Dirk Nowitzki

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Nowitzki, Mills, Pelicans

Despite an injury to his left ankle at Eurobasket, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol says he is healthy and prepared to start the season, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes.

“My body feels really good,” Gasol said. “It was a freak accident. A guy dived for the ball and landed on my leg. It was kind of a sprain on my left ankle but it’s fine. For 15-20 minutes, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to play but it worked out great.”

In the same story, Tillery writes that Brandan Wright is in good standing with the Grizzlies after seemingly being displeased with the team following an early playoff exit last season. The team created playing time for Wright by not re-signing veteran Zach Randolph. Now, the team enters the new season with a rejuvenated confidence from two of its key assets.

Read about more happenings around the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes 2017/18 could be Dirk Nowitzki‘s final season. However, the outspoken Cuban also feels Nowitzki may want to surpass Kobe Bryant‘s record of 20 straight seasons with one franchise, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). The coming season will be Nowitzki’s 20th in Dallas.
  • Pau Gasol has shed 10 pounds since last season ended and the 37-year-old is looking forward to helping the Spurs this season, Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News writes. As Gasol explains, his free agency didn’t involve “a whole lot of flirting with other teams,” since potential suitors knew he wanted to return to San Antonio.
  • The Spurs re-signed Patty Mills quickly after the conclusion of last season. Mills believes the swift move was an indicator of his importance to the team, Melissa Rohlin of San Antonio Express-News writes.
  • The Pelicans have DeMarcus Cousins, a slew of veterans, and a young stalwart in Anthony Davis entering the new season. Larry Holder of NOLA.com writes that the team understands it is either now or never if the team wants to win since Cousins and the veterans may be gone next year.
  • Former North Carolina coach Mark Gottfried will be a scout for the Mavericks this season, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link).

Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Dirk Nowitzki Talks New Contract, Mavs, Cuban

Despite battling injuries and seeing his numbers take a hit during the 2016/17 season, Dirk Nowitzki re-signed with the Mavericks this summer, and received a two-year deal from the team, an indication that 2017/18 may not be his final NBA season.

Appearing on The Jim Rome podcast this week, Nowitzki discussed the possibility of playing for two more years, explained why he has been willing to accept team-friendly deals multiple times throughout his career, and joked about whether or not he’ll retire before Vince Carter does (Carter is trying to outlast Nowitzki, Dirk says). Here are a few highlights from that conversation, via The Dallas Morning News:

On whether or not he’ll play out his new two-year contract:

“When the Mavs said ‘Hey, we want you to sign a two-year deal,’ then obviously in my head I’m thinking ‘Yeah, I’d love to fulfill this deal, I’d love to play two more years.’ But you know, last year for the first time I had some weird stuff. I had some Achilles problems, I missed almost the first two months of the season which was really, really frustrating. It was hard to kind of work my way back midseason to game shape and so it was a tough time for me.

“If that happens again and I miss 30-40 games, then it really doesn’t make any sense. I want to be out there. I don’t want to be frustrated with something and battling back from injury all the time. But if the year goes well and the body holds up good, then why not try another? So I kind of have to see and wait and listen to my body and then we can make that decision next summer.”

On whether he’s ever considered leaving the Mavericks to join a super-team:

“I always said, if we wouldn’t have won the championship here in Dallas then that would’ve been an option for me. … If we wouldn’t have won it in 2011, it would’ve been a possibility, but when we won it then I kind of knew this was the place I wanted to be. I’ve been here so long, it’s almost like I’m part of the community. … It’s just like I belong here. A different jersey at this point would feel completely weird.”

On accepting multiple team-friendly contracts throughout his career:

“Don’t get me wrong, I made a lot of money in the league. Mark [Cuban] has been incredibly loyal to me on and off the floor. He’s a great supporter of mine. After my rookie deal, I was 23, 24, and that’s when I made my first max deal, six-year deal at the time. He made me his franchise player and I just felt so fortunate to be in that situation.

“I never thought growing up that I would be in those shoes one day where I can be a franchise player and make max money. That’s like a dream come true, so I think just that relationship we have with Cubes, with the city of Dallas that was always there. I always wanted to be here, I wanted to be loyal, I wanted to be on a good team moving forward so I always wanted to help out and like I said, Mark has always been great to me so we just had a great relationship.

“I tell the story all the time, how many owners come to the best player’s bachelor party? Cubes came to mine and we had a blast, so that kind of shows you the kind of relationship we have and had over the years. It’s been awesome.”

Texas Notes: Nowitzki, Gay, D’Antoni

Fans are paying an average of $1,300 per ticket for the Mavericks‘ season finale in hopes of seeing Dirk Nowitzki‘s final game, but Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News warns that Nowitzki’s retirement isn’t a sure thing. The German star hasn’t made a decision about playing beyond this season and says health may be the main factor. A right Achilles problem early last season limited Nowitzki to 54 games and doomed the Mavericks to a 3-17 start.

“If I miss another 30 to 40 games in a row, then obviously, it’s not meant to be,” said Nowitzki, who is preparing for his 20th NBA season. “But if I can stay sort of healthy like I did at the end of the season, when I thought I moved OK and had some good games, then maybe we’ll do two more [seasons]. But we’ll see how it goes.”

There’s more news tonight out of Texas:

  • Assuming he spends the entire year in Dallas, Nowitzki will join Kobe Bryant as the only players with 20 years of service to the same organization. During an appearance this week on Sirius XM radio, Nowitzki lamented the league’s move away from franchise cornerstones (h/t to Michael Singer of USA Today). “The new NBA is a little different,” he said. “It’s about making money, it’s about winning and not as much about being loyal anymore.” Nowitzki displayed his loyalty this summer by re-signing for $10MM over two years after opting out of a $25MM salary.
  • Rudy Gay hasn’t played a game yet for San Antonio, but he already calls himself “a Spur for life,” relays Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Gay agreed to a two-year, $17MM contract this summer that contains an $8.8MM player option for next season, but he sounds fully committed to San Antonio. “I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” said Gay, who is coming off an Achilles injury that ended his season in January. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”
  • Rockets mentor Mike D’Antoni accepted his Coach of the Year award Friday from the National Basketball Coaches Association, writes Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. D’Antoni was a co-winner along with Miami’s Erik Spoelstra after guiding Houston to a 55-27 record and the third seed in the Western Conference. “The tie was legitimate and there were five or six others who received significant votes,” said NBCA president Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks. “So it really spoke to the quality job that everybody did from top to bottom.”

Southwest Notes: Miller, Gay, Morey

With a vacancy in their starting lineup, the Pelicans could look to trot out Darius Miller in their first five, Will Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes. Miller was acquired after seasoning his game abroad over the last two seasons.

Miller may be a better bet to replace Solomon Hill than Tony Allen because of the spacing issues that will present themselves with Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt together.

Of course free agent Dante Cunningham could potentially take that spot if he is eventually signed but Guillory notes that there’s no indication that will happen before training camp begins next week.

There’s more from the Southwest:

  • After tearing his Achilles last season, Rudy Gay is betting on himself to salvage his career with the Spurs. The forward signed for $17M over two seasons but could opt out of his 2018/19 commitment to pursue a more lucrative offer if he earns one after this year, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News writes.
  • The NBA is more about money and winning than it is about loyalty, Dirk Nowitzki says. Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports recently parsed through comments that the 19-year Mavs veteran made this week.
  • Rockets general manager Daryl Morey may be the NBA’s most outspoken executive, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Morey is fined far more often than is reported, not necessarily surprising considering how quick he is to issue provocative statements through the press.

Mavericks Notes: Nowitzki, Mejri, Motley

Dirk Nowitzki, entering his 20th season with the Mavericks, will have a lot of questions surrounding his health and productivity. While the 39-year-old was still productive in 54 games last season, averaging 14.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG, his shooting (.437% )from the field was the lowest figure since his rookie season. As Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes, the legendary Maverick could become a bench player in 2017/18.

Sefko notes that coming off the bench would help keep Nowitzki’s legs fresh and perhaps prevent long term injuries. The German-born All-Star missed several games last season with Achilles tendon issues and considering the mileage on his body, pushing the near 40-year-old legend could only result in further damage.

However, the Dallas scribe is adamant in mentioning that if Nowitzki did not feel he could help, he would not play. “He will probably split time again between power forward and center, and the long-talked-about scenario of him coming off the bench might finally be in the cards, although he still seems better suited to start, keeping those creaky old legs from stiffening up after pregame warmups,” Sefko writes.

Below you can find additional notes surrounding the Mavericks organization:

  • While Salah Mejri found his way into 73 games for Dallas last season, Eddie Sefko writes in a separate piece that he will have to prove himself in 2017/18 if he wants to remain with the Mavericks. Mejri averaged just 2.9 PPG last season and entering the final year of his deal, he will need to show improvements across the board.
  • While he does not figure to get much NBA playing time, Johnathan Motley, who signed a two-way deal with the Mavericks, feels he can provide energy and size if called upon, NBA.com’s Earl K. Sneed writes. Motley enjoyed three good years at Baylor and went undrafted this year but could see time if the Mavericks are struck by injuries.
  • Once from Sefko, he writes that Motley’s role with the team is uncertain but the two-way deal gives Dallas a choice to shuttle him between the NBA and G-League. If he stays healthy and proves he can be effective in the NBA’s minor leagues, he will get a look from the team, Sefko adds.

Western Rumors: Reed, Cousins, Pelicans, Noel

The arraignment hearing for Clippers center Willie Reed has been set for Sept. 8, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sen Sentinel tweets. Reed was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery over the weekend in Florida and booked in Miami-Dade County. Reed, who played for the Heat last season, signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Clippers last week.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins has expressed on his Twitter feed that he wants the team to trade for Carmelo Anthony, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype notes. They are teammates on Team USA and Cousins has previously stated his admiraion for the aging Knicks forward. Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause to join Cousins in New Orleans and the Knicks would either have to agree to a package of role players or get a third team involved to make that happen.
  • Jalen Jones two-way contract with the Pelicans is a two-year deal, a league source informed Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). The former Texas A&M forward went undrafted in 2016 and played for the Celtics’ G League’s affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, where he averaged 21.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG. Jones impressed the Pelicans while playing for their summer league team, posting averages of 13.3 PPG and 6.2 RPG in six games.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is hopeful that the Mavericks can eventually come to terms with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, whose contract situation has yet to be resolved. “He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time. … I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [GM] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move.”

Southwest Notes: Nowitzki, Olajuwon, Spurs

The give-and-take relationship that Dirk Nowitzki and Mavs owner Mark Cuban have has never been on clearer display than when the 39-year-old took a $20MM pay cut between this year and last, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

“Mark and I obviously have a close, close relationship,” Nowitzki said. Last year, he really, really took care of me as we all know […] and it was my time to show again that I love being [with the Mavs]. I gave him a little bit of a deal, maybe.”

The big man is optimistic about the Mavs’ young core built around Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and, hopefully, Nerlens Noel, suggesting that he’s hopeful to leave the franchise in as good a position as possible when he retires after this season or next.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Spurs have named Blake Ahearn the new head coach of their G League affiliate, the team announced in a press release on its website. Ahearn, who played briefly in the NBA, will be at the helm of the Austin Spurs in 2017/18.
  • Count Hakeem Olajuwon among those interested in buying a portion of the Rockets. The franchise Hall of Famer has been approached by several groups that want him involved in a potential purchase, Mark Woods reports for ESPN.
  • The Mavs have a young core in place that they’re happy with and aren’t afraid to let it develop organically. “I think that young core is what we want to continue to build on, grow with and hopefully surprise a lot of people,” owner Mark Cuban told Earl Sneed of Dallas’ official website. “I think Dennis [Smith Jr.] is going to be able to come in, play and hopefully have an impact his first year, and we don’t want to take anything away from that.

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, with Carmelo Anthony making use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. At this point, Anthony is focused on joining the Rockets, and is reportedly unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to go to another team.

Anthony is one of just three NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals, though no restricted free agents have signed their QOs so far this year.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

Southwest Notes: Smith Jr., Anthony, F. Jackson

Count Chauncey Billups among those who think that Mavs rookie Dennis Smith Jr. will be able to make a serious case for Rookie of the Year, Adam Grosbard of the Dallas Morning News writes.

I think he’s the most polished out of all the point guards that were out there this year,” the former All-Star said of the Mavs’ ninth-overall pick. “I think he’s the most polished, pro-ready in my opinion and there’s some really good ones that came into the draft this year.”

Smith Jr. has been perceived as an early leader for the Rookie of the Year after an impressive summer league showing and will join the Mavs as an explosive playmaker cut from the same cloth, Billups believes, as Baron Davis.

I’m happy that he’s going to get to play for Rick Carlisle, who’s a guy that I believe in,” Billups added. The current Mavs head coach, of course, coached Billups and his 2002/03 Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Although he isn’t a free agent, Carmelo Anthony holds his fate in his own hands. Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes about how it’s in his best interests, financially, to end up with the Rockets sooner than later.
  • One of the things that sets Mavs icon Dirk Nowitzki apart is his willingness to work with young players, Harrison Barnes said in an interview on The Fan’s Ben and Skin. “The biggest thing for me when I came to Dallas was how open and willing he was to work with young guys. Work on the court every day, be willing to talk, have access to. Guys of his status, All-Stars or future Hall of Famers, can kind of be distant,” he said.
  • The majority of Frank Jackson‘s contract with the Pelicans is guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Jackson’s first two seasons are guaranteed at the league minimum, as is $506K of his third season.
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