Dirk Nowitzki

Mavericks Notes: Hopson, Nowitzki, Mejri, Matthews

As expected, the Mavericks opted not to offer a second 10-day contract to shooting guard Scotty Hopson, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Hopson appeared in just one game and played eight minutes during his time in Dallas.

The open roster spot will be used to extend a 10-day deal to Jameel Warney, possibly today. The 6’9″ power forward/center has been playing in the G League, averaging 19.8 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Texas Legends.

There’s more this morning from Dallas:

  • Coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Saturday there’s a good chance that Dirk Nowitzki will return for a 21st season, Sefko relays in a separate story. Carlisle said he hasn’t talked to Nowitzki about the topic, but there are reasons to believe he will be back. “At this point, it looks promising that he’ll play another year,” Carlisle said. “But it’s his decision and he’s got to think of everything involved. I’m personally 100 percent supportive of it because you just don’t want to see a guy like this go away. So we’ll see. Time will tell.” Nowitzki, who said in December that he’s leaning toward another season, is averaging 12.4 points in 65 games.
  • The Mavericks may face a tricky market for center Salah Mejri this summer, Sefko states in another piece. Mejri has shown he can be a valuable backup, but his effectiveness is limited to about 15 to 20 minutes per game. Some team may be willing to offer the $3.5MM bi-annual exception or even the $4.5MM room exception, which may be more than the Mavs want to pay. They like Dwight Powell more and may land a center in the draft, so Mejri’s return for next season seems iffy.
  • Wesley Matthews is likely to be back for another season in Dallas, Sefko adds in the same story. He has a player option worth more than $18.6MM and doesn’t want to leave before helping turn the Mavericks around.
  • The NBA may choose to use the NFL’s punishment of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott as a model in sanctioning Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, writes Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. The sexual misconduct allegations against the team’s front office and Cuban’s alleged sexual abuse in Oregon could cause commissioner Adam Silver to send a message with a harsh sanction, Cowlishaw adds.

Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes Weigh In On Tanking

The Mavericks snapped their four-game losing streak on Monday, picking up their first win since owner Mark Cuban was fined $600K by the NBA for his comments about losing being in the team’s best interest. Following Dallas’ win over Indiana on Monday, veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes weighed in on the subject of tanking, disputing Cuban’s idea that a series of late-season losses are best the franchise.

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]

“You don’t really want a culture here that’s just giving up and quitting and not playing hard,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future. … I think it’s important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard. You play your minutes hard. That’s the only way to get better. That’s the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we’ll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win.”

As MacMahon details, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle – who spoke before the All-Star break about focusing on “player development” over the season’s final two months – has reversed course to some extent in the Mavs’ last couple games. Carlisle got his veterans plenty of playing time, particularly in the fourth quarter, during Saturday’s loss to the Jazz and Monday’s win over the Pacers.

Carlisle’s approach is endorsed by Barnes, who acknowledged that the tanking issue is one that’s hard to avoid, but suggested that the team should still be doing what it can to win games. Like Nowitzki, Barnes said that the act of tanking can lead to bad habits that become hard to shake.

“Any time you don’t play to win or you’re just kind of going through the motions, that can become contagious,” Barnes told MacMahon. “That can become a habit, and that can become your culture. ‘Oh, it’s OK for us to do this. Oh, it’s OK for us to not give full effort.’ Then next season rolls around, and you can’t flip that switch. It’s still that malaise that you had from the year before.

Texas Notes: Nowitzki, Cuban, Parker, J. Johnson

The workplace misconduct scandal surrounding the Mavericks hasn’t changed Dirk Nowitzki‘s plans to play another season, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. As the organization prepares for an independent investigation, Nowitzki said Friday that he still expects to return for a 21st season.

“I signed up last summer for two years,” he told reporters. “I would love to play next year again. But we’ll kind of see how the rest of the season plays out and how I feel in the summer. But as of now, I want to play again next year. I feel OK. I only missed one game. So the body is holding up OK. I only missed one game and that one I could have played, too. Obviously, I didn’t have any major, major issues.” 

There’s more new tonight out of Texas:

  • Of the possible penalties facing owner Mark Cuban in the wake of the workplace scandal, the NBA isn’t likely to take away the franchise, Sefko adds. That happened to Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the Clippers in 2014 after several of his racially charged statements became public. Sefko believes it’s more likely Cuban will be suspended or draft picks will be forfeited.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich tells Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News that he likes the way veteran point guard Tony Parker has adapted to a reserve role since Dejounte Murray was named the starter last month. Now 35 and in the final year of his contract, Parker has adopted a new routine to keep him ready to come off the bench. “Tony has handled it fantastically well,” Popovich said. “He’s been a really mature, high-character guy. He understands what’s best for a basketball team.”
  • Joe Johnson will continue to get playing time in a crowded Rockets rotation, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Johnson logged 22 minutes Friday night in his second game since joining the team and is making a quick impression. “Joe Johnson played really well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s getting more comfortable, especially in the second half. I’ve known Joe forever and he’s a machine. He just keeps playing, doesn’t get tired, he’s strong, and just really understands his game. If you watch it, he’s really good.” The addition of Johnson may mean a lighter workload for Trevor Ariza, Feigen adds in a separate story. Ariza, who had been averaging 34.8 minutes per night, returned to the lineup Friday after missing nine games with a strained hamstring.

Texas Notes: Harden, D’Antoni, Aldridge, Nowitzki

All-star guard James Harden believes the Rockets boosted their chances to win a title by adding free agents Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Both signed with Houston this week after reaching buyout agreements, adding depth to a roster that has the league’s best record at the break.

“Those are experienced vets who both have playoff experience,” Harden said. “And we all want to win – that’s what everyone on this roster has in common. We have a roster full of guys who are hungry and ready to compete at a high level. We have really good depth now. We have a roster of guys, from top to bottom, who can step in and really get the job done. That’s exciting, and it also means everyone’s minutes should go down, but our productivity [as a whole] should go up.”

He also addressed the compatibility concerns that were raised after the trade for Chris Paul last summer. Harden said he and Paul both adopted a team-first attitude that made blending their talents an easy transition.

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

  • After a lifetime in basketball, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has found the perfect team to fit his style, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. D’Antoni, an All-Star coach for the second time in his career, was happy as associate head coach in Philadelphia until Rockets owner Leslie Alexander offered him a job in the summer of 2016. Houston has given D’Antoni a roster filled with shooters to complement his philosophy on offense. “Some people accused me of being stubborn all those years I didn’t change,” he said. “I didn’t think I was being stubborn. I thought that was the way to do it. Why should I change if I know it’s the right thing to do?”
  • Returning to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence, LaMarcus Aldridge no longer feels out of place in San Antonio, according to Tom Orborne of The San Antonio Express-News. An offseason trade request led to a heart-to-heart talk with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and sparked a resurgence in Aldridge, who has increased his scoring average by five points per game and is topping 20 PPG for the first time since leaving Portland. “The Spurs have kind of learned who I am as a person and have let me be me,” Aldridge said. “They had Tim [Duncan], who was an introvert, kind of a private person, so now they understand me better.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he laughs any time another team brings up Dirk Nowitzki in a trade proposal, relays Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Nowitzki adds that Kobe Bryant once tried to convince him to sign with the Lakers, but he never seriously considered leaving Dallas.

Mavs Notes: Trade Talks, Collinsworth, Nowitzki

While plenty could change betwen now and Thursday, the Mavericks aren’t close to any deals at this point, a source tells Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. According to Sefko, if Dallas does get a trade done this week, it seems likely to happen at “the 11th hour.”

The Mavericks are keeping an eye out for deals that would allow them to add draft picks or promising young players, and are willing to take on some salary if necessary. However, as Sefko observes, the club clearly hasn’t received any offers it likes for Wesley Matthews or the team’s various expiring contracts. For his part, head coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t think the Mavs will do anything, though Sefko notes that’s what Carlisle always says.

“Every year, there’s a lot of talk and normally not a lot of activity,” Carlisle said. “I understand the interest in it. And it gets the wheel turning and you have pop-ups on your phone and speculation and I understand the importance of the interest. But the reality is there is a lot less bite than bark when it comes down to it.”

For what it’s worth, the Mavs acquired Nerlens Noel at last season’s deadline, but didn’t complete a February trade in any of the three years before that. Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Although Carlisle doesn’t expect the Mavs to make a deadline deal, he did confirm that the team is keeping an open roster spot this week for added flexibility in the event of a trade. If that opening isn’t filled by Thursday’s deadline, Kyle Collinsworth is a candidate to return to the squad. Sefko has the details.
  • Allegiance and loyalty are important aspects of the Mavs’ culture, which can complicate matters as the club considers whether to trade veterans like J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, as Sefko writes for The Dallas Morning News. “To me, loyalty is being respectful of players, being honest with them — knowing that we will be there to provide help and support long after their careers are over,” owner Mark Cuban said. “As the Mavs rebuild, the decision process isn’t just about talent. It’s about culture, chemistry, effort and who the player is off the court and in the community. All are of huge importance to [the management team].”
  • Dirk Nowitzki, who is in his 20th season with the Mavericks, isn’t playing the minutes or putting up the numbers he was in his prime. But Nowitzki is comfortable with his current role, helping the team work through its rebuilding process and transitioning to its next era, writes Schuyler Dixon of The Associated Press.

Southwest Notes: Evans, Parsons, Cousins

A Grizzlies beat writer says that he wouldn’t be surprised if Tyreke Evans is moved to the Celtics. Bear in mind that Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal says himself that the rumblings aren’t confirmed but it’s not the first time that Evans’ name has come up in trade speculation this season.

Evans has thrived for the Grizzlies this season after inking a one-year, prove it deal following an injury plagued tenure with the Pelicans. The 28-year-old has averaged 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 45 games for Memphis, making him one of the most appealing assets readily available to contenders ahead of the deadline.

It’s unclear what the Grizzlies could get back in exchange for the versatile wing but the Celtics are in possession of Memphis’ 2019 first-round pick.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Leonard, Green, Grizzlies

The Mavericks remain willing to take on salary in any deal as long as they get draft picks for their troubles, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas has about $13MM in available cap room, and the quality of the picks they ask for will rise according to how much salary they absorb. The Mavs were rumored to be a potential third team to help complete a George Hill trade to Cleveland, with a Sacramento second-rounder coming to Dallas, but Sefko dismisses that as unlikely.

He identifies Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and Dirk Nowitzki as the only untouchables on the Mavericks’ roster, but adds that it would take an extraordinary offer to get J.J. Barea, Devin Harris or Wesley Matthews. Sefko notes that Dallas feels a sense of loyalty to its veteran players and speculates that another organization might have waived Harris before his contract became fully guaranteed earlier this month.

The Mavs, who rank fourth in our Reverse Standings, are counting on a high lottery pick to add another building block for the future. They would like to acquire a second pick and are hoping to find a center in the draft.

Sefko adds that Josh McRoberts, who has a $6MM expiring contract, is being made available in trades, but Dallas plans to let him play out the season if no deal is reached. The team is hoping to re-sign Seth Curry, Salah Mejri and Yogi Ferrell when they all hit free agency this summer.

There’s more tonight from the Southwest Division:

  • The tension between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs over his injury is “legit,” a source tells Ken Berger of Bleacher Report. GM R.C. Buford has denied any rift with Leonard, but both sides are frustrated over his long recovery time from right quadriceps tendinopathy. The same source says the Spurs have a history of being reluctant to get second opinions from doctors outside the organization. Despite the hard feelings, a rival GM says San Antonio hasn’t given any consideration to trading Leonard.
  • The Rockets‘ return to full health has cost Gerald Green his spot in the rotation, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Green, who signed with the team in late December, averaged 15.6 points in 10 games while some key players were sidelined with injuries. “I can’t upset five guys to appease one,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I’d rather have one guy kind of out of it and four happy. I’ve got to keep a core that knows about their minutes. Now, whenever I can, I’ll play him. I won’t hesitate to play him. If somebody’s hurt or sick, he’ll play. Or if I can find time, I will.”
  • The Grizzlies are already making moves with next season in mind, writes Chris Herrington of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis is giving more minutes to younger players and letting veterans rest longer after injuries. The team plans to explore the trade market for Tyreke Evans and other players on expiring contracts before the February 8 deadline.

Southwest Notes: Nowitzki, Cousins, Green, Capela, Simmons

Dirk Nowitzki is no longer the perennial All-Star that the Mavericks organization and fanbase grew accustomed to but he is still the team leader, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. While Nowitzki’s numbers are down across the board this season but the team is still in awe of how important he is to the team.

“But Dirk’s been amazing. He’s played in every single game,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He had another phenomenal shooting night He’s leading this team in his 20th year and, you know, he does it so routinely, I’m just afraid people are going to take this a little too much for granted. But we’re seeing a really amazing performance for a guy at this stage of his career.”

Dallas is far out of playoff contention with a 12-25 record, the third worst in the Western Conference. Throughout the team’s championship seasons and even the current rebuilding stages, Nowitzki has been the one constant the past two decades and this may be his last season.

Check out other Southwest Notes below:

  • As free agency nears, DeMarcus Cousins‘ list of suitors could include the Mavericks and the team may be appealing to him, too, Sefko writes in a separate story. Nowitzki called Cousins one of, if not the best centers in the NBA and himself sounded intrigued by Cousins joining Dallas. “And as far as a potential Maverick, you never know. Free agency is tough to predict. We’ll see what happens,” Nowitzki said.
  • Jared Weiss at Celtics Wire chronicled the stressful 48 hours of Gerald Green‘s life, leading up his NBA return with the Rockets this week. The 10-year NBA was en route to Boston to see his sick son and after getting off the plane, he learned that the Rockets — who were in Boston to face the Celtics — needed him.
  • The Rockets have been hit hard with injuries this holiday season, most prominently losing Chris Paul and Clint Capela. Matt Petersen of NBA.com writes that the Rockets have missed Capela’s large frame and budding skills throughout their five-game losing streak.
  • Undrafted guard Kobi Simmons has made a strong impression on his Grizzlies coaches and teammates, NBA.com’s Michael Wallace writes.

Dirk Nowitzki: “Looking Like” I’ll Play In 2018/19

The prime years of Dirk Nowitzki‘s career are behind him, but he’s not ready to ride off into the sunset quite yet. While Nowitzki said he doesn’t want to set anything in stone quite yet, he’s leaning toward playing at least one more season beyond this one, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.

“I’m not going to say 100% I’ll be back — but it’s looking like it,” Nowitzki told Sefko. “I feel fine so far. I’ve played every game. I’d love to play all 82. That would be amazing at [age] 39. We’ll see how the body feels. But so far, it’s been fine.”

Nowitzki, who will turn 40 in June, signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Dallas this past offseason. That deal includes a team option for 2018/19, so the decision on whether or not the longtime Maverick will be back is technically up to the team. However, owner Mark Cuban has expressed hope that Nowitzki will return for 2018/19 to set the record for most years spent with one team, and it’s not as if Cuban would decline that option.

Although 2017/18 may not be Nowitzki’s last season, he did stress that his current deal “will be for sure my last contract,” according to Sefko. So if he returns for next season, it figures to be his farewell tour.

Having started all 28 games for the Mavs so far this season, Nowitzki is averaging 11.1 PPG and 5.6 RPG with a .443/.416/.919 shooting line.

Cuban Hopeful Nowitzki Will Play In 2018/19

Dirk Nowitzki is off to a slow start this season, with most of his numbers at their lowest mark since his rookie year. However, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he’s hopeful this won’t be Nowitzki’s last season suiting up for the Mavs.

“I hope so,” Cuban said when asked if he thinks Nowitzki will return for the 2018/19 season. “I think there’s a really good chance he is [coming back], because he wants to break the record for years with one team and be that one guy. Not many people have that opportunity. … He’s still having fun.”

In more than 1,400 career NBA regular season games, Nowitzki has averaged an impressive 21.6 PPG and 7.8 RPG with a .473/.381/.879 shooting line. So far this season, his averages have dipped to 10.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a .414 FG%, though he’s still making nearly 40% of his three-point attempts.

While Nowitzki acknowledged that his health and the state of his body will dictate when he retires, the 39-year-old expressed a desire to play one more year after 2017/18, noting that the Mavericks’ place in the standings wouldn’t affect his decision, MacMahon writes. Dallas is 2-12 so far this season, matching the Hawks for the NBA’s worst record.

Nowitzki is currently in his 20th season with the Mavs, tying Kobe Bryant‘s record for most seasons with a single NBA franchise. If he can return for the ’18/19 season, the German big man would hold that record on his own.