DONUT 1: YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY

Monday Dallas Mavericks Donuts are about getting away from Mavs basketball for a moment.

Them. Not us.

“We just looked at the last 90 seconds (on video) with the team,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle immediately following Saturday’s late-game-breakdown loss to Dwight Howard, Kemba Walker and the Hornets. (Game coverage here). “This break, (Sunday) and Monday, is our last two-day break of the season so we’re going to be off … I want our guys to clear their heads and get rest. They’re going to look at the film of tonight’s end of game and just move on from there. We looked at the last 90 seconds. … In a season like this, where wins have been hard to come by and we’re out of the playoffs, these experiences are extremely valuable. Everyone learns from the end of the game. We had some mistakes and we had some really good plays.

“We’ve got to re-enforce the good and correct the stuff that needs correcting.”

But first? No practice Sunday. And originally, I thought Rick meant that there’d be no practice today. Instead, the fellas are back at it this morning.

End of non-basketball contemplation.

DONUT 2: CONTEMPLATING NOEL

Besides, what would our brains do while we got away? Think peaceful thoughts? Place ourselves in sweet environs? Dream of a day at the beach?

Nah.

They’ll worm their way right back to the Mavs. You know they will.

And they’ll consider the odd case of Nerlens Noel. You know they will.

In Noel’s last three games in which he’s been active, he’s played about 24 minutes per. Against Toronto, he was good for six rebounds, six points, three assists, five steals and three blocks. Against New Orleans, six rebounds, six points, two assists, two blocks and two steals. In battling Dwight on Saturday, he challenged Charlotte with a double-double – 12 rebounds, 10 points, two assists, four steals and a block.

Said Nerlens: “I’m ready to take care of business. The guys are playing well … Everything is looking good, everybody is finding everybody’s niche — even myself. I’m getting more familiar with everybody game after game, so I’m feeling good about it.”

What’s next for Noel?

“Just continuing the momentum, doing what I’m doing, just staying efficient, keeping everything simple,” he said. “I know my game and how I can affect it. I’m just going on top of that, changing the game in any way possible.”

There is a lot to unpack there.

Everything of course is not “looking good.” This has been a wasted season in many ways, including in ways that began when Noel declined Dallas’ July 1 contract offer of $17 mil a year, as we reported at the time. There is not much to “feel good about,” as Noel is about to move from his QO salary and into free agency, which certainly wasn’t anybody’s plan when he was acquired via trade from Philly 13 months ago to serve as Dallas’ “Tyson Chandler Starter Kit.”

And “I’m ready to take care of business”? Neither side has really done this very “efficiently” at all.

That Toronto game, in which Noel played well? The Mavs played the Nets the next night and Nerlens didn’t play at all. And the Pelicans game in which he played well? The Mavs played the Jazz two nights later and he didn’t play at all, again.

All of this has led to some outrageous theories; some writer from New York offers the drive-by opinions that Dallas “didn’t want to pay Noel” and uses the word “doghouse” in conjunction with Carlisle’s dealings with the player.

If you read DBcom, you know that Noel declined the $17-mil-a-year offer.

If you follow Carlisle’s Mavs with any intensity at all, you know that the word “doghouse” is never, ever used here.

I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on the Noel/Mavs disaster — and yes, it is that and likely will end up being that. It is therefore difficult to boil it down into a soundbite or a tweet or a single sentence. But, here goes:

“Nerlens Noel’s sincere definition of ‘hard work’ is different than the Mavs’ definition of it.”

That’s it. We’ve had a contract declined and a thumb operated on and a bunch of DNP-CD’s and a hot dog eaten during a game.

But that’s it.

“I’m just playing basketball and having fun if that means ‘showcase’ then that’s fine, but I think I’m going out there just doing what I love to do and having fun at the same time,” Nerlens said this weekend. “I’ll let the wings spread a little bit and I go out there and have fun and play the game.”

Yeah, this really hasn’t been “fun.” It’s been “odd.”

DONUT 3: THE COVER-UP AND THE CRIME

“Growing up,” writes our Steven Kilpatrick, “when I got caught doing something wrong, I was often told something along the lines of,”This will go easier for you if you’re honest about what you did. If I have to find out from someone else, the punishment will be worse.”

As The NBA Season – And The #Mavs Tanking – Winds Down: Is The Cover-Up Worse Than The Crime? https://t.co/ZBxfIRrEz3 pic.twitter.com/j0XO0JvH3p

— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) March 24, 2018

But in regard to the Mavs and NBA tanking … “the 76ers have a collection of some of the best young talent in the league thanks to their infamous-turned-famous ‘Trusting the Process.’ They didn’t call it “tanking,” but they were blatant about doing it, and they even found a way to make a cute, marketable slogan about it. They found a sneaky way to say “the F-word” in front of their parents.”

So, we wonder, again as it relates to the Mavs: “Is The Cover-Up Worse Than The Crime?”

DONUT 4: THE KEEPERS (OF MORE THAN THE FLAME)

The Dallas Mavericks being what they are — a 22-51 team — it’s understandable for us to wish to look ahead, to push the fast-forward button and to want it all to be about youth and promise.

But wait. Be kind. Rewind.

One Mavs’ loss last week was about milestones that recognize the past. And they were accomplished by two vets who we believe are still part of Dallas’ future. “Dirk and JJB as Keepers – Of More Than Just The Milestone Flame” here in DBcom Mavs Premium.

DONUT 5: POWELL PRAISE

The biggest “knock” I’ve ever personally heard on Dwight Powell really isn’t a “knock” at all: “He’s almost too conscientious,” a staffer told me a couple of years ago. Meaning? The guy actually takes it hard when he misses a shot in practice, and let’s him dwell on the “failure” for a tick too long.

Increasingly, though, the right amount of confidence can override the wrong amount of conscientiousness. A DBcom report on Dwight’s Development is coming up.

DONUT 6: THE CADDIE

We noted at the start of the season that while the “development stuff” this year needed to be mostly about Dennis Smith Jr., the development of his young caddie, Yogi Ferrell, could piggy-back right there with it.

Mission: Accomplished, we think. (Speaking of the aforementioned “confidence” …)

“He’s getting better all the time,” said Rick of Yogi. “His level of confidence gets higher and higher, but guys that work that hard are generally confident guys because they’ve put the work in. … He always does a good job battling guys like (Kemba) using his quickness and strength. I just see him continuing to improve.”

DONUT 7: BY THE NUMBERS

The Mavs’ record in clutch-time games (defined as the final five minutes and the game within five points) is … 10-35.

That’s your season, really.

DONUT 8: LEGENDS TO THE PLAYOFFS

The Mavs’ G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, are playoff-bound for just the second time in franchise history, and for the first time since their inaugural season.

There are some wonderful storylines to follow here, as I have for the last half-decade working the telecasts. Those storylines are probably topped by Jameel Warney, who retains his Mavs connection as he and coach Bob MacKinnon lead the Legends into the postseason. It’s a one-game first-round meeting between the Legends and the Rio Grande Vipers (the Rockets affiliate) this week. For more info, go to the Legends website, here.

DONUT 9: TANKATHON

The Tankathon update is here, placing the 22-51 Mavs in the four slot as we enter the week. We’ve made clear our thoughts on the Mavs, and Ayton as the No. 1 overall pick. (Read here). But as was the case last year, you can drop from No. 1 and land Doncic, Porter, Carter, Bagley, Bamba.

I still can’t understand how people see this depth as a reason to not prefer the No. 1 slot over the No. 6 slot. But without question, the No. 6 slot (or somewhere in there) can be wildly productive for rebuilding Dallas.

Little wonder Dennis Smith Jr. tells us, “”Yeah, you can find a gem in the draft. I’m not sure where we’re going to be picking at, but you know, that’s not up to me. I believe that we’ll do a good job in the draft, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m looking forward to it.”

DONUT 10: QUOTABLE

“Yeah, I want to try to get into the playoffs, as soon as possible. So, that’s next year. Obviously, we’re not going to make it this year, no surprise. But next year I would definitely like to be in the playoffs.” – Dennis Smith Jr.

DONUT 11: JUNIOR Q-&-A

Those above quotes come from Quotable come from the brain of Junior and from the pen of DBcom’s Dalton Trigg,

Click here for the full Q-and-A with Dennis Smith Jr.

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD

“I don’t want people thinking we don’t believe these women who come forward. We need to know these things and it will all fold into the plan. It’s sad that people went through this. And if people have something to say, tell it to us or the investigators or the newspaper. We absolutely are going to come out of this a better organization. But it will take some time.” – Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall.

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