Mavericks Rumors

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Pelicans, Gordon

Appearing on the podcast 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he has a vaccine mandate for his employees.

“It is your choice. It is absolutely, positively up to you. But there are consequences that come with that,” Cuban said, per Selby Lopez of The Dallas Morning News. “If you work for me, I require my employees to be vaccinated unless there’s a doctor’s reason where they can’t be.”

Since the NBA doesn’t require its players to be vaccinated, that mandate doesn’t apply to the players on Dallas’ roster such as Trey Burke, who said during training camp he remains unvaccinated.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic interprets the Grizzlies‘ summer trades of Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen as signals that the team isn’t feeling pressure to take another big step forward after making the playoffs last season. Hollinger expects his old club’s end-of-season record to look similar to last year’s, projecting a 41-41 finish.
  • Hollinger also recapped the offseason and previewed the upcoming season for the Rockets and Pelicans. He was confused by Houston’s four-year commitment to Daniel Theis, given that most other veterans on the roster seem to be on the trade block, but expects the Rockets to be entertaining in 2021/22, projecting 26 wins. Hollinger had mixed feelings on New Orleans’ offseason, but suggests the moves look better in totality than they did individually at the time, and forecasts 43 wins for the Pels.
  • Rahat Huq of The Houston Chronicle explores whether the Rockets should hang onto Eric Gordon or focus on trying to find a trade that gets him to a contender as soon as possible. As Huq observes, it’s difficult to find a good match for Gordon at this point, so it probably makes sense for the team to sit tight and see if more opportunities open up by the trade deadline or next offseason.

Mavericks Notes: Hardaway, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Cap Situation

Tim Hardaway Jr. is looking to expand his game as Luka Doncic‘s backcourt partner, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes. Hardaway, who served as the sixth man in more than half of the Mavericks’ games last season, will look to boost his defensive presence along with delivering his usual 3-point shooting.

“He’s able to score the ball, but we’re asking him to play defense, too,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re trying to show him the things that can help him be better at that position, and if he can do those things, I think he can be talked about as an All-Star, too, in this league.”

Hardaway, who signed a four-year, $75MM contract this summer, chose to be a starter this season after Kidd gave him the option of being in the lineup regularly or heading the second unit.

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas made a strong push for Frank Ntilikina, which the free agent point guard appreciated, he told Marc Stein of Substack. “I felt that will since the beginning of free agency, so that will from them to have me here, that’s what made me want to come here,” the former Knicks guard said. “The challenge is just exciting.” Ntilikina signed a two-year minimum contract, though the second year is non-guaranteed.
  • Kidd believes that Kristaps Porzingis can return to his All-Star form as early as this season, according to Caplan“I think he has the skill set to be an All-Star. He is an All-Star in this league,” Kidd said. “Sometimes we judge people unfairly because of injuries or other things that are going on, and we expect them to be robots or be All-Stars every year.”
  • Despite having two max players, the Mavericks have a favorable cap situation, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes. Dallas is still $16MM below the luxury-tax line, giving the club plenty of elbow room to pursue roster upgrades. Hollinger takes a deep dive into the team’s offseason moves and projects it to finish with the Western Conference’s fifth-best record.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Porzingis, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

Asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on First Take about rumors that there has been some friction between Mavericks teammates Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, head coach Jason Kidd dismissed the idea that there are any issues between the team’s two leading scorers (video link).

“I think we all heard in the NBA circle that there was tension between the two, but I would have to say that’s fake news,” Kidd told Smith. “… There were some other issues that I thought they did a great job of keeping in-house that had nothing to do with those two.

“I’m excited, I think the relationship between the two of them is at a high level. They’re basketball players who want to compete and who want to win. For a coach, I have to put them in that position to be successful. But I think their relationship is great.”

Smith didn’t press Kidd on what those “other issues” in Dallas were that didn’t involve Doncic or Porzingis, but it’s possible the Mavs’ new head coach is referring to some of the conflicts that were outlined in a report from The Athletic back in June. Presumably, given the way the front office and coaching staff were overhauled this summer, the franchise believes those issues are in the rear-view now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Dallas Mavericks

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Dallas Mavericks.

Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 10 deals aren’t included here.


  • Acquired Moses Brown from the Celtics in exchange for Josh Richardson.
    • Note: The Mavericks created a $10,865,952 trade exception in the deal.

Draft picks:

  • None

Contract extensions:

  • Luka Doncic: Five years, maximum salary. Projected value of $207,060,000. Includes fifth-year player option and 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2022/23.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hired Jason Kidd as head coach to replace Rick Carlisle.
  • Hired Nico Harrison as general manager/president of basketball operations to replace Donnie Nelson.
  • Hired Igor Kokoskov, Jared Dudley, Sean Sweeney, Greg St. Jean, and Kristi Tolliver as assistant coaches; lost assistants Jamahl Mosley, Jenny Boucek, Zach Guthrie, and Mike Weinar.
  • Hired Dirk Nowitzki as special advisor.
  • Promoted Michael Finley to assistant GM/VP of basketball operations.
  • Did not retain front office executive Haralabos Voulgaris.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap and below the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $120.2MM in salary.
  • Hard-capped at $143MM.
  • Full mid-level exception ($9,536,000) used on Reggie Bullock.
  • $732,000 of bi-annual exception still available ($3MM used on Sterling Brown).
  • Two traded player exceptions available, including one worth $10.9MM.

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The Mavericks have 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts and one (Moses Brown) on a partially guaranteed contract. One of those 16 players will have to be traded or released before opening night.
  • Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber are eligible for veteran contract extensions until October 18.
  • Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith are eligible for veteran contract extensions all season.

The Mavericks’ offseason:

Before they’d added or lost a single player, the Mavericks had already endured a more eventful, tumultuous offseason than at least half the NBA’s clubs.

Entering the summer, head coach Rick Carlisle and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson were two of the longest-tenured team leaders in the NBA, having worked together in their current roles since 2008. In the span of just two days in June, however, both Carlisle and Nelson left the franchise.

The team classified their exits as Carlisle stepping down and Nelson and the Mavs agreeing to go their separate ways, so it’s not as if owner Mark Cuban necessarily planned on cleaning house over the summer. Still, even if they departed the Mavs on relatively good terms, Carlisle and Nelson likely wouldn’t have left at all if things were running perfectly smoothly in Dallas.

One report in June suggested that Nelson’s influence in the front office wasn’t as strong as it had once been, while another story indicated that Carlisle’s abrasive personality had a tendency to rub some players – including superstar Luka Doncic – the wrong way. Those reports didn’t exactly portray an organization in disarray, but Cuban and his team still likely felt some pressure to get their GM and head coach choices right in order to bring some stability to Dallas going forward.

Replacing Nelson in the front office will be longtime Nico Harrison, who has drawn interest from NBA teams in the past but has spent the past two decades working at Nike. That role allowed him to establish strong connections with players throughout the league, though he has no history of making key personnel and roster decisions for an NBA franchise and may lean on the more experienced executives in the Mavs’ front office during his first year on the job.

The new head coach will be Jason Kidd, who won a title with the Mavericks as a player and has received rave reviews as a Lakers assistant coach during the last two seasons.

Kidd doesn’t have an unblemished résumé — his head coaching stints in Brooklyn and Milwaukee were up and down, and he has a history of legal issues, having pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge in 2001 and a misdemeanor DWI charge in 2013. But after going through the interview process, the Mavs felt confident that Kidd’s legal troubles were behind him and believed he was the man for the job.

Given that Doncic occasionally clashed with Carlisle and was said to have a “strained” relationship with former team executive Haralabos Voulgaris, the Mavs almost certainly made it a top priority to make their franchise player happy with their coaching and front office hires. Doncic knows Harrison from his time at Nike and will now get an opportunity to learn from a Hall-of-Fame point guard in Kidd.

In addition to factoring into the Mavs’ organizational hires, the presence of Doncic dictated how the team approached its roster moves this summer. It was imperative to surround the All-NBA guard with enough shooting to space the floor and give him plenty of room to operate, so Dallas committed major long-term money to bring back Tim Hardaway Jr. and to land Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in free agency.

Once viewed as a somewhat low-efficiency scorer, Hardaway has improved his three-point shot in recent years and become a more reliable option on the wing, hitting 39.4% of his attempts from beyond the arc over the last two seasons. Bullock has always been a knock-down outside shooter, making 40% of his threes since 2015. Brown played a career-high 24.1 minutes per game in 2020/21 and bumped his three-point conversion rate to an impressive 42.3% in the process.

Shooting doesn’t come cheap — the Mavs will pay Hardaway and Bullock a combined $30MM or so per year for the next three seasons, and acquired Brown by becoming the only team in the NBA willing to use its bi-annual exception this season. Still, improving in that area was a must for a team that finished in the bottom half of the league in three-point percentage in 2020/21, and the new additions – Bullock and Brown – won’t hurt the Mavs on defense either.

Outside of those signings, the Mavs had a fairly quiet summer in terms of roster moves. Boban Marjanovic was re-signed and Dallas took a flier on former lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, but the club didn’t have any draft picks and its only trade was essentially a salary dump, with Josh Richardson sent to Boston in exchange for a player who isn’t a lock to make the regular season roster (Moses Brown).

Dallas will remain on the lookout for opportunities to further upgrade its roster around Doncic, but for now the hope is that Kidd can coax a bounce-back season out of Kristaps Porzingis and that the new three-and-D wings in the rotation can make an impact on both sides of the ball.

The Mavericks’ upcoming season:

Dallas’ 2020/21 season (42-30, first-round loss to the Clippers) looked awfully similar to the team’s ’19/20 outcome (43-32, first-round loss to the Clippers). It’s clear by now that as long as Doncic stays healthy, the Mavs’ floor is high, and they should be back in the playoffs again in ’21/22. What remains to be seen is how high this group’s ceiling is.

Doncic is fully capable of being the best player on the court in any playoff matchup, but he’ll need more help from his supporting cast, starting with Porzingis. The optimal version of KP – a big man who can hit threes and protect the rim – is an ideal partner for Doncic, but leg injuries have limited his impact in recent years, especially on defense.

Kidd has talked about empowering Porzingis more on offense this season rather than just having him stand in the corner, and that sounds good in theory. But ultimately Porzingis’ ability to become a legit co-star for Doncic will hinge on his health. If it’s an issue again in 2021/22, the Mavs may have to reevaluate his long-term future with the franchise. If it’s not, Dallas’ potential upside is intriguing.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.

NBA GMs Like Heat’s Offseason Moves, Nets’ Title Chances

Nearly half of the NBA’s general managers voted for the Heat as the team that had the best 2021 offseason, John Schuhmann of writes in his annual survey of the league’s GMs. Miami got 14 of 30 possible votes, while the Lakers picked up five votes. The Nets, Rockets, and Wizards were the other teams picked by multiple GMs as having the best offseason.

The Heat’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade helped tip the scales in their favor. Asked which offseason player acquisition will make the biggest impact for his new team this season, GMs overwhelmingly chose Lowry — he received 23 of 30 votes. New Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was the only other player to get multiple votes (five).

Although the Heat and Lakers received high marks from rival GMs for their work over the summer, neither club is considered the title favorite entering the 2021/22 season. That honor belongs to the Nets, who earned 22 votes from GMs for the team that will win the 2022 Finals. The Lakers (five) and Bucks (three) were the only other teams to receive any votes.

Here are a few more of the most interesting responses from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • The Trail Blazers‘ trade for Larry Nance Jr. received the most votes (28%) for the most underrated acquisition of the offseason, with the Nets‘ signing of Patty Mills (17%) and the Wizards‘ addition of Spencer Dinwiddie (14%) also receiving support in that category.
  • The NBA’s GMs view Rockets guard Jalen Green (47%) and Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (40%) as the best bets to win Rookie of the Year, but voted Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley as the rookie who will be the best player in five years. Mobley (33%) narrowly edged out Cunningham (30%) and Green (23%) in that category.
  • The GMs voted the Magic‘s selection of Jalen Suggs at No. 5 (23%) and the Rockets‘ pick of Alperen Sengun at No. 16 (20%) as the biggest steals of the 2021 draft.
  • The Bulls (27%) are considered the best bet to be the most improved team in 2021/22, while Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (17%) received the most support as the top breakout candidate.
  • Following their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks (50%) were overwhelmingly voted as the team with the best young core. The Rockets received three votes, while no other team got more than two.
  • Only two players received multiple votes when GMs were asked which player they’d want to start a franchise with: Mavericks star Luka Doncic (43%) barely beat out Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (40%).

Southwest Notes: Hardaway Jr., Burke, Vaccinations, Benson

Tim Hardaway Jr. re-signed with the Mavericks this summer on a four-year, $75MM contract. He was given the option by head coach Jason Kidd of being a starter or sixth man. Hardaway chose the former, Dwain Price of the team’s website writes.

“I asked him in the summer what he wanted to do, and he wanted to think about it,” Kidd said. “So when he came back – that was enough time for him to think – and I asked for the answer, and he wants to start.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Guard Trey Burke has a sketchy future with the Mavericks, as Marc Stein of Substack details. The Mavericks explored the trade market for Burke during the offseason before signing Frank Ntilikina. With 15 fully guaranteed contracts and one partially guaranteed deal, the team has a decision to make. Waiving Burke would cost the team $6.45MM, since his contract runs through next season, which includes a player option for 2022/23. Dallas is expected to explore more trade scenarios before waiving a player with guaranteed money, Stein adds.
  • The Pelicans hope to be fully vaccinated by opening night, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune relays. “The league has done a really, really good job of making it almost unanimous that almost everyone is fully vaccinated,” executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said. “I would say that by the time the regular season rolls around, we get to that point.”
  • The Pelicans have received numerous offers from interested buyers but owner Gayle Benson isn’t selling, Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune reports. Despite disadvantages such as having one of the lowest TV revenue deals in the league, Benson is intent on keeping the franchise and leaving it in New Orleans. “There is no way, as long as I’m going to be alive, that I would sell the Pelicans,” Benson said.

Mavs Notes: Chandler, Powell, Burke, Ntilikina

Former Mavericks center Tyson Chandler doesn’t officially have a role on his old team’s coaching staff, but he’s present at training camp and is sharing his knowledge with Dallas’ players, writes Dwain Price of

“For me, I just want to help in any way I can,” Chandler said. “(Head coach) Jason (Kidd) called me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Nothing much. Working out.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, come by.’ So I came by and I’m just trying to lend my knowledge and help any way I can.”

Chandler isn’t sure whether he wants his unofficial role with the Mavericks to lead to something more formal down the road. For now though, Kidd is happy to have his former teammate around working with the club’s big men.

“He started helping out, and he wanted to see if he loved it,” Kidd said. “We’re lucky to have someone like that who can help our bigs. It was great to hear players mention him yesterday. That’s a sign of Tyson is doing the right thing.”

Let’s round up a few more Mavs notes…

  • Dallas’ plan to open the season is to have Dwight Powell starting at center alongside power forward Kristaps Porzingis, Kidd said on Wednesday (link via Eddie Sefko at Kidd added that he wants to experiment a little with different lineups early in the year “to see what combinations work.”
  • The Mavericks said earlier this week they’re hoping to get 100% of their roster vaccinated against COVID-19, but guard Trey Burke said on Wednesday that he’s “not trying to rush into a decision,” per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Burke said he wants to learn more about possible long-term effects of the vaccine.
  • Kidd had a hand in the Mavericks’ decision to sign Frank Ntilikina, having pushed for the move, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link).

Porzingis Reportedly Wanted Trade Prior To Coaching Change

At the end of a disappointing 2020/21 season, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis would have liked to be traded, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, according to MacMahon, Porzingis is “coming back optimistic” following a healthy summer and Dallas’ hiring of Jason Kidd as head coach.

“At the end of last year, Porzingis wanted to be traded. My understanding is he feels like he has a fresh start with the coaching change,” MacMahon said, per Feldman. “He’s had the healthy offseason. He has been able to work, not just on his game, but on his body some more. He’s kind of coming back with a refreshed feel.”

Even if the Mavs hadn’t made a coaching change in the spring, MacMahon doesn’t think Porzingis would have come out and asked the team to trade him, recognizing the poor optics of such a move following his up-and-down season. However, it’s not hard to understand why he was frustrated by his role following a first-round playoff loss in which he averaged just 13.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG in seven games (33.3 MPG) and often found himself standing in the corner on offense.

According to MacMahon, Porzingis felt more like an afterthought than a co-star for Luka Doncic under former head coach Rick Carlisle. Kidd visited Porzingis in Latvia over the summer – which the 26-year-old said on Monday was “huge for me” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News) – and envisions a more expansive role for the former Knick.

“The simple way to put it is, I want KP to be a basketball player,” Kidd said, adding that he expects Porzingis to start at power forward. “There’s no limitations on just shooting threes. Being able to roll, to be able to shoot the mid-range, to be able to put the ball on the floor — I want him to be who he is, and that’s a basketball player and not just be limited to shooting threes or crashing from the corner. I want him to feel comfortable on the floor in any spot. I think he’s a weapon. He shoots the ball too well not to be able to shoot mid-range shots.”

The Mavs are optimistic that a healthy offseason for Porzingis – who has a history of knee and leg injuries and missed 29 games last season – will position him for a nice bounce-back year in 2021/22, writes MacMahon.

“I think he’s in way better shape this year, especially mentally,” Doncic said of his teammate on Monday. “You can see him having a good time when we’re playing pickup, and I think he’s going to have a great season this year.”

Southwest Notes: Zion, Vaccinations, Temple, Harrison, Brooks

Addressing reporters at the Pelicans‘ Media Day on Monday, star forward Zion Williamson expressed a desire to remain with the franchise for the foreseeable future.

I love it here. I love the city of New Orleans,” Williamson said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). “I don’t wanna be anywhere else.”

An offseason report suggested that some of Williamson’s family members want him out of New Orleans, while a more recent story suggested he and Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin aren’t on particularly great terms. However, after dismissing the idea that he wants to leave the Pelicans, Williamson also downplayed the idea that there’s any frostiness between him and Griffin.

It’s all love with me and Griff,” Williamson said. “… We’re both competitors, we both want to win. Do we disagree on some things? Yes. But no one agrees on everything.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Griffin said today that there are one or two players left on the Pelicans‘ roster who remain unvaccinated, while Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said his team is 100% vaccinated (Twitter links via William Guillory of The Athletic and Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News). Meanwhile, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd estimated that his players are about 90% vaccinated, adding that the goal is to get that number to 100% by opening night (Twitter links via Callie Caplan and Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News).
  • Veteran Pelicans guard Garrett Temple said he’s interested in getting into coaching or front office work after he retires, tweets Christian Clark of Temple added that his preference would likely be a front office role, since coaching can be “finicky.”
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News shares an in-depth profile of new Mavericks president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, detailing the long path Harrison took to becoming Dallas’ lead basketball decision-maker.
  • Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks will be a full participant in training camp, head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman said today (Twitter link via Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian). Brooks was out for eight weeks this summer after breaking his hand in two spots, tweets Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian.