Dirk Nowitzki

Texas Notes: Nowitzki, Barea, Carter-Williams, Forbes

Dirk Nowitzki will see limited minutes for the rest of the season and may not play at all in some games, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Nowitzki hasn’t made much of an impact in his 21st NBA season. He missed the first 26 games because of surgery on his left ankle and has played 10.3 minutes per night since his return, averaging 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Rick Carlisle, who has coached Nowitzki for the past 11 seasons, broke the news to the long-time Mavericks star during Friday’s shootaround.

“We talked about it and handled it like grown men,” Nowitzki said. “Just keeping open communication. No hurt feelings. Just play it by ear and see how the games are going, see how the flow is going.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks guard J.J. Barea is considering his surgery options after suffering a season-ending injury last night, relays Dwain Price of Mavs.com. An MRI showed that Barea ruptured his right Achilles tendon after hitting a layup in the fourth quarter of a victory in Minnesota. The team plans further updates once surgery plans are finalized. With a prolonged recovery time, the injury will limit free agency options this summer for the 13-year veteran, who is making $3.71MM this season.
  • The Rockets traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Bulls for an inevitable trip to the waiver wire this week, and he had two backcourt partners who could sympathize, writes Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Austin Rivers and Brandon Knight went through similar experiences, appearing headed for stardom as lottery picks, but eventually changing teams multiple times. “Your career, or where you end up, a lot of times we don’t dictate those things, right?” Knight said. “Things can change very quickly. We’ve all been on different teams, different situations, and we just happened to land here.”
  • Spurs guard Bryn Forbes took a long, unusual road to becoming an NBA starter, notes Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. He is one of six undrafted players currently occupying starting roles, as teams overlooked him in 2016 following his senior season at Michigan State. He also spent most of his first year in the G League before earning an opportunity, but nothing shook his confidence. “I think, one way or another,” he said, “I would have found a way.” 

Dirk Nowitzki Set To Make Season Debut

Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki is poised to make his 2018/19 debut, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, who reports that Nowitzki will suit up for Dallas’ game in Phoenix on Thursday night.

Nowitzki, who is spending a record-setting 21st season with the same NBA team, was hoping to be ready to go for the start of training camp after undergoing surgery on his ankle earlier this year. However, he suffered a setback in September and has missed nearly two months of the regular season.

In Nowitzki’s absence, the Mavericks got off to a slow start, losing seven of their first nine games, but they have bounced back in impressive fashion. Currently, Dallas holds the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference with a 15-11 record.

As the Mavs continue to push for a spot in the playoffs, Nowitzki will be looking to carve out a role off the bench, despite having started 1,440 of his 1,471 NBA regular season games to date. While the 40-year-old is prepared for his new role, he acknowledged that he’s not quite sure yet what it will look like.

“The boys are playing well,” Nowitzki said recently, per MacMahon. Maxi [Kleber]‘s been playing and Dwight [Powell]‘s playing well off the bench. … I have no idea [about the fit in the rotation], but it’s not a bad thing to be deep at a position. It’s a long season. Stuff always happens. Injuries always happen. It’s good to have a deep team, like we’ve showed. Our bench has been great all year and has won a bunch of games for us.”

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Conley, White

In what is a surprise to many, the Mavericks are the current kings of Texas, having jumped out to a strong 13-11 start. As Brad Townsend writes for SportsDay Dallas, the additions of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan have helped boost the Mavericks from the lottery to the playoff picture.

Doncic has been sensational as a rookie, averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while hitting several clutch shots down the stretch of games. Jordan has improved the Mavericks’ rebounding and has provided an interior presence that the team has lacked in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ bench has been very successful, as J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell have played well in their specified roles. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks appear to be a very competitive team this season that has a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • Mike Conley is struggling with a dislocated finger, which hampered his play against the Lakers last week. As David Cobb reveals for Commercial Appeal, Conley had trouble holding the ball, which obviously isn’t a good thing for the Grizzlies‘ leading guard. Conley believes the swelling and discomfort will improve in the coming days.
  • Derrick White continues to work on regaining his confidence and comfort after coming back from injury earlier this season. Jabari Young of The Athletic details the support that White has received from the Spurs‘ coaching staff and some of his teammates as he looks to make his mark in the Spurs’ depleted backcourt.
  • A recent Southwest notes post detailed Dirk Nowitzki‘s upcoming return to action, how the addition of Joakim Noah impacts other bigs on the Grizzlies roster and much more.

Southwest Rumors: Nowitzki, Noah, Gordon, Anthony

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will not make his season debut Saturday against the Rockets but he is inching closer to his return, Dwain Price of the team’s website reports. Nowitzki, who underwent ankle surgery during the spring and suffered a setback in September, participated in practice on Friday. “He’s doing well. You see him down there. He’s playing 3-on-3 and getting better all the time,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who assured the media he won’t play this weekend.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Joakim Noah has impacted several other Grizzlies players, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian notes in his latest mailbag. JaMychal Green, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, might be shopped if the franchise decides it won’t try to re-sign him. It also clouds the future of Ivan Rabb, a second-round pick in 2017, within the organization. Rabb has thrived in the G League but isn’t skilled enough or physical enough at the NBA level, Herrington opines. Noah’s presence should also reduce Marc Gasol‘s workload, Herrington adds.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon admits this season has been a shock to the system for him and his teammates, as he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. He also insinuated that coach Mike D’Antoni has made some mistakes with his personnel. “I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon said. “I’m just not. This (stinks). Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude? Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team. We just never had a bad moment.”
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey blames himself for the Carmelo Anthony signing. Morey made the remarks during a Tom Haberstroh podcast (hat tip to Sportando). “It really is mostly on me, honestly,” Morey said. “I saw the fit there and really didn’t go the way I thought it would. He can still really help a team.”

Western Notes: Korver, Nowitzki, Rockets, Rose

Shooting guard Kyle Korver knew the Cavaliers’ front office might deal him early in the season and he listed the Jazz as one of his preferred destinations, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Korver was traded for Alec Burks and two future second-round picks. “It feels like a good fit,” Korver told Woodyard. Korver is in his second stint with Utah, having played there from 2007-10. He has averaged 8.5 PPG in 19.5 MPG in his first two games since the deal.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Dirk Nowitzki participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of practice on Monday as he nears his return to action, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. The longtime Mavericks power forward has not played this season due to a left ankle injury. Dallas is hopeful he can make his season debut sometime this month. “He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys,” coach Rick Carlisle told Sefko. “Sprinting, moving and all that. It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players. But you got to do what you can do.”
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni believes improved health will lead to better defense, as he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets currently rank 26th in that department. Nene and Chris (Paul) coming back, first of all, that’s two of the better defenders in the league, so that helps,” D’Antoni said. “That’s going to take minutes off Clint (Capela) and P.J. (Tucker). So they’ll be better defensively because they won’t be as tired. … We know we need to be in the top 10 to be a real contender.”
  • D’Antoni has high praise for the Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose, who has reinvented himself as a shooting guard, Feigen writes in a separate story. Rose is averaging 19.3 PPG despite starting just five of 21 games. “Accepting new roles is tough. Some guys can do it. Some guys just can’t do it,” D’Antoni said. “They can try to shoot threes all they want. When they can do it, for the team, obviously, it’s beneficial. The league has changed. If you want to be effective, you have to change sometimes.”

Injury Updates: Nowitzki, Markkanen, Leonard, Harkless

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is targeting next month for his season debut, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Nowitzki provided an update today on his condition as he continues rehab work after having surgery on his left ankle in April. “Hopefully somewhere in December, I’ll be ready,” he said, although he hasn’t been able to participate in a full practice since the operation.

Nowitzki saw some action in a “staff game” today, playing against interns and younger members of the coaching staff. “I wasn’t the best player out there, so I have some work to do,” he said.

Nowitzki, who turned 40 over the summer, remained effective last season, playing 77 games and averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per night. He has indicated that this may be his final NBA season, although he hasn’t made a formal announcement.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen continues to make progress in his return from a right elbow injury and could start practicing with contact next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen has made major improvements with his conditioning. He suffered a high-grade lateral elbow sprain during training camp.
  • Hoiberg added that Kris Dunn is ahead of Bobby Portis in recovering from knee injuries that they suffered within days of each other (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors are moving closer to using Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, coach Nick Nurse told Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Nurse added that the team’s strategy with Leonard over the first quarter of the season has been successful, and there have been no problems when he has been asked to play a lot of minutes. “He feels good,” Nurse added of Leonard, who was limited to nine games with the Spurs last season because of a quad injury.
  • The RaptorsC.J. Miles missed his fifth straight game tonight with a groin strain, but he should be back soon, Wolstat adds (Twitter link).
  • Maurice Harkless is returning to the Trail Blazers‘ lineup tonight after missing 13 games with a sore left knee, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

Mavericks Notes: Jordan, Smith Jr., Cuban, Nowitzki

Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. came to the defense of DeAndre Jordan this week, backing up the 30-year-old by denying a report from ESPN that Jordan’s selfish play has rubbed some teammates the wrong way.

“That news be fake shawty and we already know it,” Smith Jr. wrote on Instagram with a picture of himself and Jordan. “Our eyes on da prize.”

Jordan appeared to steal a rebound from rookie Luka Doncic in a contest earlier this month, prompting some to believe his own ambitions were being placed before the team’s aspirations. Also coming to Jordan’s defense was assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who took to social media with a statement of his own (hat tip to the Dallas Morning News).

“I’m just here to send out some good vibes to DeAndre Jordan who is one of our leaders of this team,” Armstrong said. “He’s not selfish. He’s a guy who plays hard, tries and gives energy to these guys. For an article to come out like that, I don’t like it. I’ve been a veteran leader in my career. When you lead you lead by example and then you lead by being vocal. That’s what leaders do. Stealing rebounds? We need rebounds. Mavs fans, you know when we need rebounds. That’s something big for someone to say he’s selfish to take a rebound from Luka.”

There’s more out of Dallas tonight:

  • Mavs owner Mark Cuban expressed his support of Jordan, a player he signed to a free agent contract this past summer. “It’s so ridiculous,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, for godsakes, we’re No. 1 in defensive rebounding after being a horrible rebounding team [pre-Jordan]. And every guy on the team recognizes that.”
  • Cuban also made an appearance on Dallas-based radio station 1310 The Ticket to discuss a variety of topics, including the Mavs’ sexual harassment investigation. “All I can tell you is that’s behind us now, and we’re a completely different organization on the business side,” Cuban said, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. Cuban was asked several different questions in the roughly 10-minute interview.
  • Cuban hopes Dirk Nowitzki will stay with the Mavericks for another season, according to a separate article from the Dallas Morning News. Nowitzki has yet to play this season due to an ankle injury after appearing in 77 games with the Mavs last year.

Charania’s Latest: Butler, Grizzlies, Dirk, Kemba

No resolution appears imminent on the Jimmy Butler front, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that the Timberwolves “never” showed any willingness to accept the Rockets‘ previously reported offer of Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, and four first-round draft picks. Accepting a package that featured a pair of probable non-rotation players and a handful of picks with uncertain conditions was a “non-starter” for Tom Thibodeau, league sources tell Charania. Charania also reaffirms something we’ve heard within the last week or two, writing that there’s a belief around the NBA that the Heat and/or Sixers could re-engage the Timberwolves at some point on Butler.

Charania’s latest article for The Athletic includes several other noteworthy tidbits, so we’ll round up the highlights below…

  • The Grizzlies, who have an open spot on their 15-man roster, are prioritizing signing a veteran center to fill that opening, sources tell Charania.
  • Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki is hoping to make his 2018/19 debut in about three weeks, per Charania. Nowitzki continues to recover from ankle surgery.
  • Teams that asked about Kemba Walker during the offseason were told that the Hornets are committed to contending for the playoffs and view Walker as the face of their franchise, league sources tell Charania. Team owner Michael Jordan has a “strong desire” to re-sign Walker when he reaches free agency in 2019, Charania adds.
  • The Hawks have been reluctant to move Dewayne Dedmon to this point, according to Charania. However, with his free agency approaching in 2019, teams are expected to ask Atlanta about Dedmon’s availability leading up to this season’s trade deadline.
  • Before Kawhi Leonard was traded to Toronto in July, the Nuggets were “on the periphery” late into the Leonard sweepstakes, but opted to hang onto their young core, says Charania. That decision has paid off so far this season, with Denver off to a 9-1 start.
  • The NBA’s lone remaining restricted free agency, Patrick McCaw, remains in discussions with multiple teams, including the Warriors, Charania reports.

Mavericks Notes: Early Struggles, Nowitzki, Matthews

Despite early season buzz and expectations surrounding the Mavericks‘ young core and the addition of DeAndre Jordan, they have gotten off to another slow start this season, sitting at just 2-7. As Eddie Sefko writes for The Dallas Morning News, this start looks eerily similar to past seasons, as the Mavericks are no stranger to such struggles.

As a result of anticipation surrounding the backcourt pairing of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic, as well as the signing of Jordan, many were expecting the Mavericks to make a significant jump in the Western Conference. Even with Doncic impressing on a nightly basis, Dallas has struggled to win games, despite a relatively easy schedule to start the season.

Sefko points out that there are ways out of this early hole, with the Mavericks getting Dirk Nowitzki back in the near future as Harrison Barnes continues to work his way back from a preseason injury. The Mavericks have yet to have their ideal rotation playing together, which can give them some confidence that things will turn around.

It will take plenty of fight and effort, as well as a healthy rotation, for the Mavericks to truly turn things around given how tough the conference will be this season. Early signs indicate that this will be another year of growth and development for the Mavericks.

There’s more from the Mavericks:

  • Speaking of Nowitzki, Eddie Sefko (via Twitter) also points out that coach Rick Carlisle would be “thrilled” if the 40-year-old big man plays in games this month. Nowitzki has been working out during practices, but this seems to indicate that he is still several weeks away from getting on the court during games.
  • After earlier reports revealed that Wesley Matthews had an intense meeting with Mavericks’ President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson after the team’s loss to the Knicks on Friday, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Rick Carlisle is denying that the meeting was heated in any way.

Texas Notes: Rockets, Nowitzki, DeRozan, Murray

The Rockets have opened the 2018/19 season with a 1-5 record, struggling to get in a rhythm offensively and playing lackadaisical defense. They’ve dropped games to the Pelicans, Jazz, Blazers, and two separate contests against the Clippers, with their only win coming against the new-look Lakers.

“Right now, we’re playing like crap,” coach Mike D’Antoni said, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “We’re just not playing well. You know, I don’t have a whole lot of answers for you now. We’ll look, and we’ll fight it.”

The Rockets took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals last spring, finishing with a 65-17 record and cementing themselves as the second best team in the association. Some of their struggles this season could be blamed on Chris Paul‘s suspension or James Harden‘s hamstring injury, but the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency have also hurt.

“We’ve lost our swagger and we’re on our heels,” D’Antoni said.

The Rockets’ upcoming schedule has them playing five straight road games, including contests in Brooklyn this Friday, Chicago on Saturday, and Indiana on Monday.

Here are some other notes out of Texas tonight:

  • Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be sidelined for weeks as he continues his rehab from left ankle surgery, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com“We’re still looking at weeks at this point,” Nowitzki said.“I haven’t even started running on the court, I haven’t even started running quick on the treadmill. I’ve just been slowly jogging and seeing how the foot reacts. Unfortunately we’re still talking weeks over days.” Nowitzki underwent surgery in April and hasn’t gone through a full practice session this season.
  • Michael C. Wright of ESPN examines how DeMar DeRozan dealt with being traded and embraced the Spurs, who currently have a 5-2 record on the season. “It took a while for me to get back in that happy place,” DeRozan said, “where I didn’t care about much in the sense of like, ‘Just be happy, man. Just be yourself. Don’t worry about all that other stuff.’
  • Gregg Popovich plans to use Dejounte Murray in a coaching role on the bench this season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. The idea, according to Popovich, is to make Murray learn and feel part of the group instead of sitting alone in the locker room during games. Murray suffered a torn ACL in the Spurs’ preseason.