What’s Up with Roddy B?
by MIKE KRAVIK
As the door to March closes, the Dallas Mavericks find themselves in a true dogfight just to make the NBA playoffs. The month was all about survival because of an injury-depleted roster and a brutal schedule. The vaunted 9 games in 12 days stretch that saw them go 2-7 was followed by a three week death march against nothing but good to elite teams that started on St. Patrick’s Day. Reinforcements are on the way and both Delonte West and Brendan Haywood are due back very soon.
One of the best things to happen in the month of March was seeing Rick Carlisle finally take the leash off Roddy Beaubois. When I say “take the leash off” it’s another way of saying “stopped jacking with him.”
I’m a big fan of Rick Carlisle. He’s had a variety of NBA jobs (player, assistant, head coach) for the last 25 years and has been very successful. His coaching was a major reason the Mavericks defeated both Oklahoma City and Miami in the playoffs last season.
Remember the Mavericks (Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Deshawn Stevenson) running smack on Lebron James in The Finals? That was prompted by Carlisle. He played a hunch .. having players mention the Emperor (James) wasn’t wearing any clothes and treated the ball like a grenade in the fourth quarter might have an effect on James (it did).
He also knew how to get the best out of his own players…make them back up what they said in print (it also worked).
The biggest complaint I’ve had with Carlisle during his time in Dallas has been his treatment of Roddy Beaubois aka “Roddy B.”.
As a rookie, Roddy played 12 minutes a game and averaged 7 points while shooting 51%. The highlight of his regular season and a true we-might-have-something-here moment came when he had a 40 point effort against Golden State in late March. In Game 5 (Mavs trailed 3-1) of the playoffs, the Mavs fell behind by 20 points (Mark Cuban was screaming “Free Roddy B!!”) when he led a charge (16 points in 20 minutes) that saw the Mavs tie a game they eventually lost.
Roddy’s wheels literally came off that following summer when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot that was slow to heal. Roddy didn’t surface in the regular season until mid February. His game was understandably rusty and his confidence started to sink.
In the last regular season game – supposedly at the urging of the veterans – Deshawn Stevenson became the starter which meant Roddy was going to come off the bench. In that same game (121-89 victory over New Orleans), Roddy hurt his foot again. By the time he recovered, the Mavs were on a “don’t mess with the rotation” roll and Roddy spent the post-season stapled to the bench waving pompoms while the team won a title.
An old Dallas Mavericks team (facing a 66 games in 120 days schedule) that featured a 38 year old point guard (Kidd) and a 34 year old shooting guard (Terry) seemed to be a good match for Roddy getting extended playing time but Carlisle didn’t see it that way.
Just before the season began, the Mavericks signed Delonte West and playing time became sparse (5-10 minutes a game) for Roddy. Things began to change after Kidd suffered an injury.
On January 13, Roddy was given 24 minutes and he poured in 15 points. Six days later versus the Jazz, Roddy was electrifying (17 points in 18 minutes) and seemed to be gaining Carlisle’s confidence as playing time started to become consistent. Roddy had one of his best performances (5 of 7 shooting, 13 points in 20 minutes) against Denver on February 8.
Two days later, Kidd returned to the lineup from his second injury and Roddy was sent to NBA Siberia (three games on the bench, all Mavericks wins). Tragedy struck when Roddy’s dad died unexpectedly putting him on bereavement leave. Roddy wouldn’t play again until February 28.
Sometime during his bereavement leave it was leaked that the Mavericks were looking to deal Roddy. This seemed like such an un-Maverick like thing to do because this organization is renowned for how well they treat players. Lamar Odom has been an abomination to the sport this season yet the Mavericks continue to publicly support him.
West’s broken finger opened up playing time and when Roddy came back he seemed to have a “screw it” swagger to his game (16 points v Memphis, 25 points v New Orleans).
On March 9, the Mavericks were playing in Sacramento. It was the 8th game of the 9 games / 12 days stretch and the Kings were tooling on the Mavs. Tempers were beginning to fray. Late in the game, Carlisle gave a quick hook to Roddy and then berated him on his way back to the bench. Instead of sitting down something in Roddy snapped and he got in Carlisle’s face.
Maybe that’s what Carlisle was looking for from Roddy…some perverse “stand up for yourself and show me you’re mentally tough enough to play this game” moment that only NBA coaches understand.
Since the heated exchange in Sacramento, Roddy has been getting 25-35 minutes while averaging 12 points per game. More importantly, the Mavs went 6-3 in those games. Sure, Roddy had a clunker against the Lakers but he was outstanding against San Antonio, Denver and Houston.
Delonte West will be back in April and he’s going to help down the stretch but I hope it doesn’t come at the expense of Roddy Beaubois who has more than proven this year that he’s tough enough, both mentally and physically, to play in the NBA.