Dirk Nowitzki

Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki Among Newly Eligible Hall Of Fame Candidates

Several former NBA stars are first-time nominees on the list of eligible players released Wednesday by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Headlining the list are Dwyane Wade, who won three NBA titles with the Heat, along with three international players, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Wade was a 13-time All-Star, an eight-time All-NBA honoree and a member of the 75th anniversary team that was selected last year. He is currently a part owner of the Jazz.

Nowitzki, also on the 75th anniversary team, is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in league history with 31,560 career points. He was named MVP in 2007 and was chosen as Finals MVP in 2011 after leading the Mavericks to their first championship. He set a league record by spending 21 years with the same franchise, made the All-Star Game 14 times and was an All-NBA selection 12 times.

Gasol captured back-to-back NBA titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and was the first non-American to be honored as Rookie of the Year. A six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, Gasol was also successful internationally, winning a FIBA World Cup, three EuroBasket titles and three Olympic medals with Spain.

Parker played a huge role in helping the Spurs win four NBA championships and was named Finals MVP in 2007. He was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, and was named MVP of EuroBasket in 2013 as France won the tournament.

Popovich holds the record for most wins by an NBA coach with 1,354. He guided the Spurs to five NBA titles and was named Coach of the Year three times.

Finalists for enshrinement will be announced February 17 during All-Star Weekend, and the Class of 2023 will be unveiled April 4 during the NCAA’s Final Four. The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for August 12.

Mavs Notes: Nowitzki, Cuban, Kleber, Doncic, Ntilikina

As first reported last week by Marc Stein (Twitter link) and later confirmed by the team, the Mavericks will retire Dirk Nowitzki‘s No. 41 jersey on January 5, when they host the Warriors in Dallas.

Nowitzki will join Rolando Blackman (No. 22), Brad Davis (No. 15), and Derek Harper (No. 12) as Mavericks players who have had their jersey numbers retired by the franchise. All three players are expected to be in attendance for the ceremony on January 5, along with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, writes Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com.

“Dirk is everything to the Mavs. First, 41.21.1,” team owner Mark Cuban said, referring to Nowitzki becoming the first NBA player to spend 21 seasons with a single team. “And now, lifting his jersey to the rafters. It is a special day for the Mavs and Mavs fans around the world.”

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke on Sunday to a handful of reporters, including Mark Medina of NBA.com, about the team’s start to the season, his first impressions of new general manager Nico Harrison, and Nowitzki’s jersey retirement ceremony, among other topics. “He’s a learner,” Cuban said of Harrison. “To me, that’s always the most important part. Can you deal with the people? Can you get the results? And are you a learner? He’s a learner. He’s a sponge and always open to things. So I’m happy with what’s going on.”
  • Maxi Kleber returned to action on Sunday for the Mavs after sitting out nine games with a left oblique strain, but Luka Doncic remained sidelined, missing his third consecutive game due to left knee and ankle sprains. Doncic was a game-time decision on Sunday, which suggests he’s close to getting back on the court. Dallas is 0-3 without him after starting the season with a 9-4 record.
  • Mavs guard Frank Ntilikina left Sunday’s game due to a right calf injury and didn’t return (Twitter link). The severity of the injury isn’t yet known.

Dirk Nowitzki Will Be Special Advisor For Mavericks

Former Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki will rejoin the team as a special advisor, the team announced (via Twitter). His first assignment will be to aid in the searches for a new head of basketball operations and a new head coach.

Nowitzki, who retired two years ago, isn’t ready to take a full-time job with the organization, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, but he will assist owner Mark Cuban in filling the two important roles (Twitter link).

“Mark Cuban approached me about a role as special advisor and I am happy to support my Mavs,” Nowitzki said. Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle were both mentors and played huge roles in my career and the success of this franchise, and I am going to miss them. It is important for me now to join Mark and contribute as much as I can as we move forward.”

Following Carlisle’s decision on Thursday to step down as head coach after 13 seasons, Cuban met with Nowitzki, VP of basketball operations Michael Finley and some other longtime staffers to plot the team’s future, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).

Nowitzki, 42, is a 14-time All-Star who played 21 seasons for the Mavericks and holds many franchise records. He reportedly turned down an offer to become an assistant coach under former teammate Steve Nash with the Nets before the start of the season.

Atlantic Notes: Nowitzki, Kanter, Irving, Durant

New Nets coach Steve Nash reached out to former teammate Dirk Nowitzki but the Hall of Fame-bound big man has no desire to be an assistant coach at the moment, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. Nowitzki is content to spend time with his family in Dallas. “First of all, I don’t know if I could do it (coach) anywhere but here,” he said. “That’s of course first. Second, I just think the timing is not right. I love being with the family. I’m so over basketball at this point that it wasn’t even a thought for me.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s generally assumed that Celtics center Enes Kanter, who played sparingly during the postseason, will exercise his $5MM player option for next season. That’s not necessarily the case, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. It’s more likely that Kanter will test the market and seek a backup role elsewhere, Weiss says. Even if he opts in, the Celtics may use his salary for a draft-night trade, Weiss adds.
  • Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough doesn’t think Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were trying to undermine Nash when they talked about “collaborative coaching” on Durant’s podcast earlier this month, Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays. Speaking on The Putback, McDonough felt the star Nets duo was speaking more of the team’s leadership. “It wasn’t a critical comment toward Steve Nash like, ‘Hey, he’s not ready for this.’ It was more, ‘We have a lot of player leadership on the roster,’” he said.
  • The Knicks might shop all their picks on draft night. Get the details here.

Reactions, Notes On Nets’ Hiring Of Steve Nash

The Nets shocked the basketball world on Thursday morning when they announced that Steve Nash would become the team’s new head coach. Nash, who hadn’t been cited as a potential candidate during Brooklyn’s search process, wasn’t even known to be seeking a head coaching job.

However, according to Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, Nash’s name came up “very early” in the process, perhaps even as early as March, shortly after Jacque Vaughn took over for Kenny Atkinson on an interim basis. As Puccio explains, Nash was emerging as the team’s top choice by May. General manager Sean Marks has a history with Nash, having played with him in Phoenix from 2006-08, and star forward Kevin Durant among those pushing for the former star point guard.

That connection with Durant, forged during Nash’s stint as a consultant for the Warriors, will be crucial for the first-time head coach, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, who suggests that Nash’s potential as the Nets’ head coach is tied to the respect he can command from Durant and Kyrie Irving. As long as those star players are happy, the risk of Nash’s inexperience is mitigated, Bondy opines.

Here’s more on the Nets’ surprising hire:

  • Nash reached out to longtime friend Dirk Nowitzki to gauge his interest in joining the Nets as an assistant coach, but Nowitzki isn’t looking for a full-time basketball job so soon after retiring, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Nash explained why the Nets’ job appealed to him, admitting that he has always known in the back of his mind that he’d like to try coaching. The former two-time MVP also addressed his relationship with Durant. “I think that there is a trust, a commonality and a language between us when it comes to the game that has developed over time,” Nash said of his bond with KD. “That definitely is important. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen and to have his confidence is really important.”
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic explores what Nash brought to the Warriors and what – in turn – he’ll bring to the Nets, noting that Steve Kerr is confident in the Hall-of-Famer’s ability to make the transition to coaching. “Yeah, he’ll be fine,” Kerr said. “He knows the drill. He’s been in the league forever and he knows the game as well as anybody and he understands people. And I think he’s very wise, so he’ll hire a good staff. And everything that he needs to learn, he’ll learn quickly.”
  • ESPN insiders Bobby Marks, Tim MacMahon, Kirk Goldsberry, Tim Bontemps, and Brian Windhorst share their reactions to the news of the Nets hiring Nash, and explore best- and worst-case scenarios for the union.
  • It may be an unconventional hire, but the Nets are getting a great teacher in Nash, says Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

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.”