It’s the closest he’s come to getting one of his famous red wine baths since leaving New York.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think it has the same effect,” coach Rick Carlisle cracked to a referee, a conversation caught by the Fox Sports Southwest cameras on Saturday night.
Stoudemire looked for a spa in Dallas that offered vinotherapy, but it was a fruitless search. That lack of luxury is a minor inconvenience that ranks pretty far down the list of challenges presented to Stoudemire during his adjustment period since joining the Dallas Mavericks after the All-Star break.
“It takes a little time, to be honest with you,” Stoudemire said. “It takes a lot of studying. It takes communication to be able to get things figured out. But I think for the most part we’ve been able to work hand in hand, be positive throughout the entire situation and it’s been working for us.
“I’ve always had a training camp and always had some time to figure out the system before the season started. This is my first time really going to a new system midseason. It’s taking time. I still haven’t found a place to live yet, still living out of a suitcase, but it’s working out for me.”
The early results from Stoudemire, whose minutes with the Mavs have come solely at center so far, are certainly encouraging. He has averaged 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.5 minutes during his first four games for the Mavs, with whom he signed for the veteran’s minimum after receiving a buyout from the final season of his five-year, $99.7 million deal with the Knicks.
The Mavs, who are 3-1 when Stoudemire plays for them, have chosen to exercise extreme caution with the six-time All-Star, who has chronic knee issues. That’s the primary reason that Stoudemire sat out two games before making his Dallas debut and isn’t playing both games of back-to-backs.
The Mavs also want to make sure that Stoudemire isn’t overwhelmed mentally as he makes the transition from a last-place team to a squad in the thick of the West playoff pack. Carlisle recently estimated that the Mavs have only about a third of their playbook available when Stoudemire is on the floor.
“We haven’t had a lot of quality practice time,” Carlisle said Tuesday after Stoudemire’s second full practice with the team. “The key is simplicity and repetition.”
Stoudemire, who has transitioned from All-Star to quality reserve, certainly has the work ethic to make the transition. That’s something center Tyson Chandler, Stoudemire’s former Knicks teammate, noted would be the case before Stoudemire’s arrival in Dallas.
Stoudemire has met those expectations by consistently being one of the first players in the gym and sticking around for extra film and floor sessions with the coaching staff. The 13-year veteran is doing everything in his power to expedite the process of mastering the Mavs’ offensive and defensive schemes -- and producing in the meantime.
“The problem is, if you start thinking too much, you get out of whack, so right now I’m just playing basketball,” Stoudemire said. “I’m trying to remember the terminologies on the defensive end and trying to figure out my teammates and how they play and work with them, build chemistry on the basketball court. It’s taking a little time, but it’s panning out well.”
Of course, the Mavs are willing to do whatever they can to make Stoudemire comfortable. Carlisle even suggested that owner Mark Cuban help Stoudemire find a hot tub of wine for his next relaxing soak.
“If it works,” Carlisle said, “Mark should get one here.”
Sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard that the Golden State Warriors likewise have interest in signing McGee once the big man clears waivers Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Sources say McGee is drawing interest from a number of teams looking to add size after his release Sunday by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired McGee via trade from Denver on Feb. 19 and then waived him before Sunday's midnight playoff-eligiblity deadline, ensuring that the 7-footer would be eligible to play in the playoffs with another team this season.
After ESPN.com reported Sunday afternoon that the Sixers and McGee were engaged in buyout talks, Philadelphia ultimately consented to release the 27-year-old without forcing him to surrender any salary. McGee had roughly $3 million left from his $11.25 million salary this season when he was acquired by the Sixers and is owed $12 million next season.
The Sixers were willing on deadline day to take all that money on because they were millions below the league's salary floor and because they also acquired a future first-round pick from the Nuggets, who simply wanted to move McGee out.
James’ second 10-day contract expired after Monday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans, when he started in place of injured Tyson Chandler. The team had to either commit to James for the rest of the season or allow him to be a free agent, and the decision was made weeks ago to keep the former second-round pick.
James, who will make the veteran’s minimum, has averaged 4.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 17.5 minutes per game since signing with the Mavs on Feb. 11. James, who played in China this season after being the Mavs’ final preseason cut, was singled out for praise by coach Rick Carlisle after Monday’s win.
“He was plus-23 and didn’t score a point,” Carlisle said. “He’s another guy that plays with a lot of energy and does a lot of good things at both ends even if he’s not scoring. I think it’s more than noteworthy. We need guys that can step in like he did tonight in the absence of Tyson and do a lot of little things to help us win. What we did tonight was very important for us.”
DALLAS -- Rajon Rondo dutifully answered questions about his offensive aggression Monday night, explaining how and why he attacked off the dribble during his 19-point performance.
But Rondo's interest level seemed to rise when the discussion turned to Dallas' defense.
"Our focus is a lot more on the defensive end of the floor," Rondo said after the Mavs' 102-93 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. "Offense never wins championships. Scoring 108 or whatever we were scoring means nothing if you're giving up 105 or 110.
Defense was indeed the difference for the Mavs despite center Tyson Chandler wearing a suit and watching from the sideline for the third consecutive game.
Rondo uncharacteristically carved up the Pelicans for 15 points in the first half -- almost doubling his Dallas scoring average for an entire game -- and it still wasn't enough to give the Mavs a lead at the break. That's because New Orleans knocked down 9-of-17 3-point attempts.
Things changed drastically in the third quarter. Perhaps it helped that the Pelicans were wrapping up a back-to-back after playing in Denver the previous night, but the Mavs tightened the defensive screws something fierce in the frame, holding New Orleans to 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting. The Mavs seized the lead with a 16-0 run and never let New Orleans regain it.
"We came out of the locker room with a lot of fire, a lot of attitude and some real disposition," coach Rick Carlisle said. "The bottom line is we've got to play an entire 48 that way."
Here's a dirty little secret: Dallas has actually developed into a pretty darn good defensive team.
Since getting lit up for 128 points in a Feb. 4 loss at Golden State, the Mavs rank seventh in the NBA in defensive rating, giving up an average of 98.5 points per 100 possessions. That's despite their best defensive guard (Rondo) and their defensive anchor (Chandler) missing significant stretches due to injury during that span.
The Mavs have allowed opponents to shoot 34.2 percent from 3-point range since Stephen Curry's 51-point explosion against them. That's about average, which is a remarkable improvement from their historically awful perimeter defense before shipping out Jameer Nelson as part of the package that returned Rondo.
The personnel upgrade at point guard has helped, but it doesn't explain how the Mavs managed to put together some pretty good defensive performances while Rondo recovered from facial fractures.
"Guys are understanding what we need to accomplish," reserve guard Devin Harris said. "Our help-side defense is impacted. We've always had Tyson in the middle, but I think we're doing a better job of closing the gaps, forcing people to shoot more jump shots, forcing skip passes and things that we've been emphasizing all year long. I think guys are really honing in on that.
"It's just repetition. We go through it in practice. Punch it in enough and it will start to sink in. I think guys are really doing a great job of recognizing it and keeping it moving forward."
After a couple of days off, the Mavs face a road back-to-back against Portland and Golden State, a pair of potent offensive teams. If Dallas can keep it going defensively in those games, it'll really be evidence of improvement on that end of the floor.
DALLAS -- Richard Jefferson tied his season high with 16 points, seven during a 16-0 Dallas run early in the third quarter, and the Mavericks raced past the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93 on Monday night.
The 34-year-old Jefferson made his fifth consecutive start in place of small forward Chandler Parsons, sidelined with a sprained left ankle, and hit five of six field goal attempts.
The Pelicans, who entered on a five-game winning streak that equaled their longest in the last four years, were paced by Norris Cole with 19 points off the bench. Eric Gordon added 18 and Tyreke Evans 17.
Just like a real-life sharknado -- they're real weather events, right? -- Syfy's so-bad-it's-good (?) "Sharknado" movie series can't be stopped.
No. 3 is next, and per The Hollywood Reporter and The Dallas Morning News, a rather influential sports figure will play a major role in the D.C.-set three-quel: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, as the president of the United States.
"They asked if I wanted to play the part," Cuban told Robert Wilonsky of The Morning News. "I have been a fan of the movies. It was an easy decision."
This is a cheeky bit of casting, as Cuban's run-ins with then-NBA commissioner David Stern got him the reputation as an authority-challenger. Plus ... Mark Cuban ... "Sharknado" ... "Shark Tank" (on which he is a panelist) ... get it?
We shouldn't be surprised by Cuban's involvement, though; the man has a long-running relationship with the entertainment industry. He appeared in a couple of virtually unknown films in the 1990s, before he became a billionaire. Since, he has continued to make television series cameos (mainly as himself), most notably in "Entourage."
They have hard jobs.
That’s especially true for Carlisle this season due to the turnover in the Dallas Mavericks' roster. The Mavs started the regular season with only five players returning from last season. They shipped out two of those guys in December to acquire point guard Rajon Rondo in a blockbuster trade.
As the regular season enters its fourth quarter, Carlisle still faces the challenges of figuring out how to best utilize a four-time All-Star point guard who is far from a perfect fit for his offensive system and implement a former superstar reserve center who just arrived after the All-Star break.
“It’s challenging, but there are challenges every single year,” Carlisle said. “I think a lot of people forget the things we went through in 2011, when we ultimately made a run and won it. … So this comes with the territory.
“The important thing is to simplify as much as possible and keep everything moving in the right direction. Sometimes things don’t go as quickly as you’d like, but as long as everybody is working toward one thing, you’ve got a chance. And our guys are working toward it.”
Carlisle’s high-profile personality conflict with Rondo put a spotlight on the high-maintenance nature of that relationship. They both blamed the high-decibel head-butting that resulted in a one-game suspension for Rondo on poor communication.
Rondo attributed that in part to Amar'e Stoudemire’s arrival, which shifted Carlisle’s focus to getting his new reserve center/forward ready as quickly as possible.
“Coach and I, when I first got here, we were talking a lot and watching film after every game,” Rondo said last week. “He’s backed off a little bit with the addition of Amar’e, trying to help get him up to speed. Our communication was great at first. Not that it wasn’t so great, but it’s just that we weren’t communicating enough. That shouldn’t be the case the rest of the season.”
Rondo has been with the Mavs for more than two months, but they’re still in the experimental phase of trying to figure out how to best maximize his strengths and mask his weaknesses. They’re tinkering with some of the sets he had success with in Boston, in part because Rondo’s poor perimeter shooting throws a wrench in Carlisle’s preferred free-flowing offense.
Regardless of fit, it’s difficult for any point guard to pick up a new system and adjust to new teammates in the middle of a season. The Mavs’ front office recognized that it’d be even more challenging due to Rondo’s offensive limitations, but they counted on Carlisle to figure it out.
“It’s tough,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “I used [Jason] Kidd as an example already. A couple of years ago when he came midseason, it was tough for him to adjust to what we were doing, and then years later he was a key piece to us winning it all. But midseason, it’s hard sometimes, but we’ve got to keep plugging.”
With Stoudemire, Carlisle is attempting to strike the right balance between running the pick-and-rolls that are the bread and butter of the Mavs’ offense and feeding him the ball on the low block. To accommodate Stoudemire, Carlisle estimates that the Mavs have trimmed down their playbook by about two-thirds when the six-time All-Star is on the floor.
“Again, simplicity to me is the biggest thing that we can bring to this,” Carlisle said. “We’ve just got to get very good at a few things. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to get there.”