Mavs Friday Donuts: How Do Roster Moves Enhance Bubble Chance?

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - Dallas Mavs Friday Donuts ponders ... How Do These Roster Moves Enhance The 'Boys In Blue' NBA Bubble Chance?

DONUT 1: WHO IS OUT? Wednesday was the deadline for NBA players to inform their employers that they would opt out of playing in the post-hiatus re-boot of this 2019-20 season in the bubble in Orlando. Reasons of health concerns in a COVID-19 age were expected.

Reasons of parenthood? Those are darn solid, too, and thus, Mavs big man Willie Cauley-Stein has chosen to be present as a new daddy rather than to ride the Dallas pine during this stretch run. (It's also worth noting that Cauley-Stein carries the Sickle Cell trait - and so health reasons may factor in here as well.)

What we can never truly know, in WCS's case or anyone else's: If Player X was a star on his team, or a starter, would he be less likely to opt out? (While still being a devoted parent, of course.) If Player X was on a team that was a favorite for the NBA Finals, would his decision be influenced by the shine on that wished-for ring?

DONUT 2: WHO IS IN? But one man's opt-out is another man's opportunity. Enter Trey Burke (when eligible on July 1), the young (27) journeyman point guard who was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and spent the second half of the 2018-2019 season in Dallas as a Knicks throw-in in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

DONUT 3: WHO'S NEXT? We can make the argument that Burke is the roster replacement for the injured Jalen Brunson, and that that's important. Of course, we thought Cauley-Stein was important, too as the roster replacement for the injured Dwight Powell.

The truth is, this probably isn't about Burke being inserted in a playoff game to scratch out a victory. It's a shuffling of bodies, human cogs in a machine that includes having enough point guards to run a practice. And it's all about personalities, too, which is why the idea that an injured Courtney Lee (calf) might not be dumped off the roster despite his unavailability.

Lee is of value in the locker room, no doubt. But is he so valued as part of Dallas' "culture'' that he should take up a roster spot? With the 35 employees' slots available to each team in Orlando, couldn't Lee play another role while another player actually plays the role of a player? (We can ask the same of Powell and Brunson, as they will also be part of the Mavs' July 8-departing traveling party.)

Coach Rick Carlisle and the Triangle of Trust know their locker room. But in this COVID-19 Crunch - condensed time, condensed games, condensed bodies - every minute and every human counts.

Here's hoping the Mavs are using their minutes and their humans wisely.

DONUT 4: THE BACKBONE No matter what, of course, the Mavs will rely on Luka Doncic. For now ... and forever?

Our guys at The Mavs Step Back Podcast have a simple request: "Luka For Life, Please?'' Click on in!

DONUT 5: HOUSTON TOO HIGH? I'm already being ripped for ranking the Houston Rockets too high. I don't think I rank the Mavs too low, however ... But check it out for yourself.

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"Ranking the Mavs and the Top 12 in the NBA Bubble'' is here.

DONUT 6: QUOTABLE "I’m excited to be back in Dallas with my teammates and finish the season. My family and I are grateful for the support we received from Ambassador Lynda Blanchard and the Embassy when I came home to Slovenia. I appreciate it very much.'' - Luka Doncic, with a mention of the U.S. ambassador to Slovenia and an allusion, I think, to the red tape avoided to make more simple some of his travel.

DONUT 7: CENTERPIECES I'm not ignoring the 12 minutes per that Cauley-Stein played in the time he was here. But at the same time, with Porzingis having shifted to the 5 (for a great deal of his minutes) and with Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic available behind him, I can make the argument that "just adding a big body'' to be a fourth-string center that will never play isn't a strong-enough one.

DONUT 8: EXCLUSIVE-EXCLUSIVE DBcom this week broke the story on how the NBA - thanks to a Mark Cuban-led Mavs experiment with FOX Sports Southwest - is going to attempt to solve the crowd noise issue - that is, the lack of crowd noise.

And the answer? It's right there on your phone.

DONUT 9: 'TOO BIG TO FAIL' Yes, I know what "Too big to fail'' is supposed to mean; it's a bank, say, and the entire world's finances spin on its axis, and therefore, it must be saved when it screws up.

I know, my phrasing is a bit more cynical than some experts' might be. But it's what I believe. Along with that, I believe it gives said bank leeway to screw up ... because what's the penalty?

Therefore, when an NBA analysis says the Orlando bubble is going to work because it's "too big to fail,'' I hear the words differently than he likely intended them ... as I write here.

DONUT 10: HAPPY DONNIE-VERSARY June 24, 1998. LaFrenz, Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter go 3, 4, 5 in the NBA Draft. Then comes Dallas' turn, kinda. And then comes Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavs. And, in a related cog in the same machine, then comes Steve Nash to the Mavs.

It's the greatest single day any NBA front office ever had, I say. And we celebrate Donnie-versary here.

DONUT 11: GOODBYE, VINSANITY The NBA bids a fond farewell to Vinsanity, retiring after 22 years of darn goodness. ... and often, greatness. And we do the same.

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© SIPA USA

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD "‘Loved, loved, loved VC! As a human. As a player. As a leader. And of course, his shot vs. the Spurs was top-10 in Mavs history. Hopefully, he will have an equally HOF career in broadcasting. He is good at that, too.’'' - Mavs owner Mark Cuban to DBcom.

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