Dallas Mavericks

Western Notes: Thunder, Booker, Stephenson

Center Steven Adams and shooting guard Andre Roberson are working with the Thunder’s first unit, Anthony Slater of NewsOK.com reports. That puts two other prominent players, center Enes Kanter and shooting guard Dion Waiters, on the team’s second unit, Slater continues. New head coach Billy Donovan confirms that it’s no accident Adams and Roberson are playing alongside Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka in training camp practices and scrimmages, Slater adds.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Rookie Devin Booker has shown maturity beyond his age in the early stages of the Suns’ training camp, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic“The kid knows how to play,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told Coro. “Most of the time defensively, he’s in the right spot. Offensively, he makes the little plays. Eighteen-year-olds sometimes get sped up and the game comes at them fast and the speed of these pro guys is a big adjustment for them. But when you watch him play, he’s in control.” Booker, the No. 13 overall pick from Kentucky, is battling Sonny Weems and Archie Goodwin for the backup shooting guard spot, Coro adds.
  • Lance Stephenson is off to a slow start with the ClippersBen Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reports. Stephenson went scoreless Sunday during the Clippers’ 93-73 exhibition loss to the Raptors and has made two of 14 shots in two games. The second unit has no chemistry right now and that’s part of the problem, Bolch adds. “We’re struggling right now and we’re just getting to know each other and get in a groove,” Stephenson said to the team’s beat reporters. “I just have to take it slow, figure out my place and we all will figure out each other and I think everything will fall in place.”
  • Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is entering a pivotal season in his career, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. Sefko believes that Parsons must show that he’s capable of making his teammates better as well as himself. Parsons will either take that step forward or settle in as a 15-point, 5-rebound role player, Sefko adds, with Parsons’ health being the determining factor. Parsons underwent a microfracture procedure on his right knee during the offseason.

Texas Notes: Carlisle, Ayres, Fredette

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle‘s contract status beyond this season is up in the air, but even so, owner Mark Cuban said Friday on 103.3 FM ESPN that he hasn’t lent much thought to the matter, given what he described as mutual interest in a continued partnership, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link). Carlisle signed a four-year deal prior to the 2012/13 season, though at least one report at the time indicated an option for a fifth season was involved. “We obviously want to keep Rick and he doesn’t want to go anywhere, so I don’t see it being an issue,” Cuban said.

Here’s more from out of the Lone Star State:

  • Power forward Jeff Ayres, who made 51 appearances for the Spurs last season, has been waived by Shanxi of the Chinese Basketball Association, international journalist David Pick reports (via Twitter). Ayres had inked a one-year deal with Shanxi worth a reported $1MM back in early September. The 28-year-old averaged 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 7.5 minutes per game during the 2014/15 season for San Antonio.
  • While he may be a long shot to make the regular season roster, Jimmer Fredette was signed by the Spurs to help replace the outside shooting that was lost with Marco Belinelli‘s departure to the Kings via free agency this summer, Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com writes. “He’s a shooter,” coach Gregg Popovich said about Fredette. “He’s a scorer, and we’re looking for that type of thing to add to the team. People always look at the big guys. But we started last season thinking that not having Patty Mills is going to be a big factor for us. And it was huge. First of all you don’t have him for the first half, and then it took him a long time to get back into the flow. And this year Marco not being here is important. He came off the bench and helped us in a lot of games and I think that’s a big concern.”
  • Fredette also noted that he was surprised that the Spurs were interested in him, Pandian adds. “I just hadn’t heard that [the Spurs] were a team that was necessarily on our radar,” Fredette told Pandian. “We always loved the Spurs organization and the team but it was kinda just a call that my agent told me was out of the blue. As soon as we got it, I was obviously extremely excited. I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to be on a good team and also it fits my style of play well. They move the ball well, they share they ball, lots of movement, play uptempo, so I’m excited to be part of this organization. Hopefully it will work out well.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Bender, Wall, Durant, Brown, Lawson

European phenom Dragan Bender will make his U.S. debut in Chicago tonight for Israel Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv for the first of a pair of exhibitions against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors first reported he was likely to do. The 17-year-old has stirred no shortage of excitement, as international journalist David Pick writes for Bleacher Report. Almost all 30 NBA teams are set to scout the contests, with the Celtics, Nets, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Bucks among them, sources tell Pick. Hornets GM Rich Cho will be there, too, tweets Jake Fischer of SI Now. The Nuggets, Sixers and Magic have had talks with Maccabi officials about the 7’1″ power forward, Pick also hears. Bender is well ahead of where 2015 No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis was at the same age, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told Pick. Givony has Bender as the fifth-best prospect in next year’s draft, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks him seventh.

“The only thing ’17 years old’ about him is his mustache,” Maccabi coach Guy Goodes said to Pick.

See more on Bender and other NBA news here:

  • Bender turns 18 next month, so he’ll turn 19 in 2016 and thus be eligible for early entry for the upcoming draft, but it’s not a given that he’ll declare, as Maccabi GM Nikola Vujcic, who also serves as Bender’s guardian, explained to Pick for the same piece. Vujcic suggested to Pick that Bender won’t enter the draft unless he receives a commitment from a team picking in the top three to five selections and suggested that he might decide to stay overseas for a while even if he is drafted.
  • John Wall says he and Kevin Durant are “really close” and reiterated that he’ll make a recruiting pitch to the former MVP who hits free agency next summer, though he adds that he’ll be cautious not to take an overbearing approach, as the Wizards point guard explains to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Nets declined to waive Markel Brown by Tuesday’s guarantee date, so his $200K partial guarantee jumped to a full guarantee on his $845,059 minimum salary, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That gives the Nets 13 fully guaranteed contracts among the 20 players they have in camp.
  • The Rockets are trying to minimize their risks with Ty Lawson, having told him that they’ll provide a ride for him to any destination at any time, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Lawson, for whom Houston traded this summer despite two DUI arrests in six months, has been on his best behavior so far, Aldridge notes.

Texas Notes: Howard, Lawson, West, McGee

Dwight Howard can opt out of his deal at season’s end, but he isn’t planning for the sort of hype that surrounded the last time his contract became an issue, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Howard declined to talk Wednesday about his potential to become a free agent next summer, though Rockets GM Daryl Morey said last week that he intends to keep the core of the team, including Howard, together for more than just this coming season, Feigen notes. Howard shrugged off the notion that he’s headed into an age-related decline.

“I’m 29 years old,” Howard said, accoring to Feigen. “Regardless of me being in the league for 12 years, I’m still fairly young. I’ll give everything I’ve got for these 10, 11 years I have left.”

See more on the Rockets amid the latest from around the Texas Triangle:

  • Ty Lawson asked James Harden to push the Rockets to trade for him shortly after last season’s Western Conference Finals were over, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The initial rush of major moves in late June and early July passed with Lawson still on the Nuggets, but Houston finally traded for the point guard in late July.
  • David West has been saving money since his rookie season with the idea that when he came to the end of his career, he could make professional decisions based on basketball only and not worry about finances, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio-Express News details. That’s just what he did this summer, when he turned down a $12.6MM player option from the Pacers and signed for a $1,499,187 minimum salary with the Spurs“There are a lot of people making a whole lot less than we make that live comfortable lives,” West said to McDonald. “I’ve always kept that in perspective. So when it came down to year 13, knowing you’ve got more yesterdays than tomorrows, you say, ‘Take the money off the table and go where you want to go.’”
  • JaVale McGee is showing frustration as the rehab process from stress fracture in his left tibia drags on, but even though he probably won’t be ready for opening night, the dearth of other center options on the Mavs makes it likely the team keeps him, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. That means the Mavs would end up cutting one of 15 players with a fully guaranteed contract to accommodate McGee’s partially guaranteed deal on the regular season roster. “We know what he’s capable of doing,” coach Rick Carlisle said of McGee. “He has a body of work. We know he’s an NBA player, and we know he has the ability to be a starting player in the NBA. We know he’s very motivated to play. He’s just had a very odd rehab situation that’s been addressed and he’s doing much better. So that’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate and kind of see what’s what as time goes along, but we consider him a guy that’s a great prospect.”

Southwest Notes: Matthews, Jones, West

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has already reportedly ruled out Wesley Matthews for the team’s opener, but the swingman has designs on proving his new coach wrong, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “I’m trying to be ready by opening day,” Matthews said. “Whether I can play in it or not, I can’t really control that. But my goal is to [be] ready and available opening day.

Matthews doesn’t think it relevant to compare how long it has taken other players who have had similar injuries to his own to recover, MacMahon adds. “I don’t really pay too much attention to that because if I paid attention to people that were in my situation before me, then I wouldn’t be up here standing and talking to you guys,” Matthews said, “because I can’t think of too many undrafted free agents that have done what I’ve done.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets forward Terrence Jones enters the 2015/16 season with a different, more mature outlook, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. “I felt like I really needed to grow as a person,” Jones said. “I think I am a lot more mature this year.” Jones is eligible to ink a contract extension with Houston prior to the deadline on November 2nd.
  • David West said that the Spurssigning of LaMarcus Aldridge was the deciding factor for him to join the team as an unrestricted free agent this summer, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News tweets.
  • Despite concerns regarding his agility and foot speed, the Spurs‘ signing of center Boban Marjanovic is exactly what the team needed to help offset the free agent losses of Aron Baynes and Tiago Splitter, writes Dan McCarney of The San Antonio Express-News. McCarney notes that Marjanovic’s ample size (7’3″), as well as his minimum salary contract, make the 27-year-old a wise pickup.
  • Pelicans star big man Anthony Davis is hoping that the additional 15 pounds of muscle he added from working out over the summer will make him an even more dominant player, Brett Martel of The Associated Press relays. “I feel great right now. Even just working out, I feel explosive. I feel quick,” Davis said. “When you start actually going against people and all that, it’s a lot different. So I’m going to see how it is during training camp and preseason and go from there.
  • Despite the expectations that arrived in San Antonio along with him, Aldridge is doing his best to fit in and adapt to the way the Spurs organization handles its business, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News writes. “It’s never been about one guy here,” said Aldridge. “It’s always been about the team. So it’s not about me.
  • After missing the end of the 2014/15 regular season and the playoffs, Rockets guard Patrick Beverley is itching to get back on the court, Creech writes in a separate piece. “Six months, nine days,” Beverley said. “That’s the longest I have ever been out and away from basketball. Injuries aren’t something you can control, but I am ready to get back, ready to play and get this thing started.

Southwest Notes: Williams, Parsons, McGee, Butler

Deron Williams admits he bought into the idea of himself as a reduced player the past few seasons with the Nets, but both he and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle are optimistic about what the 31-year-old point guard can do in Dallas, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com details.

“I want to prove myself wrong,” Williams said Monday. “I started to doubt myself in the past. Mentally, it took a toll on me. I just got to get out of that rut that I was in the last couple years mentally, and I look forward to this situation. I think I’m past that. This fresh start has definitely helped that a lot. I’m looking forward to this year. It’s a better situation.”

The Mavs invested a two-year, $11MM deal in the hopes that Williams can indeed perform better. See more on the Mavs and their Southwest Division rivals:

  • Chandler Parsons spoke about his close relationship with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in an interview with GQ’s Alex Wong that further addressed the Mavs’ failed effort to recruit DeAndre Jordan this summer. “He didn’t do anything illegal. I’m not mad at him,” Parsons said of Jordan. “At the end of the day, he’s a grown man and he’s entitled to do whatever he wants,” Parsons says. “He’s one of the best young centers in the NBA, and I wanted to play with him. He could have made us great. But he screwed us over.”
  • JaVale McGee is unlikely to be healthy enough to play at the start of the regular season, MacMahon tweets. McGee, who continues to recover from a recurring stress fracture in his left tibia, has a partially guaranteed contract, and his continued place on the Mavs roster depends on how other players perform in camp, MacMahon says. McGee’s partial guarantee of $250K jumps to $500K if he remains under contract through the end of business today.
  • Rasual Butler‘s deal with the Spurs is non-guaranteed for the minimum salary and only covers this season, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Jeff Adrien‘s one-year, minimum salary contract with the Pelicans is non-guaranteed, reports Pincus also reports (Twitter link). The team’s non-guaranteed pact with Corey Webster is for two years, not three, as initially reported, Pincus reveals.

Southwest Rumors: Parsons, Lawson, Spurs

Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons had a “minor hybrid” microfracture operation on his right knee, sources told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Parsons confirmed the procedure during the team’s media day session on Monday, MacMahon tweets. Parsons has not been fully cleared for the beginning of training camp but coach Rick Carlisle said he might be ready for the opener, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Wesley Matthews, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, might be ready by Christmas, Townsend reported in the same tweet. Matthews has already been ruled out for the opener by Carlisle, MacMahon adds (Twitter link).

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Ty Lawson knows this season with the Rockets will be a pivotal one in his career, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Lawson was dealt by the Nuggets after he was arrested twice on DUI charges this year. “This is like a turning point. What kind of career are you going to have?” Lawson told Feigen.
  • New Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry plans to install an up-tempo offense focused on spacing, ball movement and quick-strike scoring, John Reid of NOLA.com reports. Gentry believes he has the personnel to play that style, Reid adds. ”I think it’s going to be an exciting brand of basketball,” Gentry told Reid. “We’re going to try and get the ball up and down the floor.”
  • Tim Duncan doubted that the Spurs would land free agent prize and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. “Honestly, I was betting against us … right up to the end,” Duncan told McDonald.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich admitted the team needed to trade center Tiago Splitter to create financial flexibility, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Splitter, who has two year and $17.35MM remaining on his contract, was shipped to the Hawks in July. “We knew if we wanted to change the team and add talent, [trading Tiago] was something we had to do,” Popovich said during the team’s media day.

Pistons Sign Eric Griffin To Camp Deal

SEPTEMBER 28TH, 11:23pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.

2:30pm: It’s a one-year deal for the minimum with limited injury protection, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That indicates that it’s an Exhibit 9 contract.

SEPTEMBER 14TH, 10:46am: The signing took place Friday, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the Pistons have made no formal announcement.

SEPTEMBER 1ST, 9:34pm: The Pistons have agreed to a deal with unrestricted free agent small forward Eric Griffin, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). The length and terms of the deal are unknown, but Charania does add that the pact is non-guaranteed, which means that it is likely a minimum salary training camp arrangement, though that is merely my speculation.

The 25-year-old will certainly have his work cut out for him in order to remain on the roster for the beginning of the regular season. Detroit currently has 18 players on its roster, which isn’t uncommon this time of the year. What is unusual is that 17 of those players possess fully guaranteed pacts, and if Griffin were to make the final cut, then the Pistons would need to eat a total of three fully guaranteed salaries in order to clear a slot for him. It is possible that Detroit inked Griffin with an eye on sending him to its D-League affiliate for the 2015/16 campaign, though that is merely my speculation.

Griffin went undrafted out of Campbell University back in 2012. He was a camp invitee for the Mavericks last season, and the forward later inked a deal to play in Puerto Rico for Leones de Ponce. He played summer league ball for both the Clippers and the Cavaliers this offseason.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Motiejunas, Spurs, Mavs

Daryl Morey, who has established a reputation for big deals during his eight years as Rockets GM, sounds content with his current roster, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Morey picked up another star over the summer, sending four players to the Nuggets in exchange for Ty Lawson. The GM compares the Rockets’ current situation to that of the champion Warriors last offseason when they kept their roster mostly intact and added a point guard in Shaun Livingston. “This is the first time I feel like, without any changes, we’re good enough to win it,” Morey said.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Extension candidate Donatas Motiejunas will not be ready for the start of training camp, and his status for the start of the season is uncertain, Feigen reports in the same story. The Lithuanian forward missed the end of last season after undergoing back surgery. Dwight Howard, who had a problem with fluid in his knee last season, will be ready for camp but will be rested at times during the year. Howard can opt out of his current deal and become a free agent next summer.
  • The addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West will require Gregg Popovich’s third major revision of how the Spurs play, according to Buck Harvey of The Express-News. Recent San Antonio teams have embraced the modern philosophy that emphasizes three-pointers and layups, but Harvey contends the team will have to adapt because of the effective midrange game possessed by both Aldridge and West.
  • Wesley Matthews was the Mavericks‘ best offseason addition, according to Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders. Taylor notes that the max deal given to Matthews is somewhat of a gamble because of concerns over his Achilles rupture, but argues that when healthy he is one of the NBA’s best two-way guards. The contributors to the site’s season preview agree that Dallas lost a major asset when DeAndre Jordan backed out of his free agent commitment.

Latest On Steve Nash

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 3:53pm: The Warriors have officially hired Nash, confirming that he’ll serve as a player development consultant, the team announced via press release.

“Steve Nash was one of the best guards to ever play in this league and we are so happy to add him to our staff and have him working with our players,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in the team’s statement. “Even though he possessed incredible individual skills and abilities, Steve always played the game with a team-first mentality, which is something that we emphasize greatly within our group. Steve and I have a great relationship from our time together in Phoenix while I was general manager, and we share a lot of beliefs about how the game should be played and about the work ethic that goes in to being great. I can’t wait to work with him again and have him around our team.”

The two-time MVP also expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership.

“I look forward to joining Coach Kerr and his great staff and helping out in any way that I can,” Nash said.  “The Warriors played such a beautiful style of team basketball last season and it’s a style that I am very familiar with and enjoyed playing throughout my career. This team is extremely talented, as they proved in winning the championship last season, but they also have a number of core players who are relatively young in their careers. That is a very unique blend and I’m excited about the opportunity to work with these guys and hopefully pass along some of the lessons that I learned during my career.”

SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1:00pm: Nash seemed to confirm in a video with Sportsnet Central’s Caroline Cameron that he’ll be working on the Warriors staff this season, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group transcribes. Nash answered a question about how he can help Stephen Curry and said that “hopefully I’ll learn as much from him as he will from me.”

SEPTEMBER 15TH, 1:58pm: The Mavericks held out hope as recently as late June that they could convince Steve Nash to come out of retirement to play for them this coming season, sources told Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The 41-year-old is nearing a deal to join the Warriors as a part-time player development consultant, as Stein also reports. The point guard announced his retirement in March, months after a nerve ailment had sidelined him for the season and made it seem doubtful, at best, that he would ever return to action. The Lakers held on to his contract until waiving him in April.

Nash spent six seasons in Dallas between 1998 and 2004, blossoming along with Dirk Nowitzki, who remains a close friend and whose charity softball game Nash took part in this summer, as Stein notes. Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Kenneth Arthur of Rolling Stone last year that his worst move as an owner was letting Nash sign with Phoenix in 2004. Nash’s level of play reached even higher levels when he was with the Suns, the team with which he won both his MVP awards.

Dallas had only spot duty in mind for Nash this time around, but Nash made it clear last year that if he were to play again, he would only do so as a Laker, as Stein points out. The Cavs tried and failed to convince Nash to push for a buyout from the Lakers last season that would have allowed him to finish up 2014/15 in Cleveland, as Stein reported in March. Nash said then that he wanted to live in Southern California forever, but while he’s poised to join a Northern California team, he’d only spend a few days each month with the Warriors, Stein writes.

The Mavs, as they stand, have no shortage of point guards, with four on the roster. That includes offseason addition Deron Williams and J.J. Barea, who re-signed with the team this summer, as well as holdovers Devin Harris and Raymond Felton.

What do you think Nash’s greatest legacy as a player will be? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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