Dennis Smith Jr.

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.

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Spurs, Morey, Gasol

Despite perhaps winning the 2018 NBA Draft with the selection of some pundits’ top-ranked player, Luka Doncic, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram doesn’t see the Mavericks making the playoffs next season, writing that Dallas will likely end up picking in the NBA Draft Lottery for a second straight summer in 2019.

The projected lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., the aforementioned rookie Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and a center-to-be-named-later, while an improvement, is not enough to crack the top eight of Western Conference, in Engel’s opinion, even if that new center is potential free agent DeAndre Jordan or free-agent-to-be DeMarcus Cousins.

Despite the hype surrounding Doncic and his experience playing with professionals overseas, he will still be an NBA rookie next season, and as Mavericks’ president Donnie Nelson puts it, that means “he’s going to get his rear end handed to him.” Add in the fact that Smith Jr. is also still only 20 years old, and you’re left with one of the youngest – albeit most talented – backcourts in the NBA, which is probably not enough in the deep Western Conference.

There’s more from the Southwest Division.

  • With Danny Green choosing to opt in for the 2018/19 season, the Spurs are situated to be near the projected salary cap line of $101MM at the beginning of free agency, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks adds that in addition to renouncing free agents Tony Parker and Rudy Gay, the Spurs would also likely need to unload some heftier contracts like those belonging to Green and Pau Gasol in order to create cap room this summer.
  • Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t really close to making a deal to move up in last week’s NBA Draft, but that there was an opportunity to move into the No. 20 to No. 25 range.
  • Pau Gasol is doubtful that the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard can mend their relationship, telling EpDeportes, via Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone, “I do not know if the situation can be rectified after Kawhi’s request to leave, I do not know if a multi-million dollar offer would fix it, he has not talked to him for a long time, he’s a very reserved player.”

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Cousins, Trent Jr.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News is analyzing, position by position, the top 5 free agent fits for the Mavericks this summer. Today we take a look at his list of point guards, even though he readily admits that the position isn’t one of great need given last year’s pick of Second Team All-Rookie selection Dennis Smith Jr.

In order, from five (worst relative fit) to one (best relative fit), Sefko lists Devin Harris, Elfrid Payton, Isaiah Thomas, Fred VanVleet, and incumbent Yogi Ferrell as the best fits with the Mavericks.

Out of the five, Payton and Thomas seem to me to be the most intriguing selections given that they both will potentially be looking for a starting role this offseason. In regard to Payton, Sefko believes that his lack of shooting ability really negates anything else he can bring to the table for the Mavericks, thereby eliminating his starting potential.

As for Thomas, Sefko sees him as more of a reach to be signed, with the signing possible only if Thomas is willing to come off the bench behind Smith and sign with the Mavericks for less money than he is most likely seeking.

There is more from the Southwest Division:

  • In a non-related tweet, Sefko adds that the Mavericks and head coach Rick Carlisle appear to have their coaching staff set for next season after the hiring of Stephen Silas, with Larry Shyatt, Kaleb Canales, Jamahl Mosley and Darrell Armstrong all expected to return.
  • As part of his Monday Morning Tip mailbag, David Aldridge of TNT answers a fan’s question as to whether Pelicans’ free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins would be willing to sign a one-year deal with a team such as Dallas or Chicago in order to prove himself worthy of a maximum contract next summer.
  • The Spurs will workout Duke freshman guard Gary Trent Jr., reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV. Trent, whose father, Gary Trent Sr., played nine seasons in the NBA, will also work out for the Trail Blazers, Nets, Nuggets, and Bucks.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

  • Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)

Second Team:

Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.

Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.

Pacific Rumors: Randle, Bradley, Looney, Kokoskov

Lakers power forward Julius Randle could wind up in his hometown of Dallas next season, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. Randle would be a nice fit alongside guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavericks have plenty of cap space to sign him. He played very well against them this season, averaging 21.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.6 APG on 66% shooting, Urbina notes. Randle would also slot in well with the Suns and Pacers, Urbina adds, though it’s more likely he winds up staying with the Lakers. Randle will be a restricted free agent if, as expected, the Lakers extend a $5.564MM qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley could wind up with the Sixers if Philadelphia loses J.J. Redick in free agency, Urbina writes in a separate piece. Bradley’s spot-up shooting and man-to-man defense would make him a good fit with their young core, Urbina continues. The Spurs and Thunder, who were involved in trade rumors for Bradley this winter, could be potential landing spots. The Pelicans might also be interested in upgrading the shooting guard spot, which would allow them to move Jrue Holiday back to the point if they lose free agent Rajon Rondo, Urbina adds.
  • Big man Kevon Looney has emerged as a key player for the Warriors and that won’t change throughout the postseason, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News. The Warriors’ first-round pick in 2015 has battled injuries during his first two seasons. Now healthy, Looney gives the Warriors another quality defender with length who guard all five positions, Kurtenbach adds. Looney could be plying his trade somewhere else next season, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Warriors declined their team option on him last October.
  • Igor Kokoskov has Jared Dudley‘s endorsement as the Suns search for a new head coach, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Kokoskov, 46, was instrumental in drawing up plays when Lindsey Hunter was Phoenix’s interim coach in 2013, according to Dudley. Kokoskov, who has interviewed for the Suns job, is currently a Jazz assistant. “It’s not like Igor is young,” Dudley said. “He’s had plenty of experience. It’s like Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. They put the right staff around them. That’s the critical part. I think he’s shown he deserves the opportunity.”

Mavs Notes: Nowitzki, Smith, McDermott, Rebuilding

Dirk Nowitzki confirmed he will return to the Mavericks for his 21st season in 2018/19, while Dennis Smith Jr. will enter next season as an NBA sophomore. Despite being in different stages of their careers, Nowitzki and Smith both want to see the Mavericks return to relevance, per the Associated Press.

“I’ve been in a couple of arenas that are playoff teams, and I just witnessed the atmosphere,” Smith said. “I can only imagine how it is playoff time.”

Nowitzki has been part of numerous playoff teams in Dallas and helped lead the franchise to an NBA championship in 2011. In recent seasons, he has accepted that the Mavericks are in a rebuilding stage and contributed in any way possible. Still, he – along with the front office – wants to compete as soon as possible.

“We’re certainly hoping that we’re not in the early stages of a rebuild,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible. But there’s no way you can skip steps.”

Check out more Mavericks notes below:
  • Doug McDermott joined the Mavericks in early February and played well, fulfilling the role of effective three-point shooter, as he has throughout his career. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes that McDermott, who could hit restricted free agency, would like to return and the feeling is mutual. “I hope so,” McDermott said of returning. “I loved my time here. I feel like I fit in right from the first game, and it just allowed me to be myself out there.
  • The Dallas Morning News looks at all of the Mavericks’ decisions heading into both restricted and unrestricted free agency, including what the future may hold for McDermott, Seth Curry, and Nerlens Noel.
  • The Mavericks are clearly still in the rebuilding phase and the fan base should get used to the team not being competitive, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas will need a lot of work just get to the level of some of the Western Conference’s lower-seeded playoff teams, making a postseason run unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Mavs Notes: Smith Jr., Noel, Discrimination

Despite the Mavs’ disappointing 23-53 mark through 76 games, it’s hard to consider Dennis Smith Jr.‘s rookie season anything less than a success, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. The 20-year-old has put forth 15.2 points and 5.0 assists per game, which both rank among the top five for first-year players.

More importantly, however, Smith Jr. has been healthy for the majority of the season. Considering the high-flying guard tore his left ACL back in 2015, it bodes well that he has made it through the bulk of an entire NBA campaign in relatively good shape. With the exception of a few instances of soreness, the guard’s knee has held up and he’s played in 86% of the team’s games so far.

A lot of rookie point guards who have the responsibility of starting would be worn down mentally and really banged up physically,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s neither. He’s very strong and has worked very hard on his body and his mind is fresh. He wants to be one of those guys that’s really depended on by a franchise and he’s gained is a real knowledge of the amount of work that’s going to go into that.

There’s more news out of Dallas this evening:

  • While it seemed as though Nerlens Noel‘s exit from Dallas was a foregone conclusion a couple months ago, the fact that the injured big man has done so little over the course of the 2017/18 campaign may mean that there isn’t much of a market for him in free agency. Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News writes that he doesn’t believe the franchise views Noel as a building block anymore but that the club could use him as a placeholder.
  • A woman fired by Arena Operating Co., the company that operates the American Airlines Center, is following up a January complaint alleging gender, sexual and racial issues by seeking information from Mark Cuban about a 2011 incident involving a noose hung in the Mavs’ stadium, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. It’s alleged that Cuban disposed of the noose at the time, but did not “make a big deal of it.”
  • Under the leadership of new CEO Cynthia Marshall, the Mavs have hired a pair of executive leadership employees and officially launched an initial “100-Day Plan” to improve the culture of the disgraced organization. A team-issued press release states that the Mavs plan to position the organization as a standard bearer for inclusion and diversity.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans Future, Spurs, Tucker, Grizzlies

The recent death of owner Tom Benson could eventually result in the Pelicans franchise leaving New Orleans, Tom Ziller of SB Nation discusses in a detailed column. The Pelicans signed a lease six years ago to stay in New Orleans until 2024, but it’s still possible that the franchise could try to break that lease.

Even if Benson’s widow Gayle decides against that, the team’s current arena is 19 years old and will require major renovations if it’s not replaced altogether, Ziller notes. Should the team struggle to get funding for a building upgrade, it could grease the skids for a move, Ziller adds.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The adversity that the Spurs have faced this season has brought the team closer together, coach Gregg Popovich told the media, including ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. The reserves have received more opportunities to play and team members are pulling for one another, according to Popovich. “It’s rewarding to see guys react to the minutes that they’re getting; some of these young guys that haven’t played much,” he said. “The way they reach out to each other and stay good teammates while the lineups have constantly changed, they’ve shown a lot of empathy and patience with each other in that regard. And I think that has allowed them to keep their heads up.”
  • Rockets forward P.J. Tucker has never been named to the All-Defensive team and coach Mike D’Antoni believes that should change this season. “It doesn’t get much better than him,” D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets’ defense ranks third in the league since Tucker became a starter, Feigen notes.
  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace will be looking for better shooters during the offseason, as he told Michael Wallace from the team’s website during a Q&A session. Asked about the upcoming draft, Wallace spoke in general terms about what type of players he’d target. “As far as our team need, you can always use outside shooting in the NBA of 2018,” he said. “It’s such a premium placed on the three-point shot, you can never have enough guys who can shoot the three. We also have to get more and more athletic.”
  • Mavs guard Dennis Smith Jr. will miss at least the next two games with an ankle sprain, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. The team will play it safe with its star rookie but have no plans to shut him down. “He’s going to be out for a while, but it’s not serious,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

Injury Updates: Hayward, Irving, Smith Jr., Harris

Celtics‘ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge believes he gave the wrong impression this week when he said Gordon Hayward suffered a setback in his rehab, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Looking back, Ainge believes “setback” was too strong a term and created inaccurate headlines about Hayward’s progress.

“What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness,” the Celtics’ top decision-maker explained. “It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was. So I think ‘setback’ is the wrong way to put it. I mis-phrased that. I’m not sure what the right word is, but he wasn’t ready for that. So we waited a couple of weeks before we started that again, and since we started that again it’s been great and he’s progressed along on the AlterG. That’s all. It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that.”

Despite Ainge’s clarification, the Celtics haven’t changed their opinion that Hayward won’t return to the court this season, which has their stance since he broke his ankle on opening night. Ainge said Hayward hasn’t done any “running or even jogging or real jumping” on the practice court and there’s not enough of the season left to make a comeback realistic.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Celtics continue to be cautious with Kyrie Irving, who has been limited by a sore left knee, Bulpett adds in the same story. Irving was held out of tonight’s game, and coach Brad Stevens said the star guard won’t play again until he feels 100 percent. Teammate Jaylen Brown remains in concussion protocol, but the Celtics plan to bring him on upcoming West Coast trip.
  • Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is wearing a walking boot after turning his left ankle in Saturday’s game, but he’s confident about playing again this season, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the team “dodged a bullet” because Smith’s injury wasn’t more serious, but he has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game.
  • An MRI conducted Friday on Nuggets‘ leading scorer Gary Harris showed he suffered a “sprain/strain” after landing awkwardly on his right leg, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Coach Michael Malone said Saturday that Harris could miss three or four games, but the team hopes to have him back before the end of its seven-game road trip.