Southwest Notes: Rondo, Stokes, Felton, Smith

During the press conference to officially welcome Rajon Rondo to Dallas, Mavs owner Mark Cuban indicated that the veteran point guard was acquired primarily to help the team’s defense, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays. “We needed to be better defensively,” Cuban said. “I mean, teams were walking in and shooting better at the 3 than they were in the gym by themselves. So that had to change and stop. We didn’t have a lot of length at the point guard position, either. We needed to get a lot taller or a lot longer. Rajon’s the best of both. He’s not taller, but he’s so long that he’s as good as 6’4″ or 6’5″, so he can guard much bigger.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • With the acquisition of Rondo, Dallas still has four point guards on its roster, including Raymond Felton, who still hasn’t made his Mavs debut courtesy of his injured ankle. But coach Rick Carlisle says Felton is still a valuable member of the team, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. “Ray’s working his butt off to get himself back to a point where we can activate him,” Carlisle said. “He’s getting closer. I don’t know if he’s quite there yet, but he’s getting closer. Listen he’s a valuable guy. He’s a starting caliber point guard in the NBA, so you got an extra guy like that on your team, that’s a strong position to be in, so you got to keep working. I’ve said all along we’re going to need him at some point.”
  • The Grizzlies have re-assigned Jarnell Stokes to the Iowa Energy, the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the team announced. The 20-year-old has posted totals of 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 35 minutes over nine games with Memphis this season. This will be Stokes’ third sojourn  of the season to Iowa.
  • Dealing Brandan Wright to the Celtics as part of the Rondo trade has left the Mavs thin in the frontcourt. One possibility is for Dallas to sign free agent Jermaine O’Neal, and the Mavs are reportedly the front-runners for the big man’s services should he decide to play this season. But another option to replace Wright may already be on Dallas’ roster in the 6’10” form of Greg Smith, Sefko writes in a separate piece. “Greg Smith has been sitting here waiting for an opportunity,” Carlisle said. “So he steps up into the picture. He’s worked hard and he’ll get a chance. We need him at this point. Beyond that, we’ll keep our eyes open around the league for opportunities if there are some. We now have an open roster spot so as time goes forward, we’ll see what’s what.”
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