The Mavericks didn’t get the center they wanted this summer, but Zaza Pachulia wasn’t a bad consolation prize, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. When DeAndre Jordan changed his mind about coming to Dallas, the Mavericks swung a deal with Milwaukee to bring in Pachulia. The 13-year veteran has been an early-season surprise, posting double-doubles in points and rebounds five times in the first nine games. He credits the Mavericks’ experience for their 5-4 start. “You look around the locker room and guys have been in the league 10, 11, 12, 17 [years], so these guys know how to play the right way,” Pachulia said. “It’s like day and night when I came from Milwaukee. It’s become so much easier. Maybe because the mentality that I have is to play team basketball, it’s easier for me to fit in this system.”
There’s more basketball news from the Lone Star State:
- After years of Western dominance, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sees the balance shifting, MacMahon posts on ESPN.com. “The East looks like the better conference so far,” Cuban said. “That’s a good thing.”
- Rockets star guard James Harden and coach Kevin McHale have different levels of concern about the adjustment to Ty Lawson, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Lawson was acquired in a July trade with the Nuggets to give the team an extra playmaker. However, the 4-5 Rockets are off to a disappointing start — losing twice to the Nuggets and once at home to the Nets — and McHale doesn’t like what he has seen. “Both of those guys have to play better,” the coach said. “They have to play better defense, they have to rebound, keep people out of the middle, it’s just not them, it’s a multitude of people.” Harden thinks the adjustment to Lawson is just a matter of time. “I look at when LeBron [James] went to Cleveland with Kyrie [Irving] they didn’t mesh right away,” Harden said. “It takes time. I’m not worried about that.”
- The Spurs are noticing the contribution of Rasual Butler, even though he’s not playing much, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. The 36-year-old Butler, who signed with the team just before camp started, hasn’t seen more than 15 minutes in a game yet this season or scored more than six points. “He’s a good shooter. He’s aggressive. Always a smart veteran who makes good decisions. He helps us off the bench because of those things,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.