Jaden Hardy

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Lively, Hardy

After shooting a combined 13-of-39 (33.3%) from the floor on Tuesday, Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both accepted the blame for the Game 4 loss, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. While Doncic cited his lack of energy and Irving mentioned his early-game sloppiness, their teammates weren’t willing to let the backcourt duo shoulder the full responsibility for the defeat.

“It’s not on them, it’s on us as a team,” Derrick Jones Jr. said. “We are a unit. We go out there, and we play together, we win together, we lose together. It’s not on one person. I know that they’re the leaders of the team, that head of the snake, but we got their back through thick and through thin.”

The Timberwolves adjusted their defensive assignments on Tuesday, with Anthony Edwards serving as the primary defender on Doncic. Jaden McDaniels guarded Irving, who admitted after the game that the All-Defensive wing represented a new challenge.

“He has a huge impact,” Irving said of McDaniels. “I mean, he is a 6-9 wing defender that I’m seeing now for the first time from the start of the game. So it’s going to be an adjustment, but I love it. I relish in these type opportunities.”

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Referring to Dereck Lively as the Mavericks’ third-most important player, Tim Cato of The Athletic says the rookie center’s absence was noticeable in the Game 4 loss. Lively told Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) that his neck sprain is a “day to day thing” and that he’s trying not to rush his recovery and return. On FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic said it’s promising that Lively didn’t have to enter the concussion protocol, adding that there’s a chance the big man could be back for Game 5, though that’s far from a certainty.
  • Lively isn’t the only Mavericks youngster giving the team important playoff minutes. Second-year guard Jaden Hardy scored 13 points in just 12 minutes of action in Game 4, making 3-of-4 three-pointers and throwing down a highlight-reel dunk. “It felt great to see some shots go in while I was out there,” Hardy said, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “I’m just trying to bring energy and bring another element to the team that makes us different and trying to make this championship run.” Hardy is under contract for one more season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency in 2025.
  • The Mavericks still hold a commanding 3-1 lead over Minnesota in the series, so there’s no need to panic yet, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Still, it will be crucial not to let the Timberwolves continue to gain confidence by winning additional games. “This is a great opportunity for us as a young team to go through this,” head coach Jason Kidd said.

Mavericks Notes: Irving, Doncic, Gafford, Hardy, Kleber

After the Game 5 win at Oklahoma City, Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving called the matchup with the Thunder “one of the hardest series I’ve ever played,” according to a Dallas Morning News article (subscription required). It’s a significant statement for a player who holds a championship ring and has made three trips to the NBA Finals, but Irving explained why OKC has been an especially difficult opponent.

“It’s just really just the pace and just the physicality,” he said. “And last series was physical too, and the pace was a little different. But I think just this series, it’s challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally. I’ve accepted that and I’ve focused on the things that I can control and focused on getting my guys going early. And however the game plays out, it’s going to play out. But I’m really laying my hat on the defensive end and giving a lot of effort and and just trying to make the right plays offensively. They’re putting three on the ball at times for me and I could obviously take a lot of tough shots and I think that’s coming in the near future when it’s needed. But for right now just reading the game and allowing the basketball gods to shower me with a lot of love when you’re playing the right way.”

Irving also discussed the increased focus that Luka Doncic brought to Game 5. Doncic told his teammates before the contest that he wasn’t going to complain to the officials and was focusing on playing basketball and having fun.

“I think he’s just being smart and taking advice from the guys that have been in situations like this before and trusting that we have his back,” Irving said. “Some of the times when he’s going to the refs, he really feels like that’s an individual thing, and I think he could speak on it, too. He’s just in the moment and he’s very emotional as we all are as competitors. But the bigger picture is what matters. And him focusing his energy on the right places and specifically focusing on his shots and also doing the little things for us on the defensive end, getting rebounds like he’s doing and he’s been doing all season, it works well for us.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks have virtually remade their roster over the past 20 months, surrounding Doncic with a much better defensive team, observes Zach Lowe of ESPN (subscription required). Lowe suggests that the Thunder might be regretting the role they played in helping the Mavs acquire Daniel Gafford, who has provided an interior anchor for the defense. OKC traded a 2024 first-round pick to Dallas in February in exchange for the right to swap first-rounders in 2028. The Mavericks sent that pick to Washington as part of the Gafford deal.
  • Second-year shooting guard Jaden Hardy appears to have replaced Dante Exum in the Mavericks’ playoff rotation, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Hardy played nearly 15 minutes in Game 5 and although he shot just 1-of-5 from the field, coach Jason Kidd was impressed by his overall game.
  • Kidd indicated that injured big man Maxi Kleber has a chance to return if Dallas reaches the conference finals, Townsend adds in a full story. Kleber suffered a right shoulder AC joint separation in a May 3 game and was scheduled to be reevaluated after three weeks. He was able to do some light shooting during Friday’s practice, Townsend adds.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Mavs’ Trade Prospects, Matkovic, Udoka

Thirteen of the Grizzlies‘ 15 players on standard contracts were sidelined by injuries for Sunday’s 40-point loss at Boston, writes Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. David Roddy and Luke Kennard were joined by three players on two-way contracts and three others on 10-day hardship deals as Memphis barely met the requirement of having eight active players for the game.

Coach Taylor Jenkins unveiled a makeshift starting lineup — his 30th of the season — consisting of Roddy, Kennard, G.G. Jackson, Trey Jemison and Jacob Gilyard. Jemison picked up two fouls in the game’s first minute, leaving 6’9″ forward Tosan Evbuomwan to match up with 7’3″ Kristaps Porzingis.

While the Grizzlies were clearly overmatched, some players are taking advantage of the opportunity. Cole singles out Jackson, who became the focus of the offense and scored 18 points on 24 shots, and Scotty Pippen Jr., who led the team with 19 points off the bench, as two who stood out.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Finding a power forward with size — preferably one who can shoot from the outside and contribute on both ends of the court — is the Mavericks‘ priority heading into Thursday’s trade deadline, multiple sources tell Tim Cato of The Athletic. He adds that the team could also use a backup center who can protect the rim, noting that Dallas is often forced to play zone against larger teams. Cato points out that rivals such as the Thunder and Jazz may be in the market for similar players and have more assets to offer than Dallas does.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News also assesses the Mavericks‘ trade outlook, observing that the 2027 pick is the team’s only tradeable first-rounder and suggesting that Josh Green, Jaden Hardy or Olivier-Maxence Prosper would likely have to be included in any significant deal.
  • As expected, Pelicans prospect Karlo Matkovic has left his KK Cedevita Olimpija team and is headed to New Orleans, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Matkovic’s role with the organization hasn’t been defined publicly, but the Pelicans have one opening on their 15-man roster and Malcolm Hill‘s 10-day contract is about to expire. It’s also possible that Matkovic, a 6’11” power forward/center, will be signed to a G League deal and join the organization’s affiliate in Birmingham.
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka was disappointed after watching his offense sputter against one of the league’s best defenses in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “The lack of reaction was not making the easy play, making the easy pass to a teammate, driving into a crowd, trying to play through double-teams,” Udoka said. “A four-point game at half, we talked about … all these open shots that we left on the table by driving to a crowd (against) the No. 1 team defensively, top five in packing the paint, protecting the paint, what they give up in the paint.”

Southwest Notes: K. Johnson, Smart, Mavs, J. Green

A longtime starter for the Spurs, Keldon Johnson has come off the bench in each of the past three games, and head coach Gregg Popovich expects that to continue for the foreseeable future, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

As McDonald explains, the thinking is that Johnson can breathe some life into a second unit that hasn’t been as effective as hoped this season. The move will also give starters Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama an opportunity to establish more chemistry as they continue working on their two-man game.

Although he had started 230 of his previous 233 games prior to last Saturday, Johnson has no problem with the role change, indicating that he doesn’t need to be sold on it if Popovich believes it’s in the team’s best interest.

“If that’s what we need and that’s what we’re going to try, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Johnson said. “I don’t have an ego about it.”

Johnson’s performances in his first three games off the bench have been up and down, but he’s certainly not getting any fewer offensive opportunities in the new role. After averaging 13.5 field goal attempts in 33.0 minutes per game in his 26 starts, he has launched 15.7 attempts in 28.0 MPG this past week.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Upon returning this week from a left foot sprain that had sidelined him since November 14, Marcus Smart rejoined the Grizzlies‘ starting lineup and has made an immediate impact, notes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. In Smart’s first two games back – a win over New Orleans and loss to Denver – the Grizzlies outscored their opponents by two points in his 52 minutes of action and were outscored by 38 in the 49 minutes he sat.
  • Explaining the decision to sign Brandon Williams to a two-way contract, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said the team wanted to make sure it still had plenty of point guard depth with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both banged up (Twitter link via Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com). While Kidd indicated that Williams would have a chance to play on Thursday with the two star guards out, he was a DNP-CD, as Jaden Hardy (31 minutes) and Seth Curry (30 minutes) played increased roles.
  • After getting a vote of confidence from head coach Ime Udoka earlier in the week, slumping Rockets guard Jalen Green showed signs of progress on Wednesday, scoring 23 points in 26 minutes and making 6-of-12 three-pointers. “He was aggressive, hunting his shots … and getting downhill more aggressively and making the right reads,” Udoka said, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “With their big (Jusuf Nurkic) back, he got some easy ones early on and it snowballed from there. He got aggressive looking for the three. That’s what we want him to do on a nightly basis.”

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Hardy, Alvarado, Zion, VanVleet, Green, Rockets

Good news for the MavericksLuka Doncic and Jaden Hardy practiced in full on Monday, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

The team will reevaluate Doncic, who has been dealing with a calf strain, after Tuesday’s practice before a decision on whether he’s good to go for the season opener against San Antonio. Hardy has been dealing with an ankle injury.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • It’s not looking like Jose Alvarado will be ready for the Pelicans’ opener. The spark-plug guard was unable to practice on Monday, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Alvarado has been dealing with a right ankle sprain suffered during an offseason workout.
  • The Pelicans explored trading Zion Williamson over the summer, multiple executives told Clark, but there was never any serious traction on a deal. A better outcome would be for Williamson to stay healthy and fulfill his promise. Williamson is hopeful changes to the performance staff will help him reach that goal. “The Pelicans have put in a lot of things this offseason to not only prevent things like that, but to react to it in the best way possible,” Williamson said. “I think what the Pelicans have done, there is good structure.”
  • The Rockets made a huge investment in Fred VanVleet and their new point guard believes they signed him at just the right time, he told James Herbert of CBS Sports. “It’s the perfect time for me to be here in this situation after the last three years that this organization has had,” he said. “Hiring Ime (Udoka) here, bringing a couple more vets with the young guys that they have, I think it’s just a perfect fit and it’s perfect timing.”
  • Josh Green‘s salary structure in his rookie scale extension begins with a $12,654,321 salary next season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He’ll make $13,666,667 the following season and $14,679,012 in 2026/27.
  • In a subscriber-only story, the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen discusses how the Rockets’ young core realizes that it’s time for them to start posting wins.

Southwest Notes: Smart, Jones, Alvarado, Hardy, Green

Marcus Smart will make his preseason Grizzlies debut on Friday, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Smart, acquired from Boston this offseason, will go right into the starting lineup, coach Taylor Jenkins told Cole. Smart has been battling abdominal soreness.

“I’ve been doing this going on 10 years now, so for me, I know what it takes to get myself going and how long it takes,” the Grizzlies veteran guard said. “I’ll be ready.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Tre Jones signed a two-year, $19MM contract this offseason to remain with the Spurs. However, it’s uncertain if he’ll remain a starter. He told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News he’s fine either way. “No matter if I’m starting or coming off the bench, it will always be the same,” Jones said. “I’ve got to be a leader for us. I’ve got to continue to set my teammates up as many ways as possible, be an extension of coach on the court, be aggressive on the defensive end and try to help us win any way possible.”
  • The Pelicans have played poorly this preseason but they should toughen up when backup point guard Jose Alvarado returns. Alvarado has been sidelined by an ankle sprain but there’s optimism he’ll be back for the regular season opener next week. “He’s a big piece for our team, especially on the defensive side of the basketball,” forward Brandon Ingram told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He brings us energy. He’ll be good for our second group, just trying to run our second group.”
  • The Mavericks are dealing with a few minor injuries, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com tweets. Jaden Hardy is getting treatment on a sprained ankle, while Josh Green suffered a back injury on Monday and sat out Tuesday’s practice.

And-Ones: Zagars, Sophomores, Super-Max, Best Offseason Deals

World Cup standout Arturs Zagars has officially signed with Turkish club Fenerbahce and has been loaned to Lithuanian team BC Wolves, as Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net relays. A recent report suggested that was the likely outcome for Zagars, who attracted NBA interest based in part on his strong play for Latvia at this year’s World Cup.

Zagars averaged 12.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 2.6 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game across his eight World Cup appearances, making 48.6% of his shots from the floor and 41.7% of his three-pointers. The 23-year-old, who spent last season playing in Lithuania, was named to the All-World Cup Second Team.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Mavericks Notes: Green, Hardy, Doncic

The Mavericks have opened contract extension talks with fourth-year swingman Josh Green, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link). As we outlined earlier this week, Green will be eligible to sign a rookie scale extension up until October 23, the day before the 2023/24 regular season tips off.

Green said in Australia earlier this week that it would be “amazing” to sign a contract that would keep him in Dallas long-term, and it appears the two sides have mutual interest in making that happen.

The 18th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Green played a modest role for the Mavs as a rookie and saw a slight uptick in playing time during his second year. But it wasn’t really until 2022/23 that he emerged as an important rotation player for the club, averaging 9.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 25.7 minutes per game across 60 contests (21 starts). He also shot an impressive 53.7% from the field, including 40.2% on three-pointers.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscriber link) breaks down some of the factors that the Mavericks will have to consider as they weigh a possible extension for Green. Signing him this year would make him difficult to trade during the 2023/24 season due to the poison pill provision, and would further reduce the club’s cap flexibility in 2024 and beyond, Townsend notes.
  • Within the same story, Townsend cites a Mavericks official who says that Green and/or Jaden Hardy have been the subject of virtually every trade inquiry the team has received this offseason. Dallas has been “steadfast” so far in refusing to considering moving either youngster, per Townsend, who adds that Green looks like the franchise’s small forward of the future.
  • In his final installment of his player tier rankings, Seth Partnow of The Athletic places Mavericks star Luka Doncic in his “1B” tier, alongside Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid. The only players ranked higher by Partnow are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, and Nikola Jokic, who occupy the “1A” tier. As Partnow explains, concerns related to Doncic’s defense, conditioning, and ability to play off the ball alongside a second star are holding him back from joining that very top tier.

Western Notes: Henderson, Hardy, A. Carter, Moon

Trail Blazers point guard Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 overall pick of last month’s draft, will miss the team’s final two Summer League games after sustaining a right shoulder strain last week, sources tell Aaron J. Fentress of The Oregonian.

The 19-year-old impressed the team during his lone Summer League appearance, Fentress writes.

“He plays a great pace,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s a downhill player. He’s very aggressive. He’s a selfless team guy, which I think is cool for a young guy.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Another young guard, Jaden Hardy, has been ruled out for the rest of Summer League due to a left shoulder contusion, the Mavericks announced (via Twitter). The move was just precautionary and the injury isn’t considered serious, tweets Marc Stein. Hardy had a promising rookie season in 2022/23, averaging 8.8 points on .438/.404/.823 shooting in 48 games (14.8 MPG). He was the 37th overall pick of last year’s draft.
  • The Grizzlies plan to hire Heat director of player development and assistant coach Anthony Carter to be an assistant in Memphis, league sources tell Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian (Twitter link). A former NBA guard who played 13 years in the league, Carter, 48, helped develop Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, according to Hill. Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald confirms the news (via Twitter), noting that Carter has been with the Heat for the past five seasons.
  • Law Murray of The Athletic examines what free agent guard Xavier Moon could provide to the Clippers or another NBA team, writing that he has been impressive in the fourth quarters of Summer League action. “I’ve been playing this game for a while, at a high level,” Moon said Wednesday. “So, I understand when to get to my spots and when I need to take shots and make shots. I feel like our guys do a great job of keeping us in the game, throughout the game. But, in the fourth quarter, I know I can really take over.” After making several international stops, Moon has spent the past two seasons with the Clippers organization.

“Handshake Deal” For Kyrie Irving In Dallas?

Representatives of rival teams at last week’s NBA Draft Combine expect Kyrie Irving to re-sign with the Mavericks this summer, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Dallas missed the playoffs after acquiring Irving from Brooklyn in a February trade and he often appeared to be an awkward fit alongside Luka Doncic, but sources tell Pincus that the Mavs didn’t trade for Irving as a short-term experiment.

“I hear they had a handshake deal before the trade,” one of Pincus’ sources said. “And Kyrie wouldn’t have said yes to anything less than the max.”

Irving will be eligible for a new five-year contract in Dallas that could be worth $272MM, Pincus adds. Although he was an All-Star this season for the 10th time in his career, off-court incidents in Brooklyn — and Boston and Cleveland before that — may limit the number of teams interested in signing him.

“I’m not sure what the market is for Kyrie, but no one with cap room is giving it to Kyrie,” another source told Pincus. “He comes with too much drama.”

Pincus talked to an agent who expects Irving to receive a four-year deal with a player option on the final season. It would be worth about $201MM in guaranteed money and would line up with Doncic, who can opt out of his current contract in 2026.

In an appearance Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Brian Windhorst suggested that the Lakers shouldn’t be dismissed as a possible Irving suitor (video link). L.A. was reportedly interested in Irving when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he submitted a trade request to the Nets in February.

Windhorst admits the Lakers would have to give up most of the assets they just acquired in order to sign Irving outright, but he says the landscape could be more favorable if Dallas would agree to a sign-and-trade. Regardless, Windhorst added that it helps Irving’s negotiating position if he can convince the Mavericks that L.A. is interested.

Pincus also talked with several sources who expect Dallas to be a potential landing spot for Suns center Deandre Ayton, who shares an agent with Doncic.

“The Suns need depth,” a source told Pincus. “I can see them getting Tim Hardaway Jr., JaVale (McGee) back, Josh Green and No. 10 (draft pick). Phoenix would probably flip the pick to another team for depth, or maybe it’d be a big multi-team deal.”

Pincus lists Maxi Kleber, Davis Bertans, Reggie Bullock and Jaden Hardy as other players who might be moved in a hypothetical Ayton trade, but he notes that Kleber is among Doncic’s best friends on the team, which gives Dallas incentive to keep him.