Wednesday , Aug , 25 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Mavs have turned over their roster

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Dallas has been extremely busy making
major trades this offseason. The Mavericks have sent some big names packing,
as forwards Antoine Walker and Antawn Jamison will be in new uniforms in
2004-05.

On June 24, the 28-year-old Jamison and cash was sent to the Washington
Wizards for swingman Jerry Stackhouse, forward Christian Laettner and the
rights to Devin Harris, who was taken fifth overall in this year’s NBA Draft.
Walker and guard Tony Delk were traded to the Atlanta Hawks on August 4 for
guard Jason Terry, forward Alan Henderson and a 2007 first-round pick.

Jamison and Walker both played just one season in Dallas, as the two were
acquired in separate trades during another busy offseason in 2003. Jamison,
who was acquired from the Golden State Warriors, and Walker, who was sent to
Dallas from the Boston Celtics, did not seem to mesh well with All-Star Dirk
Nowitzki, plus the two proved not to be the missing pieces that were going to
get the Mavericks to the next level.

Also gone is two-time All-Star Steve Nash, who was a free agent and signed a
lucrative deal with the Phoenix Suns. The 30-year-old point guard had spent
six seasons with the Mavericks.

The move that could prove to have the biggest impact on the Mavericks and the
Western Conference is the acquisition of center Erick Dampier. Dallas
acquired Dampier, Evan Eschmeyer, Dan Dickau, and the draft rights to Steve
Logan from Golden State for Laettner, Eduardo Najera, two future first round
picks, the draft rights to guards Luis Flores and Mladen Sekularac along with
cash considerations.

Originally selected out of Mississippi State by the Indiana Pacers in the
first round (10th pick overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft, Dampier is coming off
the best season of his eight-year career. In 74 games for Golden State in the
2003-04 regular season, Dampier averaged career-highs in points (12.3 ppg) and
rebounds (12 rpg). He also shot a career-best 53.5 percent from the field to
go along with a solid 1.85 blocks per game. During his career, the Mississippi
State product has averaged 8.9 points and 7.2 boards in 497 contests. Dampier
has never played in an NBA playoff game.

The Mavs, who were eliminated in five games by the Sacramento Kings in the
first round of this year’s playoffs, now have the center that they need to for
those tough contests in the postseason that are won in the post. The other
positive is that All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal, who was traded by Los
Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat, no longer resides in the West.

Dampier and the three-time All-Star Nowitzki should be able to strike fear
in Dallas’ opponents. The 26-year-old Nowitzki, who averaged 21.8 points and
8.7 rebounds in 2003-04, not only has the ability to score down low but he is
also capable of knocking down the outside jumper from anywhere on the court,
while Dampier will be rack up his points from inside the paint. Inside
dominance is one thing that the Mavericks have not been known for the past.

Michael Finley, who averaged 18.6 points in 72 games for Dallas last season,
has been with the Mavericks for seven-plus seasons. He will get minutes at
both the small forward and shooting guard, and should be able to benefit
greatly from Dampier’s presence on the court. The high-flying Finley should
have more open court in front of him with the space that will be created by
having a player in the middle that must always be accounted for by the
opposition’s defense.

The 26-year-old Terry, who averaged 16.8 points and 5.4 assists in 81 contests
for Atlanta last season, should fit right in with his new teammates. The five-
year veteran can play either guard position and gives the Mavericks another
player who can score from anywhere on the court.

Dallas has always had a deep roster, and this season should be no different.
Stackhouse gives the Mavericks another offensive threat, while guard Marquis
Daniels, who was a big surprise last season and was awarded with a lucrative
multi-year contract, will be give the opportunity to earn a starting spot.
Rookies Pavel Podkolzin, whose draft rights were acquired from Utah, and
Harris will also see minutes in big games.

The Mavericks have always tried to simply get the best basketball players on
their roster without worrying about what position they play. This offseason,
Dallas has gone back to the traditional way of shaping a team by getting
players who not only can play basketball but can fill roles and play
specific positions. The Mavs may have finally figured out what it takes
to win in the Western Conference.