Category Archives: Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

Rumor Central: Mavericks’ starting center position to remain unsettled?

The Dallas Mavericks have played 17 games so far in the 2017-18 NBA regular season, and Dirk Nowitzki has started all of them. Nowitzki is listed as starting 10 games at center, although a few he may have actually been the power forward, which would increase the number from seven for the position.

Rumor CentralIn addition to Nowitzki, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has also played Nerlens Noel (six starts), Salah Mejri (one start), Dwight Powell and Jeff Withey at center. Will this position remain unsettled for the duration of the 2017-18 season? According to Carlisle, the answer appears to be yes.

“The guys got to roll with it and understand the things they do may only fit in certain stretches,” Carlisle told The Dallas Morning News. “We don’t have the luxury of a rotation right now in indelible ink so far. Which is OK. Sometimes that can keep a team on its toes. It keeps coaches on their toes, too.”

Carlisle’s answer was expected, as his options are very limited since management has not provided him with a starting-caliber center this season. The Mavericks need many upgrades to the roster in the 2018 offseason, and the starting center position should be near the top of the list.

Currently, Noel (unrestricted) and Mejri (restricted) are set to be free agents in 2018. Powell is signed through 2019-20, while Withey has two seasons left, which are not guaranteed. The Mavericks own a team option on Nowitzki for 2018-19.

— Nick Silva

Article source: http://www.espn.com/blog/nba/rumors/post/_/id/46190/rumor-central-mavericks-starting-center-position-to-remain-unsettled

Rumor Central: Mavs looking at making a roster move?

The Dallas Mavericks have a terrible 2-13 record after 15 games, and they are expected to be at the bottom of the NBA league standings when the 2017-18 NBA regular season ends in April.

Rumor CentralMavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has already been asked several times about potential changes to his playing lineup, and that is something he’s considering with his struggling team. Making changes to the roster is also a possibility the Mavericks’ front office will look at as an option.

“I think we’re pursuing anything and everything out there,” Carlisle told The Dallas Morning News. “At 2-13, pretty sure we’re not standing pat. But my focus is the guys we have right now and helping them fight through this and get better.”

The Mavericks currently have Seth Curry (left tibia stress reaction), Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis), Devin Harris (bruised ribs) and Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) dealing with injuries, which has also impacted Carlisle’s playing rotation.

On Dec. 15, over 90 players who were free agents last summer become trade-eligible, and Dallas might look to make a deal around that time.

One player who could be shopped is center Nerlens Noel. Noel re-signed with the Mavericks as no other suitable offers in the summer came his way, and he’s struggling so far this season. In 14 appearances, Noel is averaging just 15.2 minutes, 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Noel’s deal is just for the 2017-18 season, so he can’t be traded without his consent. If Noel is traded, he will lose his full Bird free-agent rights, which is why he has full veto power.

Others who might be put on the trade block include Harris, Wesley Matthews, McRoberts and Jeff Withey.

Dallas is currently operating as an “over-the-cap” team due to all the exceptions it owns, but just counting payroll, it is $12.5 million below the cap. The cap room does give the Mavericks a lot of flexibility in the trade market.

— Nick Silva

Article source: http://www.espn.com/blog/nba/rumors/post/_/id/46087/rumor-central-mavs-looking-at-making-a-roster-move

‘Body,’ not Mavs record, will decide when Dirk Nowitzki calls it quits

8:58 AM ET

DALLAS — Even the career of “The Big Mummy” doesn’t stand a chance against Father Time.

Dirk Nowitzki has embraced the nickname bestowed upon him by big-mouthed former teammate and current Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, even participating in a spoof video shown on the arena big screens during games earlier this season.

The self-deprecating Nowitzki’s stiffness is both a source of comedic fodder and a serious issue for the Mavs and their future Hall of Famer, as there’s nothing funny about all the time Nowitzki needs to spend maintaining his body — stretching regimens, massages, strength and conditioning work — to get on the floor.

“He’s got to do so much to keep himself going to be able to play with us,” said Mavs reserve guard J.J. Barea, the only other player on the current roster who was part of the 2011 championship team. “I know he’s having a tough time with his body …

“It’s a full-time job.”

Year 20 could potentially be it for Nowitzki, who has matched Kobe Bryant’s record for longest career while playing for only one franchise. Nowitzki, however, hopes to play at least one more year.

“It’s how the body feels,” Nowitzki told ESPN, adding that the Mavs’ place in the standings won’t play a part in his decision.

“I’d love to play every game. I’m not sure how realistic it is, but that’s how I approached the season. I want to be out there, want to move and want to be out there with the guys. We’ll just have to sit and relax [after] I play through the season and see how I feel. Probably that decision won’t be made until the summer.”

“He’s still complaining like he’s 82 years old, still cracking jokes and giving people s—. He’s still Dirk.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

The Mavs hold a team option for the second season of the two-year, $10 million deal Nowitzki signed over the summer. There is zero question about whether Nowitzki, as loyal as anyone who has ever played in the league, would be welcomed back. The Mavs control the contractual option, but the decision is Nowitzki’s to make.

“I hope so,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said when asked whether he believes Nowitzki will opt to play next season at age 40. “I think there’s a really good chance he is [coming back], because he wants to break the record for years with one team and be that one guy. Not many people have that opportunity.

“He’s still having fun,” Cuban added.

The camaraderie hasn’t changed with Nowitzki as he’s gotten older. He remains a relentless trash-talker in the locker room, around the facility, and on buses and planes, and never shies away from poking fun at himself.

Last week, Nowitzki playfully made a spectacle of himself by attempting the dribble moves made famous by Mavs player development coach God Shammgod.

“He’s still complaining like he’s 82 years old, still cracking jokes and giving people s—,” Cuban said. “He’s still Dirk.”

For Nowitzki and the Mavs, the season hasn’t been particularly rewarding so far. It didn’t help that the Mavs had a busy early schedule and that training camp was cut by a week to start the regular season earlier, issues that caused grumbling from the 7-footer.

“That week of training camp they stole [from] me, I guess it was good for the schedule, but it wasn’t good for me,” Nowitzki said after Saturday night’s home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which followed three off days.

“I didn’t feel good there the first week, but after that, it’s been OK. Just the 11 [games] in 18 [nights] was a bit much. I had some swelling here and there, but this week was good for me.”

Nowitzki’s numbers — averages of 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 41.4 percent from the floor — are down significantly from last season (14.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 43.7 percent) and are the worst since his rookie year. He’s playing primarily center instead of power forward as a concession to his increasingly limited mobility, to put it politely.

His mere presence still benefits the Mavs offensively, even though he’s almost solely a catch-and-shoot threat at this age, no longer effective on the isolation and post-up plays he scored so many buckets on over the years. Dallas is a defensive disaster with Nowitzki on the floor, bleeding for an average of 117.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.

“He helps us cover some things on offense, and we’ve got to help him defensively some, too,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

“But never underestimate greatness at any age.”

The hometown discounts Nowitzki took didn’t help the Mavericks land the established superstar(s) they needed to maintain their elite status following the run of 11 50-win seasons, a pair of Finals appearances and a title on the shoulders of the No. 6 scorer in NBA history.

Their misses and punts in the draft delayed the process of developing a core of young talent to give Dallas a chance to extend their winning window into another era, as the San Antonio Spurs did by passing the torch from Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard.

Oh, how things would have been different in Dallas if Cuban had listened to president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, when the Mavs got a lottery ticket after their long run of playoff appearances ended.

Nelson advised Cuban to take Giannis Antetokounmpo, an intriguing but raw Greek prospect, with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but Cuban’s focus was on the salary cap entering the summer free-agency shopping period.

Cuban opted to trade down twice, saving about $400,000 in cap space, needing every penny to make a max run at Dwight Howard. Howard, of course, chose Houston over Dallas (and has made a couple of stops since then). Antetokounmpo indeed ended up being pretty dang good.

The big German passing the torch to the Greek Freak is an alternate reality. In actuality, the Mavs are in the early stages of a rebuilding project in Nowitzki’s 20th season, sitting with the league’s worst record at 2-12 despite 19-year-old rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.‘s flashes of brilliance.

Nowitzki is certainly not giving up. Dallas stumbled to a 2-13 start last season, with Nowitzki missing most of that time due to Achilles soreness. The Mavs still managed to position themselves as a playoff long shot late in the season, and he’s hoping the current Mavs will put up a similar fight.

“As long as we compete, I think we have a decent team,” Nowitzki said, noting that guard Seth Curry‘s return from a stress reaction in his leg will be a big boost.

“We just need to find a couple ways to sneak some [wins] out.”

Article source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21403593/nba-body-not-dallas-mavericks-record-decide-dirk-nowitzki-calls-quits

LeBron: Smith talk meant to troll Phil Jackson

2:33 PM ET

NEW YORK — LeBron James admitted he was taking aim at former New York Knicks president Phil Jackson and not the Knicks organization when he said this past weekend that Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. “should be a Knick.”

James made waves Saturday when he said the Knicks “passed on a really good one” in this year’s draft by selecting Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick ahead of Smith, who went No. 9 overall to Dallas.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star clarified those remarks Monday, saying he was not “throwing shade at Frank at all, for people that got their pants in bunches.”

James confirmed that his comments were directed toward Jackson, who parted ways with the Knicks this past June less than a week after presiding over New York’s selection of the French guard Ntilikina.

“Oh yeah, it’s definitely a shot at him,” James said. “That’s for sure.”

James publicly called out Jackson last year after the Hall of Fame coach referred to the four-time league MVP’s business associates as a “posse” in an interview with ESPN.

“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do,” James said at the time. “Obviously he was at the helm of [the team featuring] my favorite player of all time [Michael Jordan], and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him.”

James acknowledged Monday that he is “not a fan” of Jackson but said he has “no problem with the Knicks.”

“Phil was just a small piece [of the Knicks’ recent struggles],” James said. “Well, he was a big piece of it, actually. I don’t have no problem with the Knicks organization. I wasn’t here, so I don’t know the insights and everything. … Y’all know how they handled the Carmelo [Anthony] situation, but I’m not a fan of Phil Jackson, though. I think you guys already know that. Let’s not … that’s the past, though. He’s not even here anymore.”

Knicks big man Enes Kanter came to Ntilikina’s defense on Twitter on Saturday night and elaborated on his stance at practice Sunday.

“I don’t care who, I just cannot let anyone disrespect my family like that, because when I play for an organization, I see my teammates and that organization as like a family,” Kanter told reporters. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s LeBron or whoever it is, I cannot just let him disrespect him like that. The coaches, the GMs, the president, this organization knows what they’re doing. … I mean, come on. That’s a rookie. You cannot just say anything like that about him.

“I don’t care, it doesn’t matter LeBron or whoever it is. I don’t care who. I cannot let anyone disrespect my family like that.”

James laughed off Kanter’s rebuttal.

“For Enes Kanter, who always got something to say,” James said. “He says … I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Smith has registered 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, compared to Ntilikina’s 4.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists, but considering the Knicks’ 7-5 record versus the Mavs’ 2-12 mark and Ntilikina’s superior 104.5 defensive rating (compared to Smith’s 113.8), their rookie campaigns are somewhat comparable so far.

“I know what Dennis Smith is capable of doing,” said James, who has worked out with the Mavs guard in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and also has played against him at his annual summer skills academy. “And I knew the Knicks had been looking for a point guard. Am I stating things that’s false? No. This is facts, right? I thought they would pick him, but, like I said there was no shade at Frank. I don’t even know the kid. I wasn’t even thinking about the kid when I was talking about Dennis Smith. I was thinking about the Knicks organization, and Phil Jackson at the time, and Dennis Smith’s talent, and [Kristaps] Porzingis. That’s all I was thinking about.”

James kept his general manager hat on to take a shot at the hapless Cleveland Browns, who are in the midst of a miserable 0-9 season and whose quarterback rotation of DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler has combined for eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions on the year.

“It’s the same if I, I mean, I think DeShaun Watson should be a Brown,” James said of the Houston Texans QB, who was selected at No. 12 with a pick acquired from Cleveland in a trade. He posted 19 touchdowns and eight picks before suffering a season-ending knee injury. “Doesn’t mean that Myles Garrett isn’t going to be a great football player. But Deshaun Watson should’ve been our quarterback. Doesn’t mean you’re s—-ing on the next guy. It’s just that you stating what you see. That’s all that is, for clarification of people who just live in the box.”

James, who has always been generally well received by Knicks fans and has two 50-point games at Madison Square Garden on his résumé already, was asked if that vibe could change Monday following his recent comments.

“Man, I don’t care,” James said. “What’s going to be worse here than I’ve felt before in my career? I’m just stating facts, that’s all. Have y’all seen him play? Man, get out of here. Y’all be tripping here.”

Article source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21399872/lebron-james-admits-trolling-phil-jackson-dennis-smith-jr-comments

LeBron admits Smith talk for Phil Jackson

LeBron James admitted he was trolling former New York Knicks president Phil Jackson when he said this past weekend that Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. “should be a Knick.”

James made waves Saturday when he said the Knicks “passed on a really good one” in this year’s draft by selecting Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick ahead of Smith, who went No. 9 overall to Dallas.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star clarified those remarks Monday, saying he was not “throwing shade at Frank at all, for people that got their pants in bunches.”

James confirmed that his comments were directed toward Jackson, who parted ways with the Knicks this past June.

“Oh yeah, it’s definitely a shot at him,” James said. “That’s for sure.”

James publicly called out Jackson last year after the Hall of Fame coach referred to the four-time league MVP’s business associates as a “posse” in an interview with ESPN.

James acknowledged Monday that he is “not a fan” of Jackson but said he has “no problem with the Knicks.”

“Phil was just a small piece [of the Knicks’ recent struggles],” James said. “Well he was a big piece of it, actually. I don’t have no problem with the Knicks organization. I wasn’t here so I don’t know the insights and everything. … Y’all know how they handled the Carmelo situation, but I’m not a fan of Phil Jackson, though. I think you guys already know that. Let’s not — that’s the past, though. He’s not even here anymore.”

Article source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21399872/lebron-james-admits-trolling-phil-jackson-dennis-smith-jr-comments

LeBron: Mavericks’ Smith ‘should be a Knick’

5:03 PM ET

DALLAS — LeBron James unleashed what could be considered one final shot at Phil Jackson, declaring that Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. “should be a Knick.”

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The New York Knicks decided to pass on Smith with what ended up being the final draft pick of Jackson’s tenure as New York’s team president, selecting French point guard Frank Ntilikina eighth overall, one pick before Dallas took Smith.

“The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough,” James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers’ 111-104 win Saturday night over the Mavericks. “He should be a Knick. That’s going to make some headlines, but he should be a Knick. Dallas is definitely, I know they’re excited that he didn’t go there.”

Knicks center Enes Kanter didn’t take long to respond to James’ comments, tweeting that the team is happy with Ntilikina.

Jackson, the legendary former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach whose rocky stint as an executive with the Knicks ended in June, angered James a year ago with comments in an ESPN interview characterizing James’ business associates as a “posse.” James responded by saying that he lost all respect for Jackson.

“No relationship at all,” James said last November, when he made it clear that he believed the term “posse” had racial connotations. “I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do. Obviously he was at the helm of [the team featuring] my favorite player of all time [Michael Jordan], and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him.”

Smith, a 19-year-old whom James has mentored since he was in high school, has shown flashes of brilliance early in his career. He is averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Mavs, compared to 19-year-old Ntilikina’s 4.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game for the Knicks.

Smith performed particularly well Saturday night while trying to help the Mavs make a comeback against the Cavs. He finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

“He’s an unbelievable talent [with] athleticism,” said James, who had a spectacular chase-down block in the fourth quarter against Smith. The rookie responded with a breakaway slam dunk the next possession. “He’s very poised to be his age, can shoot the ball, penetrate. He’s only going to get better and better with the opportunity that he’s getting here. Dallas got a good one. I’ve been knowing that. I’ve been with him for so long now. I’ve been knowing his talent level.”

The Cavs’ next game is Monday night against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

Article source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21383210/lebron-james-says-dennis-smith-jr-dallas-mavericks-knick