Dallas Mavericks

Southwest Notes: Matthews, Lawson, Anderson

Wesley Matthews was initially bitter that the Trail Blazers didn’t make him an offer this past summer, but he now understands how GM Neil Olshey and company saw his future with Portland as having been inextricably tied to LaMarcus Aldridge‘s, as Jason Quick of CSNNW.com details. Matthews told Quick he already feels at home in Dallas and is secure in his decision to join the Mavericks, and while his former coach is surprised at how quickly he returned from last spring’s Achilles injury, he thinks it makes sense that Matthews has found the Mavs to his liking.

“Other than staying in Portland, he couldn’t have found a better situation,’’ Blazers coach Terry Stotts said to Quick. “I’m really pleased that everything worked out so well for him, because he deserves it.’’

See more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Opposing teams believe they’ll be able to trade for Ty Lawson on the cheap, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The Rockets, who have a record of 7-11, have been “sniffing around” for deals, Kyler adds, though it’s not entirely clear whether they’ve had discussions about Lawson, who gave up the guarantee on his salary of more than $13.213MM next season to facilitate the swap that sent him to Houston this past summer.
  • Ryan Anderson‘s name surfaces more often than any other Pelicans player in Kyler’s conversations with sources, but sources close to the team told Kyler that the organization places a remarkably high value on Anderson and that it would take a “monster offer” for New Orleans to think about parting with him.
  • It took a while for Matt Barnes‘ offense to catch up with his defense, but the Grizzlies‘ offseason trade acquisition is clicking on both ends thanks to the team’s swifter pace, increased motion and open minutes at power forward, observes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Barnes and coach Dave Joerger appear confident the 35-year-old will continue to flourish even with Zach Randolph back from a five-game absence. “Small ball is where the league is headed. We still have one of the best power forwards in the game,” Barnes said. “[Randolph] is old-school, so we just have to mix small ball in with what this team is accustomed to and what they made their name on. It’s been a learning curve for all of us, but we’re getting the hang of it.”

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Butler, Kobe, Dawson, Wilcox

The negative experience he had with the Mavericks left Rajon Rondo “hungrier” than before, though he never doubted himself, as he told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Rondo contends the back injury the Mavs said he suffered in the playoffs this past spring, reportedly a ruse that Rondo and the Mavs concocted to allow Rondo to save face, was legitimate, though he admitted to MacMahon that he probably could have played through it. The point guard who signed with the Kings on a one-year deal has “nothing but love” for the Dallas organization, he said to MacMahon, and doesn’t hold a grudge even toward Rick Carlisle, with whom he clashed.

“Every relationship doesn’t work,” Rondo said to MacMahon. “It just didn’t work. No excuses. No pointing the finger at anybody. It made me stronger, made me appreciate just playing the game, especially playing at a high level. I never doubted myself. It just didn’t work. Try to keep staying positive, but things just didn’t work out for the best for either side. And that’s just part of it. Every player, every coach doesn’t always see eye to eye. Every team doesn’t fit every person’s style of play.”

See more out of the Pacific Division here:

  • Caron Butler grew up in Wisconsin as an admirer of George Karl‘s turn-of-the-century Bucks teams and sees a lot of the rumors surrounding Karl and DeMarcus Cousins as hype, as the Kings small forward told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. “Everybody is not going to be comfortable with everything, whether it’s with their roles or whatever,” Butler said. “But if you come together and find the median in it, you can find ways to win. And that’s what’s we’re trying to do and that’s what all NBA teams try to do. Opinions are going to be voiced at times and sometimes they’re well-documented because they come from certain people. I don’t think that’s fair all the time. We had a great team meeting and got things together and have been moving forward ever since.’’
  • Kobe Bryant‘s accomplishments on the basketball court speak for themselves, but it’s his relentless will that sets him apart, observes Eric Koreen of The National Post.
  • The Clippers recalled C.J. Wilcox and Branden Dawson from the D-League late Monday, the Suns affiliate announced. Wilcox and Dawson went to Phoenix’s D-League team because the Clippers don’t have an affiliate of their own, and the pair hooked up with the Suns through the league’s flexible assignment system.

And-Ones: Dunleavy, Mekel, D-League

Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., who underwent back surgery in September, suffered a “setback” and his timetable for a return to the court is unclear, coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters, including Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Dunleavy re-signed with Chicago during the summer. Hoiberg, per Friedell, said there isn’t concern at this time that Dunleavy will have to miss the entire season or have another procedure on his back.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former Mavericks and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel has signed with European power-agent Misko Raznatovic, International Journalist David Pick tweets.
  • The Knicks have assigned Cleanthony Early to their D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Early has only seen 24 minutes of NBA action this season.
  • The Cavs have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, the team’s D-League affiliate, according to a team press release. Harris appeared in three games during his latest stint, averaging 22.7 points in 36.9 minutes per game.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders takes a look at the league’s landscape so far this season and the Hawks are among his underachievers. Greene believes one major reason for the disappointing start is that Atlanta still hasn’t found an adequate replacement for DeMarre Carroll.

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Rondo, Matthews, D-League

Rajon Rondo is enjoying an impressive comeback season after inking a one-year deal with the Kings and therefore is setting himself up for a big payday next summer, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, Rondo’s former coach, attributes a lot of the point guard’s success this season to Kings coach George Karl.

“George has done a great job of putting him in a position where he can really maximize his ability,” Carlisle said. “Somebody’s going to have to back up the truck to get him. That’s how well he’s playing and George has a lot to do with it. He’s a great coach.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder have assigned Josh Huestis and Mitch McGary to their D-League affiliate, the team announced on  Twitter. This will be Huestis’ fourth trip to the D-League of the season. McGary, who is headed to the Blue for the first time this season, has played in six games for the Thunder this season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.3 minutes per game.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tibor Pleiss to the Idaho Stampede, their D-League affiliate, per a press release.
  • Wesley Matthews has struggled with his 3-point shooting, but he needs to get his offense going in other ways because the Mavs invested four years and $70MM in him during the summer, Sefko argues in a separate piece.

Southwest Notes: Williams, Randolph, Bairstow

Deron Williams has no issue with Rick Carlisle‘s desire to call plays from the bench, as Rajon Rondo did last season, and that’s led to a smooth relationship for a coach and player who seemed to enter the season with a strong chance of clashing, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com examines.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him and working with him,” Carlisle said of Williams. “I’ve always had great respect for his game. Two months into this, he’s flat out one of the best players I’ve ever coached.”

Williams signed a two-year, $11MM deal with the Mavericks in the summer, but he can hit free agency again in 2016 if he opts out. See more from the Southwest Division:

  • The five games the Grizzlies played without Zach Randolph because of injury last month provided encouraging signs about the team’s ability to function with Randolph in a reduced role in seasons to come, writes Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal. Still, Memphis, which went 3-2 over that stretch, doesn’t have the caliber of wing players necessary to thrive without a fully engaged Randolph yet, Herrington posits. In the immediate future, with a shortage of big men, Herrington expects the Grizzlies to look to add a big if Brandan Wright‘s injury turns out to be a long-term affair.
  • The acquisitions of JaMychal Green, Matt Barnes and Mario Chalmers over the past 11 months were positives for the Grizzlies that represent a change in style toward more 3-pointers, fast breaks, steals and free throws, Herrington writes in the same piece.
  • The acclimation of Cameron Bairstow, who’s with the Spurs affiliate on D-League assignment from the Bulls, hasn’t been without a hitch, but it’s nonetheless an example of how the flexible assignment system benefits San Antonio’s affiliate, as Spurs D-League coach Ken McDonald detailed to Adam Johnson of D-League Digest.

Western Notes: Rondo, Lakers, Nuggets

The Mavs should have never acquired Rajon Rondo in a deal with the Celtics, according to Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports. Rondo had a mostly tumultuous four months with the Mavs last season and he often clashed with Carlisle, MacMahon writes. Rondo, as MacMahon points out, averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in 46 games with the Mavs, who were 26-20 when he played and 24-12 without him last season.

“Listen, we all did everything we could to make it work. It was challenging,” Carlisle told MacMahon. “Going back in time, it’s a deal we should have shied away from, for the sake of us and for the sake of him. It’s a deal we shouldn’t have made. I think we all realize that now, but when you do a deal like that, you’ve got to do everything possible to make it work. I learned a lot going through the year with him and trying to be creative and use some of his unique abilities. He’s a very talented player, and he’s having a great year this year, which is basically no surprise.”

Rondo, now with the Kings, is averaging 12.4 points and 11 assists per game.

Here’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Kings coach George Karl is unsure if DeMarcus Cousins will return Monday, but believes it was best Cousins didn’t play over the weekend because the center has been injured, with a lower back strain, and frustrated, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays.
  • Despite the fact Kobe Bryant is experiencing his worst season, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post opines that the superstar’s minutes should not be reduced. The topic has been debated by several scribes, especially with the Lakers struggling to win games.
  • Darrell Arthur, who re-signed with the Nuggets during the summer, has added an improved 3-point shot to his arsenal lately, Dempsey writes in a separate story.

Texas Notes: Matthews, Bickerstaff, Durant

Over the past few seasons, offense has been a major element in the Mavs‘ identity, but new addition Wes Matthews is helping to change the team’s perception, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. “We’ve had a spike in our defensive numbers,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “[Matthews] has been a significant part of that.”

Carlisle has had Matthews guard the opposing team’s best wing player on a nightly basis, but the shooting guard has also been asked to cover opposing big men at times. The 29-year-old’s versatility hasn’t gone unnoticed by his new teammates. “Wes is our go-to guy on defense,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “He can guard multiple positions. He’s just a fighter. We’ll live with him on the opposing best player all day.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff is making bold moves, like pairing Clint Capela and Dwight Howard in the starting lineup, and the team is embracing the changes, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. “I just want to win,” Howard said. “The coaching staff is putting together the right guys with each other to make that happen.”
  • The Rockets will no doubt attempt to bring Kevin Durant aboard next summer, but with the current state of the franchise, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com wonders if Houston has any chance of landing the former MVP. Blinebury believes that if Durant is going to join the team, Bickerstaff needs to first mend the dysfunctional relationship between Howard and James Harden.

And-Ones: Gortat, Pelicans, Matthews, Hammon

Marcin Gortat blasted the negativity surrounding the Wizards following tonight’s last-second loss to the Raptors, tweets J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Gortat says the poor atmosphere has taken the fun out of coming to the arena. This isn’t the first time this season that the center has talked about being unhappy. Two weeks ago, he complained about being publicly criticized by coach Randy Wittman following a loss to the Thunder. Gortat is still committed to Washington for four more seasons on the $60MM contract he signed in 2014.

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole could make their season debuts Tuesday, tweets John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Evans underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October, and Cole is recovering from a high ankle sprain.
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle credits offseason addition Wesley Matthews for the team’s improvement on defense, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Carlisle says the former Blazer’s size and versatility have made a difference on that end of the floor.
  • Assistant coach Becky Hammon is playing an active role on the Spurs‘ bench, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. During a second-quarter timeout in tonight’s win over the Hawks, Vivlamore watched San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich step back and let Hammon run the huddle and diagram a play.
  • Brook Lopez‘s decision to sign a new three-year contract with the Nets tops a list of questionable moves compiled by Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. Even though he got $63MM in the deal, Lopez is locked into a terrible team during the prime years of his career. Also on Aschburner’s list are Jahlil Okafor‘s missed opportunity to tell the Sixers not to draft him, Pau Gasol‘s choice to come to the Bulls in 2014 when he could have gone to the Spurs, the Clippers‘ offseason acquisitions and Josh Smith‘s decision to leave the Rockets for L.A.

Southwest Rumors: Nowitzki, Rockets, Lamb

Dirk Nowitzki remains the focal point for the Mavericks and while he’s slowed down in some ways, he’s handling the burden well, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. While the 37-year-old power forward can’t create off the dribble like he used to, he’s shooting over 50% from the field as well as on his 3-point attempts, MacMahon continues. Dallas has been unable the past four offseasons to make him their second-best player, MacMahon adds, but he’s still one of the league’s most efficient shooters. Nowitzki’s body has held up remarkably well over the years, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News points out, but the Mavs need to have a diverse attack with a variety of players taking big shots.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • With his full complement of point guards available, interim Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff plans to juggle them in creative ways, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Patrick Beverley, Ty Lawson and Jason Terry will share the position and Bickerstaff will pair them up at times, Feigen adds. “I think we’re going to try to play those guys together,” Bickerstaff told Feigen. “We’re going to stick with our same starting lineup. We like the leadership Jet [Terry] brings with that first group. But then we’re going to bring those other guys in off the bench.”
  • Doron Lamb, who was waived by the Mavericks during training camp in 2014, has signed with Buducnost in Montenegro, the team announced via Facebook (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). The Mavs had retained Lamb’s D-League rights by making him one of their affiliate players with NBA experience. Lamb previously played in the NBA with both the Bucks and Magic.
  • Power forward Ryan Anderson is averaging more than 19 points a game but Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said his defense has been even more essential to his club, Jeff Zillgitt of USAToday.com reports. “Ryan’s really scoring the basketball. But where he’s really helped us is that he’s really improved defensively,” Gentry told reporters, including Zillgitt. “His rebounding and physicality that he plays with has been the things that have helped us the most.”

Texas Notes: Dekker, Matthews, Spurs

Rockets combo forward Sam Dekker is glad to have undergone the surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, even if it will cost him at least the first three months of his rookie campaign, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “I’m a little more comfortable,” Dekker said. “I feel good, happy we got everything out of the way. Now, we heal. I met with a lot of people, got a lot of different opinions. We decided this was the best decision. Catching this early will now be good for me for the rest of my career.”

Dekker noted that the issue with his back flared up during summer league play, and that he initially hoped that he would be able to play through the pain this year, Feigen adds. “It effected everything I did on and off the court,” Dekker said. “That was probably the biggest part, being able to get up, walk and get out of bed in the morning. You don’t want to [be unable] to do that, especially at my age, 21. If I want to play a long time in this league, better get that fixed. With how I like to do things, hopefully we can get back as soon as possible. I already began the rehab process.

Here’s more from the Lone Star state:

  • Mavs swingman Wesley Matthews admitted lamenting the missed opportunities of his 2014/15 Blazers squad, where injuries derailed any chance that the team had to advance in the playoffs, Chris Mannix of SI.com relays. Matthews also noted that his future with Portland was directly tied to whether or not the team re-signed LaMarcus Aldridge, the SI scribe adds. When asked if he ever thought about what might have been in Portland, Matthews told Mannix, “A little bit, but not so much anymore. When it first happened, when the season ended the way it did, yeah, I thought about it. We were good. We were a top four team in the league. That wasn’t a fluke, either. You couldn’t help but think about it. I wasn’t sure [after the season] if I’d be back. It was kind of 50-50, really. I came to find out that my fate was tied to LMA [Aldridge]. That’s the decision [Blazers GM] Neil [Olshey] wanted to make with the organization.
  • With the offseason signing of Aldridge and the continued emergence of small forward Kawhi Leonard, the roles of the other members of the Spurs have changed this season, something that the team is still adjusting to despite its 12-3 record, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com writes. “People are still trying to figure out when and where their shots are and what’s right and wrong in the offense. So that leads to a little bit of hesitation,Tim Duncan said. “We’re gonna make mistakes, and we’re gonna use as we always do, use the 82 [regular season games] to figure those mistakes out and try to minimize them as much as possible. It’s very different for us, but it’s been wonderful because [the new players have] been great, willing to learn.

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