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Luka Doncic Expected To Return For Mavs

There is good news out of Dallas for Mavericks fans. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the team is planning for Luka Doncic to make his return to the lineup against the Spurs tonight.

Doncic has been sidelined since December 14 with an ankle sprain. He’s missed four games – and most of a fifth – with the ailment.

In 25 games for the Mavericks this season, Doncic has been electric. He’s scoring 29.3 points per game, grabbing 9.6 rebounds and dishing out 8.9 assists. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden have a higher TPA this season despite Doncic’s time away from the court.

Injury Updates: LeBron, AD, Doncic, Hayward, Gordon

A handful of the NBA’s Christmas Day games have lost some of their luster due to injuries, but that shouldn’t be the case for the league’s marquee December 25 matchup. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) went through an impromptu practice today and are expected to play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. James and Davis had been listed as questionable.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the league:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a full participant in practice today, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game remains up in the air, but “things are looking better and better,” according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
  • As expected, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been listed as probable for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. Toronto. Hayward, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games, said today that he has been dealing with a nerve issue in his foot, which he believes is related to his ankle injury from two years ago. He has received three cortisone shots and feels “a lot better” after the most recent one, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, out since November 11 with a knee injury, may be targeting Sunday’s game for his return, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen also explores the ripple effect that Gordon’s return will have on Houston’s rotation.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams has made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is hopeful he won’t miss much time, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.

Western Notes: Burks, Williams, Doncic

When Alec Burks signed with the Warriors, not many people expected him to play 27.0 minutes per game. Even fewer expected him to be one of the most reliable scorers on the team. However, injuries have opened the door for him to take on a greater role.

“I definitely knew he could score,” Draymond Green said (via Logan Murdock of NBCSports.com). “When he’s been on any team, he comes off the bench and he gets it going. Going downhill, getting to the basket and I think he’s definitely improved his jump shot”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans have endured a bevy of injuries this season and Kenrich Williams has stepped up when they needed him the most, as Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com relays. “He makes winning plays, and that’s why we have to have him on the court,” said coach Alvin Gentry. “So we inserted him back into the lineup. I never even look at his stat line, because he just helps you win basketball games.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details the ever-evolving relationship between Rick Carlisle and Luka Doncic. Some within the league were skeptical that the pairing would work long-term given Carlisle’s propensity to be harsh on point guards, but the Mavericks are confident that the right coach is in place. “When we had people here who didn’t think they needed to learn anything, that’s when we’d run into conflicts,” Owner Mark Cuban said. “Luka is a sponge, on the court and off.”
  • Carlisle believes in Doncic, which wasn’t the case for Dennis Smith Jr. and Rajon Rondo were they were on the Mavericks, MacMahon passes along in the same piece. The ESPN scribe hears that Carlisle expressed concern about Rondo’s fit before the Mavs traded for him.

Luka Doncic Sprains Ankle, May Miss Two Weeks

DECEMBER 15, 12:15pm: Doncic may be sidelined for a couple of weeks, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who states that Mavericks officials feel like they “dodged a bullet” with the injury. Doncic won’t make the trip to Milwaukee for tomorrow’s game and no further updates will be provided until Wednesday night, adds Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 15, 8:19am: Doncic has been diagnosed with a moderate ankle sprain, a source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 14, 8:34pm: Mavericks star Luka Doncic left tonight’s game early after injuring his right ankle, but X-rays didn’t reveal any serious damage, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. He has been ruled out for the rest of the contest.

Doncic was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), and there has been no word from the team on how much more time he might miss. The injury occurred when Doncic rolled his ankle early in the first quarter.

The reigning Rookie of the Year has been outstanding in his second season, averaging 30.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.3 assists through 24 games and leading Dallas to a 17-7 start.

Community Shootaround: Doncic Or Young?

The careers of the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic and Hawks’ Trae Young will be forever linked.

They were traded for each other, with the Hawks receiving an additional first-round pick in a draft-night deal that allowed Dallas to move up two notches.

Initially, the Mavericks looked like they had fleeced the Hawks. Doncic, who had been playing at the highest level of competition in Europe for years, made an immediate impact while Young struggled with his shooting and turnovers during the first half of last season.

Perceptions quickly changed when Young grew more comfortable with the NBA game. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 7.6 APG and 3.9 TPG while shooting 31.2% from long range, Young sliced up defenders after the All-Star break to the tune of 24.7 PPG, 9.2 APG and 34.8% shooting beyond the arc while reducing his turnovers (3.4).

Young came up short in the Rookie of the Year voting to Doncic but it was clear that both teams had franchise players on their hands.

During the early going this season, they have seemingly upped the ante. Now partnered with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, Doncic has averaged 25.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 6.8 APG and 2.0 SPG, an increase in each category from his final totals last season (21.4/7.9/6.0/1.1). Dallas is off to a 3-1 start and has the look of a playoff contender.

In Young’s first two games this season, he spoiled the Pistons’ home opener with a 39-point, seven-rebound, nine-assist performance, then posted nearly identical numbers against the Magic in another Hawks victory (38 points, seven rebounds, nine assists). He suffered a minor ankle sprain in the team’s fourth game but should be back soon.

Young’s speed, ankle-breaking moves and unlimited shooting range, a la Stephen Curry, make him a nightmare for defenders. Doncic’s guile, creativity and sneaky athleticism, a la James Harden, provide a different set of headaches for opponents.

Safe to say, both franchises are thrilled with the player they wound up with last June.

That brings us to our question of the day: If you were starting a franchise, which young floor leader would you choose — Luka Doncic and Trae Young — and why?

Please take to the comments section to voice your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say.

Kings Notes: James, Giles, Playoff Changes, Doncic

Second-round pick Justin James made an impression Friday with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists in his first significant playing time of the season. Before that, the Kings guard was mostly known for his non-stop chatter, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.

James is talkative and opinionated, something that has been evident since the start of training camp. It’s his way of showing that he belongs in the league, and his teammates have noticed.

“He has that ‘it’ factor — he’s not shy,” Buddy Hield said. “From Day 1 when he first came in, he was not too shy to talk back, shy to voice his opinion … but he means well, and that comes from being confident.”

Sacramento took James with the 40th pick in June, and some draft experts were surprised he was selected at all. However, a series of injuries has provided him with an opportunity, and he played 33 minutes against Brooklyn after getting just 15 total minutes before that game.

“Every practice, he never shuts up, really,” coach Luke Walton said. “I think because of that, he knows the offense, he knows the play calls. There was one play out there he was directing veterans out there where to go. I think he knows what an amazing opportunity this is for him, and he’s doing everything in his power to make it work. He made a nice case for himself.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • The Kings haven’t given up on Harry Giles, even though they decided not to pick up the fourth year of his rookie scale contract last month, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Giles, who has been plagued by injuries since high school, provides another dimension with his ability to run the offense through the high post. Knee soreness caused him to miss all of training camp and the first eight games of the season.
  • Proposed changes to the NBA’s playoff format could have helped the Kings reach the postseason last year, Ham notes in a separate story. The play-in system that the league is considering would have matched the Kings and Lakers in a one-game format to take on the loser between the Spurs and Clippers for the eighth seed.
  • The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in last year’s draft in part because general manager Vlade Divac doesn’t like Doncic’s father, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon claimed on a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to Jesse Reed of Sportsnaut). “My understanding is that him (Divac) being so close to Luka and knowing his dad so well factored into their decision,” MacMahon said. “Basically he didn’t think a whole lot of Luka’s dad, and the whole like father like son … well … no, this is a different dude. You messed that one up, Vlade.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, Joseph

With the Suns playing above expectations to start the season, the development of Devin Booker has been a focal point of the team’s season. A recent three-game skid has put Phoenix two games under .500 but Booker’s play has been generally solid this season.

The 23-year-old is averaging 24.5 PPG and 6.3 APG while shooting from the field (51%) and from three (41.9%) at career-best rates. As the season has progressed, new head coach Monty Williams has taken a proactive approach in trying to get his young star to the next level, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

Whether it’s late-night text sessions, extra work after practice or going over film and studying, Williams has been impressed with the work Booker has dedicated to improvement. While Williams feels he drives Booker nuts, the guard says he’s thankful for his new head coach.

“I understand most of it, I mean, all of it,” Booker said. “It’s just the way I am. I’ve said since the beginning, I trust him.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • Deandre Ayton is nearing a return from his 25-game suspension and the young center’s role is still unclear, Rankin writes in a separate story. The Suns’ big man has appeared in just one game this season but given Phoenix’s recent struggles, some scoring punch from the 21-year-old could help the team.
  • Mavericks‘ guard Luka Doncic has started off his sophomore season with a bang, becoming a daily triple-double threat and an early MVP candidate. Rankin writes once again how Doncic’s development makes Suns fans think about how different things would have been if Phoenix took Doncic in lieu of Ayton in last year’s draft.
  • Kings‘ forward Marvin Bagley III has only played in one game this season after breaking his thumb. Five weeks after the injury, Bagley is still not cleared to return but is getting closer, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “Marvin is much closer than De’Aaron [Fox] is, but it’s one of those things that he hasn’t been cleared to go contact yet without (a brace) on,” head coach Luke Walton said. “So will he play tomorrow or Monday? No, but is he getting closer? Yes.”
  • While the personal stats may not be outstanding, the play of Cory Joseph, given the absence of Bagley and De’Aaron Fox has helped the Kings maintain pace in the Western Conference, James Patrick of the Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic answered several Clippers questions in the latest mailbag. Buha covered the possibility of the team pursuing Andre Iguodala, Landry Shamet‘s return, and more.

Southwest Notes: Iguodala, Ball, Ingram, Doncic

The Grizzlies haven’t softened on their stance of resisting a buyout with Andre Iguodala, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link from Siva Kodali). In a report last night, Wojnarowski said teams with interest in acquiring the veteran swingman should be prepared to make trade offers.

“The message that Memphis has delivered to teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Rockets is that you’re going to have to trade for him,” Wojnarowski said. “‘We are not buying him out. He will not be on the free agent market.'”

Iguodala has been in limbo ever since the Warriors shipped him to Memphis in July to open up cap room. He hasn’t spent any time with his new team and is waiting for a deal so he can start playing again. Iguodala would be a valuable addition to just about any contender, but his $17MM+ salary makes it challenging for the top teams to work out a trade.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans should consider using Lonzo Ball off the bench now that Kenrich Williams has claimed a starting spot, contends William Guillory of The Athletic. Injuries forced coach Alvin Gentry to use 11 starting lineups in the first 15 games, but he has more options now that the team is getting healthier. New Orleans has played very well when Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick are on the court together, and with Jrue Holiday holding one starting backcourt position, that doesn’t leave room for Ball.
  • Ingram has displayed All-Star potential through the first month of the season, observes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. The Pelicans didn’t reach an extension with Ingram before last month’s deadline, but Kushner believes a long-term deal this summer is virtually certain, even if it means the team has to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN looks at how Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle learned to trust Luka Doncic during a sometimes difficult first season in Dallas. Doncic’s occasional carelessness with the ball wasn’t a good fit for a no-nonsense coach like Carlisle, but he understood that his rookie guard needed a chance to develop his game at the NBA level. “For the development of a great player this young, the best thing they can do is make mistakes and grow from those mistakes,” said former Dallas director of player development Mike Procopio. “You can’t freak out over every mistake. Rick understands that. Rick is intelligent. Rick knows this kid is the future of that organization. He can’t get in the way of that.”

Mavs’ Carlisle “Wouldn’t Trade Doncic For Anybody”

In addition to expressing optimism about Kristaps Porzingis‘ health and outlook for the coming season at the Mavericks‘ Media Day on Monday, head coach Rick Carlisle offered high praise for the team’s other cornerstone player.

I wouldn’t trade [Luka] Doncic for anybody,” Carlisle said of the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to MacMahon, Carlisle also raved about Doncic’s ability to make the other four players on the floor better, comparing him to Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird.

Doncic, 20, immediately established himself as an impact player during his rookie season, averaging 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG in 72 games (32.3 MPG) for the Mavs. He’s also on one of the league’s most favorable contracts for a star player, with three years and $25.9MM left on his rookie deal. That contract will likely be followed up with a long-term, maximum-salary extension similar to the one Porzingis received from the team this summer.

In other words, Carlisle won’t have to worry about his young star being traded for “anybody” anytime soon. As MacMahon relays (via Twitter), Doncic told reporters today that he’s prepared for the pressure of assuming Dirk Nowitzki‘s place as the face of the franchise in Dallas.

I’ve had pressure since I was 16,” Doncic said. “I like pressure.”

Mavs Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Doncic, Jackson

The Mavericks have exercised the third-year option for Luka Doncic and the fourth-year option for Justin Jackson, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic (Twitter link). Both rookie scale team options apply to the 2020/21 season.

Doncic, who will have a cap hit of $8,049,360 in ’20/21, is the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year winner and projects to be a cornerstone in Dallas for many years to come. The Mavs will have to exercise his 2021/22 option next year, and he’ll become eligible for his first rookie scale extension during the 2021 offseason.

As for Jackson, the 24-year-old forward had an impressive stretch for the Mavs to finish the 2018/19 season after coming over from Sacramento in the Harrison Barnes deal. In 29 games (18.3 MPG) for Dallas, he averaged 8.2 PPG on .484/.372/.724 shooting. His fourth-year option in ’20/21 will have a cap charge of $5,029,650.

Assuming Tim Hardaway Jr. picks up his $19MM player option for 2020/21 next spring, the Mavs project to have about $108MM+ in guaranteed money on their books, which wouldn’t leave any meaningful cap room. Barring cost-cutting moves, Dallas’ next opportunity to make a splash in free agency will likely come in 2021.

While the Mavs have made decisions on their 2020/21 rookie scale team options well in advance of the October 31 deadline, there are still plenty of option decisions to come. Our tracker can be found right here.

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Nowitzki, Doncic

Kristaps Porzingis‘ camp contends that a story suggesting that Porzingis didn’t like the idea of playing in New York alongside Kevin Durant is “utter nonsense,” according to Frank Isola of The Athletic. In fact, Isola writes that Porzingis would welcome Durant with “open arms” if the Mavericks were to pursue and land 2019’s top free agent.

While Dallas created additional cap flexibility by trading Harrison Barnes to Sacramento at last month’s trade deadline, the idea of the Mavs signing Durant remains extremely unlikely. It’s possible that Dallas could make a splash in free agency this summer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the top available players remain a little wary of joining the Mavs until they see Porzingis back on the court — and until Luka Doncic gets a little more NBA experience under his belt.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Although it’s not clear yet whether this will be Dirk Nowitzki‘s final NBA season, David Aldridge of The Athletic takes a look back at the German’s career and assesses his place in team – and league – history.
  • Within Aldridge’s story, Nowitzki says he believes the Mavs are set up well for the future: “Luka has obviously exceeded all expectations — we didn’t think he would be this good. We were hoping he would be this good. But he’s been tremendous, and it’s obviously something to build around. And we had a chance to go for a franchise-like talent like KP; you gotta go for it. Most of the league didn’t even know he was available. That was a steal for us. It obviously hurt, trading some of our guys, basically trading four of our five good starters, but with those two around for a long time, hopefully, it will be good for our franchise.”
  • Doncic has been considered a lock for the 2019 Rookie of the Year award for most of the season, but with Trae Young putting up huge numbers in Atlanta, Zach Harper of The Athletic revisits the race to determine whether Doncic still has it sewn up.
  • A 30-point home loss to Memphis on Saturday was embarrassing, but the matchup provided a reminder that things could be worse for the Mavericks. As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News observes, well-paid Grizzlies veterans Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons were two of the free agents that the Mavs either missed out on (Conley) or opted not to sign (Parsons) in 2016. If that summer had gone differently in Dallas, there’s a good chance that Doncic and/or Porzingis wouldn’t be on the roster now, Townsend writes.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Roby, Ivey, Westbrook

Callie Caplan of SportsDay reports that 2018/19 NBA Rookie of the Year, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, is working his tail off this summer to become better conditioned as he becomes a focus night in and night out for Mavs’ opponents during the 2019/20 season.

Per Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, “it’s just a natural progression that every player needs to have going from Year 1 to Year 2, especially someone like Luka that had such a great first year. People are really going to be coming for him in his second year, and the continued work on body and conditioning and developing his game is going to keep moving him in the direction of becoming a really great player.”

Doncic, who is training in his native Slovenia this summer, has not yet returned to Dallas to join his Mavericks teammates, but Carlisle, assistant coach Jamahl Mosley and teammate Dwight Powell all visited him this offseason and liked what they saw. “I know he’s working his butt off this summer,” Carlisle added. “I know he’s very motivated for this (upcoming) season.”

There’s more news from around the Southwest Division this afternoon:

  • Newy Scruggs of NBC5 Dallas-Fort Worth (h/t to SportsDay) suggests that although the $1.5MM first-year salary for rookie Isaiah Roby may seem high, it was not an overpay by the Mavericks because of the lack of guaranteed salary in years three and four. Moreover, at least one source told Scruggs that Roby has Kyle Kuzma-type potential. If so, his contract will be a steal.
  • Niele Ivey, the first female assistant coach in Grizzlies history, believes that outside of being a head coach, a move to the NBA was the next step in her professional career, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. “I was like, ‘you know what? I felt like I’ve worked really hard and I’m at a great point in my career now and — outside of being a head coach — this would be next level for me.'”
  • As we noted yesterday, Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook agreed to alter his payout dates when he was traded from Oklahoma City in order to ease the initial/upfront financial burden on Houston ownership.

Luka Doncic Claims Rookie Of Year Honors

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named Rookie of the Year at the league’s annual awards show on Monday.

The flashy Euro playmaker held off a late charge by Hawks point man Trae Young. Suns center Deandre Ayton, the top pick in the 2018 draft, was the other finalist for the prize.

Doncic was a triple-double threat on a nightly basis, posting averages of 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 6.0 APG in 32.2 MPG. Doncic and Young, who averaged 19.1 PPG and 8.1 APG in 30.9 MPG, will forever be linked since they were essentially traded for each other in last year’s draft.

Dallas moved up to the No. 3 pick to select Doncic. Atlanta moved down two slots and chose Young and also got the Mavs’ first-rounder this year, which it used to select Duke forward Cam Reddish.

Doncic was also Hoops Rumors’ unanimous choice for the award.

And-Ones: Hunter, Doncic, Sterling

Attorneys for former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter filed an amended complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, seeking a jury trial on four breach of contract claims related to his 2013 termination, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The new complaint removes claims against former NBPA president and current Knicks coach Derek Fisher and his business manager and also clarifies the compensation claims, Berger continues. The amended complaint, obtained by CBSSports.com, includes a copy of Hunter’s 2010 contract, which called for him to be paid the balance of his salary and benefits through the end of the contract term if fired without cause, and through the end of the applicable calendar year if fired for cause. The complaint alleges that Hunter has not been paid since his termination, Berger adds.

In other news around the league:

  • Luka Doncic has carved out a role with European power Real Madrid and the 16-year-old forward could be a high lottery pick when he’s eligible, according to Bleacher Report’s international expert David PickHawks overseas scout Himar Ojeda told Pick that the 6’8” Doncic will be the best European of his age group when he enters the draft.
  • A California appeals court on Monday rejected former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s attempt to reverse the $2 billion sale of the team, Brian Melley of The Associated Press reports. The court ruled that Sterling failed to show that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who approved the sale last year committed any legal error. Sterling’s estranged wife sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
  • The Spurs assigned small forward Jonathon Simmons to their D-League affiliate in Austin, the club announced via press release. Simmons made his NBA debut on Saturday, playing nine minutes against the Sixers. Simmons has played in 94 games with Austin over the past two seasons.

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Doncic, Dragic, Barea

The Knicks informed the Mavericks about the pending rape allegation against Kristaps Porzingis before completing the January trade that sent him to Dallas, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league office was also told about the situation. Porzingis has denied the accusation through his attorney.

Dallas’ decision to go through with the deal is especially significant in light of a workplace misconduct scandal that the organization dealt with last year. The Mavericks overhauled their front office in response to response to numerous claims of sexual misconduct and received a glowing report from commissioner Adam Silver when he visited the team last month.

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • Luka Doncic‘s remarkable rookie season might be finished because of a right thigh contusion he suffered Thursday, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Rick Carlisle confirmed that Doncic won’t play tomorrow at Oklahoma City and may be held out much longer. “We’re going to be very prudent with this and make sure that he’s 100% before even thinking about him getting back out there,” Carlisle said, adding that Doncic was fortunate to take the brunt of the collision on his thigh rather than his knee. Doncic is a heavy favorite to be named Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 70 games.
  • A league source says Miami’s Goran Dragic is unlikely to sign with Dallas this summer even though the Mavericks’ front office seems him as an ideal backcourt partner for Doncic, Townsend reports in a separate story. Dragic has to make a decision on a $19.2MM player option and won’t take less than than from another team, Townsend adds. Dallas will have about $30MM in cap space, but seems unlikely to spend most of it on a 32-year-old player coming off arthroscopic surgery. The source identified the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, who is making just $5MM this season, as a more realistic target if the Mavs can’t land a top-flight option such as Kemba Walker or Klay Thompson.
  • Apart from Dirk Nowitzki if he decides to keep playing, J.J. Barea may be the only impending free agent that the Mavericks try to re-sign, according to Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders. Barea may not be able to provide immediate help next season because of a torn right Achilles tendon he suffered in January.

Southwest Notes: House, Davis, Riccardi, Doncic

The Rockets are planning to match any offer for restricted free agent Danuel House, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports. The swingman appeared in seven postseason games but shot just 29.7% from the field. During the regular season, House appeared in 39 games, including 13 starts, and averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 25.1 MPG. House’s qualifying offer is a modest $1,876,700.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The current Pelicans brass might have a more favorable opinion of the Lakers’ reported offers for Anthony Davis than the previous regime, Brad Botkin of CBS Sports relays. Comments on The Sedano Show made by executive VP David Griffin prior to being hired by New Orleans suggest that he’s very high on the potential of Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.
  • The Grizzlies were interested in hiring Matt Riccardi, an assistant GM with the Nets’ G League franchise, for a front office position, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Riccardi was granted permission to speak with the Grizzlies brass but opted to stay with the Nets organization.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was impressed by Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic‘s conditioning in a recent workout with coach Rick Carlisle, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. “He’s definitely in better shape,” Cuban said, adding jokingly that Doncic is finally showing abdominal muscles.
  • UCF center Tacko Fall worked out for the Rockets this week, Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets. Fall also visited the Pacers and Knicks.

Mavericks Notes: Jordan, Smith, Doncic

The success of the DeAndre Jordan signing will be determined by how well he can work in the pick and roll with Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Adding Jordan on a one-year, $22.9MM contract and moving up in the draft to take Doncic were the major offseason moves for a team that finished 23 games out of the playoff race.

Jordan not only solves the Mavericks’ rebounding problem — he’s led the league twice in that category and averaged a career best 15.2 boards per game last season — he adds an extra dimension to coach Rick Carlisle’s offense. Jordan has shot better than 60% from the field in each of his 10 NBA seasons and mastered the pick and roll with Chris Paul in Los Angeles.

There’ more today out of Dallas:

  • Improving his 3-point shot is the best way for Smith to avoid a sophomore slump, Sefko writes in a separate player profile. Smith shot just 31% from long distance last season, and defenders figure to give him more space as they try to cut off his drives to the basket. Sefko notes that Smith didn’t wear down during his first season in the league, with his scoring, assists and shooting percentages over the final 15 games all rating better than his season averages.
  • The Mavericks insist Doncic can be a difference maker, but it’s going to be a while before we know for sure, Sefko writes in another profile. Dallas made a bold move to trade up to the No. 3 spot in the draft to acquire Doncic and team him with Smith in its backcourt of the future. Although he cautions it will take at least another year, Sefko expects Doncic and Smith to develop into the foundation of a playoff team.
  • Doncic will be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, though he’ll get noticed more for his passing than scoring, writes Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News. He compares Doncic to Sixers guard Ben Simmons and suggests that the Knicks’ Kevin Knox may be a surprise winner of this year’s ROY honors.

Mavericks Notes: Smith Jr., Trades, Doncic

The struggle between Dennis Smith Jr. and Rick Carlisle continues, though the Mavericks still hold hope that they can reconcile the situation. Smith is reportedly unhappy with his in-season role change and the push for appears to be coming from DSJ’s camp.

The Mavs want the former No. 9 overall pick, who hasn’t played in over a week because of back issues and an “illness,” to return to the court on their terms but it’s not as if the team is making DSJ sit in the corner on every play. Carlisle has attempted to call specific plays with the intent of getting Smith in rhythm and the combo guard would break off the play and improvise, a scout tells Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Both sides are clearly frustrated. Luka Doncic has certainly outshined Smith and there isn’t room for both of them to be the primary play-maker. As we wait to see if a resolution occurs, let’s take a look at more notes from Dallas:

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines what the market would look like for Smith. Pelton believes a high lottery pick would be too much to give up for a point guard with years of progress to go before becoming a top player.
  • Doncic has been a more effective scorer this season when spending more time off the ball and next to Smith, Pelton explains in the same piece. Doncic has a higher true shooting percentage in those situations and with Carlisle’s propensity to play multiple point guards at the same time, concerns about the two fitting together may be overblown. Pelton argues that if the Mavericks trade Smith and use the Doncic-Smith fit as a scapegoat, it could in fact simply be a cover for a decision that the Mavericks would have made regardless of how the two meshed.
  • In the same piece, Pelton takes a look at all the former top-10 picks since 2012 that have switched teams before the end of their second season. Outside of Buddy Hield in Sacramento, it’s easy to argue that no team was thrilled with the production it received when trading for a former top-10 pick. Thomas Robinson, Anthony Bennett, Nik Stauskas, Noah Vonleh, and Kris Dunn conclude the list.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Brase, Harden

It’s not fair to saddle a 19-year-old rookie with the responsibility of turning the Mavs‘ franchise around. Fortunately, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, Luka Doncic won’t have to.

Although Doncic will face pressure as a highly touted European charged with the task of at least symbolically replacing Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, he’ll get substantial help from incoming veteran DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan, along with young players like Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes, should give the Mavs considerably more bite in 2018/19 after a down season last year.

Sefko writes that he thinks Mavs fans can expect the Doncic trade to pay dividends but they may not come for a year or two.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets will add former Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Matt Brase to head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s staff this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Joseph Blair is a favorite to replace Brase in the G League.
  • A city prosecutor is reviewing an allegation against James Harden, an Associated Press report states. The Rockets star allegedly grabbed a woman’s wrist and threw her cellphone on the roof outside of a nightclub when she was recording a fight.
  • The Spurs will roster a team without several major contributors to their last championship, this season. A Basketball Insiders report breaks down their chances of being relevant in 2018/19 and the new challenges ahead.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Payton, Knight, Walker IV

Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic has drawn comparisons to a young LeBron James early in his rookie season, stuffing the stat sheet and impacting the game on both ends of the floor as the team’s lead player through 33 games.

Doncic, who was drafted by the Mavs with the No. 3 pick in June, has been a prime Rookie of the Year candidate with averages of 19 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5.1 APG on 43% shooting from the field. The sudden comparisons to a player of James’ caliber have amazed the young star.

“I mean, it’s amazing,” Doncic said of the comparisons, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “You all know that he’s my idol, so it’s just amazing to be there.”

Doncic’s preferred team on draft night was the Mavericks, with agent Bill Duffy making a strong push to land his client in Dallas at the time, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Doncic has quickly become a household name at just 19 years old, working to become the next face of the Mavericks organization.

“He’s made a name for himself,” Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki said. “Any time you’re known by just your first name after just a few months in the league, that’s a great sign.”

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton participated in parts of practice Thursday with a splint on his finger, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). Guillory also reports the Pelicans are hopeful Payton can return in the next week, with the 24-year-old rehabbing from a broken finger suffered in November.
  • Brandon Knight is still acclimating to his new situation with the Rockets, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes“He’s in a tough spot,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Knight. “He hasn’t played in a year and a half. This is not an experimental league. We don’t really practice. He needs to play, and we’re not in a position to allow that.” Knight has appeared in six games with the Rockets this season.
  • Spurs rookie Lonnie Walker IV continues to have a positive mindset despite not making his season debut yet. Walker has traveled to the Spurs’ G League team and back several times this season, working to improve after tearing his meniscus in the preseason. “Everyone always has higher hopes,” Walker said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s your rookie season. You can’t compare yourself to other people. It’s a horse race. You’ve got to stay in your own lane. Sooner or later, I see that light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s now or next year or my third year, it’s only a matter of time until people understand who Lonnie Walker is. So I’m not (in) too much of a rush. Patience is key.”
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