The Trailing 3 Podcast has now launched!

By Zack Cunningham

The first episode of The Trailing 3 podcast is now live here and ready for you to listen in!

I’ll be doing these at least once a week moving forward and perhaps more frequently depending on the occasion or situation.

Hope you enjoy and leave your feedback!

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Hanlen: Mo Bamba “will be an All-Star”

By: Zack Cunningham

Pure Sweat CEO Drew Hanlen has been in the news recently for a lot of reasons, all of them good if he’s coaching your favorite NBA draft prospect.

Hanlen was credited for working with budding star Jayson Tatum last summer, specifically honing the young forward’s 3-point shot. Looking at the rookie’s 2017-18 stats, you could say Tatum’s work with Hanlen paid off. He shot 43.4%, good for eighth in the league.

Hanlen has also worked with Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal and Andrew Wiggins to name a few other NBA players. This summer? His highest-profile prospect is Mo Bamba, the freakishly long 7’1 center from Texas.

Bamba’s first year with the Longhorns was littered with highlights of the freshman swatting opposing players’ dunks at the rim with his 7’10 (!!!) wingspan and generally wreaking havoc on defense. His offensive game was raw, to say the least.

Bamba shot under 30% from deep at Texas and attempted just over 50 three-pointers a game. He also got moved off the block in the post because of his size (he weighed just 216 pounds his freshman year).

Hanlen is helping to change all of that. I conducted a brief Q-and-A with the 28 year-old former Belmont Bruin about what kind of potential he sees in Bamba and if the hype about his upside is warranted.

TT3 – What has impressed you most about working with Mo Bamba?
DH – He’s obviously athletically gifted, but his attention to detail and crave for knowledge has impressed me the most.
TT3 – You’ve been able to really aid in the transformation of some young players’ games recently (Embiid and Tatum). What are you working on with Bamba specifically that could see his game transform in the same way?
DH – We made the exact shooting changes that I did for Jayson last pre-draft and I’m teaching him the exact moves I taught Joel. If it’s not broke, don’t break it!
TT3 – A lot of the concern about Bamba is his lower-body strength. In your training with him, is it about becoming more imposing physically or being more of a finesse big?
DH – I like to focus on what players bring to the table instead of dwelling on what they don’t. We know he has to continue to add strength to his body, but he’s long (7’10 wingspan long) and mobile. We’re working on skills that utilize his strengths.
TT3 – When you first saw his shot, did you immediately know what needed to be remedied? And how quickly did he adjust?
DH – He had the exact same mechanical flaws as Jayson did, so it was easy to prescribe a program for him to get quick results.
TT3 – In as unbiased of an opinion as you can give, what’s a realistic “ceiling” for Bamba?
DH – He’ll be an All-Star.
TT3 – How do you see him fitting on a team like the Mavs?
DH – I think there are a lot of teams that he’d fit well with. He’s a defensive eraser and a stretch 5. Every team can use that.
TT3 – Finally, what sets him apart from other bigs you’ve worked with?
DH – This is his first time working with a purpose and plan. He has a long way to go but is already really good and will have a long, successful career.

Mavs slip to the No. 5 spot in NBA Draft Lottery

By Zack Cunningham

The Dallas Mavericks’ dreams of a potential top-3 draft pick in the upcoming June 21 NBA Draft were snuffed out on Tuesday night, but Dallas will still pick at the No. 5 spot after being jumped in the order by the Sacramento Kings (No. 2) and the Atlanta Hawks (No. 3).

In a cruel twist of irony, despite winning the end-of-season tiebreaker with the Hawks for the third-best odds heading into Tuesday’s drawing, Atlanta still managed to get the better of the ping pong balls and moved ahead of the Mavericks who, just minutes earlier, saw the Kinds move up as well.

It’s the second year in a row Sacramento has had good luck with the lottery.

Coming into Tuesday, the Mavericks had a 13.8% chance at the No. 1 spot and a 43.8% chance of landing in the top three positions. Their highest positional odds were at the No. 5 slot.

While seeing a potential top-3 selection fade away is frustrating, Mavs’ fans still have plenty to be excited about at which names could be available when Dallas’ name is called.

Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic are the near-consensus top 2 picks in plenty of mock drafts. After that is where the choices vary.

Marvin Bagley figures to be the likely choice for Atlanta, a team with needs basically everywhere. The Hawks could also just as feasibly go with Jaren Jackson Jr. to fill their big man need if they think he’d be a good fit with John Collins.

Memphis figures to be a prime Bagley fit if the Hawks decide to pass. I don’t think Mo Bamba or Jackson quite mesh with Memphis’ plans if they decide to retain Marc Gasol for the remainder of his deal. If he’s somehow dealt in between now and the draft then, obviously, that changes.

Then you have Dallas. The Mavericks are very likely looking at the option to pick Michael Porter Jr. or whomever is left between Jackson and Bamba. Opinions on Bamba might be the most widely-varied of any potential draft prospect out there.

Don’t count 105.3 The Fan’s Jeff “Skin” Wade among those.

I can see arguments for both Jackson and Bamba as fits for the Mavericks defensively and while Jackson may be seen as a “safer” fit due to his higher projected floor, Bamba’s upside has the potential to be higher.

That being said, I want to re-iterate that these projections are just that, projections. For the Mavericks to be faced with a choice between a potential Dirk Nowitzki replacement in Porter or a franchise-changing center in Bamba is a good situation to be in.

On to the combine!

Weekly Mavs Roundup (May 5-11)

By Zack Cunningham

Another week down, another week closer to the May 15 NBA Draft Lottery!

It’s been a relatively quiet week on the Mavs front save for a few juicy tidbits.

Potential future Dallas Maverick Mo Bamba was featured in a Ringer piece detailing his extensive work with Pure Sweat trainer Drew Hanlen.

You might’ve seen these videos a few weeks back showing off Bamba’s re-tooled shooting form and also his progress working in the low post. Yes, we know Hanlen is only 5’11 (something he alludes to in the Ringer article), but this progress is encouraging and, as per the article, only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Bamba’s pre-draft workout.

I realize not everyone is going to be as high on Bamba as, say, me or Jeff “Skin” Wade and that’s OK. But I’m putting him in my top 3 of the big board and not moving away from it.

There’s a couple of interesting pieces from dallasbasketball.com and our good friends David Lord and Dalton Trigg.

First, we know Dirk Nowitzki is coming back next year. But the nuts and bolts of that arrangement? It’s a little tricky.

Dirk “technically” has a team option for the 2018-19 season which will likely be declined by the Mavs as they look to be as prudent as possible with their cap space.

But, WHY, would the Mavs decline the option on the face of their franchise? As Lord mentions in the article, Dirk has always been, at least for the last few years as he’s aged, a “take it and see” kind of guy.

Having the option declined means Dallas could potentially sign him using an exception and keep the door open for a possible 2019-20 season … “if Dirk feels like it.”

Check out the link for more information on that as Lord does a much better job going into the details than I can.

The other piece from dallasbasketball.com is one for the Mavs pipe-dreamers out there … and it talks about probably the most natural heir-apparent to Dirk’s throne, Kristaps Porzingis.

While the chances of this something like Trigg mentions happening are next to zero (a point he concedes early on), it’s still worthwhile to understand the how of how something like this might happen.

Porzingis has a torn ACL. The Knicks need out of Joakim Noah’s contract in a bad way.

What’s that you say Dallas? A top-3 pick, Wes Matthews’ expiring deal and some other stuff? Why not make the call?

On a final note, Rick Carlisle isn’t going anywhere. We already covered that on The Trailing 3 earlier in the week if you missed it. Read up if you haven’t!

Oh, only four more days until the lottery!

ICYMI – Mavs’ Rick Carlisle isn’t going anywhere

By – Zack Cunningham

One of the big stories of the last month or so has been the coaching search of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Obviously, with Giannis Antetokounmpo heading into his prime years, the next head coach he plays for after the firing of Jason Kidd will play a huge role in the direction of the franchise over the next few years.

Several names that had been associated with the process were former Atlanta Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer and former Charlotte Hornets’ head coach Steve Clifford.

Clearly, the job is an attractive proposition … but enough to draw the eye of Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle? Surely not.

I’m not sure where Gery Woelfel puts his ear to get “the word”, but the notion was quickly labeled “absurd” by Mark Cuban through dallasbasketball.com.

Carlisle made a statement late Wednesday denying any interest in the job.

Although, Ben Rogers does make a good point …

All of this is to say that Carlisle still has three years left on his 5-year, $35 million extension he signed back in 2015. He is also responsible for Dallas’ only championship and has said repeatedly that he is here to see this current rebuild through.

Mavs’ fans should rest easy as the Bucks near their head coaching decision. Jim Carrey isn’t going anywhere.

 

Weekly Mavs’ Roundup

By – Zack Cunningham

We’re another week closer to the NBA Draft Lottery (now 11 days out from May 15) and another day closer to finding out who the Mavericks are going to hopefully bring in as the third and final piece to their new “Big 3”, a term coined by general manager Donnie Nelson during exit interviews last month.

There hasn’t been a whole lot of change in terms of who is predicted to go first overall or second except for maybe the order. Deandre Ayton has been the consensus No. 1 mock draft pick for months with Luka Doncic close behind.

However, with the Phoenix Suns bringing in Igor Kokoskov as the first-ever NBA head coach born outside North America (he also coached Doncic on the 2016-17 Slovenian national team), there’s a chance Phoenix, if the Suns pick first, could take Doncic there, thus pushing Ayton to No. 2.

At this point, every bit of speculation that can be conjectured at this point has already been said. It’s probably better to just kick back and watch the Warriors and LeBron steamroll towards a fourth-consecutive Finals meeting and weep for the Raptors (and Dwayne Casey … who stopped LeBron in 2011, but is failing to do so this year).


However, all this being said, if you’re still eager to read about head coach Rick Carlisle’s mindset heading into next season, Dwain Price with mavs.com has a revealing piece here for your consumption. Price has been a solid addition to the Mavericks official beat-writing unit.

Also, Price has a piece on Doug McDermott. The 6’8 sharpshooter was a revelation for Dallas post-All Star Break last year and wants to return to the Mavericks. Here’s to hoping they work it out.


Bobby Karalla has always been an astute Mavs’ observer and he brought up some wonderful memories from Dallas’ 2003 WCF series against the Spurs (we’ll just ignore Dirk’s injury in that series for the moment … because, you know, nice things).

It really is crazy to think that things that are common in the NBA now were things the Mavericks were running 15 years ago under Don Nelson. I still don’t think the NBA could handle a full-speed Dirk barrelling in from the 3-point line today.

Oh how’s Nelson doing these days, you ask? Well, he’s playing poker and smoking pot.


One final thing before we head into the weekend. Look, I’m not really one for pipe-dream speculation, however, in the case of Mike Fisher’s two-part Paul-George-to-Dallas-can-happen-like-this piece, I’m all ears.

It should be noted that Fisher isn’t saying this is likely or even probable. It’s just giving the details of what would need to happen for it to be conceivable. If that’s still not your cup of tea, well, there are other links to be clicked, but it’s worth your time.

 

Have a great weekend, #MFFL!

 

The Mavericks Rumor Mill: Has Wesley Matthews played his last game for Dallas?

While this might be the slowest time of the NBA season for teams not in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean the NBA rumor mill ever stops churning. The Dallas Mavericks are facing potentially the most important offseason in franchise history with $12.9M in cap room, a potential top-3 draft pick and a rising young point guard salivating at the prospect of the playoffs next year.

Rumor 1 – Has Wesley Matthews played his last game as Maverick?

Dallas received the news today that its shooting guard Wes Matthews will exercise the fourth-year player option of $18 million for the 2018-19 season. While the move was widely expected, it comes with more than a few layers of intrigue for the ninth-year wing. Certainly, Matthews is Dallas’ most valuable trade chip at this point. Here are some more things to consider:

  • Matthews is now officially an expiring deal and should have a lot of intrigue for teams perhaps looking to add a veteran presence this year while offloading other burdensome contracts (at a price – Dallas will not rent its cap space for nothing) and gaining valuable cap space for the summer of 2019 free agent market.
  • Sources close to the Mavericks say the team is “shopping hard” to find a suitor for Matthews. Given the situation of several other capped-out and underachieving teams, Matthews could be an interesting fit for the Wizards should they desire to get loose from their own cap situation while the club has several contracts it would like to get out of.

Rumor 2 – How do the Mavs view Mo Bamba in the 2018 draft?

The Mavericks are looking at a very likely top 3 pick in the NBA draft in June and there’s a chance they could even draft No. 1 overall (13.8%). The consensus top pick in the draft and the name atop nearly every team’s draft board at this is most likely Deandre Ayton, who has drawn comparisons to just about every excellent big man the NBA has seen in the last 20 years. Doncic is widely viewed as the consensus No. 2 pick.

However, at spots No. 3 – 5 is where it gets tricky. Opinions range on prospects Mo Bamba (viewed as too soft), Jaren Jackson Jr. (great defender and rebounder, but is prone to serious bouts of foul trouble) and Marvin Bagley (can score at a potentially-elite level and rebounds well, but is a poor free throw shooter who struggled on defense at Duke). Michael Porter Jr. didn’t get a chance his freshman year to show scouts what a fully warmed-up version of himself can do and his back injury will give teams pause.

I mean, when videos like this come out that a big with a 7’9 wingspan and a 9’6 standing reach can hit threes like this, there’s bound to be excitement.

While there’s a risk at taking a prospect as raw offensively as Bamba as high as third in the draft, it was easy to see his defensive upside during his time at the University of Texas.

The Mavericks will certainly have a hard choice to make should they end up with the No. 3 pick, but they won’t be short on talent to choose from.

We are now officially 15 days away from the NBA Draft Lottery and a point where a lot of these rumors and ideas will become a little clearer. The Dallas Mavericks are in an enviable position even if the path to this point hasn’t been the prettiest.

Check back to thetrailing3.com for more information and news on Dallas as it becomes available!

 

Will Bucks/Blazers’ loss be Mavs’ gain?

By Zack Cunningham

If you’re sitting at home watching the NBA playoffs, which you very likely are, you’ve noticed that the Milwaukee Bucks are under-achieving (to put it lightly) and the Portland TrailBlazers are two games away from being swept by the 6th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans.

Somehow the Bucks, who employ an all-world freak of nature in Giannis Antetokounmpo, are struggling to look competitive against the depleted-but-still-talented Boston Celtics in their first-round series. People have been saying for the last year that the Bucks are hampered by either incompetent coaching, a lack of a strong supporting cast, or both.

The Bucks recently got Jabari Parker back from his second ACL tear (on the same knee) and he was expected to provide a spark to an otherwise beleaguered Bucks’ offense.

He’s played 25 minutes combined in the first two games of the series. And then there’s this:

Parker has always been renowned for his character so this development is stunning. It’s also understandable, to an extent, that a player hailed by some as the next big thing out of high school might not be happy being the No. 2 (or in the case of the playoffs, the No. 8) option on a playoff team.

However, his production has been terrible. He can’t stay in front of anyone, takes two 3s a game and is a massive injury liability even if he’s currently healthy. There’s also the talk of him desiring a max extension.

How does any of this relate to the Mavericks? Well, if any of the above accolades interest them (it’s clear Parker would be an intriguing piece to replace Dirk Nowitzki at the 4 going forward for Dallas), he will likely be available for less than his desired max salary.

That isn’t to say Parker won’t have plenty of other suitors, but the number of teams with cap space will be severely limited this summer. Chicago could be a player given it’s Parker’s hometown, although a fit with Lauri Markannen would be questionable at best.

Obviously, Dallas would prefer to acquire Parker in some sort of trade instead of using most or all of their precious cap space on an injury-riddled player. It remains to be seen if the Bucks will look to shed salary this offseason should they exit the playoffs early, but the Mavericks are certainly in position to rent out their cap space in the event Milwaukee decides to fork over Parker in some other scenario.

This brings us to Nurkic. His fit in Portland has been strange. While he hasn’t struggled with the same unfortunate injury history as Parker, Portland hasn’t really shown a commitment to him as their long-term solution at center (Zach Collins figures to fit the modern NBA mold better with his range) and Nurkic, to be fair, hasn’t exactly been consistent in his effort.

His restricted free agency is going to be fascinating. Portland has a bloated roster and needs to shed salary no matter what happens this year. Could Dallas be a destination for Nurkic in a similar sense to Milwaukee’s situation with Parker. The big Bosnian is still just 23 years old, a solid rebounder and defender (two boxes the Mavericks sorely need check) and has shown a soft touch.

Given where Dallas will likely be drafting, the Mavericks are going to have some decisions to make, but they will have plenty of options heading into the offseason. It wouldn’t be a shock to see either Nurkic or Parker in Dallas next year. The only question will be the price.