Harrison Barnes

Southwest Notes: Barnes, Kleber, Rockets

The Mavs have a new go-to guy after decades of relying on Dirk Nowitzki to shoot the ball in the final minutes of close ball games. As Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, this week Harrison Barnes experienced first-hand what that can mean.

After missing a potential game-winner on Monday night, the 25-year-old forward banked home a winner on Wednesday. The Mavs’ new No. 1 threat will have to soon get accustomed to both the highs and lows of getting the final shot.

When the team trusts you to have the ball in your hands late in the game and you miss a shot like that, you kind of beat yourself up a little,” Barnes, who averages 19.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the Mavs, said. “But you have to move on. So when you come to [the Wednesday game], and to make that shot, it felt great.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Don’t mistake Harrison Barnes‘ banked-in Wednesday night winner for anything more than luck, Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News adds in a question-and-answer with readers. Although he notes that Barnes’ “clutch” stats are actually pretty strong, he views him as more of a No. 2 or No. 3 option for the Mavs, long-term.
  • The Mavs slotted Maxi Kleber into their starting lineup four games ago and have been pleased with the result. Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes that the undrafted rookie has played just 16 minutes per game since moving into the starting lineup but has done a solid job making sure that the team doesn’t get off to slow starts, an issue that had occasionally plagued them.
  • The Rockets opted to keep two-way guard Briante Weber with the big league club, as well as forward Troy Williams so that they have more manpower available at practice and late in blowout games, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.  Yes, that’s a big enough concern for head coach Mike D’Antoni to legitimately plan around. Nine of Houston’s 14 wins so far this season have been by at least 15 points.

Mavs Notes: Barnes, Free Agency, Roster, Amenities

Harrison Barnes is entering his second season with the Mavericks and he will prepare for 2017/18 as a player looking to prove that Dallas’ lofty commitment was not a mistake. As Eddie Sefko of Dallas Sports Day writes, Barnes’ first season with the Mavericks was outstanding, as his PPG shot up by nearly eight points from 11.7 with the Warriors in 2016/17 to 19.2 with Dallas in 2017/18.

Sefko adds that life off the court is also going well for Barnes, as he got married recently and is enjoying the four-year, $95MM contract he signed with Dallas last year. However, Barnes’ rebounding numbers have not improved and the 25-year-old is entering a season in which the Mavericks are not expected to compete.

“Much will depend on how Dennis Smith Jr. bonds with Barnes and other teammates,” writes Sefko, noting a young Mavericks team that will need guidance from its veteran coach. “What the Mavericks have going for them is Rick Carlisle pulling the strings. He’s no stranger to putting together new pieces – he’s had to do it just about every season in Dallas.”

It may be a long year for the Mavericks, but Barnes showing further improvement will be beneficial for the team’s future.

Below you can read additional news surrounding the Mavericks.

  • In a separate feature, Sefko breaks down the Mavericks’ internationally flavored roster and the organization’s mentality in seeking out talent worldwide. Sefko quotes Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who, in Sefko’s words, half hyperbolized that Dallas is “scouting third-graders in Nigeria.”
  • While the Mavericks did not try to sign any of the prominent free agents this summer, Dallas Sports Day examines prior free agents who spurned the team and how it has impacted the franchise. The list includes Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and perhaps most famously, DeAndre Jordan, who verbally agreed to a deal with Dallas before re-signing with the Clippers.
  • While that batch of free agents chose to continue their careers elsewhere, the Mavericks are using a new tool to possibly lure talent. As Sefko writes once more, the Mavericks have revamped their locker room, weight room, and increased amenities for the players. Sefko quotes Cuban once again, who says that the team’s goal is “to integrate anything and everything that could give us a competitive advantage.”

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.

Southwest Notes: Morey, Rockets, Noel, Ferrell

Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who recently signed a four-year extension, continues to work on large-scale moves after a quiet draft, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. On draft night, the Rockets had just one second-round pick and used it on Isaiah Hartenstein, who will remain overseas next season, Feigen tweets. The Rockets also traded their second-round pick, Dillon Brooks, to the Grizzlies for a second-round pick next season. Morey discussed his approach:

“We were very focused on two things, to get someone who can help us now and in the future. The second, we did a lot of potential discussions with teams that advanced a little bit today. Obviously, we’re focused on the team now, focused on chasing Golden State. Anything we can push in the future to help us upgrade the team, potentially through trade, we’re ready to do.”

The Rockets were discussing Paul George with the Pacers on Thursday and continue to do so, but nothing was considered close on draft day, per Feigen. The team was simultaneously having conversations directed at making cap room available if they needed it for an expensive free agent addition. Morey stated that the team was considering some deals to move into the first round of the draft, but the Rockets prioritized saving cap space to pursue big trades.

What else is going on in the Southwest division?:

Sefko’s Latest: Point Guard A “Priority” For Mavs In Offseason

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News discussed the Mavs‘ offseason plans during a live chat Monday, labeling point guard the team’s “No. 1 priority” in the upcoming draft.

“Somebody who can snag rebounds will help,” Sefko explained. “But an athletic wing player is always in demand. Still, Point guard is the No. 1 priority in the offseason. We all think highly of Yogi Ferrell, but he needs help at the position. If Seth Curry‘s handles get a little better…”

Sefko acknowledged Dallas’ minimal playoff chances, citing the Mavs’ upcoming schedule as problematic. Rick Carlisle‘s squad dropped three of four in a recent stretch (including defeats to the Suns and 76ers), putting the Mavs in an unenviable position as the postseason nears. Still, Sefko writes, there’s reason for optimism in 2017/18:

“This franchise still is recovering from the DeAndre Jordan nightmare. But this summer, if they can connect on another solid double like Harrison Barnes or Curry or Wesley Matthews, then they are positioned to have enough young talent to get the attention of star free agents.”

Veteran point guard J.J. Barea was among Sefko’s talking points. While Barea has two guaranteed seasons left his contract, Sefko predicts J.J. will be coaching before too long. With that in mind, it would behoove Barea to act as a mentor to Ferrell and Curry.

When asked about potential draft picks for the Mavs, Sefko pointed out Donovan Mitchell of Louisville, as well as Jonathan Isaac of Florida State.

Mark Cuban: “We’ve Gone Through A Rebuild In One Season”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discussed his team in a Q&A with Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The interview spanned a variety of subjects- even touching on politics toward the end- but Cuban was sure to praise the “reinvigorated” Dirk Nowitzki, as well as scrappy guards Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry.

“This has reinvigorated Dirk. He sees the big picture,” Cuban said of Nowitzki’s choice to ‘ride it out’ in Dallas. “We’re in a win-win situation. We lose, we get a better draft pick, we win we get into the playoffs. It’s fun. It feels a lot more like 2000 when I first brought the team. All this young energy, exciting, fun to watch, we’re at a place where we’re not supposed to be.”

Cuban has reason to be pleased with Dallas’ season. Having gotten off to a 5-18 start in 2016/17, it looked as though the Mavs were in for a lost season. Several key contributors have helped right the ship, however. Ferrell and Curry have supplanted J.J. Barea and Devin Harris as Rick Carlisle‘s primary guards, Harrison Barnes has overcome a shaky start to the season, and Nerlens Noel looks like a stellar trade deadline pick-up.

“He has the most understated swag I’ve ever seen. His brother [Stephen] likes to dance. Seth will just kill you and then give you a little hand motion. He’s so non-demonstrative,” Cuban said. “To me, the more of a show you put on when you do something, the less swag you have. He doesn’t tell you, he scoreboards you, and to me, that’s the ultimate swag. We want him to be here forever. He’s our kind of guy.”

In Cuban’s mind, the team’s abbreviated rebuilding period has been a group effort.

“We’ve basically gone through a rebuild in one season. It’s a credit to Rick (Carlisle, the Mavericks coach) but also everyone on this team,” Cuban said. “There’s still a lot more to do. Nobody’s writing us in for The Finals this year. Our guys really worked hard, as hard or harder than any team in the league. Look at Miami. They’ve undergone a lot of changes too, much like we have, and they just play harder. I remember the Celtics after they traded off Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and they tried to find themselves and they did that by playing their asses off. That’s who we are now. Teams kind of look at our talent and don’t know what to expect but it’s hard to keep up with us when you go 15 deep with guys playing hard. It’s our calling card. I love it.”

Mavericks GM Talks Trade Deadline, Barnes, Ferrell

Like a handful of other NBA teams, the Mavericks got off to a very slow start this season, but have looked better as of late. The team has won 11 of its last 18 games, and remains within striking distance of a playoff spot in the West, just three games behind the eighth-seeded Nuggets.

With next Thursday’s trade deadline fast approaching, general manager Donnie Nelson and the Mavs will have to decide whether it makes more sense to sell off veteran players and focus on the future, or whether to keep those players around to assist in the push for a postseason berth.

Appearing on ESPN Dallas Radio this week, Nelson addressed that subject and a handful of others, so let’s round up a few of the highlights, courtesy of a pair of articles from the The Dallas Morning News.

On whether the Mavs will buy or sell at the deadline:

“When you’re in the position that we’re in, there’s all kinds of different possibilities. You’re looking what’s in the best interest of your franchise, short-term and also long-term. To get the right veteran type of player at a position that will give us solid minutes, obviously you have to look at those things. Dirk [Nowitzki] gets into his twilight years, you’re always looking for an injection of youth and athleticism and energy and toughness. You’re always looking to add, you never want to subtract, but unfortunately in this league there aren’t many fools and you got to give to get.”

On the trade talks the Mavs are having as the deadline nears:

“We have daily conversations with pretty much everyone in the league and you’re always talking about the possibility. That’s kind of our job. There isn’t a single person that doesn’t come up in a discussion during the course of the season. So again, you’re always weighing those and measuring those opportunities. When something comes up you have to take a peek at it and if something comes up, one thing Mark Cuban isn’t is trigger shy.”

On whether the Mavs were more fortunate to sign Harrison Barnes or Seth Curry last summer:

“Oh, it was definitely Harrison. I don’t think anyone was expecting [Kevin Durant] to land in Golden State and that happened so fast … Obviously, we were all in the mix and preparing, but the thing happened so fast, literally within a probably a two-hour period it kind of came to fruition. Then to be in a position to get a starting center like Andrew Bogut, which was another because they clearly had to make room and make decisions. So that was a good two- or three-hour period for the old Mavericks.”

On why Yogi Ferrell couldn’t catch on with another NBA team before the Mavs signed him:

“That’s a great question. We currently have seven of those [undrafted] guys in our locker room, three of which are starting. You got Wes Matthews that went through the same thing. J.J. Barea, as you remember. I think it’s a couple things. First of all, the talent level is so significant and then the influx of international kids, sometimes kids get lost in the cracks. Then you always have the Division II or III guys or the low D-Is who don’t quite hit their stride. That’s the great thing obviously about the D-League is it gives these kids an opportunity to spread their wings and fly in NBA systems.”

Lowe’s Latest: Barnes, Howard, Evans

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com examines the Pelicans‘ roster building strategy and cautions that the team doesn’t have much time to build a championship roster around Anthony Davis in his latest piece. It’s is packed full of noteworthy trade rumors and tidbits, including the story we passed along earlier today about how the Sixers will take a “hard look” at Jrue Holiday in free agency.

Here are more highlights from the piece:

  • The Pelicans considered making a sizable offer to Harrison Barnes in free agency before deciding to spend their available cap space on multiple players, sources tell Lowe. The scribe adds that Barnes would have considered New Orleans had the team contacted him.
  • The Hawks and Pelicans had exploratory talks about a Dwight Howard deal a couple weeks ago, but that was before Atlanta pulled all of its players off the trade market. Lowe notes that it’s unclear how interested New Orleans was in the deal and adds that there was not unanimous support to acquire Howard within the organization.
  • If the Pelicans decide to shake up the front office at the end of the season, Danny Ferry, who is currently serving in an advisory role with the team, is not likely to take over GM duties, sources tell Lowe.
  • Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday will both be free agents this offseason and Lowe notes that it will be hard for the Pelicans to keep both. The scribe adds that retaining Holiday remains New Orleans’ higher priority.

Southwest Notes: Pondexter, Diallo, Beverley

After missing all of last season and the first half of this one, Quincy Pondexter has undergone yet another knee surgery, the Pelicans announced today. The team didn’t provide a return timetable, but Pondexter seems unlikely to return this season. The procedure was the veteran’s third since he last suited up in a game back during the 2015 playoffs, writes Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

In his last taste of NBA action, his first season with New Orleans, Pondexter averaged 7.2 points in 23.9 minutes on the perimeter. Ever since, the Pelicans have struggled to restock the perimeter with reliably healthy players.

Expect continued opportunities for Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield and free agent acquisition Solomon Hill in Pondexter’s continued absence. The news also ensures that minutes will remain open for Tyreke Evans as his usage ramps up after his own setbacks.

That’s not all out of the Southwest Division:

  • Rookie Cheick Diallo made waves when he dropped 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first significant taste of NBA action, and the Pelicans aim to keep him with the big league club as often as they can for the remainder of the season. ESPN’s Justin Verrier reports that the team would like to be “hands on” with the player’s weight training regimen.
  • It was no secret that Harrison Barnes would see plenty of opportunities to score with the Mavs, but it’s been his evolution as a playmaker that has stood out to teammates in Dallas. “He’s starting to see other guys [out of double teams] and get shots for open guys,” guard Devin Harris tells Eddie Sefko of Dallas News. “[That] takes his game to another level.”
  • After missing three of the last four games, Patrick Beverley is expected to return to the lineup for the Rockets. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Mike D’Antoni is confident that his defensive stopper will be ready in time for Thursday’s run-in with the Thunder.

Mavericks Notes: Barnes, Jackson, Draft

Harrison Barnes left the Warriors, a team that sits atop the Western Conference, to join the Mavericks, a team that owns the worst record in the conference, but the lack of success hasn’t made him regret his free agency decision, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Sporting News writes.

“Dallas was the right thing for me from the day I signed here,” Barnes said. “You know, I’m happy to be in this process, in this challenge, every single night — pushed out of my comfort zone to become a better basketball player. And I’m excited for what the future has in store.”

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Barnes has developed into a featured player with the Mavericks, something he would not have been able to do with the Warriors, as Sefko adds in the same piece. Taking on a featured role came with added media attention and Barnes is hoping to emulate Dirk Nowitzki‘s approach to dealing with that aspect of the game. “I’ve talked to Dirk and, in my opinion, for a guy who has been through the ups and downs he’s been through, in all of sports, I think he’s one of the model guys you look to. I just really respect his demeanor, his approach, his ability to accept criticism, own it and get better from it. That’s what I want to try to do,” Barnes said.
  • Pierre Jackson signed with the Mavs earlier in the week, but Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News doesn’t expect the point guard to make a major impact with the team. The 25-year-old has played in two games for Dallas and he’s averaging 5.0 points and 3.5 assists in 11.5 minutes per contest.
  • The Mavs currently reside in fourth place in our reverse standings, meaning they are likely to land one of the top college prospects in the draft. Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News examines what the team may do with its first-round pick.
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