Mavericks Rumors

Dwight Powell Exercises 2019/20 Player Option

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell has officially exercised his player option for the 2019/20 season, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter). As a result of the move, Powell will earn a $10,259,375 salary next season, per Basketball Insiders.

There were conflicting reports earlier this spring on whether Powell would opt in or out. After a May report suggested that he was expected to hit the open market, a June update confirmed that an opt-in was anticipated instead.

The Mavericks have long indicated that they plan to lock up Powell to a longer-term deal, which could’ve been done whether or not he exercised his player option. The conflicting reports on his option decision may have stemmed from confusion over whether he’d sign a brand-new deal with Dallas after opting out or sign an extension after opting in.

Powell, who will turn 28 next month, averaged a career-high 10.6 PPG to go along with 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, and a .597 FG% in 77 games (21.6 MPG) last season for the Mavs. The former second-round pick has spent the last four seasons in Dallas, and team management wants to ensure he sticks around a little longer.

Team owner Mark Cuban spoke at season’s end about a three-year extension for Powell, though it’s not clear if he meant three new years or three years in total. Either way, I’d expect Dallas to work on completing that deal in the coming weeks.

Even with Powell’s salary on their books, the Mavs should enter the free agent period with at least $29MM in cap room available, as we detailed in April. Meanwhile, Powell would be eligible to sign an extension that takes effect in 2020/21 with a starting salary worth up to 120% of his previous salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Updates: Oni, Langford, Bitadze, Bone, Harris

Yale wing Miye Oni returned to the Bucks’ practice facility for a second workout on Saturday, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Oni averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG during his junior season. The 6’6” Oni is hoping to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since 1995, Schultz adds.

We have more draft info:

  • Indiana freshman swingman Romeo Langford is meeting with the Heat this weekend, Schultz reports in another tweet. Miami possesses the No. 13 pick and Langford is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • International prospect Goga Bitadze is visiting the Celtics, Pistons and Hornets in the days leading up to Thursday’s draft. according to a tweet from Hawks website writer Kevin Chouinard. The 6’11” Bitadze, 19, led the EuroLeague and Adriatic League in blocks on both a per-game and per-minute basis. He is ranked No. 17 overall by Givony.
  • The Wizards worked out Tennessee guard Jordan Bone on Saturday, according to a team press release. The point guard is No. 56 on Givony’s list.
  • Forward Terry Harris worked out for the Knicks on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. He also visited the Nets this week and will work out for the Mavericks and Jazz, Bondy adds in another tweet. He played for North Carolina A&T in his senior year, averaging 8.1 PPG. He is the younger brother of Sixers free agent forward Tobias Harris.

Kemba Walker Discusses Free Agency, Super-Max

All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker spoke today to reporters about his upcoming free agency and dropped a a couple interesting details about his thought process as he prepares for the summer.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer relays (via Twitter), Walker reiterated that the Hornets are his first priority in free agency, which is something he said a couple weeks ago. However, that doesn’t mean re-signing with Charlotte will be automatic. Walker plans to meet with other teams before making his decision, Bonnell notes.

Additionally, while Walker’s spot on the All-NBA Third Team this season ensured that he’s eligible for a super-max contract from the Hornets, the 29-year-old said today that he won’t necessarily be demanding that full amount from his longtime team. Asked if he’d accept a lesser salary to help Charlotte build around, Walker confirmed he’s open to that idea, as Nick Carboni of WCNC tweets.

“Yeah I would take less,” Walker said. “Sure, why not? I would take less.”

Given the Hornets’ cap situation, even a relatively team-friendly deal probably wouldn’t help the team much from a flexibility standpoint — assuming Michael Kidd-Gilchrist exercises his player option, Charlotte’s team salary will increase to $94MM for 2019/20 even before taking a new Walker deal into account.

Based on the NBA’s current salary cap projections, which call for a $109MM cap, a super-max deal for Walker would be worth about $221.3MM over five years. A standard max contract from the Hornets could be worth up to $189.7MM over five years, while a rival suitor would be limited to a projected $140.6MM for four years.

Although the Hornets will attempt to retain Walker, they’ll face stiff competition from several other clubs. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Lakers, Knicks, and Mavericks as top contenders for Kemba. The former UConn star could also be a target for smaller-market teams with cap flexibility who need a point guard, such as the Pacers and Jazz.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Culver, Samanic, More

The NBA continues to invite potential first-round picks to the Green Room for next Thursday’s draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that Nassir Little (UNC), Romeo Langford (Indiana), and Tyler Herro (Kentucky) were the next invitees after the initial nine-player group.

According to Givony (Twitter links), Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga), Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), PJ Washington (Kentucky) also received Green Room invites, as did international prospect Sekou Doumbouya. That brings us to 16 prospects who are expected to be in the Green Room on draft night, with four others still expected to be invited, per Givony.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Within his latest mock draft, Jeremy Woo of cites league sources who say that both the Suns and Hawks are high on Texas Tech swingman Jarrett Culver. However, it’s possible that neither team will have a shot at him without trading up — Woo has Culver coming off the board at No. 5 to the Cavaliers in his mock.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic has a busy workout schedule, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link), who adds the Warriors and Spurs to the list of teams Samanic has auditioned for. He also has workouts lined up with the Hawks and Bucks.
  • UCF guard Aubrey Dawkins has worked out for the Celtics, Pelicans, Knicks, and Raptors, and still has the Mavericks, Rockets, and Hornets on his workout schedule, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.
  • Adam Zagoria of (Twitter links) provides a pair of updates on pre-draft workouts for prospects, reporting that Chris Silva (South Carolina) is working out for the Heat and Spurs, while Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s) worked out for the Cavaliers and Mavericks and has the Sixers and Rockets on tap.

Lakers Among Teams Interested In Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker will hit the open market for the first time in his career this offseason and he’ll have plenty of teams to choose from. The Lakers, Mavericks, and Knicks are among the teams interested in signing the point guard, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on the network’s mock draft special.

The Lakers are hoping to make major upgrades this summer starting with an Anthony Davis trade. If Los Angeles can’t acquire Davis, the organization may find it difficult to convince a top free agent to join them. Walker will be among the several free agents the Lakers attempt to woo.

Prying Walker from Charlotte will have to be about more than money since the Hornets can offer him roughly $221MM over five years, while rival teams are capped at four years and slightly less than $141MM.

The Knicks are positioned to have two max salary slots available. The Lakers don’t quite have enough cap space without making an additional move, as our Salary Cap Digest shows. The Mavericks are also at least one move away from carving out enough salary cap space to accommodate a max deal for Walker.

Lakers Notes: Rondo, A. Davis, McGee, Buss

Rajon Rondo confirms to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report that the Anthony Davis trade rumors just before the February deadline had a negative effect on the Lakers. Nearly all the team’s young players heard their names in rumored offers that were leaked to the press as L.A. tried to lock up Davis before the market becomes more competitive this summer.

There were numerous stories about how the Davis saga affected the mindset in the locker room, and the Lakers weren’t nearly as competitive after the deadline passed. Although he doesn’t name names, Rondo says a few veteran players were affected as well, but he denies being one of them.

“Me, I’m kind of numb to it,” he said. “I was in trade rumors every year in Boston. Eight straight years. You can’t really relate to it until you’ve gone through it. Not knowing the future, waking up every day — and now you’re on the phone reading stuff. When I was going through it, there wasn’t so much social media; it was just on TV. You’d hear it, or someone would text you about it, but it wasn’t so much in your face, with eight different blockbuster or proposed trades and your name in every one of them. Every Instagram scroll, you’re in it. So, psychologically, it probably took a toll. …

“Guys may have felt like, ‘Oh, I need to prove myself so I won’t be traded’ or ‘They’re going to trade me anyway.’ Each game you didn’t know what the mentality was for those guys: ‘Should I give my all to this organization that is about to trade me in two days?'”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Rondo also believes the team splintered because it had six players on one-year contracts, including himself. After the Lakers were unable to find a second star to pair with LeBron James last summer, they rounded up veterans on short-term deals to preserve their future cap space. “If the organization doesn’t give a guy a multiyear deal, how much can that guy really invest in the team?” Rondo asked. “His thinking is: ‘You don’t really believe in me. You’re just trying to fill a void. I’m just a plug-in.’ You can say you’re playing for a contract; on mediocre teams, OK, but on championship-caliber teams, it doesn’t work that way. Guys aren’t willing to make sacrifices.”
  • JaVale McGee, another of those one-year veterans, is open to coming back to L.A. for another season, according to a tweet from the Fox show “Undisputed.” “I love L.A., it was beautiful for me,” he said. “I had my best averages, I had my best season playing alongside LeBron.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defended Lakers owner Jeanie Buss this week, telling Dave McMenamin of ESPN that after her father’s death she had to balance family concerns with the pressures of running an organization.

Cuban Impressed By Doncic's Improved Conditioning

  • 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.

Four NBA Teams Will Play In Mexico

Four NBA teams have been selected to participate in The NBA Mexico City Games 2019, the league announced today. The Mavericks, Pistons, Suns and Spurs will all play regular-season games at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, located in Mexico City.

Dallas and Detroit will square off on December 12, with Phoenix and San Antonio meeting two days later. These will be the 29th and 30th games that Mexico will host since its partnership with the league began in 1992.

“NBA games in Mexico City are a core part of our efforts to reach and engage basketball fans throughout Mexico and Latin America,” commissioner Adam Silver said. “With a record four NBA teams visiting Mexico City next season, we expect an unprecedented level of interest and excitement around these games and our surrounding community events.”

ESPN Deportes, Televisa and NBA League Pass in Mexico will all show the games, which will be available in more than 200 countries and territories. Ticket information will be announced later. The games will be accompanied by NBA Cares community outreach projects.

“It’s an honor for the Spurs organization to be able to represent South Texas and the NBA by, once again, playing in Mexico City,” said team president R.C. Buford. “The relationship between our community and Mexico is important and impactful on many levels. We look forward to a wonderful experience and are excited to share Spurs basketball with all of our fans in Mexico.”

Latest On Nets, Kyrie Irving

The trade that will send Allen Crabbe‘s salary to the Hawks is the first step in the Nets‘ “dream scenario” of signing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant this summer, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Woj cites “strong mutual interest” between Irving and the Nets, who will have $46MM in cap space once the trade becomes official in early July and can nearly put themselves in position to sign both players by renouncing D’Angelo Russell‘s cap hold.

The Knicks are also interested in an Irving-Durant pairing, but Irving now seems more intrigued about the possibility of playing in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski adds. He states that the Nets haven’t ruled out the idea of signing just one free agent and keeping Russell if Plan A doesn’t work out.

There’s more this morning on Irving and the Nets:

  • Other teams with interest in signing Irving are now operating as though Brooklyn is the favorite to land him, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV. An anonymous GM told Begley it’s unlikely that a team would give up two first-round picks without a solid reason to expect that it was signing at least one top-level free agent. “(Brooklyn GM) Sean (Marks) is going for it. The Nets are all in,” the GM said after the trade was announced. Brooklyn is sending the 17th pick in this year’s draft plus a lottery-protected first-rounder in 2020 to Atlanta. Sources tell Begley that the chances of Irving returning to Boston are now “low.” Those close to the All-Star point guard continue to insist that he hasn’t ruled out any potential destination.
  • The upcoming fight for free agents has finally ignited the Knicks-Nets rivalry, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Atheltic. Both will be in position to offer two max salaries, and the consequences if either team doesn’t hit the jackpot could be felt for years. It’s also more than a two-team race, as the Clippers can also open up a second max slot, the Lakers still have LeBron James to offer and the Mavericks have a promising core built around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe explains the protections on the 2020 first-round pick the Nets are sending to the Hawks in the Crabbe deal (Twitter link). It will remain lottery protected for three years, then will convert to a pair of second-rounders.

Opt-In, Extension On Tap For Dwight Powell

1:00pm: Tim MacMahon of ESPN confirms (via Twitter) that Powell will opt in and sign an extension, adding that the Mavs view the big man as a “core piece” who can be a good fit besides Kristaps Porzingis.

12:18pm: After a May report indicated that Dwight Powell would turn down his player option for 2019/20, the Mavericks‘ big man said this week that he’s not sure “where the information came from.” He stopped short of calling the report false or announcing that he’d opt in, but a source tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) that Powell does, in fact, plan to pick up his player option by June 29.

Exercising his ’19/20 option would put Powell in line for a salary worth $10,259,375 next season, as Basketball Insiders’ data indicates. According to Townsend, the 27-year-old intends to subsequently sign an extension with Dallas that would keep him under team control beyond next season. Team owner Mark Cuban spoke at season’s end about a three-year extension for Powell, though it’s not clear if he meant three new years or three years in total.

As we’ve noted multiple times when discussing Powell’s situation this offseason, there are two paths he could choose if he wants to stay with the Mavs. Opting out and negotiating a brand-new contract is one path — the other would be opting in, then signing a contract extension, as Townsend suggests. The fact that both scenarios are viable may have contributed to the confusion in recent weeks over his option decision.

Assuming Townsend’s source is correct and Powell intends to opt in, the Mavs should enter the free agent period with at least $29MM in cap room available, as we detailed in April. Meanwhile, Powell would be eligible to sign an extension that takes effect in 2020/21 with a starting salary worth up to 120% of his previous salary.