JaVale McGee

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Pelicans Bench, Wood, McGee, Wall

CJ McCollum has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out for Friday’s game against the Grizzlies, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In his first full season as a starting point guard, the Pelicans veteran is averaging 18.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.1 APG and 1.2 SPG on .410/.342/.794 shooting through 17 games (35.1 MPG). The rebounds and assists represent career highs, but the FG% and 3PT% are career lows. McCollum has never shot below 37.5% from long distance, so his current figure should rise over time.

With McCollum sidelined in Wednesday’s victory over the Spurs, second-year guard Jose Alvarado started in his place, with Devonte’ Graham and Dyson Daniels receiving more playing time off the bench. That should continue until McCollum is cleared to return.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans‘ bench has been a major reason the team has withstood short-term injuries to stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram thus far in 2022/23, according to Christian Clark of (subscriber link). “It’s extremely important if you want to go far in the postseason,” head coach Willie Green said. “Having your second unit come in that can execute, that’s fearless. They play together. They play with joy. It makes all the difference in the world of how far your team can go.” As Clark notes, Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. have been standout performers off the bench, but multiple players are contributing to wins for the 11-7 Pelicans.
  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News questions why Christian Wood hasn’t received more playing time after the Mavericks dealt their 2022 first-round pick to acquire him from Houston in the offseason. Sherrington writes that the Mavs knew Wood wasn’t a great defensive player when they made the trade, and he’s been highly productive when on the court, averaging 17.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG on .585/.447/.697 shooting in just 25.3 MPG through 15 games. On the other end of the spectrum, Sherrington states that JaVale McGee has been a disappointing free agent addition thus far and probably shouldn’t be getting rotation minutes.
  • Both Wood and head coach Jason Kidd responded to questions about Wood potentially entering the Mavericks‘ starting lineup after Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the Celtics, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think I’m gonna just keep that that personal opinion to myself,” Wood said. “But what I can say is I’m enjoying my time here. I love playing for Dallas. These guys, they support me. They pick me up when I have a bad game. So things are going great.” Kidd said he talks to his staff about possible changes every day, and suggested one might be coming soon. “You’ve got to look at all the combinations you got to see who’s playing well,” he said, per Townsend. “And just understand that sometimes change has to happen. It’s just the nature of sport. There’s no hard feelings or anything personal. This is their job and we’re trying to win ballgames. We’re trying to put the right combinations out there.”
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, former Rockets guard John Wall talked about mentoring the team’s young backcourt and his relationship with head coach Stephen Silas, among other topics. Wall signed with the Clippers over the summer after being bought out by Houston, and is averaging 11.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.7 APG and 1.1 APG through 15 games (22.1 MPG) as Los Angeles’ backup point guard.

Mavs Notes: Campazzo, Ntilikina, Luka, Dinwiddie, Wood, McGee

When Luka Doncic sat out on Wednesday vs. Houston, it gave backup Mavericks guards Facundo Campazzo and Frank Ntilikina a rare opportunity to see the court. Both players, who were only on the floor in garbage time in the first 13 games of the season, established season highs in minutes, with Campazzo logging 23 and Ntilikina playing 12.

Although Dallas lost the game and the duo was a combined 3-of-11 from the floor, both Campazzo and Ntilikina had positive net ratings on the night, and head coach Jason Kidd said before the game that it would be a boon if the team could rely on one or both players to help reduce the workloads being carried by Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie.

“We’re looking for them to run the team,” Kidd said of Campazzo and Ntilikina, according to Eddie Sefko of “We got to get other guys involved, especially with Spencer and LD and the load they’re carrying now. We got to find other options to get them a little rest during the game than just running those guys 40 minutes every night.”

Doncic was back in the lineup for Friday’s blowout win over Denver, so Campazzo and Ntilikina weren’t part of the regular rotation. However, the one-sided nature of the game allowed Kidd to get them on the floor in the fourth quarter, limiting Doncic and Dinwiddie to 35 and 26 minutes, respectively.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Christian Wood earned praise on Wednesday from both his former head coach (Stephen Silas) and his current head coach. As Sefko details, Silas said he was “proud” of the way Wood has matured over the course of his NBA career, while Kidd lauded the big man for his willingness to accept a reserve role so far in Dallas. “He’s done everything that we’ve asked, he’s been great,” Kidd said. “You look at accepting his role, coming off the bench. He and Timmy (Hardaway Jr.) could easily start for us. But we felt like having those two coming off the bench is something that gives us the advantage. And C-Wood has done an incredible job.”
  • Even though Wood isn’t starting or finishing games, is he the perfect pick-and-roll partner the Mavericks have long sought for Doncic? Michael Pina of The Ringer explores that question, noting that the team has a 123.1 offensive rating with Doncic and Wood on the court together. That’s the 13th-best mark out of 539 duos who have played at least 150 minutes together this season.
  • JaVale McGee joined the Mavericks as a free agent this past summer after the team promised him its starting center job, but he was moved to the bench after just seven starts and hasn’t seen much action as of late. Fortunately, McGee is taking the demotion in stride, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “If they feel I shouldn’t be starting, I’ll cheer from the bench,” McGee said. “If they feel like I should start or however many minutes they think I should play, I’m going to play them my hardest.”

Mavs Notes: Powell, McGee, Dinwiddie, Campazzo, Doncic

As speculated, the Mavericks made a change to their starting lineup for Friday’s game vs. Toronto, replacing center JaVale McGee with Dwight Powell. Head coach Jason Kidd told reporters before the game that it wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent move.

“This is something for us to look at,” Kidd said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). “(Powell) has been playing extremely well. … We’ll take it one game at a time for now.”

McGee signed with the Mavericks as a free agent this past offseason after being promised the starting center job, but the team has performed better with Powell manning that spot in the early going this season. That didn’t change on Friday.

Against the Raptors, both Powell (plus-8) and McGee (plus-6) had positive on-court ratings in the same game for just the second time this season. The first time it happened, on October 22, Dallas blew out Memphis by 41 points. On Friday, the Mavs won by just a single point.

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie alleged that veteran referee Tony Brothers referred to him as a “b–ch ass motherf—er” during Friday’s game. As MacMahon writes in a full story, Dinwiddie, who protested when Brothers called him for a technical foul, said that a teammate informed him of Brothers’ comment. “I’m not even mad at the language,” Dinwiddie said. “Everybody has said things before when they are upset or feeling sensitive or hurt. That’s fine. Just say it to my face. … I would like to not be called a b–ch ass motherf—er to my teammates.”
  • Speaking to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News, veteran point guard Facundo Campazzo said he was close to resuming his career in Europe when he received an offer from the Mavericks. “When the Mavs’ offer came, I mean, I didn’t hesitate. I just said yes at the first question they did, and that’s it,” Campazzo said. “I was in Argentina with my family and said, ‘OK, we are moving to Dallas.’ That was a Thursday, and they asked me if I can fly Friday, the next day. I said, ‘I need a little bit more time. I have to move a lot of things,’ so we flew in that Saturday and stayed in the hotel and started this journey.”
  • Luka Doncic made NBA history on Friday by becoming the second player to ever start a season by scoring at least 30 points in each of his first eight games. Wilt Chamberlain was the only other player in league history to accomplish the feat, according to Caplan.

Southwest Notes: McGee, Powell, Ingram, Jones, Tate, More

Signed by the Mavericks during free agency in July after being promised a starting job, JaVale McGee has indeed started all six games he has played so far this season in Dallas. However, he hasn’t logged more than 14 minutes in any of those games, and was on the court for a season-low eight minutes on Wednesday vs. Utah.

With Dwight Powell, a full-time starter last season, playing more than McGee in each of the last three games, head coach Jason Kidd was asked about the Mavericks’ first-quarter struggles and whether Powell could move into the starting five in McGee’s place. As Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News tweets, Kidd first joked that he’d do it if he could start six players, then admitted it would be “something we talk about.”

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the Mavs have been a minus-30 in 68 minutes with McGee on the court, compared to a plus-50 in 56 minutes when Powell plays. Powell also earned a rave review on Wednesday from Spencer Dinwiddie, who spoke to reporters for upwards of four minutes about the big man, praising him for doing “a glory-less job” that allows his teammates to succeed, per Eddie Sefko of

“In a lot of ways, he’s like that great left guard for a football team where Tom Brady is getting all the accolades and endorsements but if that dude isn’t protecting his blind side and isn’t doing it every single time, Tom Brady is getting his head knocked off,” Dinwiddie said. “DP is the ultimate pro. I have the upmost respect for him and I hope every single Mavs fan listens to this monologue and has a different respect level for DP because everybody is not going to get to shoot 20 times and score 30 points and do all of the flashy stuff and dunk and stuff.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Pelicans forwards Brandon Ingram (concussion) and Herbert Jones (knee) have both been listed as probable for Friday’s game vs. Golden State, the team announced in a press release. Jones was initially listed as probable for New Orleans’ game on Wednesday before being downgraded to questionable and then out. However, it sounds like the Pels could have both players – neither of whom has played since October 23 – back tonight.
  • After missing the first four games of the regular season due to an ankle issue, Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate played in the next three, but has since missed two more. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, the team is trying to play it safe with Tate’s injury going forward. “It’s just a lot of games,” Tate said. “We just want to be cautious with it and make sure it’s fine. There’s just some things we have to discuss so I’ll be able to be consistent and be me. This is just part of the recovery process.”
  • Although John Wall was away from the team during his final year in Houston, Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. said the five-time All-Star made a lasting impression on him during their time as teammates, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “John has impacted me tremendously,” Porter told Iko. “Just him being a big brother and a vet when he was here when I was first switching my position. I had a great vet to lean on and that was John Wall. … He helped me when I was trying to learn how to run a team and seeing him back out there (with the Clippers) was a blessing.”
  • Long viewed as a model NBA franchise, the Spurs now face unfamiliar scrutiny as a result of the accusations levied against the team in a lawsuit filed by a former employee, says Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News.

Southwest Notes: Primo, Pelicans, Wood, Mavericks

The Spurs‘ decision to part ways with 12th overall pick Joshua Primo just 15 months after drafting him was one of the most stunning moves in franchise history, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Based on his research, Mark Deeks of Forbes (Twitter link) believes it’s the smallest gap between being drafted and waived for any NBA lottery pick, ever.

While Orsborn was able to confirm through sources that Primo’s release wasn’t related to basketball, details remain sparse, beyond the statement released by the 19-year-old on Friday. No one in the Spurs’ organization has offered any concrete information, and Primo’s agent Todd Ramasar hasn’t returned messages asking for a comment, according to Orsborn.

As we wait to see if we get any more clarity on Primo’s shocking release, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southwest…

  • With Brandon Ingram (concussion), Zion Williamson (hip/back), and Herb Jones (knee) all out of action, the Pelicans showed off their depth on Tuesday in a victory over Dallas, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. However, that depth wasn’t enough to pull out an upset win on Friday in Phoenix without that trio of forwards available. Both Williamson and Jones will be game-time decisions on Sunday, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. It remains unclear when Ingram will be able to exit the concussion protocol.
  • Speaking to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Mavericks big man Christian Wood discussed playing with Luka Doncic, adjusting to coming off the bench in Dallas, and his goals for the rest of his career. “Individually, of course, I want to be an All-Star in this league. I think I have a good chance if I get the time and the minutes to show what I can really do. I think I can definitely make a case for that,” Wood said. “I want to try to win as many games as I can. I want to get to the playoffs. I haven’t been to the playoffs one time in my career. I want to try to make a run in the playoffs.”
  • The Mavericks are considering giving JaVale McGee a rest night on Saturday vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. However, the plan would be to start Dwight Powell, not Wood, at center. Powell has only seen seven minutes of action so far this season, but Dallas wants to keep Wood as the sixth man, since he has thrived in that role so far, MacMahon explains.

Mavs Notes: McGee, Brunson, Wood, Chandler

Free agent addition JaVale McGee is excited to show fans what he can really do in a healthy second stint with the Mavericks, writes Dwain Price of The 7’0″ center suffered a stress fracture in his left tibia back in 2015/16 and struggled upon his return, leading him to eventually be waived by Dallas.

Health-wise I’ve grown to know how to take care of myself now and I know how to do preventative things that I didn’t know how to do the last time I was here,” McGee said. “The last time I was here I was recovering from an injury – trying to give 100 percent — so just being here 100 percent healthy is beautiful.”

McGee said competing against Luka Doncic during last season’s playoffs with Phoenix was key to his return to Dallas, Price notes.

Seeing seven straight games of Luka definitely helped with the decision of knowing that he’s a player who gets everybody involved, and I like being around players like that,” McGee said. “The LeBrons, Chris Pauls and players who get their teammates involved, especially big men. So that was definitely a selling point for me.

All the attention that (Doncic) draws and the way that this system is set up to have all the shooters around, it really opens up the lanes for players like me who are dynamic at the rim.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The Mavs hope to replace Jalen Brunson‘s production by having multiple players step up their play-making and ball-handling, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Both head coach Jason Kidd and guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be starting in place of Brunson, noted having Tim Hardaway Jr. back and healthy helps — Hardaway has averaged 15.7 PPG over his four season with Dallas, and Brunson averaged 16.3 PPG last season. Brunson inked a four-year, $104MM deal with the Knicks in free agency.
  • In a mailbag Q&A for, Eddie Sefko predicts that Christian Wood will wind up starting more games than not, despite opening the season as a reserve. McGee is set to start at center, with Dorian Finney-Smith joining him in the frontcourt. According to Sefko, “Wood was brought in to be a starter,” but as long as he’s getting enough minutes, coming off the bench should be fine. If the team struggles with McGee starting, Wood could replace him sooner rather than later, Sefko adds.
  • Kidd told reporters, including Townsend (Twitter link), that Tyson Chandler will have an expanded role working with the team’s big men this season. Chandler will also work with the frontcourt members of the team’s G League affiliate, the Texas Legends. The former Defensive Player of the Year won a title with Dallas in 2011 and last played with Houston two years ago.

Mavs Notes: Wood, McGee, THJ, Ntilikina, Green, Dinwiddie, More

Christian Wood, the biggest addition of the Mavericks‘ offseason, is expected to primarily play a sixth man role in Dallas, head coach Jason Kidd told reporters today (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said during his own media session (Twitter link via MacMahon). However, he said that his focus with his new team will be on winning and he’s not overly concerned about whether he starts or comes off the bench.

While it may come as a bit of a surprise that Dallas wants Wood to come off the bench, MacMahon notes (via Twitter) that – as he reported at the time – the Mavs told JaVale McGee when they recruited him in free agency that they envisioned him as their starting center. It seems that plan remains on course.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • During his Monday media session, Tim Hardaway Jr. pronounced himself “100%” healthy after missing most of last season due to foot surgery, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays (video link via Twitter). Kidd confirmed that Hardaway has been back in Dallas playing pick-up games for the last week and said the forward is “ready to go,” tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Frank Ntilikina and Josh Green are candidates to be Dallas’ third ball-handler behind Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, Kidd said today (Twitter link via Landon Thomas). Speaking of Dinwiddie, he’s feeling good as he enters his first full season as a Maverick and concludes his first full healthy offseason following his ACL injury. “It’s night and day,” Dinwiddie said of his ACL now compared to last year (Twitter link via Caplan). “Not even close.”
  • New Bulls guard Goran Dragic confirmed today that he talked with the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, but said he was “never close” to a deal with Dallas (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic).
  • Dorian Finney-Smith joked today that he would’ve been upset if Jalen Brunson had remained in Dallas instead of accepting the Knicks’ four-year, $104MM offer. “Man, you see how much money they gave him?” Finney-Smith said (Twitter link via Caplan). “I would’ve been mad if he stayed here.”

Western Notes: Suns, Ayton, Durant, McGee, Kings

The Suns matched the Pacers’ four-year, $133MM offer sheet to keep Deandre Ayton in Phoenix, but some mending is still needed between the two sides, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on NBA Today (video link).

Wojnarowski specifically mentioned coach Monty Williams and star guard Chris Paul, two key pieces of the Suns’ team, as figures who could help smooth things over with Ayton. Phoenix dealt with chemistry issues related to the former No. 1 overall pick toward the end of the season and ultimately lost to Dallas 4-3 in the second round.

For his part, Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season, helping the Suns achieve the league’s best record at 64-18. Phoenix also made the NBA Finals just in 2021, so the team should still be viewed as a title contender entering next season.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link) lists five reasons why the Suns shouldn’t give up on pursuing Nets superstar Kevin Durant despite matching the Pacers’ offer sheet for Ayton. Durant has proven he’s still a top-three player in the world, averaging 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game last season. That scoring mark was his highest since 2013/14 with Oklahoma City, when he won the league’s MVP award.
  • The Mavericks signed veteran center JaVale McGee to a three-year, $17MM deal that contains a $6MM player option in the final season, Hoops Rumors has learned. McGee is expected to start alongside Christian Wood — who was also recently acquired by the team — to begin the season. McGee was one of the league’s best backup centers last season.
  • Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee examines some summer league finale notes for the Kings. Sacramento defeated Houston on Saturday despite missing Keegan Murray and others, winning 92-81. The team was lead by Jeriah Horne‘s 20 points.

Mavericks Notes: Hardy, Brunson, Cuban, Harding, McGee

Mavericks rookie shooting guard Jaden Hardy, the No. 37 pick in the 2022 draft, enjoyed a stellar Summer League debut on Friday, finishing with 28 points on 9-of-19 field goal shooting during a 100-99 overtime loss to the Bulls. Selby Lopez of the Dallas Morning News details Hardy’s big night.

“Jaden did a great job,” Mavericks assistant coach and Summer League team head coach Greg St. Jean said. “I think that’s part of the process here of putting him in those situations, then being able to review the film and talk through it… I think it’s a great start for him, and we’re going to learn a lot from the film.”

The 6’4″ guard averaged 17.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.2 APG while with the G League Ignite during the 2021/22 season. His efficiency left something to be desired, however, as he connected on just 35.1% of his field goal attempts.

There’s more out of Dallas:

  • Dallas team owner Mark Cuban expressed his excitement for former Maverick Jalen Brunson agreeing to sign a lucrative four-year, $104MM new deal with the Knicks, but revealed that Dallas was not able to counter with a potential contract of its own in free agency this summer, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “It really wasn’t about the amount of money,” Cuban said while at the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League. “We really didn’t get a chance to make an offer. It was Jalen’s choice. And I understand it. He knew those guys his entire life. He grew up there. It makes perfect sense… We wanted him to stay, but he had his reason, and I respect that.” The latest intel on the contract suggests that the Knicks will sign Brunson using cap space, rather than via a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks.
  • Mavericks Summer League point guard Jerrick Harding is hoping to latch on at the next level, writes Eddie Sefko of“I ended my senior year [at Weber State], and this was in 2020, so COVID hit and all that was going on,” he said. “So basically the whole summer I was waiting. There were no workouts, no summer league, there was no anything.” Harding signed on with Czech National Basketball League club ERA Nymburk in 2020 and has played with them for two seasons. “[They’re] the best team in the Czech Republic. They play in the Champions League. So I figured it would be a good spot for me. I didn’t want to sit and wait. I might not have a job, know what I mean if I stayed in the states.” Now with Dallas’s Summer League club, the 6’1″ guard is eager to prove himself.
  • Following two seasons played on one-year contracts, new Mavericks center JaVale McGee opted for a bit more security this time around in free agency, inking a three-year, $20.4MM deal with Dallas. “The past couple of years, I really wanted to focus on consistency and comfortability,” McGee said of his new opportunity, per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Though the three-time champion fit in well with a 64-18 Suns team and seemed a safe bet to return for 2022/23, the team’s uncertain future this summer compelled him to look elsewhere for a long-term contract. “I think it was more of having to wait for [restricted free agent] Deandre Ayton and now [Kevin Durant], trying to figure it out,” McGee said. “For me, it was just like at this stage of my career and what I’m looking for, I don’t have time to be waiting on somebody else.”

Southwest Notes: Rockets, McGee, Spurs, Pelicans

When the Rockets became convinced on draft day that the Magic were going to use the first overall pick on Paolo Banchero, Houston made Orlando a trade offer for that No. 1 pick, sources tell Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

As MacMahon and Windhorst explain, the Rockets had been expecting to end up with Banchero and had only recently been given Jabari Smith‘s medical information from his agent, Wallace Prather. Bill Duffy, Chet Holmgren‘s agent, told the Rockets he’d only give them Holmgren’s medicals if he got the sense that both Orlando and Oklahoma City were passing on his client.

According to ESPN’s duo, the Rockets were comfortable staying at No. 3 if Smith fell to them, but were worried about having to make a decision on Holmgren without getting much time to look over his medicals, which was why they inquired about moving up. After the Magic turned them down, the Thunder took Holmgren at No. 2, with Smith falling to Houston at No. 3 — all three teams ultimately left the draft happy, and while Banchero and Smith were surprised by where they ended up, neither was upset by the outcome.

“Jabari ended up in a place that fits who he is,” Prather said. “There was nothing but excitement on Jabari’s part about going to Houston. We love their young core. We love the city. We love the passion of their fan base.”

For what it’s worth, Banchero got the upper hand on Smith in their respective Summer League debuts on Thursday, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The Magic forward scored 17 points in Orlando’s win over Smith and the Rockets.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • A coaching assistant last season with the Rockets, Will Dunn has been promoted to an assistant coach position, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Today (video link), Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd confirmed that the plan is to insert newly-signed big man JaVale McGee into the starting five. McGee told ESPN when he agreed to a deal with Dallas last week that he expected to be the team’s starting center.
  • The Spurs ruled out Jeremy Sochan and Joe Wieskamp for the entire Las Vegas Summer League, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Sochan missed all of the team’s pre-Vegas practices due to COVID-19, while Wieskamp, who remains a restricted free agent for San Antonio, sprained his ankle in a Tuesday practice.
  • Noting that the Pelicans‘ front office has shown a knack for identifying under-the-radar talent, Christian Clark of identifies three players on the team’s Summer League roster who could warrant a longer look from the club.