Southwest Notes: Smith, Rondo, Cuban, Rockets

The recent play of Greg Smith has the Mavericks convinced they can wait to add frontcourt help, reports Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Free agent Jermaine O’Neal remains the team’s primary target, Sefko writes, but he won’t commit to returning to the NBA until he is sure he’s physically ready. The 6’10” Smith, who has averaged 4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in eight games since Brandan Wright was moved in the Rajon Rondo deal, has lessened the sense of urgency to find a big man. “Jermaine’s a great guy. I know him,” Smith said. “And if he comes here, that’d be great for us. But for right now, I got to hold the fort down and be the best backup I can be so if he does come, we can be a three-headed monster down there.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is defending Rondo in the wake of a controversial comment, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. After returning to Boston Friday for his first game since the December 18th trade that sent him to the Mavericks, Rondo told reporters, I haven’t played defense in a couple years.” Ainge said he was referring to former backcourt mate Avery Bradley taking the tougher matchup. “The way I interpret it,” Ainge said, “is that now out in the Western Conference he’s going to have to be the guy that defends Chris PaulRussell WestbrookDamian Lillard and those guys every night, where here he could rely on Avery to take a lot of that burden off of him.”
  • Mark Cuban turned around the fortunes of Mavericks basketball when he bought the team 15 years ago Sunday, opines Dwain Price of The Star Telegram. Price contends Cuban’s willingness to spend and his close relationship with players has made Dallas a perennial title contender.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes the Rockets improved greatly through two recent moves, writes Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle. Houston was able to add athleticism and experience by picking up Josh Smith on waivers from the Pistons and Corey Brewer through a trade with the Wolves. ““They are both long, versatile defenders,” Spoelstra said. “Corey Brewer is playing as well as he has ever played. He is shooting the ball great. He is playing with great confidence. He is disruptive. You can see why they pursued him so hard.”

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