Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lionel Hollins met with the Clippers today and engaged in a lengthy conversation about their head coaching job. Turner also relays that Brian Shaw is expected to interview with team brass on either Monday or Tuesday next week (Twitter links). As for George Karl, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles tweets that while the Clippers haven't spoken to him directly, they have been in contact with his representative. Both ESPN's Marc Stein and Shelburne report that Karl and Shaw have emerged as the team's top two candidates for the job.
As we gear up for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, here are a few miscellaneous notes to share from around the league tonight:
Almost two years removed from leading a title run in which the Mavericks won their first championship in franchise history, Dirk Nowitzki was on the Fitzsimmons and Durrett show on 103.3 FM today (hat tip to Jon Machota of SportsDayDFW), where he made it clear that significant progress needs to be made this summer:
“If we don’t get the two monsters (making reference to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul) then we got to find another way...through sign-and-trades or other free agents that are out there...It’s time to take a step forward and again be a threat in the playoffs.”
Following his radio appearance, Dirk spoke with ESPN Dallas and discussed the prospects of a pay cut on his next contract, his feelings on this year's free agency compared to last year, his role in the upcoming draft, along with the notion that breaking up the Mavs team that won it all in 2011 ended up being the right thing to do. You can read the transcript below (Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com):
On whether or not he has an idea about how low he's willing to go in terms of a pay cut on his next contract:
“Not really. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It kind of depends on what team we can get, too. I’ve always said that (Mark) Cuban has taken care of me for a long, long time. Money isn’t something I play for. I want to compete. I want to win. We’ll play this year and hopefully have a great team and then I’ll come off the books. Then, we can all sit together again and see how many guys we can get and who is out there. Saying all of that, I think that’s something I haven’t really thought about yet in terms of an actual number. We’d love to be as competitive as we can be.”
Dirk plans to use the fact that he's willing to take a pay cut as a selling point to free agents:
"Yeah. Obviously, I’m not going to make $23 million again. I know that. I’m 36 next summer, so this is going to be my last year of making money like a franchise player. That gives us even more cap space next year. I’m sure it’s going to come up. We’ll see if that has an impact on anything or helps us bring anything. We’re obviously trying to sell the big picture and that’s one small part of it.”
How the feelings going into this summer compare to last summer with regard to gearing up for a run at free agents:
“I feel like we’re almost more all in, everybody is even more excited. Last year, (Deron Williams) would have been great, but he was kind of the only free agent that was out there that made sense for us. This year, I feel like there are a couple of more options. Cuban is so fired up not to go through another year like we just had. He’s all in to make something happen. If we don’t get a top free agent, whether it’s through other things like sign-and-trades and whatever, he’s committed to bringing this franchise back to where it belongs and that’s in the top four in the West and having home-court advantage. We’ve got some ways to go but as long as everyone is all in, it should be a fun summer.”
On just how much influence he'll have as he joins team brass in the war room on draft night:
"I think that’s up to Cuban and (Donnie Nelson). I’m not going to make that decision. That’s a business decision they obviously need to make. I don’t understand the cap room situation and stuff like that as good as they do, so they need to make that decision. If that’s the case, then that’s what we need to do. We can go even all in more with free agents if we do that.
If we don’t, we’ll see what’s available at 13. There are some interesting players in that spot. There’s some bigs and some guards. Honestly, if you look at our roster, we’ve got five guys. We need help from the top to the bottom. We can use big guys, we can use guards and we can use shooters and athletes. I’m sure we can find some help if we keep the pick.”
On changing his stance and conceding that breaking up the 2011 championship team was the right thing to do:
“Yeah, in the lockout year, we were hoping that we would have everybody back. Now, a year further along, I’m turning 35, (Jason Kidd) just retired and turned 40 and (Jason Terry) is going to turn 36. I’m not sure how far we could have ridden it. It would have been interesting to see and I would have loved to seen it. Like I mentioned in the interview, the lockout year was tough on the older guys and tough on their bodies. It was a lot of games heading into the playoffs. I’m not sure if we would have had a decent chance to repeat there. Business-wise, we had to make the decision. Looking back at it now, I think it was the right one.”
Mark Cuban is talking about a two-year plan to revive the Mavericks, as we passed along last night. Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com provides a transcript of Cuban's radio appearance Saturday on 103.3 FM's ESPN Dallas Game Day, one in which the Mavs owner dropped plenty of hints about his team's plan for this summer and beyond. The entire transcript is worth a read, especially for Mavs fans, but we'll highlight a few key comments.
On the value of the fifth year a team can offer its own star free agents:
"In terms of that fifth year, that really is overrated from the perspective that if he’s young enough, he’s going to get another contract or two. When you sit down with them and say that there might be the issue of this contract ends before we can opt out of this current CBA. That may sound silly since we just signed a new CBA two years ago, but the ability for the league to opt out after six years means a five-year contract signed now puts you (on the) other side of that CBA, which may not be a good thing. You may want to be in a position where you want to sign another long-term deal before the NBA has the option to opt out of this CBA. I’m not suggesting that anything is going to happen with this CBA, but it’s just something to consider. On the second side of that, you’re young enough to get another contract.
"I’ll let Dirk decide that (amount of his pay cut). It’ll just depend on how strongly he feels about who we’re bringing (in). That dude has saved every nickel he’s ever had. He’s not worried about paying for his funeral. Dirk wants to win, and his heart is in the right place. He’s a great guy. We get along great and we can have very open and honest conversation and we don’t hold anything back. When it comes down to that time, we’ll have that conversation and figure it out.”
On the team's plans with the 13th pick in this year's draft:
"If we like the person at 13, we’ll keep it and we’ll figure something out elsewhere to free up cap space to get there, but (trading the pick will) be an option for us. If our guy doesn’t get there, we’ll look at trading it. … If a guy falls, we’ll be happy to take him and figure out who to work the cap. If no one wants to make a trade for whatever reason, we can maybe get a guy to stash overseas somewhere. If we put him overseas and he doesn’t play, he won’t count against our cap. There are so many different options, and we’ll explore them all.”
On the team's pursuit of marquee free agents:
“We can go out there and get guys that are really good players that want to come here whose agents have suggested that they’d really love to come to Dallas. We can go put together a good team and see what we’ve got. If it doesn’t work, with Dirk and (Shawn) Marion coming off the books, with the stretch provision and contracts, we still have the opportunity to go after two max free agents (next summer) if we’re willing to take the hit on the stretch. I’m willing to do that."
On how the stretch provision will factor into his approach to marquee free agents:
"It’s not like last year. We’re going to go after them. But it’s not like we’re not having all the intense conversations to figure out all of our alternatives. We can play it both ways. We can go and put together a better team by signing multiple guys to multiyear contracts. We won’t sign anybody to a one-year deal. They’ll all be four-year deals because that gives you the most flexibility if you stretch them. Just to explain some more, you can sign a guy to a four-year deal and only have $10 million guaranteed. If you cut him and want to stretch him, you take the guaranteed money only and divide it by the number of years, times two, plus one. So you can stretch that contract out over nine years, as long as you do a four-year deal. There’s a finite amount that you’re allowed to total and stretch, but that’s more of a financial issue more than anything else.
Earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki addressed the Mavericks' desire to bring some major talent on board this summer in free agency, going into a little detail about the pitch he expects potential targets to receive. Nowitzki spoke about the same topic today, reiterating that it's "pretty obvious" he'll be in line for a pay cut in the summer of 2014, which will allow the team to flexible in handing out bigger-money contracts to other players. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News has the details and the quotes from Nowitzki.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the Western Conference:
As the Mavericks head into the offseason looking to add talent, and potentially another star, to the roster to complement Dirk Nowitzki, the German appeared on Ben and Skin on 105.3FM in Dallas to discuss the coming summer. The Dallas Morning News transcribed a few of Nowitzki's more interesting quotes, so let's take a look at what he had to say....
On the team's ability to add players this offseason:
"It's easier to turn a franchise around if you have cap space. You can go for free agents, you can go for a big sign-and-trade. We could be a lot worse off and be locked in on a bunch of contracts. And we've got the draft. This is a big summer for us. I think [Mark] Cuban is as fired up as me. I've been to the gym a couple of times working out already; I see him in his little box suite, going to work already."
"We'd love to get one of those two. We'd love to get a player in here who can create his own shot and be a superstar-type player. It's still a long way to go until July. Those guys need to clear their minds a little bit and get away and then start thinking what they want to do with their futures. Hopefully, that's where we come in and put a great pitch out there and see what happens."
On making a pitch to free agents:
"I'll definitely be a little involved. But I'll be in the draft 'war room' for the first time ... order some pizza and talk some basketball. I got one year left on this deal and then I'm coming off the books. So if that helps for us to be better I'm going to take a paycut. That's part of the pitch. Cuban and Donnie [Nelson] have got to be part of the pitch. I think Dallas and the fans here, the sellout streak, the city to live in is gorgeous and has gotta be in the top five in the league. Hopefully, some of those guys will decide to come, and if not, we've gotta have a Plan B. If none of those top free agents come, we gotta make some moves with sign-and-trades or something. We want to get back to the playoffs and be a factor. We owe it to these fans who come out every single night to support us."
It's worth noting that when Nowitzki refers to his willingness to take a paycut, he's likely referring to his next contract. The NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits the veteran forward from renegotiating his current contract to reduce his existing $22.72MM salary for the 2013/14 season.
In this ESPN video, J.A. Adande spoke about the chances that Dirk Nowitzki stays with Dallas, Mark Cuban, and key factors that have been and could be in play with regard to the Mavericks' lack of luck in free agency. Here are the highlights:
A few Monday odds and ends from around the Association:
Kevin Love seemed optimistic about being able to bounce back from a difficult season with the best offseason of his life, writes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune. He also spoke about his desire for Rick Adelman to continue coaching the team, saying: "We need to have him back...I know his family comes first, but hopefully we can sit down and talk to him. This year has given us a lot of perspective, and hopefully he can see we have the making of a very good team here. We can make a push and have a special year next year...I think he’ll come back.”
You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous links below:
The NBA has its first official playoff matchup cemented in the postseason schedule, as the Bucks' loss to the Bobcats tonight guaranteed them a first round dance with the Heat. Now that Boston is a lock for seventh place, five of the remaining playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference are still yet to be determined. We've got plenty of miscellaneous links to share tonight, and you can find them below:
Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post.
While there are no games on the NBA docket tonight, there are still plenty of news items to pass along. Here are some odds and ends from around the league: