Q&A With Former Bulls Guard Craig Hodges

October 30 at 10:30am CDT By Zach Links

Earlier this week, Phil Jackson hired old friend Craig Hodges to serve as an assistant coach for the Knicks’ D-League affiliate in Westchester.  A two-time champion as a player under the Zen Master, Hodges later reunited with Jackson as an assistant coach for the Lakers and added two more rings to his collection.  During his playing days, the guard led the league in three-point shooting percentage twice over the course of his ten-year career and established himself as one of the most consistent long-range threats of his time.

When the Bulls visited the White House after winning the 1992 NBA Championship, Hodges handed President George H.W. Bush a letter outlining his dissatisfaction with the administration’s treatment of disadvantaged black Americans.  That summer, he was waived by the Bulls and, surprisingly, was not picked up by another team, prompting him to later file a lawsuit against the NBA alleging that he was blackballed from the game.  He was unsuccessful in court but the experience hasn’t hardened Hodges and he is still very much an activist for the downtrodden.

When he’s not busy with the Westchester Knicks this season, Hodges will be working on his forthcoming book, which he expects to be released in January.  The NBA champion and the newest member of the Knicks D-League operation was kind enough to take some time and chat with Hoops Rumors on Tuesday.

Zach Links: How did the opportunity to join the Westchester Knicks coaching staff come about?  It was reported that you were initially among the head coaching candidates.

Craig Hodges: It actually was one of those things where it was a basic interview and they didn’t really tell me which job was available. Initially they talked to me in May and asked if I would be interested in working with the D-League team.  I got a call again in August to actually come and interview we’ve been going back and forth since then.   NBA: Utah Jazz at Chicago Bulls

ZL: How often do you and Phil Jackson talk?

CH: Well, with him, even when you don’t talk to him you know you’re still cool with him and I have a cool relationship with him.  He’s a great manager of people and his management style is that he understands what you do well, and if he sees something that you need help with, he’ll help you or find a person to help you. I’ve never felt uncomfortable around him, and I’ve been blessed to be one of the first players to win a championship [with him], and I was a coach on his staff when he won his last one, so hopefully we can make something happen here.

ZL: I know you just joined the staff, but do you have a sense of how closely the Westchester Knicks will work with the main organization?

CH: We’re going to function as their minor league team and we’re going to operate the way that they operate so that they can gauge the pulse of our players.  It’s a great situation and I’m looking forward to it.  We’ll also have an emphasis on getting guys accustomed to the triangle and ready to play in that system.

ZL: The D-League is very youth-centric, but what do you think of it as a tool for veterans to find their way back into the NBA?

CH: I think it’s good for both young guys and vets.  I don’t know how many vets look at it as an opportunity, but they should.  One drawback would be the money, but I think the opportunities that come from it would be worthwhile for guys trying to get back into the NBA and get their games back to that level. I think we have a great thing going in Westchester and, hopefully, guys will see it as a destination location.

ZL: In 1992, you brought a lawsuit against the league when you felt that you were blackballed from playing for expressing your beliefs.  Do you feel like in 2014 a player can take up a cause without repercussions, or do you think that could still be problematic career-wise?

CH: You’re always going to be sacrificing something if you speak out, but I think it’s important for people to do so when it comes to issues that are near and dear to their hearts.  If someone [takes a stand], they need to know that they’ve done critical studies on what they want to speak about.  I was the baby of the movement and my mission then [was], and it continues to be, ‘How can I help people who are less fortunate than me and help them move upward?’  Many people saw that as a militant stand to take, but I look at it as a cultural imperative.  Mentors in my life have always told me that you’re only as strong as the weakest of your people, and when I look at the condition of my people, especially in Chicago where the young people are killing each other and getting killed at a horrible rate, you just have to say something.  We have the opportunity as a nation to take the lead role in getting people to realize how important it is to teach young people.

ZL: Could you tell me a bit about your upcoming book?

CH: It’s not a book to bash anybody, but it’s a book to clear the air as far as the stuff that happened in my career and also what I see going on.  God blesses me and he blesses you with teachings, but not everyone is taught the same way and not everyone is passionate about the same things.  I think God has blessed us with a garden where we can have a lot of good people do a lot of good things and we can change the face of the Earth by doing so.  

ZL: Now that you’re actively working for the NBA again, will you be pulling any punches in the book when it comes to how your career ended, or are you putting it all out there? 

CH: I think it’ll be somewhat cathartic when I put it all on paper.  I’m just putting the facts out there and letting people study things for what they are, it’s not up to me to make judgement calls.  Everyone has their own reasoning and logic. … For me, I just want to make sure that I put it out there as a written history for my sons and my grandbabies, but I also want it out there for the overall legacy of it, man.  I think that it’s important that I took the stand that I did.  My mantra has been to help others ever since I was 8 years old.  My mom was a civil rights organizer who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those ideals have been on my heart.  They haven’t diminished.

ZL: Do you have a publisher yet?

CH: We’re still shopping it and we have a few meetings over the next few weeks with publishers.  It’s been a cool experience and I’m looking forward to getting the book out there. It’s something I should have done a long time ago.  Having Daniel [Hazan, of Hazan Sports Management] to help me has been great.  I never had an agent for off-the-court matters [before], and looking back on my life, I wish I had an agent for that type of stuff. It would have made things a lot easier.

ZL: Do you have your eye on becoming a head coach in the NBA?

CH: [laughs] Not at all!  That’s the thing, I love what I do as an assistant coach.  The purity of the game is what I love.  I get to help make guys better and do as much as possible with their talent.  That’s what I like doing, so I haven’t thought about moving up the ladder.  I think in general if you do a good job, then opportunities open up, and then you can assess and go from there.  I’ve been trying to live more in the spiritual realm. I’m not looking forward or behind. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Appears Unlikely For Reggie Jackson

October 30 at 8:59am CDT By Chuck Myron

It appears unlikely that the Thunder and Reggie Jackson will sign an extension before the deadline to do so at 11:00pm Central on Friday, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The sides had been engaged in active talks as recently as a couple of weeks ago, but it’s unclear whether negotiations continue. GM Sam Presti had reportedly been confident a month ago about striking some sort of deal with the fourth-year guard, but it looks like that if it happens, it’ll take place in restricted free agency next summer rather than in the form of an extension this fall. The Thunder traded James Harden and Jeff Green not long after rookie scale extension talks broke down with those two, Mayberry notes, but Presti has said he has no plans to send Jackson away.

Jackson expressed hope for an extension during a September interview, but in the same conversation he made it clear that he was prepared in case agent Aaron Mintz and the team couldn’t agree to terms this month. Mintz and his partners at Creative Artists Agency are likely to use Eric Bledsoe‘s five-year, $70MM deal with the Suns, Kemba Walker‘s four-year, $48MM extension with the Hornets, and any extension that Ricky Rubio and Brandon Knight might sign as benchmarks for the Jackson talks, Mayberry writes.

The 24-year-old Jackson is suffering from a bruised right wrist and a sprained right ankle and missed Oklahoma City’s regular season opener Wednesday, but he’s expected back in a few days, and the injuries appear unlikely to affect whether he signs an extension. Of greater import is likely whether the Thunder sees him as a long-term solution as a starter in the backcourt next to Russell Westbrook, as Cray Allred of Hoops Rumors wrote when he looked at Jackson’s extension candidacy. Jackson has long expressed a desire to start, and while smaller lineups are in vogue, he and Westbrook are both listed at just 6’3″.

Latest On Cavs, Tristan Thompson

October 30 at 8:06am CDT By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 8:06am: A sense of optimism surrounds the talks at this point, sources tell Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lloyd hears that Thompson is seeking annual salaries of more than $10MM, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t targeting the roughly $12MM number that Windhorst pegged in his report from earlier (below). Thompson and Anderson Varejao, who’s discussing a veteran extension with the Cavs, are likely to make about the same amount if they’re to sign extensions, and it doesn’t appear as though Varejao is willing to accept much less per year than his current salary of nearly $9.705MM, Lloyd writes.

MONDAY, 10:32am: Negotiations between the Cavs and Tristan Thompson have stalled as the Rich Paul client seeks salaries of around $12MM a year in a rookie scale extension, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Still, both sides maintain hope that they’ll reach a deal by Friday’s deadline, Windhorst adds. The report adds some clarity to a series of conflicting dispatches regarding whether Thompson and Cleveland were in talks, as I laid out earlier in light of the news that the Cavs are discussing an extension with Anderson Varejao.

Executives and agents around the league are keeping an eye on the talks with Thompson to gauge how closely LeBron James is involved with Cleveland’s front office decision-making, as Windhorst details. James and Thompson are both clients of Paul, and James holds a player option for next season that he can decline to hit free agency this summer, which makes the team a “little uncomfortable,” Windhorst writes, even though James has said multiple times he has no intention of leaving. Thompson will start the season as a bench player after Varejao won the starting center job, and it would be difficult for many teams to stomach paying $12MM for a sixth man.

Still, agents are growing bolder with an influx of TV money on the way, and lucrative deals for Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons this summer have left many player representatives optimistic about the prospect of restricted free agency, according to Windhorst. Greg Monroe, who wound up signing a qualifying offer worth just $5.48MM for this season, is a cautionary tale, though he reportedly rejected much more lucrative proposals.

The Cavs have only about $21.5MM in commitments for 2015/16, but that doesn’t include money for James, Love or Varejao, all of whom can become free agents. Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and second-round pick Joe Harris are the only Cavs under fully guaranteed contracts that contain no option clauses for that season.

Hornets Sign Kemba Walker To Extension

October 29 at 10:49pm CDT By Zach Links

WEDNESDAY, 10:49pm: The extension is official, as is shown on the RealGM transactions log, though no formal announcement from the team has been made as yet. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) confirms that the deal is for four years, $48MM, and it contains no options or incentive clauses.

TUESDAY, 6:30pm: The Hornets and Kemba Walker have agreed to a four-year, $48MM extension, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.  Earlier today, Hornets owner Michael Jordan made it known that he intended to work out a new deal with Walker.  kemba walker (vertical)

Walker, a Jeff Schwartz client, averaged 17.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 4.2 RPG in a career-high 35.8 minutes per contest last season.  Walker’s scoring average was identical to his 2012/13 mark and he’s accustomed to being a leading scorer for Charlotte.  However, not everyone sees him as a go-to player and his $12MM average annual salary is sure to draw some criticism.  About a month ago, Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote that he has heard from executives around the league that the the UConn product is not a “championship point guard.”  Walker got his first taste of NBA postseason basketball last season and Charlotte has a good shot at a return trip this year.

As Chuck Myron pointed out earlier today, the Hornets had about $22.7MM in guaranteed salary on the books for 2015/16 prior to the Walker agreement, though that number increases when factoring in a $13.5MM player option for Al Jefferson, $10MM+ in rookie scale team options, and a $6MM player option for Gerald Henderson.  With that in mind, the new deal for Walker doesn’t leave the Hornets much room to add an impact free agent next summer.  However, if the Hornets didn’t lock up Walker to a new deal before then, they would have risked seeing two top players – Jefferson and Walker – potentially hitting the open market.

As Chuck recently noted, even though Walker’s scoring average stayed the same from 2012/13 to 2013/14, his shooting percentage dipped from 42.3% to 39.3% as his uptick in long two-point attempts cost him some accuracy.  That slide was also reflected in his PER as it declined from 18.8 in 2012/13 to 16.8 this past season.  Walker’s PER score in 2013/14 put him 17th amongst all qualified point guards.

Kyrie Irving, Kenneth Faried, Markieff Morris, and Marcus Morris have also taken advantage of the extension window that opened on July 1st.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Hornets, Celtics, D-League

October 29 at 10:33pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The contracts of Alonzo Gee (Nuggets) and James Ennis (Heat) both became fully guaranteed today, and a partial guarantee of $250K has kicked in for Dewayne Dedmon (Magic), since both Dedmon and Ennis were on their teams’ respective rosters come opening night, and Gee was still on his team’s roster past October 29th, as is shown on our schedule of contract guarantee dates.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Celtics look to improve upon their 25-win season of a year ago, and began their quest at home tonight with a 121-105 victory over the Nets. In his season preview, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com believes Boston’s outlook has improved, and Rajon Rondo will have a strong season as he looks to silence his doubters and maximize his value heading into next summer.
  • In a separate article, Blakely looks at the top five players who changed teams and donned new uniforms this summer. Blakely also examined the five best rookies making their debuts this season, including Elfrid Payton, Jabari Parker, and Marcus Smart.
  • Hornets owner Michael Jordan believes that the addition of Lance Stephenson gives his team a legitimate shot to contend in the Eastern Conference, the Associated Press reports. Jordan especially likes Stephenson’s “fight,” saying, “One of the reasons why I admire his game is he takes on challenges. For us to get any place in the East, we need someone to challenge LeBron. He challenged LeBron.”
  • Former Sixers coach Larry Brown slammed the organization’s rebuilding through “tanking” plan, John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I hate what’s going on in Philly,” Brown said. “They don’t have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
  • Malcolm Turner of Wasserman Media Group has been hired as the president of the NBA D-League, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Roger Mason has been hired as the NBPA’s director of player relations, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets. It is unclear if accepting this position would prevent Mason from continuing his playing career. The 34-year-old Mason made 25 appearances for the Heat last season, averaging 3.0 PPG in 10.4 minutes-per-game.

Celtics Pick Up 2015/16 Options For Three

October 29 at 9:21pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

OCTOBER 29TH, 9:21pm: Boston has officially exercised the options for all three players, the team announced.

OCTOBER 22ND, 6:00pm: The Celtics will exercise their team options to keep Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk on their rookie scale contracts through 2015/16, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reports (Twitter link). These moves have been widely expected, as Blakely suggests. Zeller’s $2,616,975 salary for that season is the most expensive of the group. Sullinger is set to make $2,269,260, and Olynyk will collect $2,165,160, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows.

Picking up these options increases Boston’s guaranteed salary commitments to approximately $33.5MM for the 2015/16 campaign, with Jeff Green also holding a player option for $9.2MM, which he is likely to exercise. Also not factored into that cap figure is Rajon Rondo, who becomes a free agent next summer, and it’s unclear as to whether the Celtics will attempt to re-sign him or deal him prior to the trade deadline. Rondo currently makes approximately $12.9MM, and will most likely seek an increase on that amount in his next contract.

Zeller was selected with the 17th overall pick by Dallas back in 2012 before being dealt to the Cavaliers. During his two years in Cleveland, Zeller averaged 6.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG while logging 21 minutes per night. He was acquired by Boston on July 10th of this year in a three-way deal involving the Celtics, Cavs, and Nets.

The 7’0″ Olynyk was chosen with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, also by Dallas, but his draft rights were traded that night to the Celtics for Lucas Nogueira and two second-rounders. During his rookie campaign last season, Olynyk appeared in 70 contests, including nine starts, averaging 8.7 PPG and 5.2 RPG. After a strong training camp Olynyk is expected to be a major offensive contributor on a rebuilding Celtics squad.

Sullinger was drafted by Boston with the 21st overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. The 6’9″ big man out of Ohio State has been held back by injuries in his young career, but appears to be healthy entering his third year in league. His career numbers are 10.5 PPG and 7.3 RPG, and his career slash line is .440/.268/.771.

Central Notes: Gasol, Cavs, James

October 29 at 9:19pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Pau Gasol thought the Bulls were the best overall situation for him when choosing his free agent destination this summer, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The veteran did give the Knicks some consideration before making his decision, saying, “I considered them just because of different factors, mainly Phil [Jackson] and Derek [Fisher] being involved, the Knicks being a great organization as wel. It would’ve been interesting, but I thought there were better situations for me.”

Gasol also added that it was possible that his brother Marc Gasol could end up in New York when he becomes a free agent, notes Braziller. “We’ll see what happens next year what he decides and hopefully he’ll have a strong year and all the options in the world because he’s one of the top centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him,” Gasol said. “It’s a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls hold no ill will toward Carmelo Anthony for spurning them in free agency this past summer, Braziller writes in a separate article. “He made his decision, and like I said at the time, of course who wouldn’t want to play with a talent like that,” Derrick Rose said. “But he came back [to the Knicks]. You can’t get mad at him.” Chicago is perfectly happy with their roster as currently constituted and believe they have the depth to contend in the east, Braziller writes.
  • Even when things appeared to be at their worst Cavs, owner Dan Gilbert never believed his relationship with LeBron James was irreparable, Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal writes. “Unless you’re really doing some significant harm to another human being, I don’t think the bridge is ever burned,” Gilbert said. “We had a night where emotions were flying high on all sides. Things like that happen a lot in business where people have phone calls and heated exchanges and people are writing each other emails and letters, and then the next day they’re eating lunch and doing business. It’s not a be-all or end-all type thing.”
  • Veteran guard Mike James will be joining the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League in an effort to showcase himself for NBA teams, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). James appeared in 11 games for the Bulls last season, and his career numbers are 9.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 3.5 APG.

Lakers Notes: Randle, Bryant, Roster

October 29 at 7:59pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Lakers have already suffered some significant blows to their roster with both Steve Nash and Julius Randle being lost for the season with injuries. Even if the franchise is approved for Disabled Player Exceptions, they will still have two of their maximum 15 roster spots occupied by injured personnel. If Los Angeles loses another player to injury the team could apply for a temporary hardship increase that would allow the franchise to carry up to 16 players, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter links). This scenario could help the team maintain its depth in the wake of another player loss, but once one of the injured players was able to return to action, the 15 player max would resume, Pincus notes.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The only bright side to the Lakers losing Randle for the season is that the team will be in contention for a top-five lottery pick next summer, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com opines. Los Angeles’ 2015 first-rounder is owed to the Suns but is protected for picks one-through-five, notes Adande.
  • The Lakers should take a page out of the Sixers’ playbook and try to hit bottom this season, Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. This includes trying to convince Kobe Bryant to waive his no trade clause and dealing the future Hall-of Famer, Ford opines. Ford lists the Knicks, Nets, Mavs, and Hornets as teams that would potentially be interested in obtaining Bryant.
  • The loss of Randle will hurt the Lakers much more than losing Nash, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders opines. Los Angeles wasn’t expecting much from Nash, and had Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price on board to make up for any time that Nash would have missed. With Randle, this season was important for his development, and the team was planning to run a large portion of their offense through him, Koutroupis notes.
  • The Lakers and Bryant have faced criticism for the two year, $48.5MM contract extension he signed back in 2013. Hornets owner and former NBA great Michael Jordan defended Bryant for inking the pact, DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News writes. “Can I criticize him for maximizing his opportunity from a financial standpoint? No,” Jordan said. “Does his decision have an effect on how the team will structure certain things? Maybe.”

Dates That Teams Can Trade Offseason Signees

October 29 at 6:59pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The focus around the league will shift from free agency to trades after the regular season begins Tuesday, but several restrictions in the collective bargaining agreement figure to keep most swaps from taking place until several more weeks have passed. NBA teams are generally unable to trade any player they sign for three months after he puts his signature on the dotted line, or December 15th of the following season, whichever is later.

This rule doesn’t apply to draft picks, as they can be traded just 30 days later, even if the signing were to occur after the season had already begun, or years down the line, which happens in the case of draft-and-stash players. Sign-and-trades are a bit different, as the initial trade is allowed, but the 90-day restriction holds for the purposes of any subsequent deals.

There is also a restriction on making a trade that aggregates the salary of a player who was acquired via trade within the last two months. Those players may be traded by themselves or in a package in which their salaries aren’t aggregated, however. For example, the Wolves acquired Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett in the deal that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland, and their salaries were aggregated in that trade for matching purposes. Neither Wiggins nor Bennett would have been eligible for inclusion in another trade that aggregated their salaries until October 23rd, two months after the Love trade became official.

Another notable circumstance that restricts when a player can be traded is if a player is claimed off waivers. If a player is claimed during the season, the claiming team cannot trade him for a period of 30 days. If the waiver claim was made in the offseason, then the claiming team could not trade that player until the 30th day of the following regular season. Examples of this would be Kendall Marshall of the Bucks and Willie Green of the Magic. Neither team can deal them until November 26th. Players claimed off amnesty waivers can’t be traded until the following July, a rule that applies to only Carlos Boozer this year.

Tony Parker and Zach Randolph are the only players who fall under the rule against trading players who sign veteran extensions. Their teams can’t trade them for six months from the day they sign their extensions if their new deals are more lucrative or lengthy than those allowed in an extend-and-trade transaction. That’s the case with Parker and Randolph, so they’re staying put for now. The same rule doesn’t apply to rookie scale extensions, though the Poison Pill Provision exists to discourage teams from trading those players.

There are also a number of players who cannot be dealt without their consent. This covers players with no-trade clauses in their contracts. For example, when the Celtics dealt Kevin Garnett to the Nets, Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause in order for the trade to happen. Any team that matches an offer sheet for a player can’t trade him for a year without his consent, so Gordon Hayward holds veto power if the Jazz attempt to trade him this season. Any player who re-signs with his team but commits only to a one-year contract receives a de facto no-trade clause. This also applies to two-year deals that include team or player options. Players such as Greg Monroe and Kevin Seraphin, who have signed one-year qualifying offers, cannot be traded without their consent, either. Players with de facto no-trade clauses have an incentive not to agree to a swap. If such a player did OK a trade, he would enter free agency the following summer as a Non-Bird rights player instead of a player with Early Bird or full Bird rights, thus drastically lowering his team’s power to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.

Those players are nonetheless listed below, regardless of how likely or unlikely they are to be traded. So, if the Cavaliers and LeBron James decide their fences haven’t been mended after all and the team risks the ire of its fans in an attempt to trade him, no deal could take place before December 15th. Similarly, the team LeBron left behind is severely limited in its trade options for now, since 11 of the players on the Heat roster are ineligible to be traded.

Here’s the date that each player acquired during the offseason becomes eligible for a trade, grouped by team:




























Trail Blazers



Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ and the RealGM transactions log were used in the creation of this post.

Mavs Sign J.J. Barea

October 29 at 6:15pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

6:15pm: Dallas has officially signed Barea, the team has announced.

4:27pm: The Mavericks have reached an agreement with guard J.J. Barea, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. Barea has officially cleared waivers, according to the RealGM transactions log, which frees him to sign with any team. Dallas has an agreement in principle with Barea that is a one year pact for the veteran’s minimum, though it’s unclear if there is any guaranteed money involved in the deal. The Mavs intend to waive Gal Mekel in order to create the required roster space to sign Barea, Sefko notes. Dallas’ roster currently sits at the regular season maximum of 15 players.

Barea will add depth to the Mavs’ backcourt and he will compete for playing time with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, and Raymond Felton. Dallas was looking to add another experienced point guard into their backcourt mix, with Harris having a history of injuries and Felton beginning the season injured. Inking the veteran Barea shows that the Mavs have title aspirations this season, since the organization seemed to be high on Mekel’s upside, notes Sefko.

The eight-year vet has appeared in a total of 509 games in his career, and Barea has averages of 8.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 3.4 APG. His career slash line is .419/.347/.798.