Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesEric Griffin’s Vegas high-wire act earned him a one-year deal with the Mavericks.
LAS VEGAS — With 10 days in the desert now complete, here are some passing thoughts on players of intrigue who made noise one way or another for the Dallas Mavericks in Las Vegas during summer-league play.
The 5-foot-8 Japanese guard is a perfect fit for the Texas Legends, Dallas’ NBA Development League affiliate. The diminutive prospect certainly has game, but is clearly limited due to his small frame. He will have to fight an uphill battle, much like former Dallas point guard J.J. Barea did, if he wants any shot at making an NBA roster. Togashi made it clear after the Vegas finale that he will not play in Japan and hopes to be selected in the D-League draft. Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson is a co-owner of the Legends, so it’s a relatively safe bet to assume that Togashi lands in Frisco, Texas.
The high-flying standout earned himself a non-guaranteed, one-year contract with the Mavs over the weekend after separating himself from the pack with his athletic play on both ends of the floor. In a sense, his athleticism is reminiscent of forward Shawn Marion; the comparison is particularly apt on offense in that a coach won’t have to draw up plays for either forward. On the other end, Griffin is a solid help-side defender, closing up real estate to the opposition in a hurry. Griffin impressed the cast in Las Vegas; he’ll have to do the same with the likes of owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle if he wants to make the 15-man roster. If he doesn’t, he’ll join the Texas Legends. Don’t be surprised if forward Ivan Johnson also earns an invite to training camp.
Sources told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon that the Mavs are expected to re-sign James. Nelson said he believes James’ play in Vegas has garnered interest around the league and that the Mavs are at the top of the list. James did not play in the team’s final game in Vegas, and Nelson was quick to note that it wasn’t because the team had reached an agreement with the center. Rather, Nelson said, it was an opportunity for James to get a “well-deserved” break for his summer-league efforts. Assuming the sides reach a mutually beneficial deal, James should return to fill out the back end of the roster.
[+] EnlargeRicky Ledo
Ledo’s summer-league performance had plenty of highs and lows. The swingman, 21, ended his run with an impressive all-around performance in the Mavs’ Vegas finale, scoring 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting and adding a game-high nine assists. (The rest of the players on both teams combined for only 11 assists.) Ledo is still probably another season away from being a rotational player at the NBA level, but the coaching staff was pleased with his effort in Las Vegas. He will just need to continue trending in the right direction.
After dealing with a knee surgery and subsequent setback to his calf late last season, Mekel said his conditioning was much better by the end of his Vegas stint. His goal will be to continue adapting to the speed of the NBA game and working on his shooting mechanics. Mekel left the team over the weekend to be with his family in his native Israel. While there, he will join the Israeli national team, which has begun its training camp and will start international play in August. Mekel plans to stay there until early September, then return to Dallas to prepare for training camp.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder will replace DeJuan Blair as the banging backup. The Mavs hope Smith can create some constructive chaos — much as Blair did — on the defensive end. Smith will have to prove that his knees are healthy and able to endure the beating of an 82-game season. If he’s able to make it through, Dallas might have an intriguing big-man combination.
Richard Jefferson/Rashard Lewis
For the league minimum, you could certainly do a lot worse than acquiring both Jefferson and Lewis. Both are expected to provide perimeter shooting and bench depth for Dallas. The departures of Vince Carter, Blair and Wayne Ellington took a bite out of said depth, a Mavericks’ strength in recent seasons. Based on Carlisle’s reserve options going forward, there very well could be stretches of games in which either Jefferson or Lewis don’t see time on the floor.
The Mavs will hope that Harris doesn’t suffer an injury setback like he did last summer, when he lost half of the regular season. Dallas will need Harris ready to go, because the team is still dealing with relative instability at the point-guard position. Given his chemistry with Brandan Wright, it’s very possible that Harris will come off the bench, leaving Raymond Felton as the starting point guard.
The Mavs were able to strike a deal with Parsons as the summer league was in its opening stages. Making his first address to the Dallas media last week, it’s quite apparent that the forward has a chip on his shoulder after coming over from the Houston Rockets. It will be quite interesting to see how Carlisle decides to use the versatile Parsons. It’s safe to assume that Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki will create a rather formidable two-man game. At 25, one must wonder whether, assuming he continues to mature and develop as a player, Parsons could become the new face of the Mavericks. Time will tell.
Dallas’ star continued to show that he is one of a kind by agreeing to a deal that was lower than expected — three years, $25 million — to remain in Dallas. The 36-year-old turned down max offers from the Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers to show how committed he is to the only NBA organization for which he has played.