Kristaps Porzingis

Mavericks Notes: Hardaway, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Cap Situation

Tim Hardaway Jr. is looking to expand his game as Luka Doncic‘s backcourt partner, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes. Hardaway, who served as the sixth man in more than half of the Mavericks’ games last season, will look to boost his defensive presence along with delivering his usual 3-point shooting.

“He’s able to score the ball, but we’re asking him to play defense, too,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re trying to show him the things that can help him be better at that position, and if he can do those things, I think he can be talked about as an All-Star, too, in this league.”

Hardaway, who signed a four-year, $75MM contract this summer, chose to be a starter this season after Kidd gave him the option of being in the lineup regularly or heading the second unit.

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas made a strong push for Frank Ntilikina, which the free agent point guard appreciated, he told Marc Stein of Substack. “I felt that will since the beginning of free agency, so that will from them to have me here, that’s what made me want to come here,” the former Knicks guard said. “The challenge is just exciting.” Ntilikina signed a two-year minimum contract, though the second year is non-guaranteed.
  • Kidd believes that Kristaps Porzingis can return to his All-Star form as early as this season, according to Caplan“I think he has the skill set to be an All-Star. He is an All-Star in this league,” Kidd said. “Sometimes we judge people unfairly because of injuries or other things that are going on, and we expect them to be robots or be All-Stars every year.”
  • Despite having two max players, the Mavericks have a favorable cap situation, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes. Dallas is still $16MM below the luxury-tax line, giving the club plenty of elbow room to pursue roster upgrades. Hollinger takes a deep dive into the team’s offseason moves and projects it to finish with the Western Conference’s fifth-best record.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Porzingis, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

Asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on First Take about rumors that there has been some friction between Mavericks teammates Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, head coach Jason Kidd dismissed the idea that there are any issues between the team’s two leading scorers (video link).

“I think we all heard in the NBA circle that there was tension between the two, but I would have to say that’s fake news,” Kidd told Smith. “… There were some other issues that I thought they did a great job of keeping in-house that had nothing to do with those two.

“I’m excited, I think the relationship between the two of them is at a high level. They’re basketball players who want to compete and who want to win. For a coach, I have to put them in that position to be successful. But I think their relationship is great.”

Smith didn’t press Kidd on what those “other issues” in Dallas were that didn’t involve Doncic or Porzingis, but it’s possible the Mavs’ new head coach is referring to some of the conflicts that were outlined in a report from The Athletic back in June. Presumably, given the way the front office and coaching staff were overhauled this summer, the franchise believes those issues are in the rear-view now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Porzingis Reportedly Wanted Trade Prior To Coaching Change

At the end of a disappointing 2020/21 season, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis would have liked to be traded, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, according to MacMahon, Porzingis is “coming back optimistic” following a healthy summer and Dallas’ hiring of Jason Kidd as head coach.

“At the end of last year, Porzingis wanted to be traded. My understanding is he feels like he has a fresh start with the coaching change,” MacMahon said, per Feldman. “He’s had the healthy offseason. He has been able to work, not just on his game, but on his body some more. He’s kind of coming back with a refreshed feel.”

Even if the Mavs hadn’t made a coaching change in the spring, MacMahon doesn’t think Porzingis would have come out and asked the team to trade him, recognizing the poor optics of such a move following his up-and-down season. However, it’s not hard to understand why he was frustrated by his role following a first-round playoff loss in which he averaged just 13.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG in seven games (33.3 MPG) and often found himself standing in the corner on offense.

According to MacMahon, Porzingis felt more like an afterthought than a co-star for Luka Doncic under former head coach Rick Carlisle. Kidd visited Porzingis in Latvia over the summer – which the 26-year-old said on Monday was “huge for me” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News) – and envisions a more expansive role for the former Knick.

“The simple way to put it is, I want KP to be a basketball player,” Kidd said, adding that he expects Porzingis to start at power forward. “There’s no limitations on just shooting threes. Being able to roll, to be able to shoot the mid-range, to be able to put the ball on the floor — I want him to be who he is, and that’s a basketball player and not just be limited to shooting threes or crashing from the corner. I want him to feel comfortable on the floor in any spot. I think he’s a weapon. He shoots the ball too well not to be able to shoot mid-range shots.”

The Mavs are optimistic that a healthy offseason for Porzingis – who has a history of knee and leg injuries and missed 29 games last season – will position him for a nice bounce-back year in 2021/22, writes MacMahon.

“I think he’s in way better shape this year, especially mentally,” Doncic said of his teammate on Monday. “You can see him having a good time when we’re playing pickup, and I think he’s going to have a great season this year.”

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Benson, Brandon Boston, THJ

In an extensive new mailbag, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian addressed the possibility of the Grizzlies considering trades for incumbent wings Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson, among other topics. Herrington wrote that, though an offseason Anderson trade appears unlikely, he could see the veteran forward’s expiring $9.9MM contract being moved during the year.

Because Brooks’s current three-year, $35MM contract extension with the club is fairly favorable, Herrington considers him less likely to be moved. Herrington also speculates on how the new-look Grizzlies can improve in a stacked Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has donated $1MM towards Hurricane Ida relief, per an official press release from Benson and the Pelicans.
  • The Pelicans received $2.5MM in cash considerations from the Clippers in New Orleans’ trade of No. 51 pick Brandon Boston out of Kentucky, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Pelicans also received a heavily-protected 2022 second-round draft pick in the deal that appears unlikely to convey.
  • Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., newly re-signed on a four-year, $75MM deal, registered his optimism about the future performance of former All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays. So far during his time in Dallas, Porzingis has been a shadow of his former self as the result of a series of injuries. “I know he’s back in Latvia busting his tail right now to get back to where he was before the injury when we were with the Knicks,” Hardaway said. “I know how much he loves the game and how much he works. He’s going to do whatever he can to get back to that level. Injuries do play a part in the game.”

Western Notes: Porzingis, Terry, Giddey, Grizzlies

New Mavericks coach Jason Kidd believes Kristaps Porzingis is in a good place both mentally and physically, as relayed by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

Kidd recently visited Porzingis in Latvia for three days. The 26-year-old Porzingis, who is Dallas’ second option on offense behind superstar Luka Doncic, averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game in 2020/21.

“I wanted to see where he lived, that is home for him,” Kidd explained. “Beautiful place. We always talk about family. Sometimes we need to show our care factor. I care. I wanted to let him know that I care.

“I know that he’s healthy. I know he’s excited. And then I just wanted to talk to him about things basketball-wise as well as off the court. We always talk about basketball, but I wanted to see where he was off the court. He’s in a great place.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Various members of the Nuggets front office expressed confidence that Jason Terry could have a serious coaching future, Townsend tweets. Denver recently hired Terry to coach its G League affiliate for the 2021/22 season. “Sitting down with [vice president] Calvin Booth and [president] Tim Connelly and [player personnel manager] Scott Howard, they firmly believe that being a bench coach or a head coach is in my near future,” Terry said. “You need that type of support and belief. The sky’s the limit for me. I’m ready for the opportunity.”
  • Thunder rookie Josh Giddey is representing a newfound hope and legitimacy for the NBA’s global academy, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman examines. Giddey was drafted by Oklahoma City with the No. 6 pick in July.
  • Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian takes a closer look at some of the Grizzlies‘ newcomers, exploring which are likely to stick around. Memphis recently acquired Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu as part of the trade involving Eric Bledsoe, with both players facing uncertain futures in the present day. The team also acquired Patrick Beverley in the deal, but has reportedly agreed to move Beverley to Minnesota in exchange for Jarrett Culver and Juan Hernangomez.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Pelicans, Silas, Allen

Luka Doncic played Saturday’s bronze medal game with an injured left wrist, but he tells Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News that it’s nothing Mavericks fans need to worry about. Doncic hit his wrist on plexiglass at courtside during Thursday’s semifinal contest. He had it wrapped in ice afterward and used several strips of tape to stabilize the wrist and forearm area for the bronze medal showdown.

“My wrist is going to be fine,” Doncic said. “I need a couple of days off from basketball. I’ve had every day basketball since the beginning of NBA season. A lot of games, so I need a couple days off.”

Doncic will return to Slovenia and will host a Mavericks contingent next week that includes owner Mark Cuban, new head coach Jason Kidd, general manager Nico Harrison and special advisor Dirk Nowitzki. They will finalize a five-year max-salary extension for Doncic that projects to be worth up to $207MM.

After that meeting, Kidd and director of player health and performance Casey Smith will head to Latvia to meet with Kristaps Porzingis, tweets Marc Stein of Substack.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans were hoping to make a splash in free agency, but the results have been disappointing, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. New Orleans was rumored to be in contention for an established point guard such as Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry, but instead the team got rid of three starters with no obvious upgrade in return. Kushner notes that it’s dangerous for a team in the NBA’s second-smallest market with no tradition of success to rely on signing free agents.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is ready to focus on basketball again after spending 10 days in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas, who wasn’t able to be in the draft room or attend the post-draft press conference, expressed his enthusiasm about the team’s four first-round picks — Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher. “I was excited to get all four guys because I had done research on all for of them and studied them. We had talked a lot about them,” Silas said. “It all worked out almost as a perfect world for us as far as who we got and where we got them and now looking forward with them.”
  • The Grizzlies received a B-minus from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for Friday’s trade that sent Grayson Allen to the Bucks in exchange for Sam Merrill and two second round picks. Pelton states that Allen wasn’t in Memphis’ long-term plans and may not have gotten another contract after his rookie deal expires next summer.

Mavericks Notes: Kokoskov, St. Jean, Front Office, Porzingis

The Mavericks are working on adding former Suns head coach and current Fenerbahce coach Igor Kokoskov to Jason Kidd‘s staff as an assistant, according to multiple reports. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) first reported that Dallas was targeting Kokoskov, while Marc Stein (Twitter link) said there’s “tangible optimism” the Mavs will be able to hire him.

As Stein explains (via Twitter), Kokoskov is technically still under contract with Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, so the Mavs and the Turkish club would have to come to some sort of agreement releasing him from that deal.

In addition to coaching the Suns for one season (2018/19), Kokoskov has worked as an assistant for seven other NBA teams. He and Kidd never overlapped at any of those spots, but Kokoskov does have one noteworthy connection to the current Mavs — he was the head coach of the Slovenian team that won gold in the 2017 EuroBasket tournament, led by Luka Doncic.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The Mavericks are also expected to hire Greg St. Jean to their coaching staff, Stein reports (via Twitter). As Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group observes (via Twitter), St. Jean has been a player development coach and advance scout for the Lakers for the last two years and is tight with Kidd.
  • At a Mavs’ press conference on Thursday, Nico Harrison was introduced as both the team’s general manager and president of basketball operations, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News notes (via Twitter). However, team owner Mark Cuban said he’ll still be the one making the final call on basketball decisions, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. I always do because it’s a lot of money,” Cuban said.
  • Cuban declined to say whether Haralabos Voulgaris is still with the Mavs, according to Caplan (Twitter link). A report last month indicated Voulgaris had gained an outsized influence within the team’s front office but wasn’t yet under contract beyond 2020/21.
  • While there has been speculation that the Mavs may explore trading Kristaps Porzingis this offseason, the team gave no indications on Thursday that such a move is in the cards. Kidd raved about Porzingis’ fit in Dallas and said he expects to see “a different KP” going forward, while Cuban said the big man has been “unfairly maligned” (Twitter links via Caplan).

Warriors Rumors: Wiseman, Payroll, Oubre, Curry

There’s an expectation among league personnel that the Warriors will consider shopping one or both of their lottery picks if they receive the Timberwolves’ first-round selection in tonight’s lottery, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, Fischer says the club has had no serious internal talks about the possibility of trading young center James Wiseman.

Appearing on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Warriors owner Joe Lacob confirmed that the Dubs aren’t looking to move Wiseman, stating that it’s “very unlikely” the club will entertain offers for the 20-year-old this offseason. While Lacob didn’t close the door entirely on the possibility, he said it would “take a lot” for Golden State to consider such a move, adding that the team would have to be blown away.

Discussing the decision to select Wiseman at No. 2 in last year’s draft over LaMelo Ball, among others, Lacob acknowledged that Ball had a great rookie season in Charlotte, but said that he remains confident Wiseman can be an “All-Star level player,” noting that nothing he saw in 2020/21 diminished that belief.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • In his interview with Kawakami, Lacob repeatedly mentioned the repeater tax penalties facing the Warriors going forward, stressing that it’s impractical for the team to continue increasing its payroll indefinitely. However, he didn’t rule out using Golden State’s taxpayer mid-level exception this offseason, and Fischer says there aren’t internal concerns about the club’s growing tax bill.
  • The Warriors have interest in retaining Kelly Oubre, but a sign-and-trade remains a viable possibility, according to Fischer, who reports that multiple Spurs players seem eager to add Oubre. Fischer also identifies the Mavericks as a team that may have interest in the veteran forward, citing sources who say Dallas approached the Warriors prior to the trade deadline about a deal involving Oubre and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unclear whether the Mavs’ front office shakeup would affect their level of interest in Oubre, Fischer adds.
  • Asked by Kawakami about the possibility of a Stephen Curry extension this offseason, Lacob declined to speculate on whether a deal will get done, but stated that he expects the two-time MVP to spend the rest of his career with the Warriors, noting that both sides want that to happen.

Doncic On Signing Supermax Extension: “I Think You Know The Answer”

Making his first comments since Sunday’s Game 7 loss to the Clippers, Mavericks star Luka Doncic discussed some of the pressing questions facing himself and the organization this summer.

The 22-year-old guard, who averaged 35 PPG, 10.3 APG and 7.9 RPG in his first round matchup with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, offered a strong, if playfully coy, hint about whether or not he plans on signing a supermax extension this summer. “I think you know the answer,” he said with a large smile, as tweeted by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

As relayed by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Doncic is set to become the first rookie in league history to sign a rookie max extension worth over $200MM. The deal, should he sign it, would begin in 2022/23 and would be worth approximately $201.5MM over five years, based on current cap projections. Marc Stein of The New York Times confirms (via Twitter) that the Mavs plan to put that offer on the table once free agency begins in August.

Doncic will officially qualify for the supermax (30% of the cap instead of 25%) once he’s formally named to this year’s All-NBA team, since he made last year’s All-NBA squad as well. Players need to make the All-NBA team in the season before the extension takes effect or in two of the previous three seasons in order to be supermax-eligible.

Doncic also reaffirmed his commitment to his partnership with Kristaps Porzingis, despite whispers that the two aren’t exactly the closest of friends. “He’s a great player. I think we’ve got to use him more, and that’s it,” Doncic said of Porzingis (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News).

The Latvian big man was brought in via trade in 2019 and subsequently signed to a max contract, but the last two seasons have been riddled with injuries and up-and-down play. He averaged 20 points and nearly nine rebounds per game, but his once-vaunted defense seemed to slip, resulting in a career-low blocks per game. In the playoffs this year, he averaged just 13 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 33 minutes a night.

Finally, Doncic confirmed that he will be joining the Slovenian national team soon to help lead them through the Olympic qualifying rounds. Though the team has never qualified for the Olympics before, Doncic was part of the group, along with Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic and former NBA forward Anthony Randolph, that won the 2017 EuroBasket championship. Doncic is hoping to carry that success to this year’s qualifiers, and to lead his team to the Tokyo Olympics.

No vacation,” he said, as tweeted by Stein.

Mavs Notes: Carlisle, Luka, Porzingis, Offseason

The Mavericks fell to the Clippers in Game 7 on Sunday after holding leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the first-round series. However, despite the disappointing finish to the 2020/21 season, Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) that the team isn’t considering replacing head coach Rick Carlisle.

“Let me tell you how I look at coaching,” Cuban said. “You don’t make a change to make a change. Unless you have someone that you know is much, much, much better, the grass is rarely greener on the other side.”

Here’s more out of Dallas in the wake of the team’s first-round loss:

  • Although Luka Doncic was good enough to beat the Clippers, the rest of the Mavericks’ roster wasn’t, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic. Improving Doncic’s supporting cast will be the focus of the team’s offseason. “This is going to be an important offseason on many levels,” Carlisle said on Sunday, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “We have a lot of guys who are free agents or who have opt-ins or opt-outs with their deals, so there’s a chance that there will be a lot of change, but we don’t know.”
  • The Mavericks have difficult decisions forthcoming on players like Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson, and others, but their decision on Doncic will be an easy one, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) in his offseason preview. Doncic will be eligible for a maximum-salary rookie scale extension that starts at 30% of the salary cap in 2022/23, and Dallas will likely waste no time in signing him to that deal. It projects to be worth about $201.5MM over five years based on 3% cap increases in 2021 and 2022.
  • The Mavericks acquired Kristaps Porzingis in the hopes that he’d complement Doncic as the team’s second star. However, it hasn’t worked out that way and it remains to be seen how Porzingis fits into the organization’s long-term plans, says Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who hears from sources that the big man has often felt “more like an afterthought than a co-star.” Porzingis spent much of the Mavs’ first-round series standing in the corner or on the wing as a floor-spacer and said after the series that it was a “mental battle” to play a role that wasn’t comfortable for him, MacMahon adds.
  • In a column for The Dallas Morning News, Kevin Sherrington wonders if Carlisle needs to make changes to his offensive scheme to better accommodate Porzingis. As Sherrington writes, moving on from Porzingis is also an option the Mavs could explore, but it would be hard to get great value in a trade given the 25-year-old’s injury history and contract (three years, $101.5MM remaining).