Mavericks Rumors

And-Ones: LaMelo, MVP Votes, Warriors, Fratello

LaMelo Ball doesn’t mind a little campaigning in his effort to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. The buzz around Ball continues to grow as he strings together impressive performances in Australia’s National Basketball League. Over the weekend, he became the first NBL player since 2005 to post back-to-back triple doubles.

“Most definitely,” Ball responded when asked whether he thinks he should be the first pick. “I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here. The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”

Several scouts were in New Zealand recently to watch Ball go up against another projected lottery pick in R.J. Hampton. Many came away impressed, with one scout saying, “The fact that he’s putting up numbers like this in a league full of former NBA players is forcing every team to look at him as a potential No. 1 pick.” 

Ball addressed rumors that he might end his season early to protect his health for the draft. He insists he’s “committed to the whole season,” even though his team is off to a 3-9 start.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Roughly a quarter of the way into the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is in good position to repeat as MVP, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In a poll of 101 media members, Antetokounmpo received 48 first-place votes and was the only player listed on all the ballots. LeBron James (29 first-place votes), Luka Doncic (14) and James Harden (nine) were next in line.
  • Declining ratings continue to be a concern, and the NBA has started taking action to address the problem. One solution is fewer national TV games for the Warriors, who have the NBA’s worst record after five years as its marquee team. Golden State’s next two scheduled ESPN games have been replaced, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who speculates that more are likely to be removed.
  • Former NBA coach and long-time broadcaster Mike Fratello will be back on the sidelines soon, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Fratello will serve as head coach for USA Basketball in February’s qualifying games for the FIBA AmeriCup.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the China controversy today, saying a “culture clash” was almost inevitable, tweets Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. NBA games haven’t returned to China Central Television, the main broadcaster in Mainland China, but they are back on Tencent, which Silver called a “thawing” in tensions (Twitter link).
  • Sources tell Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that March 20 has been set for the debut of the NBA’s Basketball Africa League (Twitter link). The first game will take place in Dakar, Senegal.
  • The NBA will consider allowing corporate investors to hold passive minority stakes in more than one team, tweets Alex M. Silverman of MorningConsult. The measure will be part of the agenda at April’s Board of Governors meeting.

Mark Cuban Discusses Proposed Schedule/Playoff Changes, More

Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News recently sat down with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to discuss a bevy of issues, including the league’s potential changes to the playoff seeding and schedule and Kristaps Porzingis‘ role, among other topics. The whole interview is worth a read but allow us to pass along some highlights:

On the proposed tournament additions (mid-season and playoff play-in):

“The play-in for the last playoff spots just creates some interest that there otherwise wouldn’t be. But other than that, I’m not a big fan of the mid-season [tournament]. I’m a big believer in ‘Pick a goal and try to win it.'”

On the potential changes to playoff seeding:

“I’m not opposed to that at all and never have been. Just 1-4, 2-3, hopefully you get the best matchup in the end. To me that’s a plus. The last two series the travel isn’t nearly an issue, so I would be a big proponent of that.”

On Porzingis spending more time at the center position:

“The numbers kind of point in that direction, but you’ve got to pick your spots.”

On the Mavericks’ interest in players at the trade deadline and how their cap situation will affect their strategy:

“I can’t talk about other teams’ players, but we’re hard-capped…In order to make a huge deal, you have to give up a lot in salary as well. It means we can’t take on a ton of salary without giving up a lot of salary.”

Dirk Nowitzki Confirms He Won't Pull A Jason Witten

  • Just in case there was any doubt, longtime Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that he won’t be following in the footsteps of fellow Dallas athlete Jason Witten by coming out of retirement after a year (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). Oh man. I wish,” said Nowitzki, who attended the Mavs’ Sunday win over the Lakers. “But my foot is not great. My health is not there anymore where it needs to be to compete and go up and down every day.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Ujiri

Knicks head coach David Fizdale is using the term “tough love” to describe his decision to bench second-year forward Kevin Knox, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Knox was held out of Friday’s loss to the Sixers and had only been averaging 12.1 minutes per night in the previous four games. It’s been a trend for the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, whose minutes have fallen from 28.8 per game in 2018/19 to 19.8 this season.

“Sometimes they’ve got to go through some tough love to find themselves and watch the game from 25,000 feet, see it, and see the things that I’m emphasizing,” Fizdale said after Saturday’s practice. “I was tough on Frank (Ntilikina) last year and I just feel like Frank has come back with a whole different mindset about how he’s going to go about this season. I’ve been so happy with the way he’s played and produced. But I do think a little bit of tough love on some of these young guys isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Knox will be “a consideration, for sure” to return to the lineup today, Fizdale added. Marcus Morris is listed as questionable for the game because of cervical spasms in his neck.

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • Ntilikina tells Botte that he benefited from last year’s experience and encourages Knox to find ways to help the team when he’s not on the court. Ntilikina began this season out of the rotation, but has made 14 consecutive starts at point guard. He said an offseason meeting with Fizdale gave him a new perspective. “There’s a lot of noise with this team, a lot of expectations,” Ntilikina explained. “Around this city, a lot of expectations. Obviously, those expectations are for us to get better. But what we have to understand, too, is we have expectations, and [Fizdale] wants us to get better, and he wants us to be the best team possible. He wants us to be the best possible, that’s the same for every player.”
  • Former Knicks guard Trey Burke, who was part of the package sent to Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, offered some insight into Porzingis’ perspective on the deal and his falling out with management in New York, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. “A lot of things the press said, he felt like wasn’t true,’’ Burke said. “He feels like there was a narrative that got out about him, he couldn’t defend himself. I don’t know if (Dallas) told him not to talk that much, but he wasn’t talking. I do think he has his side.’’
  • The Knicks may try to lure Raptors executive Masai Ujiri after the season ends, and there are fears in Toronto that he might accept their offer, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. Ujiri may view New York City as a larger platform to help expand his Giants of Africa foundation, which aids children in his home continent.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
More appropriately, Ingram’s stock is way, way up. Ingram’s last season with the Lakers was cut short by a blood clot issue. He averaged 18.3 PPG but there was still skepticism just how good Ingram was. He’s answered that emphatically in his first 13 games with the Pelicans, posting All-Star level numbers (26.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45.9 percent on 3s). The Pelicans will make him a restricted free agent by extending a $9.48MM qualifying offer. Will Ingram re-sign with New Orleans, sign a big offer sheet, or sign the QO and test unrestricted free agency the following summer? For sure, he’ll get paid.

Courtney Lee, Mavericks, 34, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2016
Lee’s value to Dallas is mainly his expiring contract, which could prove useful as the Mavs look to acquire another piece to their vastly improved squad. Lee’s playing time has been mainly limited to garbage-time minutes. After two solid seasons with the Knicks, Lee’s career has declined the past two seasons. His 3-point prowess (38.7 percent for his career) might earn him a short-term deal next summer but he won’t be making anywhere near $12MM next season.

Gerald Green, Rockets, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Have we seen the last of Green in the NBA? That’s a strong possibility, considering his age and long-term rehab from a foot injury. He underwent surgery in late October and is expected to miss the regular season and likely the postseason as well. Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has made prior stops with Boston, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Indiana, Phoenix and Miami during his professional career. He was a major contributor off the Rockets’ bench last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 2.5 PPG in 73 contests. Another veteran’s minimum deal is his best hope.

Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Belinelli’s perimeter shooting has made him one of the league’s most reliable second-unit players for years. The shooting touch has abandoned him, one of the many reasons the Spurs have struggled this season. Belinelli is shooting just 29 percent from the field while averaging 5.2 PPG. He has averaged in double figures off the bench for the past four seasons. Gregg Popovich has continued to give him steady minutes, so Bellinelli’s production should return to the norm. But if his playing time is reduced, he may have to settle for the veteran’s minimum next summer.

Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies, 23, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brooks was limited to 18 games last season, mainly due to a toe injury that required surgery in January. He has come back at full strength and started every game this season for the Grizzlies. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.3 PPG while making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s a foregone conclusion the Grizzlies will extend a $2MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The 2017 second-round pick will get a substantial pay raise regardless of how his free agent journey unfolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavs Expected To Enter Andre Iguodala Sweepstakes

Andre Iguodala remains on the Grizzlies. He’s away from the team and the franchise is expected to trade him at some point this season. Many assume that Los Angeles will ultimately be where the former Finals MVP ends up but that’s far from a certain outcome.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hears from rival executives that the Mavericks could be contenders for Iguodala’s services. Courtney Lee ($12.8MM) is on an expiring deal and the team could package him along with another young player or draft picks (Windhorst mentions Dallas’ extra second-round picks) to acquire Iguodala.

The Mavericks have the NBA’s best offense, though their defense is in the bottom half of the league, per NBA.com. Iguodala could bring his defensive prowess to a team that is already outproducing its expectations this season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/25/19

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Wizards assigned forward Admiral Schofield and guard Justin Robinson to the Capital City Go-Go, the team’s PR department tweets. In six games with the Go-Go, Schofield has averaged 18.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG, while Robinson has posted averages of 12.8 PPG, 7.2 APG and 3.2 SPG.
  • The Knicks assigned rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Westchester affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. The second-round pick is averaging 18 PPG and 7.1 RPG in four games at the G League level.
  • Suns rookie guard Ty Jerome was assigned to the Northern Arizona Suns, the team’s PR department tweets. The first-round pick is rehabbing from an ankle injury.
  • The Hawks recalled forwards Bruno Fernando and guard Tyrone Wallace from the College Park Skyhawks of the NBA G League, the team tweets. Fernando posted nine points and nine rebounds in a game with College Park while Wallace, another second-round pick, scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
  • The Pacers recalled forward Alize Johnson from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to a team press release. Johnson had 36 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals against the Windy City Bulls on Sunday. Johnson has appeared in five games with the Pacers this season, averaging 2.6 PPG and 2.4 RPG.
  • The Mavericks assigned rookie forward Isaiah Roby to the Texas Legends, the team’s PR department tweets. Roby has averaged 11.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG in five G League games.
  • The Nets recalled forward Rodions Kurucs from their Long Island affiliate, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Kurucs, a 2018 second rounder, has appeared in nine games with Brooklyn this season.

Rick Carlisle Had To Be Patient With Doncic

  • 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.”

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.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/22/19

Here are Friday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Thunder assigned center Justin Patton to the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. Patton has averaged 7.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 3.0 BPG in 25.2 MPG over four appearances with the Blue. He played six minutes in one game with the Thunder this season.
  • The Mavericks recalled rookie forward Isaiah Roby from the Texas Legend, according to a team press release. He has averaged 11.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG in 25.0 MPG while starting five games for the Legends. The second-round pick has yet to make his NBA debut.