Harrison Barnes has a new $94MM contract, but he tells Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that he considers the Mavericks to still be Dirk Nowitzki‘s team. Barnes inked a four-year deal with Dallas in July after the Warriors signed Kevin Durant. Owner Mark Cuban has indicated that the Mavericks want Barnes to expand his game and claim a larger role of the offense than he did in Golden State. However, the 24-year-old small forward recognizes the special place that Nowitzki has earned during his 18 seasons in Dallas. “He’s put in the years and won a championship,” Barnes said. “But I have to go out and earn that. People assume that just because you get paid a lot of money and have a lot of attention that all of the sudden you’re guaranteed this many shots. I have to prove that every day in practice. I have to prove that to the coaching staff, and ultimately, if I’m going to be the guy taking shots, I’ve got to prove it to Dirk.”
- The Mavericks paid $3.2MM to the Pacers in last month’s Jeremy Evans trade, according to Pincus (Twitter link). Dallas had to dump Evans’ guaranteed $1,227,286 salary to create cap room for new, incoming players, and Indiana made a profit by agreeing to take him. Teams can send out a maximum of $3.5MM in trades during a league year, so Dallas used nearly all its trade cash in that move.
Knicks president Phil Jackson met with Charley Rosen of TodaysFastBreak.com throughout the 2015/16 season to discuss the state of his franchise, and Rosen has been passing along the Zen Master’s comments in a series called “The Phil Jackson Chronicles.” In the latest installment of the series, Jackson admitted that he passed up on acquiring Jae Crowder in a 2014 trade, and views that as the “biggest mistake” he has made since joining the Knicks.
“One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics,” Jackson said. “In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder.
“I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo [Anthony], so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.”
Either Jackson’s comments or Rosen’s transcript seem a little off here, since the Celtics should have had no involvement in the Knicks’ negotiations with the Mavericks. The second-round pick that ultimately became Early was sent to Dallas by Boston in 2013, and the Mavs traded Crowder to the Celtics a few months after the Chandler deal, but the C’s weren’t involved in that Knicks/Mavs trade at all.
In any case, the main point of Jackson’s anecdote – that the Knicks had a choice of taking the No. 34 overall pick or Crowder – appears accurate, and of course Jackson ultimately choice the pick, using it to select Early.
At the time of the trade, Crowder was coming off a season in which he averaged just 4.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 16.1 minutes per contest. He was a career 40.9% shooter at that point in his career and hadn’t been more than a part-time role player, so it’s hard to criticize Jackson too much for not seeing a breakout coming — or not thinking that he could potentially get a similar player early in the second round of the 2014 draft.
Since then, however, Crowder has developed into one of the Celtics’ most valuable pieces. In 2015/16, he set career highs with 14.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG, and a shooting line of .443/.336/.820. He’s also locked up on an affordable long-term deal through the 2019/20 season.
It’s impossible to know if Crowder would have enjoyed the same success in New York, or if the team would have been able to lock him up long-term, or even how his presence would have affected the Knicks’ other roster moves. But it’s still an interesting “what if?” worth considering, particularly since it may have had a domino effect on the Rajon Rondo trade between Boston and Dallas.
- The Mavericks concentrated on youth during the offseason, notes The Vertical’s Bobby Marks. After age seemed to be a problem in the playoff loss to the Thunder, Dallas brought in Harrison Barnes , Seth Curry , Quincy Acy  and A.J. Hammons  to join Dwight Powell  and Justin Anderson .
Wesley Matthews says he is fully recovered from the Achilles tear he suffered in 2015 and predicts much stronger results for his second campaign with the Mavericks, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com relays. “I want the season to start now,” Matthews said. “I’m a whole different person. I’m a whole different player, and I’m really just excited to get out there and show it, and just to be who I know I can be and just to continue to grow. Obviously, it was different coming off of an Achilles [injury] and not having four or five months to prepare and all that stuff, and jumping right into the season being physically able to play every single game and play heavy minutes. It took until about after the All-Star break for me to get my legs back, because I play both ends of the court. And I feel better than when I got hurt.”
- Mavs guard Deron Williams believes LeBron James solidified his legacy by winning a championship with the Cavaliers, he said in an NBC Radio interview that was excerpted by the Dallas Morning News. James formed a “super team” with the Heat but proved he could win it all with an arguable lesser cast, according to Williams. “He went back to a team that won – what? – 20 games before he got there, and took them to the Finals, and now they won a championship,” Williams said. “And if you take him off that team, I don’t know where they’d be, they’d still be a good team, but they wouldn’t be competing for a championship.”
The Mavericks made several new additions this offseason and coach Rick Carlisle envisions the team playing a different style than it did last season, as he said on 103.3FM ESPN (h/t to Earl K. Sneed of NBA.com). “We’re more physical,” Carlisle said. “You know, [Chandler] Parsons was a guy that is a different kind of player than Barnes, and Parsons was a very good ball-handler and playmaker. You know, I think [Harrison] Barnes can develop into a playmaker, but that has not been his DNA and that has not been what’s been asked of him in Golden State. What I found spending five days in the gym working out with him is that he’s a better ball-handler than most of us would expect, but we’re going to have to ease him into those situations and just kind of go from there.”
Here’s more out of Dallas:
- Dwight Powell signed a four-year deal worth $37MM this offseason, but he remains motivated to improve his game, as Sneed writes in a separate piece. “My job is to be ready for whatever opportunity I find myself presented with and be ready to perform at the highest level,” Powell said. “For me, it’s business as usual. Just in the gym grinding. Hopefully it says that I’m an NBA player, that I belong in the league and that I’m able to perform. I’m willing to work and do whatever it takes to get better. I’m willing to put in the time and the effort and sacrifice to do that to help a team win. Hopefully it’s a positive. I mean, I do work. That’s something I’ve done my whole life and something I was taught at a young age, so it’s part of who I am.”
- Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News takes a look back at the key members of the Mavericks‘ 2011 championship team and examines where they are in their careers now.
The Hawks currently have 17 players on their roster, which is three below the preseason maximum, and Atlanta is likely to add to that total prior to the start of training camp, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. The team would like to add another point guard and possibly more frontcourt depth, notes Vivlamore. One possibility, as far as backcourt help goes, is unrestricted free agent Bryce Cotton, adds the scribe. Cotton played well on the Hawks’ Las Vegas Summer League squad, appearing in five games and averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 19.6 minutes.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Former NBA player Adonis Thomas has signed with agent Jim Tanner and Tandem Sports, Liz Mullen of The Sports Business Journal tweets. Thomas last appeared in the NBA during the 2013/14 campaign when he briefly played for both the Sixers and the Magic.
- Available roster spots are becoming scarce around the league, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes in his rundown of where each team currently stands as far as roster counts go.
- The Mavs‘ roster looks markedly different from a season ago and team executive Donnie Nelson believes the changes made are for the better, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com writes. “You know, we’re excited. I think we’re better than we were last year,” Nelson explained. “We also have some really nice young pieces, and I think at the start of training camp we’ll have some really solid veteran leadership in the starting positions laced with guys in their mid-20s. So, it’s a really nice complement of Mavericks that have carried that baton for years and a young complement of Maverick young guns that will be positioning themselves for roster minutes.”
Harrison Barnes is competing in his first Olympics, but he had plenty of offseason excitement before the Summer Games started, writes Joe Rexrode of The Des Moines Register. After being a key part of a Warriors team that set a league record with 73 wins in a season, Barnes found himself cut free when Golden State needed his cap room to sign Kevin Durant. Barnes wound up inking a four-year $94MM deal with the Mavericks, who plan to make him one of the focal points of their offense. “I think Harrison wants an opportunity to go to a team and be the guy,” said fellow Team USA member and former Warriors teammate Draymond Green, “and he has that opportunity, which I’m not mad at him about. He already has a championship, and that’s what he’ll be remembered as. He’s a champion, and no one can ever take that away.”
- The Mavericks didn’t try to stop newly acquired center Andrew Bogut from playing in the Olympics, according to Kareem Copeland of The Associated Press. Bogut, who came to Dallas in a trade last month, is still recovering from a hyperextended knee he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. At age 31, Bogut believes this is his last shot at the Olympics and he feared the Mavericks might ask him to sit out and rest the knee, but he said the team approved as long as he was healthy. “I was like, I don’t want it to end that way where I’m just sitting at home with ice on my knee if I can give it a crack,” Bogut said after leading Australia past France today. “I didn’t want it taken away that easily. I said I’ll give it a crack up until this day. If it wasn’t right yesterday, I’d put my hand up and I’m on a flight back home.”