Harrison Barnes

Texas Notes: Spurs, Barnes, Finney-Smith, Harrison

Yesterday, Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News relayed that the original narrative about the Spurs‘ players only meeting regarding Kawhi Leonard being tense was not accurate, writing that Leonard even received support from some teammates who urged him not to return until he feels healthy enough to do so.

Today, Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio-Express News seconded his colleague Young’s reporting, with quotes from Spurs’ veterans Danny Green and Tony Parker. Green, who tweeted a strong denial to the alleged tense nature of the meeting, said “(the report) was incorrect, wrong, false. I guess that’s the only way to put it. There was a meeting. That’s probably the only thing that was true in the article. Nobody in (the meeting) was frustrated or took it the wrong way. We were communicating like adults.”

For his part, Parker neither affirmed or denied the original report, essentially telling Spurs’ reporters that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. “You should know better that I can’t talk about that. That’s private stuff, locker room stuff. We always talk as a team, but you know we can’t talk about that.”

Interestingly however, Orsborn writes in another, related story that Parker contrasted his quadriceps injury from last season with Leonard’s injury this season in a thought-provoking manner, saying “I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury, but mine was a hundred times worse, but the same kind of injury. You just stay positive.” Parker also spoke highly about the Spurs’ medical team, while Leonard received a second opinion from outside medical professionals.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News also has some news from Dallas:

  • The experiment of Harrison Barnes at power forward is over, and Barnes couldn’t be happier about it. Since the Mavericks returned Barnes to small forward four games ago, he has averaged 24.3 points per game and when asked about the move back, simply said, “I love it.” Barnes goal for the remainder of the season is to continue to work on his playmaking, which makes sense considering Barnes only averages 2.0 assists per game, which doesn’t even crack the top-20 for small forwards.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith is one of a handful or more of Mavericks‘ players who aren’t guaranteed a spot of the Dallas roster next season, with his 2018/19 contract of $1.54MM currently non-guaranteed. But luckily for Finney-Smith and the others, the Mavs’ down year has given them an opportunity to showcase their talents for potential suitors. “It’s tough, losing like this, (but) they’re doing a good job playing hard,” says veteran J.J. Barea. “You never know who’s looking. They’re getting opportunities to play, to show themselves to everybody, to get better at what they do.”
  • Faced with a glut of big men on their roster, the Mavericks signed former Kentucky stand-out Aaron Harrison to a 10-day contract yesterday, electing to let Jameel Warney return to the G League. Whereas Warney clogged an already crowded position, Harrison is now only the second healthy player on the team’s entire roster who could reasonably be classified as a shooting guard.

Mavericks Notes: Barnes, Smith, Noel, Draft

The Mavericks’ playoff fate is already sealed, but Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. hope to use the final 19 games of the season to prove they can provide a foundation to build around, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Barnes, 25, is signed for $24.1MM next season with a $25.1MM player option for 2019/20. Smith, 20, is on a rookie contract and will be under team control through the 2021/22 season. They figure to be the leaders in Dallas once Dirk Nowitzki retires.

“It will mean a lot for us because we plan on being here for a long time,” Smith said. “So the more we can build together now, I think it’ll help a lot next season, building chemistry for next year.”

There’s more news out of Dallas:

  • These next 19 games are also important to center Nerlens Noel, who has a limited time to rebuild his reputation after missing extensive time after thumb surgery, Sefko notes in a separate story. Heading into unrestricted free agency after accepting Dallas’ qualifying offer last summer, Noel has played in just 20 games and is averaging 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per night. The Mavericks want to see if he and Smith can develop chemistry over the rest the season. “When he was out there, I just felt like the game got a lot faster,” Noel said of Smith after returning Wednesday. “When he was handling the ball, it helped get guys involved and it brings a new dynamic with me and Dennis and the speed of the game. And I know that’s the way he likes to play and that’s the best way for us to excel.”
  • The NBA doesn’t seem inclined to take away the Mavs’ first-rounder for this summer as punishment for the alleged workplace scandal or Mark Cuban’s comments on tanking, states Mark Mosley of SportsDayDFW. Assuming Dallas lands a high lottery pick, Mosley likes DeAndre Ayton of Arizona to solve the team’s problems in the middle.
  • Also addressing the draft, Sefko examines whether Oklahoma’s Trae Young could be an effective backcourt partner for Smith.

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.

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.

Mavericks Notes: Barnes, Smith Jr., Draft

The Mavericks haven’t lived up to expectations this season and the team’s highest-paid player is taking responsibility for the team’s woes.

“There’s no lying about it, it’s difficult for everybody. It comes down to taking personal responsibility,” Harrison Barnes said (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News).

“A lot of that falls on my shoulders. I have the ball a lot. I take the lion’s share of the shots. We’ve been close in a lot of late games. We’ve lost a lot of late games, so I take a lot of blame for that. Obviously, I have to be better, so we can be better.”

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Dennis Smith Jr. sees adapting to the Mavericks‘ system as his biggest challenge at this point in the season, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com writes. “It’s a systematic team, so I’m trying to convert my game into buying into the system,” said Smith. “Just listen and watch the film. Really, whatever they say, that’s what I’ve got to do.”
  • The Mavericks currently own the second spot in our Reverse Standings, which means there’s a good chance that they end up with a top selection in the upcoming draft. Sefko (in a separate piece) believes the team could end up with the worst record in the league, noting that Dallas has lost games to many of the teams sitting in the league’s cellar.
  • ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla (via The Dallas Morning News) examines which players could go in the top-3 and speculates that the Mavs could be interested in Luka Doncic with their first-round pick.

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.