dallas Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith thanks the fans after the team's magnificent championship run in 2011.

Up to this point in the “Why Dallas?” series, we’ve covered both the advantages the Mavs’ organizational culture and the team’s head coach, Rick Carlisle, could provide to prospective draft choices and free agents.

But as with all teams in the NBA, organization attractiveness depends not just on the culture, and not just on the head coach, but also on the other men who sit on the bench during the games. Every head coach leans on his assistants and the rest of his staff throughout the season for countless reasons. Assistants have a hand in developing offensive and defensive strategies, scouting current and future opponents, and even tracking very specific stats during and after games — more than just minutes and fouls.

Carlisle has earned a reputation as one of the best head coaches in the NBA, and two members of his coaching tree, Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts, both led teams to the playoffs this year and finished in the top-10 in Coach of the Year voting. Both of Carlisle’s current top assistants, Monte Mathis and Kaleb Canales, are coaches held in high regard. Mathis engineers the defense and prepares players for games with thorough scouting reports, while Canales — one of the youngest active coaches with head coaching experience — heads up the offense.

But Casey Smith, the team’s head trainer, might be the Mavs’ secret weapon.

For several years, Dallas has been among the oldest teams in the league, but at the same time the Mavericks have for the most part managed to stay healthy through it all. There have certainly been injuries, but based on the number of minutes veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and even Jason Kidd play or played during their time in Dallas, it’s difficult to argue against Smith’s ability. It’s no wonder, then, that he was Team USA’s athletic trainer for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

On that 2010 team, which won the gold medal, was Tyson Chandler. The big man spent just one season in Dallas, but played 74 games after suffering through multiple injury-plagued seasons in New Orleans and Charlotte during the years prior. Until the ’10-11 season, he’d only played more than 74 games in a season once since 2004-05. But Smith and the Mavs training team kept him healthy during the regular season and playoffs, and as we’d learn in June 2011, it’s a good thing Chandler stayed off the injured list. Dallas doesn’t win the title that season without Chandler, but there’s no guarantee Tyson could have remained healthy without Casey Smith.

Believe it or not, NBA training staffs mean a great deal. Smith himself hails from the Phoenix Suns program, which was for a long time considered one of the best in the league. Clearly, Smith brought some knowledge with him to Dallas, where the Mavericks have successfully extended the careers of veterans while also extending the prime of younger players. Monta Ellis drove to the lane more often than any other player in the league this season, and he didn’t miss a game. Yes, that says a lot about Monta’s own toughness, but it also speaks volumes about Smith and the rest of the staff.

For aging veterans and young players alike, a team’s injury history and current training staff are both definitely considered as part of the equation, as is the rest of the coaching staff underneath a team’s head boss. In both areas, Dallas is at or near the very top of the list. The Mavs’ pitches to potential free agents and their attractiveness to draft prospects can be so versatile; Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, and the rest of the Mavs brass can push whatever they want to whoever they want. At every level throughout the front office — and let’s not forget about the stuff that happens on the floor, either — Dallas is a quality organization.

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Why Dallas? Part 2: The Man with the Clipboard

As the draft and free agency loom, a question on the mind of a lot of athletes will most certainly be, ‘Why Dallas?’ In our new series we’re going to answer just that. Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line below.

When Monta Ellis signed a three-year deal with the Mavericks last summer, one of the first things he did was meet with Rick Carlisle. Ellis didn’t find the Mavs head coach in Dallas. Instead, he found him in Houston.

Ellis, the new Maverick who’d faced plenty of criticism during his final years in Golden State and Milwaukee — especially toward his jump shot — was anxious to improve his game, to return to the All-Star-caliber level he played at earlier in his career. Carlisle was there for him from the get go.

So the two worked in Houston, not far from Ellis’s summer home, the pair working to hone the mechanical aspects of Ellis’s game. Ellis didn’t want to hear about his much-maligned shot selection, and Carlisle didn’t want to give any lectures. They worked at the little things. Several months later, as Ellis single-handedly blew open a fourth-quarter lead against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the playoffs, it appeared as if the partnership paid off.

Carlisle is regarded as one of the best coaches in the game. He’s a head boss without a real weakness. Tactically, he’s maybe the best — no team is better out of a timeout and the Dallas offense is unstoppable. When it comes to motivation, there’s no argument against the Mavericks’ belief they could beat the potential champion Spurs this postseason. The Mavs embrace analytics as much as just about any other franchise in the league. As for player development? The results speak for themselves. Why would a star not want to play for him?

Carlisle’s own commitment to Ellis’s return to stardom is far from rare during the coach’s time in Dallas. Carlisle spent similar time with then-Maverick OJ Mayo two summers ago, but unfortunately Mayo wasn’t able to sustain his hot start to the 2012-13 campaign for the entire season. With Ellis, the end result was just the opposite. He kept improving throughout the entire season, to the point where not only was he perhaps the most important player on the team, but he also led the whole team in three-point shooting from the corner. The player who supposedly couldn’t shoot turned out to be the best from the corner on a team full of sharpshooters.

The same could be said for other players viewed almost as reclamation projects when they came to Dallas. Vince Carter, for example, was an aging wing who was supposedly well past his prime. But during the past two seasons, the case could be made that he’s been the best reserve in the NBA. Jason Kidd was the point guard who couldn’t guard point guards, so Carlisle assigned him to guard shooting guards and small forwards, and he did so at a high level. Brandan Wright, who battled injury earlier in his career, is now regarded as one of the most efficient players in the sport. Dirk Nowitzki was the star who couldn’t defend, so Carlisle and Dwane Casey engineered a zone defense that won the Mavericks a championship.

Carlisle shouldn’t get all of the credit. Players have to be willing to change as well — whether it means taking less shots, playing fewer minutes, or sacrificing some other element of their own game. The organization-wide culture also plays a part in that, as the Mavs only sign players who have a desire to fit into the establishment. But the case could be made that more than any member of the organization, Rick Carlisle is the most attractive Dallas asset. Whether he works with a player like Nowitzki, who has sustained excellence for years, or heavily criticized players like Ellis, Carlisle has the ability and know-how to make players fit into his system while also taking their talents to the next level. For players who want to win a championship, there’s no quality in a coach that’s more important.

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Why Dallas? Part 1: Cultivating a Winning Culture

As the draft and free agency loom, a question on the mind of a lot of athletes will most certainly be, ‘Why Dallas?’ In our new series we’re going to answer just that. Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line below.

Exit Interview: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle reflects on the 2013-14 season and looks ahead to next year's campaign.

As the league season inches toward free agency season, now less than three short weeks away, the Mavericks are sitting pretty as one of the few teams in the league with significant salary cap space. What they choose to do with this money will inevitably affect the team’s outlook not just for next season, but also the seasons beyond.

Mavs fans will remember that the team has been in a similar position heading into each of the past two offseasons. Following both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns, Dallas had enough money to sign big-name free agents to max-level contracts. However, the Mavs weren’t able to land the big fish they sought after, but that ultimately turned out to work in the team’s advantage.

During the two offseasons prior to this one, Dallas found itself in vastly different situations than the one it is in now. Following the lockout-shortened ’11-12 campaign, the Mavericks chose to sign several players to one-year contracts after Deron Williams signed with the Brooklyn Nets, including among others OJ Mayo and Chris Kaman. Dallas also traded for Darren Collison, who, like Mayo, Kaman, and many other Mavericks, had just one year remaining on his contract.

The roster on paper was a good one, and despite Nowitkzi’s nagging knee injury that sidelined him for a third of the 2012-13 season, Dallas was unable to gel the way it did this season. Combined with Nowitzki’s injury, that team’s foundation, built on players on one-year deals, never had the chance to grow together as a single unit.

That was the exact problem the Mavs addressed last season, when the team signed Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon to long-term contracts. The Mavs’ backcourt will be together at least through next season, and an option on Ellis’ deal could keep him here for 2015-16 as well. Sam Dalembert and Wayne Ellington, two other free agent acquisitions last season, were both signed to multi-year deals as well. Dallas opted to build a veteran team that would have the time and know-how to come together, and that’s exactly what happened. Nowitzki was healthy as ever this past season, and the new-look Mavericks stormed through the finish line, ending 2013-14 with 49 wins, the club’s most since 2010-11.

That leads us to this summer, when Dallas will have roughly $30 million in cap space. But unlike the past two summers, this year the Mavs aren’t looking to revamp an entire roster. Dallas has built a new foundation based on players with multi-year contracts who are committed to staying with this team. As has been reported on Mavs.com during the past few weeks, Dallas does have several key free agents this summer, including Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Vince Carter. Each of those players, as well as free-agent-to-be Devin Harris, has said they’d like to remain here. Clearly, Dallas is on to something.

The team’s new culture grew almost organically during the ’13-14 season. Nine new players were added to the mix last summer, but they came together rather quickly, and by year’s end it seemed every player in the locker room was happy in Dallas. That alone could attract potential free agents this summer, but more importantly, the long-term deals the Mavs offered last summer could be the team’s best asset moving forward.

By signing players like Calderon and Ellis to multi-year deals, as well as one-year veterans Shane Larkin, Ricky Ledo, and Gal Mekel (all of whom can remain under the Mavs’ control for three more seasons), Dallas showed that it was willing to commit to its backcourt. The front office has faith in each of those players. That matters to free agents, who would much rather sign a three- or four-year deal than ink a one-season contract. At the same time, free agents are also less willing to sign with a team with a cloudy future. That certainly isn’t a problem for the Mavericks, whose immediate future is not at all unclear. Western Conference champion San Antonio could attest to that. Calderon and Ellis, among other Mavericks, are under contract for multiple years into the future, signaling to free agents that an already very sturdy group will remain intact.

Add to that mix Nowitzki, who immediately after the season practically guaranteed he’d re-sign with the team, and all of a sudden the Mavs’ core, combined with the team’s ample cap space, makes Dallas one of the most attractive landing spots for any free agent this summer.

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