Mavericks Notes: Jones, Doncic, Irving, Lively

Four years after nearly being dealt to the Mavericks in a trade that fell apart over a miscommunication, veteran forward Derrick Jones chose Dallas last summer over a handful of rival suitors, including the Bulls and Suns, reports Tim Cato of The Athletic. According to Cato, Jones ultimately narrowed his options to the Mavs and Celtics before deciding to sign with Dallas.

Speaking to Cato, Jones’ agent Aaron Turner said he encouraged his client to sign with the Mavericks because it was the situation where the forward would get the best opportunity to display his full skill set and claim a major role if he impressed the coaching staff.

“You’ve got to go somewhere not where you’re wanted, but you’re needed,” Turner said in describing the advice he gave to Jones. “Whether (the Mavericks) know they need you yet, it doesn’t matter. They need you.”

Jones ended up starting 66 of 76 games for the Mavs, serving as the team’s primary defensive stopper while establishing new career highs in points (8.6) and minutes (23.5) per game, as well as three-point percentage (34.3%). Head coach Jason Kidd calls Jones a player “we count on” on both ends of the court, and Turner says the 27-year-old would like to be back in Dallas next season.

The Mavericks will only hold Jones’ Non-Bird rights, which allow for a raise of just 20% above his minimum, so they may have to dip into their mid-level exception to make him a competitive offer. Turner expects his client to test the market, but the hope is that the Mavs will be able to put an offer on the table that makes sense for both sides. For his part, Kidd doesn’t want to let Jones get away.

“We understand the business (and that) there’s other teams that can maybe pay him more,” Kidd said. “But we definitely want him back.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • It’s hard to blame Luka Doncic, who’s playing through multiple injuries and may not even be active if this were the regular season, but the Mavericks will need more from him if they hope to advance past the Thunder, Cato says in another article for The Athletic. As Cato notes, Dallas built its roster around defense and relies heavily on Doncic and Kyrie Irving for scoring, so those two stars will likely have to be operating at the peak of their powers to get the team two more wins over Oklahoma City.
  • How a resilient Mavs team responds in Game 5 after a meltdown in Monday’s Game 4 loss will be a defining moment for this group, as Irving said following that defeat. “This is the telltale sign of whether or not we’re going to be that group that gets over the hump,” Irving said, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). “Or we’re going to be one of those groups that looks back and sees OKC (advance) and kind of living with some of the woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
  • Of the 12 active NBA players who have made at least seven All-Star teams, only Irving advanced past the first round of the playoffs. The veteran guard spoke to Tim MacMahon of ESPN about being the last star standing from the “older” generation this spring, as well as his impressions of the league’s rising young stars. “It’s been pretty much our generation running the Finals, the Eastern Conference Finals, Western Conference Finals,” Irving said. “(The shift has) just been quick. I don’t want to say I know that those guys are looking at the light in the tunnel. I can’t speak for them. But to see this newer generation come in and to see how it’s played out, I’m excited. It keeps me motivated and inspired to continue to lead my generation, because I was the youngest of that generation watching them.”
  • Mavericks center Dereck Lively and Thunder guard Cason Wallace have both played key roles as rookies for their respective teams in the playoffs. The fact that they’ve each fit in so well and adapted so quickly to playoff basketball makes last year’s draft-day trade involving the two players a win-win, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City moved up two spots to nab Wallace with the No. 10 pick, with Dallas drafting Lively after sliding down to No. 12.
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