Dirk Nowitzki

Texas Notes: Carter, Dirk, H-O-R-S-E, Morey

While Vince Carter will be remembered for many accomplishments, his tenure in Dallas may be his most impressive stint, as I detailed on the Basketball Behind The Scenes podcast. Carter joined the Mavericks prior to the lockout-shortened 2011/12 season as the franchise was looking for another player capable of scoring on his own to pair with Dirk Nowitzki.

The former UNC Tar Heel altered his game during his three years in Dallas, shifting away from the ball-dominant ways of the 2000s scorer. Carter made the three-ball a larger part of his shot portfolio and embraced a willingness to be a contributor off the bench, something that was not as glorified then as it is today. Without the shift in his game, Carter may not have had the opportunity to play a record 22 seasons in the league.

Here are more basketball notes from the state of Texas:

  • Nowitzki said that he would have probably turned down the opportunity to compete in ESPN’s H-O-R-S-E competition if he had been asked, as Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News tweets. The Mavericks‘ legend said he only touched a basketball a few times since retiring and once was for a commercial.
  • Acknowledging that an early playoff exit might raise some eyebrows, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in a mailbag that Rockets GM Daryl Morey‘s aggressive roster moves in the last year suggest he still has ownership’s trust. Morey has gone in some unconventional directions – such as going completely centerless – that an executive without as much standing in an organization may not have attempted.
  • The Rockets have a few contracts that could be difficult to move in the coming years, including Eric Gordon‘s deal, as John Hollinger tells Iko in a separate piece for The Athletic. The shooting guard inked a four-year, $73MM extension prior to the 2019/20 season.

Charania’s Latest: Nuggets, Nowitzki, Harkless, Crawford

Before they reached an agreement to sign Troy Daniels this week, the Nuggets considered a handful of other veteran free agents, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who identifies Iman Shumpert and Joakim Noah as two players who were on Denver’s radar.

Although the Nuggets chose Daniels for now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t add another free agent, such as Shumpert or Noah, before the playoffs begin next month. Daniels filled the 14th spot on Denver’s roster, so the team still has one more opening on its 15-man squad.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania:

  • The Mavericks have a standing job offer out to Dirk Nowitzki, but the longtime Dallas forward isn’t yet ready to take on a formal role with the franchise, says Charania. It’s not clear what sort of job the Mavs are offering Nowitzki — I imagine he’d have plenty of say in his role, depending on what interests him.
  • After not buying out Maurice Harkless by March 1, the Knicks are expected to show interest in re-signing him this summer, sources tell The Athletic. Some playoff teams are planning to pursue Harkless as well, Charania adds.
  • Despite not having played since last spring, Jamal Crawford remains committed to continuing his NBA career, according to Charania, who says the free agent guard – who turns 40 in two weeks – is in shape and ready to go if he gets an opportunity.
  • Earlier today, we passed along Charania’s reports on the Lakers monitoring the market for shooting help, Joel Embiid‘s target return date, and a few pre-deadline trades that ultimately failed to materialize.

Western Notes: O’Neale, Dirk, McLemore, Baynes

Royce O’Neale, who is the Jazz‘s most trusted perimeter defender, is aiming this season to improve the accuracy and volume of his three-point shot on the other end of the court.

As Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com details, O’Neale three-point percentage is up to a career-best 47.9% this season, but he’s attempting just 3.1 per 36 minutes, the lowest rate of his career. That’s prompting his teammates and Jazz coaches to encourage him to look more for his shot.

“You have to shoot it,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. “I’m trying my best to tell him to shoot it every time. I get mad [when he doesn’t].”

It’s a big year for O’Neale, who will be eligible for restricted free agency during the summer of 2020. If he can continue to prove that he’s a reliable, consistent three-and-D option, the 26-year-old should be in line for a nice payday when his minimum-salary deal expires, whether or not he remains with the Jazz.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Just in case there was any doubt, longtime Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that he won’t be following in the footsteps of fellow Dallas athlete Jason Witten by coming out of retirement after a year (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). Oh man. I wish,” said Nowitzki, who attended the Mavs’ Sunday win over the Lakers. “But my foot is not great. My health is not there anymore where it needs to be to compete and go up and down every day.
  • Ben McLemore, one of three Rockets players without a fully guaranteed 2019/20 salary, has taken on a crucial rotation role as of late, starting five of the club’s last nine games. While McLemore has been significantly better as a starter, he’s confident that his numbers as a reserve will come around if he returns to a full-time bench role. “It’s about keeping my game simple, especially with this team,” McLemore said, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “I’m trying to do the best I can each and every night and be consistent. Things will shake out for me soon.”
  • Offseason acquisition Aron Baynes, who returned to the Suns‘ lineup on Friday after missing five games due to a hip injury, has quickly become a veteran leader and a major on-court contributor for his new team, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Southwest Notes: T. Jones, Rockets, Nowitzki, Ingram

After carving out a role as a valuable reserve during his four years in Minnesota, Tyus Jones tells David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal that he’s looking forward to a fresh start with the Grizzlies. The Timberwolves elected not to match Jones’ three-year, $24MM offer sheet, sending him to a new organization for the first time in his NBA career.

“The thing that impresses me is everyone knows the goal, and that’s we’re one team trying to improve and trying to win a lot of games this year,” Jones said. “Everyone has the best interest of the guy next to them and everyone is looking out for the guy next to them. That’s what it takes to be a great team.”

Part of the point guard’s duties will be to serve as a mentor to rookie Ja Morant, the second selection in this year’s draft. It may seem like an unusual responsibility for a 23-year-old, but Jones virtually qualifies as an elder statesman on the rebuilding Grizzlies.

“It’s weird when you look at it in the grand picture, in the grand scheme of things,” Jones said. “I’m 23, but I’m one of the older guys on the team. We have at lot of younger guys just in terms of the NBA years. But that’s what you get when you come into the league at 19.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets‘ addition of Thabo Sefolosha could come at the cost of Ben McLemore or Michael Frazier, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. Even though GM Daryl Morey has said he has the freedom to pay the luxury tax, Nahmad cautions that he won’t do it to keep an average player. Nahmad expects Houston to either start the season with the minimum of 14 players on its roster or possibly keep 15 with the intention to make a salary-cutting trade by the February deadline (Twitter link).
  • Mark Cuban plans to talk with recently retired star Dirk Nowitzki about joining the Mavericks‘ ownership group, relays Dalton Trigg of DallasBasketball. “I’ll have the convo with Dirk in the future,” Cuban said. “There is a lot of things involved to make it all work. But it would be awesome.”
  • The Pelicans should take a cautious approach toward an extension for Brandon Ingram, contends Bryan Toporek of Forbes. Although Ingram has been a full participant in offseason workouts, Toporek believes his health concerns make him too much of a risk unless he agrees to a discount somewhere in the neighborhood of the three-year, $52MM deal that Caris LeVert accepted with the Nets.

And-Ones: Spain, Bryant, Nowitzki, Tampering

Following Spain’s 95-75 gold medal victory over Argentina in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Sunday morning, head coach Sergio Scariolo praised his team’s hard work, determination and efforts.

Spain wound up finishing first in the competition, despite not having the likes of Serge Ibaka, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol, surprising observers around the tournament.

“I can only be proud of what these guys did and feel that basketball was fair to these guys,” Scariolo said, as relayed by Sportando’s Nicola Lupo. “We weren’t the tallest, the most talented we weren’t in the odds when the competitions started but we worked hard. They worked hard, they prepared, they kept fighting in tough moments. There were some really tough moments during a couple of games and they didn’t lose faith in themselves. And then basketball rewarded them with this big award which they fully deserve.”

Spain was led by players such as World Cup MVP Ricky Rubio and veteran center Marc Gasol, among others, winning its first title since 2006. The team also did a tremendous job neutralizing red-hot Luis Scola in the gold medal game, limiting him to just eight points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Kobe Bryant believes it doesn’t matter which NBA team has the best duo entering the 2019/20 season, explaining his thoughts in a recent interview. “It doesn’t matter. I think it matters what they put around those two guys, and then what is the offensive and defensive system they’re going to be executing. You could have marquee names and put those marquee names together, and guess if they could play together or not, but it ultimately comes down to what system do you have them in and how does that affect the rest of the guys.”
  • Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki has been appointed Chair of the FIBA Players Commission for the 2019-23 term, FIBA Basketball announced. “Dirk is one of the greatest players to have ever played basketball, and is highly respected worldwide,” FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis said. “He has had an exceptional career both with the NBA and with his national team and will bring with him a huge amount of experience and knowledge.  He is the perfect person for this position and  we look forward to working closely with him over the next term of office.” 
  • The NBA is fighting a losing battle when it comes to the topic of tampering, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. “I think it’s pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can’t enforce,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “It hurts the perception of integrity around the league if people say, ‘Well, you have that rule and it’s obvious that teams aren’t fully complying, so why do you have it?’ I think the sense in the (Board of Governors meeting) room was we should revisit those rules.”

And-Ones: Crawford, Injuries, Nowitzki, Moore

Jordan Crawford has 281 career regular season NBA games under his belt, but hasn’t played in 20 or more in a season since 2013/14 and didn’t appear in a single game in 2018/19. Still, it sounds as if he’s looking to catch on with a club for the coming season, as Sam Amico and Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops detail.

A source informed Stinar that Crawford, who is said to be in “great shape,” has recently worked out in front of scouts at UCLA. There’s no word yet on whether specific NBA teams might be interested in giving him a look this fall, but he showed last year in China that he can still score. In a brief, six-game stint with the Sichuan Blue Whales, Crawford poured in 36.5 PPG.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In an interesting article for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe examines the apparent shift to “Big Two” roster-building this offseason and explores which of those teams with dynamic duos may be in position to acquire for another star to create a “Big Three.” Lowe identifies the Nets and Mavericks as two intriguing possibilities, since Brooklyn has the assets necessary to make such a trade, while Dallas’ two young stars – Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis – aren’t as expensive as most top pairs around the league, creating an opportunity in free agency in 2021.
  • Several writers at The Athletic checked in on injured players around the NBA, making predictions on when we might see guys like Victor Oladipo, Jusuf Nurkic, and Paul George return to action.
  • When his final season as a player ended in the spring, Dirk Nowitzki said he could imagine having interest in eventually becoming the coach or general manager of a basketball franchise. Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness recently told Magenta Sport that he’d be open to the idea of bringing Nowitzki aboard in some role if the German big man wants to work in his home country (link via Sport1.de; translation via Eurohoops.net).
  • Ben Moore, who recently signed with Turkish club Galatasaray S.K., received interest and two-way contract offers from multiple NBA teams, but the offer that ultimately swayed him to Turkey was “quite lucrative,” tweets Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops.

Mavs Notes: Powell, Barea, Dirk, Porzingis

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell enjoyed a career year in 2018/19, establishing new career-highs in PPG (10.6) and FG% (.597) to go along with 5.3 RPG in a part-time role. Now, he’ll have to make a decision on a $10.26MM player option for 2019/20.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), Powell said, “I definitely want to be here.” However, he didn’t offer specifics on whether that meant picking up his player option or opting out and negotiating a new deal with Dallas. Even exercising his option and then working out a contract extension could be a possibility.

For their part, the Mavericks intend to do all they can to make sure Powell sticks with the team “for years to come,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said on Thursday (Twitter link via Townsend). According to Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link), owner Mark Cuban went a step further, suggesting during a radio appearance that the club plans to extend Powell for three seasons.

Nothing’s official yet, so while we wait to see what sort of agreement Powell and the Mavs might reach, let’s round up a few more items out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea continues to recover from a significant Achilles injury, but it sounds like the free-agent-to-be expects to be back with the Mavericks, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays (via Twitter). “I know what they want. They know what I want,” Barea said. “We’ll figure it out.”
  • Discussing his decision to retire earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki said he just recently finalized his decision, adding that his ongoing foot issues helped cement his decision. “It just doesn’t make any sense to do that for one more season,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Saad Yousuf of The Athletic, meanwhile, offers an entertaining oral history of Nowitzki’s final home game in Dallas.
  • Could Nowitzki become involved in the Mavericks’ ownership group during his retirement? Both he and Mark Cuban appear to be open to the idea, as Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com writes.
  • Kristaps Porzingis will be the Mavericks’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason, Donnie Nelson said on Thursday. Head coach Rick Carlisle intends to visit Latvia and Slovenia this summer to see Porzingis and Luka Doncic (Twitter links via Townsend).

Dirk Nowitzki Confirms He’s Retiring

After scoring 30 points against the Suns on Tuesday night, Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that the Mavericks‘ final home game of the 2018/19 season will also be the last home game of his 21-year NBA career (Twitter link via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News). Nowitzki will retire at season’s end.

The ninth overall pick in the 1998 draft, Nowitzki spent his entire career with the Mavericks, appearing in over 1,500 regular season games with the team and playing in another 145 postseason contests. Over the course of two-plus decades in Dallas, Nowitzki averaged 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.4 APG on .471/.381/.879 shooting. He also memorably led the Mavs to an NBA championship in 2011 against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the Heat.

The 40-year-old ranks third on the NBA’s all-time list of games played and total minutes, and shows up on many more of the league’s historical leaderboards. Nowitzki was named the MVP in 2007 and earned 14 All-Star berths to go along with 12 All-NBA nods. He is also the only player to have spent 21 seasons with a single franchise.

While Nowitzki talked throughout the year about possibly coming back for one more season, he’ll instead join Wade in retirement following tomorrow’s regular-season finale in San Antonio. Wade also played his final home game tonight.

As for his next step, Nowitzki wants to remain around the Mavericks even if he’s no longer playing for the team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that the club has been planning a “unique role” for the future Hall-of-Famer. Mavs owner Mark Cuban promised tonight that Nowitzki would have a “job for life” with the organization (Twitter link via Marc Stein of The New York Times).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dirk Nowitzki Talks Health, 21st Season, Doncic

Dirk Nowitzki has yet to make a definitive decision on whether he will retire at the end of this season. The Mavericks may not know what No. 41 is going to do but they are preparing a massive party for their final home game of the season, which is next Tuesday against the Suns.

“It’s going to be a special night whether he likes it or wants it or not,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said (via the latest newsletter from Marc Stein of The New York Times, which you can subscribe to here).

Stein sat down with Nowitzki to talk about his 21st season in the league. Here are some highlights from the conversation:

On how he’s feeling now compared to the middle of the season:

“It’s been a lot better. It was so hard to try to fight back in the middle of the season — for seven weeks I pretty much did nothing. I couldn’t really enjoy myself for most of December and January. If I don’t get that inflamed tendon in my foot, maybe I’m actually having a decent year. I worked hard to get back to a decent level where I could play and compete with the guys. The last few weeks, I’m moving better, I’m feeling better, I’m playing more minutes, so I’ve been able to enjoy my time again on the court.”

On getting to compete in the 2019 All-Star Game:

“I really enjoyed myself. Amazing weekend, and I’m really thankful to the league and the Commish for making that happen and having me and Dwyane in it. I said before that the All-Star Game is for the players who really deserve to be there and carry their teams and their franchises, so I went there with the mindset that I really don’t want to play that much…I just thought that if I go there and make one 3 that’ll be awesome. But obviously [Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer] subbed me in and the first look was kind of deep, and I shot it and it went in. The second one was even deeper and I thought: “Whynot? This will be your last time on this stage.” So I shot it and that one went in, too. It was definitely a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

On the relationship he’s built with rookie Luka Doncic:

“He’s just such a confident young man that there’s not much you can really tell him. He’s got the experience, he’s got the confidence in crunchtime already — all that I had to work for…But off the floor, man, he is a kid. He’s never serious off the floor and obviously I’m not, either. He loves to have fun. We joke about everything and anything at all times. He’s just a funny dude. We enjoy our time together — I guess he took me under his wing.”

Nowitzki also talks to Stein about passing Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list and reflects on his 2018/19 numbers among other topics. The entire newsletter is worth a read.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Rockets, Dirk, Caboclo

Even after a grueling 2018/19 season, Rockets guard James Harden hopes to suit up for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup this September, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Of course I want to play,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country, go out there and play basketball. It’s something I love doing. If that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be in. Not everyone gets that opportunity. As a basketball player, that’s one of the highest points you can get for basketball.”

Harden, who previously won gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup, is one of 35 players who was named to USA Basketball’s player pool for events between 2018-20. Obviously, not all of those players will get the chance to play on USA’s 12-man roster in the fall, but as the league’s reigning MVP, Harden probably has one of those 12 spots if he wants it.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Ray Allen hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2014, but Rockets GM Daryl Morey hasn’t given up hope that the veteran sharpshooter will decide to make an NBA comeback. Appearing last month on The Rich Eisen Show (video link), Morey referred to Allen as his “white whale,” vowing that he’d sign the 43-year-old to a 10-day contract right now if Allen were interested (hat tip to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype).
  • Longtime Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning for a 22nd NBA season next year. While Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News thinks retirement is the more likely outcome, he makes the case that playing another season wouldn’t negatively impact Nowitzki’s legacy.
  • In an excellent piece for The Athletic, Blake Murphy takes a deep dive into Bruno Caboclo‘s long, winding road to an NBA rotation role. With Caboclo playing regular minutes for the Grizzlies, Murphy spoke to a handful of his teammates and coaches, as well as draft expert Fran Fraschilla, who famously said that the young forward was “two years away from being two years away” when the Raptors selected him in 2014.