Game 16: Mavs vs. Knicks

Highlights: Mavs vs. Knicks – 11/26/14

Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 30 points and Tyson Chandler pulled down 25 boards as the Mavs knocked off the Knicks in overtime.

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.

Reacquiring Tyson Chandler figures to strengthen Mavs’ defense

DALLAS — It figures to be a relatively quiet NBA Draft for the Dallas Mavericks come Thursday night.

That’s because the Mavericks made plenty of waves on the eve of the draft by acquiring center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton in a multi-player trade with the New York Knicks.

Wednesday, the Mavs announced the acquisitions of Chandler and Felton in exchange for center Samuel Dalembert and guards Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington. The Mavs also sent the Knicks a pair of second-round picks in this year’s draft, surrendering the 34th and 51st overall selections and leaving the team without a pick entering Thursday’s festivities.

Felton, the fifth overall selection in the 2005 draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, is expected to help stabilize the backcourt, which now has a gaping hole with the departure of Calderon and the pending free agency of veteran guard Devin Harris. The former North Carolina standout and 6-foot-1 lead guard holds career averages of 13.1 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 667 career games (611 starts), spending time with Charlotte, Denver, Portland and New York. The Mavs now hope Felton, 30, can rekindle the stellar play he displayed during the ’10-11 season, when he put up career numbers across the board by averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals an outing.

But, by reacquiring Chandler, the Mavericks’ front office may have already accomplished one of their offseason goals of strengthening the Dallas defense.

At age 31, Chandler enters the last season of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in free agency after winning the title with the Mavs back in 2011. He’s also expected to return to form while coming off a season riddled by nagging injuries, playing in 55 games during the ’13-14 campaign and averaging 8.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

The 7-foot-1, 240-pound Chandler was the heart and soul of the Mavs’ defense when they captured their first championship in franchise history, averaging 10.1 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds that season while garnering All-Defensive Second Team honors. He also set a franchise record by connecting on 65.4 percent from the field on the offensive side of the ball.

The gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games for Team USA holds career averages of 8.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 845 games (648 starts) during stints with Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas and New York. Chandler, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, was also an All-Star the following season, earning a spot on the All-Defensive First Team in the process. 

Chandler is now expected to anchor a defense that finished ranked 20th in the league while allowing 102.4 points a game and 22nd with a 108.7 defensive rating.

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.

READ MORE: WHY DALLAS? SERIES >>