Luka Doncic

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Brase, Harden

It’s not fair to saddle a 19-year-old rookie with the responsibility of turning the Mavs‘ franchise around. Fortunately, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, Luka Doncic won’t have to.

Although Doncic will face pressure as a highly touted European charged with the task of at least symbolically replacing Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, he’ll get substantial help from incoming veteran DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan, along with young players like Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes, should give the Mavs considerably more bite in 2018/19 after a down season last year.

Sefko writes that he thinks Mavs fans can expect the Doncic trade to pay dividends but they may not come for a year or two.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets will add former Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Matt Brase to head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s staff this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Joseph Blair is a favorite to replace Brase in the G League.
  • A city prosecutor is reviewing an allegation against James Harden, an Associated Press report states. The Rockets star allegedly grabbed a woman’s wrist and threw her cellphone on the roof outside of a nightclub when she was recording a fight.
  • The Spurs will roster a team without several major contributors to their last championship, this season. A Basketball Insiders report breaks down their chances of being relevant in 2018/19 and the new challenges ahead.

Mavericks Notes: Jordan, Smith, Doncic

The success of the DeAndre Jordan signing will be determined by how well he can work in the pick and roll with Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Adding Jordan on a one-year, $22.9MM contract and moving up in the draft to take Doncic were the major offseason moves for a team that finished 23 games out of the playoff race.

Jordan not only solves the Mavericks’ rebounding problem — he’s led the league twice in that category and averaged a career best 15.2 boards per game last season — he adds an extra dimension to coach Rick Carlisle’s offense. Jordan has shot better than 60% from the field in each of his 10 NBA seasons and mastered the pick and roll with Chris Paul in Los Angeles.

There’ more today out of Dallas:

  • Improving his 3-point shot is the best way for Smith to avoid a sophomore slump, Sefko writes in a separate player profile. Smith shot just 31% from long distance last season, and defenders figure to give him more space as they try to cut off his drives to the basket. Sefko notes that Smith didn’t wear down during his first season in the league, with his scoring, assists and shooting percentages over the final 15 games all rating better than his season averages.
  • The Mavericks insist Doncic can be a difference maker, but it’s going to be a while before we know for sure, Sefko writes in another profile. Dallas made a bold move to trade up to the No. 3 spot in the draft to acquire Doncic and team him with Smith in its backcourt of the future. Although he cautions it will take at least another year, Sefko expects Doncic and Smith to develop into the foundation of a playoff team.
  • Doncic will be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, though he’ll get noticed more for his passing than scoring, writes Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News. He compares Doncic to Sixers guard Ben Simmons and suggests that the Knicks’ Kevin Knox may be a surprise winner of this year’s ROY honors.

Mavs Notes: Jordan, Marion, Doncic, Mejri, Barea

As part of an ongoing series in anticipation of Mavericks training camp starting later this month, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News asks whether newly-acquired All-Star big man DeAndre Jordan is on the downslope of his career.

Now a 10-year veteran, Jordan actually averaged 12.0 points and a career-best 15.2 rebounds per game last season for the Clippers, but the team did not perform well, finishing 10th in the always tough Western Conference. Moreover, Jordan’s field goal percentage of .645, while still excellent, was his lowest output since the the 2012/13 season.

While it remains to be seen if Jordan’s game is on the decline, the Mavericks at least somewhat hedged their bet by only signing Jordan to a one-year contract for the 2018/19 season, which will allow the club opportunity to see how Jordan meshes with relative youngsters Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes.

If Jordan ends up descending into the twilight of his career, the Mavs can simply let him go next summer. But if he can continue to average a double-double and be near the top of the NBA in rebounds and field goal percentage again this season, Sefko opines that the Mavericks will gladly re-sign Jordan next summer at whatever price tag is needed.

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Now that the 2018 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class has been enshrined in Springfield, Joe Nguyen of The Denver Post takes a look at some candidates for election next year. Among the first time candidates is do-it-all forward Shawn Marion, who helped the Mavericks win an NBA Championship in 2011.
  • In an appearance on KRLD-FM, Dirk Nowitzki (per Sportando) presented a glowing endorsement of Doncic, admitting that the Slovenian rookie is better than Dirk was at the same age. “Oh yeah (he’s better). I could shoot a little bit but I never had the court vision … the savviness that he brings to the game… He’s going to be fun to watch especially with bigs like DeAndre (Jordan) and Dwight (Powell) rolling to the rim … He’s going to pick defenses apart and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
  • In another piece for The Dallas Morning News, Sefko profiles big man Salah Mejri and his role on the Mavs this upcoming season. Mejri, 32, signed a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum this offseason. And even though the addition of Jordan won’t do any favors for Mejri’s playing time, the Tunisian big man will be ready to play when needed, as always.
  • In yet another player profile piece, Sefko opines that backup point guard J.J. Barea may be one of the most underrated Mavericks of all time. Barring injury, Barea will later this season become the seventh player in Mavs history to play in 600 games with the franchise.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Spalding, K. Antetokounmpo, Brunson

Coach Rick Carlisle is telling Dallas fans that they’ve got something special in rookie Luka Doncic, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The Mavericks have been thrilled about the 19-year-old’s potential ever since they were able to engineer a deal with the Hawks to acquire the No. 3 pick. That excitement grew last week as Doncic was in town to play pickup games with a few of his teammates.

“Off of what I’ve seen over the last two days,” Carlisle said, “anybody who doesn’t jump on season tickets now is going to sorely regret it later, that’s all I’ll say.”

Doncic was among the most celebrated players in Europe before entering this year’s draft, being named EuroLeague Most Valuable Player and winning the league’s Final Four MVP honors last season. J.J. Barea, who was among the players at the pickup sessions, came away impressed with his new partner in the Mavericks’ backcourt.

“He’s not quick, but he’s going to play at a good pace, always under control,” Barea said. “He’s tall and can pass over people. He’s a great passer. And he can shoot it, too, so you’ve got to guard him.” 

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks gave second-round pick Ray Spalding a four-year contract, but he’ll probably have to prove himself in the G League this season, Sefko writes in a player profile. The 56th player selected, Spalding will be stuck behind free agent addition DeAndre Jordan and a host of veteran big men on the Mavericks’ depth chart.
  • Two-way player Kostas Antetokounmpo has a long way to go to catch up with his famous brother, Sefko notes in another profile. He will be limited to 45 days in the NBA if he remains on the two-way deal. Like Giannis, Kostas possesses tremendous athleticism, but Sefko states that he will have to get stronger and improve his offense to become an effective NBA player.
  • Dallas thinks Jalen Brunson might be the steal of the second round, but playing time could be an issue, Sefko adds in a separate piece. The reigning Wooden Award winner is stuck behind Doncic and Dennis Smith as the starting backcourt and will compete for minutes with Barea and Wesley Matthews.

Southwest Rumors: Gasol, Nowitzki, Lauvergne, Finney-Smith

Spurs center Pau Gasol hopes to play for Spain in the FIBA World Cup next summer, according to a Sportando report. Gasol told the Spanish website El Dia he’ll wait until after the NBA season to make a final decision whether he’ll play for his home country as it attempts to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. “I am about to turn 39,” Gasol said. “I love playing with the national team and I would like to continue, and qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and help the team with my presence, if I am physically well my belief and my wish is to be in the World Cup.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Dirk Nowitzki scrimmaged with his Mavericks teammates for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in April, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. Coach Rick Carlisle said Nowitzki should be available for training camp, which opens September 21, Sefko continues. Lottery pick Luka Doncic and J.J. Barea were among the other players in the scrimmage, Sefko adds.
  • Former Spurs big man Joffrey Lauvergne said he would have stayed in San Antonio if he didn’t get an offer to play with Turkey’s Fenerbahce, he told Fenerbahce TV in an interview relayed by Sportando. Lauvergne declined a $1.656MM player option to sign a two-year deal overseas with the anticipation of getting more playing time. “I wanted to come back to Europe and the team that I wanted to play is Fenerbahçe,” he said. “I accepted the offer without thinking but if Fenerbahçe didn’t offer me i would probably stay in Spurs for one more season.”
  • Mavericks swingman Dorian Finney-Smith should find more playing time in the frontcourt rather than the crowded backcourt, Sefko writes in a separate story. The club hopes he can develop into a 3-and-D player and he’ll earn more minutes if his outside shot improves, Sefko continues. It’s a pivotal year for Finney-Smith, who will become a restricted free agent after the season if he receives a qualifying offer or unrestricted if the club declines to do so, Sefko adds.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Ginobili, Bluiett, Grizzlies

The third overall pick from the 2018 NBA Draft, Luka Doncic, will not be part of the Slovenian national team for September’s FIBA World Cup qualifiers, per a Sportando report. Instead, he will remain in the United States to prepare for the upcoming NBA season, Doncic confirmed with a tweet.

Doncic, 19, was drafted by the Hawks with the third pick in the draft but was immediately traded to the Mavericks in exchange for the draft rights to Trae Young and a 2019 first-round pick. Given his past success internationally, it was possible that Doncic would have suited up for the Slovenian team before the NBA season started.

With Real Madrid this past season, Doncic racked up several major awards.  He became the youngest player to win the EuroLeague Final Four Most Valuable Player award in addition to being named the EuroLeague MVP and Rising Star.

Check out more Southwest Division notes below:

  • In an in-depth look at the recently retired Manu Ginobili, Gilbert Garcia of the San Antonio Express-News looked at how his presence around the organization made everyone appreciate him. After 16 seasons with the Spurs, the Argentina product announced he will retire instead of pursuing a 17th season.
  • Trevon Bluiett impressed at Summer League, which paved the way for him to ink a two-way contract with the Pelicans. As Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes, Bluiett is excited about the opportunity and is ready to prove himself. “All I know is that it’s a foot in the door,” Bluiett said. “I don’t look at it as, I signed a two-way so I’m good and everything is done. It’s just a foot in the door to get to my ideal goal.”
  • The Grizzlies finalized their basketball operations department, the team announced in a press release.

Western Notes: Smith Jr., Nader, Caboclo, Jokic

Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. is looking forward to the challenge of playing more at the shooting guard spot with the addition of rookie Luka Doncic, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Coach Rick Carlisle said he’s not concerned about how Smith and Doncic will mesh, even though Smith mainly played the point last season. Smith wasn’t thrilled about playing the two-guard spot at times last season, according to Sefko, but the second-year guard is now a willing participant. “I made strides toward the end of the year playing off the ball. And I got better playing with it, too,” Smith told Sefko. “I believe both guys can play with it and without it.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder have to decide by September 1st whether to fully guarantee Abdel Nader‘s salary for next season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Nader will receive $450K of his $1,378,242 salary if he’s not retained. If Nader sticks, the Thunder will have 15 players on guaranteed contracts along with both two-way slots filled. It would be a surprise if the Thunder let Nader go, since they traded with the Celtics for the swingman last month.
  • Forward Bruno Caboclo believes he can learn a lot from the veterans on the Rockets, as he told Blake Murphy of Uproxx.com.  The former Raptor signed an Exhibit 10 contract, giving him a chance to make the opening night roster with the possibility to become an affiliate player if he doesn’t. “I’m a lot more mature right now, and I think I’m gonna learn a lot on this team,” he said. “Me and my agent, we saw every option, and we thought that Houston was gonna be the best option for me. It’s more betting on my talent and if I don’t sign here, I’m not gonna be stuck in one team.”
  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will not play for Serbia in the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament next month, according to a Sportando report. Serbia will face Greece and Estonia. Jokic signed a five-year contract with Denver this summer.

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Southwest Notes: Belinelli, Parker, Doncic, Rockets

Marco Belinelli will focus on the upcoming NBA season instead of playing for Italy’s national team, according to a Sportando report. The veteran shooting guard will skip World Cup qualifiers next month against Poland and Hungary in order to prepare for the Spurs’ training camp, the report continues. Belinelli, who had a previous two-year stint with San Antonio, played a combined 80 regular-season games last season for the Hawks and Sixers and averaged 12.1 PPG. He’ll back up DeMar DeRozan and could also see some action at small forward after signing a two-year, $12MM deal.

In other news from around the Southwest Division:

  • Tony Parker will come back to San Antonio to end his career, he told the Chinese website Hupu.com in an interview that was relayed by AmicoHoops.net. Parker, who signed a two-year deal with the Hornets, intend to sign a one-day contract with the Spurs when he’s ready to call it quits. “Yes, I will retire as a Spur,” Parker said.
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic should be able to handle the physical grind of the NBA but his athleticism and quickness will be tested in his rookie season, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. He also has to prove he can consistently knock down 3-pointers from behind the NBA arc, Sefko adds. Doncic is expected to jump right into the starting backcourt alongside Dennis Smith Jr.
  • Another trip to the Bahamas is on the docket for Rockets players, Mark Berman of Fox 26 reports.  The team will try to build chemistry by holding a bonding experience there in early September, something it also did last season.

And-Ones: ROY Predictions, Offseason Rankings, NBAGL

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has the best chance to win the Rookie of the Year award, according to an ESPN panel. Doncic will fill up the stat sheet and might wind up with the ball more often than second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to Mike Schmitz. Top overall pick Deandre Ayton ranks second on the poll, with Schmitz noting that the Suns big man likely to get more playing time than any other rookie. Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton and Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. round out the top five.

We have more from around the league:

  • Retaining Paul George in free agency and dumping Carmelo Anthony‘s contract while receiving projected sixth man Dennis Schroder in return earned the Thunder the top spot on NBA.com’s David Aldridge’s offseason rankings. The rankings are based upon what teams have done during the offseason. The Lakers ranked No. 2 by virtue of signing LeBron James and handing out one-year contracts to other players, thus allowing them to be a force again in next year’s free agent market. The Nuggets gained the No. 3 spot by locking up Nikola Jokic and making trades that cleared roster spots and eased their luxury-tax situation.
  • Forwards DJ Hogg (Texas A&M) and Malik Pope (San Diego State) and swingman BJ Johnson (LaSalle) are among the top 10 prospects at the G League Invitational, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. The invitational takes place Sunday in Chicago and over a dozen of last year’s prospects received training camp invites afterward.
  • The Warriors’ over-under odds for wins next season is 62.5, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Celtics ranked second overall with a 57.5 over-under win total with the Rockets third at 54.5. The Hawks have the lowest projected win total at 23.5. The odds for each NBA team were passed along by ESPN’s Ben Fawkes.