Jason Kidd

Stein’s Latest: Lillard, Raptors, Hield, Lively, Howard

There’s a growing belief around the league that the Raptors have legitimate interest in trading for Damian Lillard, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required).

There has been skepticism over Toronto’s desire to make a deal, Stein adds, considering that the front office hasn’t been active even though trade rumors have been swirling around the team since January, particularly regarding Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. He notes that any remaining uncertainty is related to Lillard’s strong preference for Miami over every other market.

Stein compares the Lillard situation to the Raptors’ pursuit of Kawhi Leonard five years ago. Unlike Leonard, who was entering the final year of his contract, Lillard is signed for four more years and is owed nearly $220MM. Toronto also doesn’t have the foundation in place to compete for a title with one more big move, the way it did when it traded for Leonard.

Stein believes the Trail Blazers would prefer to wrap up the summer-long Lillard saga before the team’s media day next Monday. However, negotiations with the Heat are on hold as they and many other teams around the league think about preserving their assets for a potential run at Giannis Antetokounmpo or any other star who might become available.

Portland doesn’t want to part with Lillard for less than his market value, Stein adds, but the alternative is to deal with the distractions that will come with keeping him for training camp and beyond.

Stein shares more inside information from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives disagree with Stein’s statement on his radio show that the Pacers can get a future first-round pick for Buddy Hield. Stein says he talked to several front office people who believe Hield’s expiring $19.3MM contract will limit his trade value because of the uncertainty about re-signing him. They see his ceiling as multiple second-rounders.
  • Appearing on Stein’s show, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said rookie center Dereck Lively II will get an opportunity to win a starting job in training camp. Stein notes that Dallas pursued the Hawks’ Clint Capela and the Suns’ Deandre Ayton during the offseason, but wasn’t able to work out a deal for a veteran big man. Christian Wood left in free agency and JaVale McGee was waived, leaving Dwight Powell as the only incumbent center on the roster. Richaun Holmes was acquired in a draft night trade, and Maxi Kleber may see time as a small-ball five.
  • Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Grant Williams are the Mavericks‘ only definite starters heading into camp, added Kidd, who said first-round pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper will also compete for a starting job. “I look for those rookies to play a lot this season,” Kidd told Stein. “They’re going to be a part of our fabric.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s interview with the Warriors last week wasn’t the first time he has thought about joining the team. Stein recalls that Golden State wanted to sign Howard when he became a free agent in 2013, and he even worked out that summer with Stephen Curry, but he chose the Rockets instead.

Community Shootaround: Best Point Guard Ever

Stephen Curry isn’t reluctant to stake his claim as one of the best point guards in NBA history. The Warriors star put himself in elite company during a recent appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast.

“It’s me and Magic (Johnson), is that the conversation? Obviously, I have to answer that way,” Curry said in response to a question from Arenas. “Magic’s resume is ridiculous. So the fact that we’re having that conversation, that’s the place I never thought I’d be in.”

Both players are obviously on the short list of legendary point guards. They amassed a wealth of titles and individual honors throughout their careers, and both significantly changed the way the game is played.

Curry is a four-time champion, a two-time scoring leader, a nine-time All-Star and a two-time MVP who was the first player in league history to win the award in a unanimous vote. He has 21,712 career points, 5,740 assists and a record 3,390 three-pointers, and at age 35 he still has time to add to those numbers.

Johnson was among the most dynamic players of the 1980s and the catalyst for the “Showtime” Lakers. He was an All-Star in 10 of his first 11 seasons, missing only because of injury, before HIV forced him into his first retirement in 1991. He won five titles, three MVP awards and three Finals MVP honors. With 17,707 career points and 10,141 assists, Johnson was voted onto the league’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

While Curry and Johnson are strong candidates, there are plenty of others to consider:

  • In the 1960s and early ’70s, Oscar Robertson was routinely putting up triple-doubles before it was celebrated as a stat. The 1964 MVP spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Royals before winning his only NBA title with the Bucks in 1971. He was an All-Star in his first 12 NBA seasons, being named MVP of the game three times, and was a nine-time first-team All-NBA selection.
  • Lakers star Jerry West was a contemporary of Robertson’s and his rival as the best guard in the game at the time. West was an All-Star in all 14 of his NBA seasons and was an All-NBA selection 12 times. He was named Finals MVP in 1969 even though the Lakers lost the series, then won his only championship in 1972.
  • John Stockton is the NBA’s career leader in assists with 15,806 and led the league in that category for nine straight seasons. The 10-time All-Star is also the league’s all-time steals champ with 3,265 and was named to the All-Defensive Team five times. He spent his entire 19-year career with the Jazz and remained productive through age 40.
  • Isiah Thomas led the “Bad Boy” Pistons to titles in 1989 and 1990 at a time when the Lakers and Celtics were dominating the league. The 12-time All-Star was named Finals MVP in 1990 and twice captured All-Star MVP honors.
  • Chris Paul is the only active point guard with a resume similar to Curry’s, although without a similar level of playoff success. A 12-time All-Star, Paul led the NBA in assists five times and in steals six times. He’s an 11-time All-NBA and nine-time All-Defensive Team selection.
  • Steve Nash is a two-time MVP who also revolutionized the game with his accomplishments in Phoenix. An eight-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection, he reached the 50-40-90 club as a shooter four times in his career.

There are many more to consider, such as Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Nate Archibald, Pete Maravich and others, and we could go on much longer about their place in the history of the league. But we want to get your opinion. Who’s really the best point guard that has ever played? Please leave your response in the space below.

Mavericks Notes: Jones, Survey, Doncic Docuseries

The Mavericks added forward Derrick Jones Jr. on a one-year guaranteed contract over the weekend. So what can Dallas expect from Jones?

Jones’ athleticism is well-known, considering he won the All-Star dunk contest in 2020. He’s also a superior shot-blocker who can guard multiple positions, according to Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com.

“His versatility on both ends of the floor will allow us to utilize his skill set and athleticism in a variety of different lineups,” Mavs GM Nico Harrison said when the team signed Jones.

We have more on the Mavs:

  • A fan survey conducted by The Athletic’s Tim Cato produced some interesting results. Outside of Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Josh Green gained the most votes for “favorite current player.” Among the respondents, 54 percent had a confidence level of 5 (the highest amount) that Doncic and Irving are capable of being the two best players on a title contender. However, the survey revealed little confidence in Jason Kidd’s coaching ability.
  • Doncic is documenting Slovenia’s experience in the FIBA World Cup this summer. He’ll be self-producing and releasing, “Everything It Takes,” a short-form docuseries that will provide an inside look on its journey throughout the tournament, according to BreAnna Bell of Variety.com.
  • Dallas is waiving JaVale McGee and adding Markieff Morris. Get the details here.

Mavericks Make Three Additions To Coaching Staff

The Mavericks have added three assistants to their staff.

Alex Jensen, who had been with the Jazz since 2013, is leaving Utah to join Jason Kidd’s staff, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Bryan Gates is also coming to Dallas as an assistant, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet. Josh Broghamer is another newcomer to Dallas, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Jensen played a major role in Rudy Gobert‘s development, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN, noting that rookie big man Dereck Lively should “benefit tremendously” from Jensen’s tutelage.

Prior to his stint in Utah, Jensen was the first coach for the G League Canton Charge.

Gates spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Suns under Monty Williams. He has also worked as an NBA assistant in Sacramento (2009-10 and 2016-19), New Orleans (2010-15) and Minnesota (2015-16 and 2019-21).

Broghamer comes over from the Cavaliers, where he served as the director of advance scouting and player development. He previously worked for the Bucks when Kidd was their head coach.

The Mavericks let go of three assistants after failing to make the playoffs, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. Lead offensive assistant Greg St. Jean, shooting coach Peter Patton and Quinton Crawford were not retained. Patton has since joined the Bulls’ staff, while Crawford wound up with the Suns.

Mavs Rumors: Harrison, Wood, Irving, First-Round Pick

Despite the Mavericks‘ disappointing season, it sounds like both head coach Jason Kidd and general manager Nico Harrison will remain with the team for 2023/24.

Team owner Mark Cuban said earlier this week that the Mavs intend to bring back Kidd for a third season. As for Harrison, league sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link) that Cuban is pleased with the work that the longtime Nike executive has done since transitioning to a front office role. While the Mavs have faced criticism for a handful of roster moves – including losing Jalen Brunson and Kyrie Irving – Stein suggests that Harrison doesn’t need to worry about his job security at this point.

Here’s more on the Mavs from Stein:

  • Stein’s “up-to-the-minute sense” is that the Mavericks won’t attempt to re-sign big man Christian Wood in free agency this offseason. Noting that Dallas intends to make some roster changes over the summer, Stein identifies JaVale McGee and Tim Hardaway Jr. as two veterans who could find themselves back on the trade block.
  • There’s “considerable skepticism” around the NBA that the Mavs will take a hard-line stance and insist on a short-term deal in their negotiations with Kyrie Irving, according to Stein, who says early rumblings suggest the team may offer a three- or four-year contract to the star guard.
  • If the Mavericks retain their 2023 first-rounder (which they owe to New York with top-10 protection), they’re expected to explore their trade options with that pick, sources tell Stein. A loss to San Antonio today would ensure Dallas has nearly an 80% chance to hang onto that pick — those odds could climb even higher if Utah wins and Dallas loses today.

Mavs’ Cuban Talks Irving, Wood, Brunson, Kidd, Doncic, More

Speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday’s game against Sacramento, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban touched on a number of topics.

Cuban said the team acquired guard Kyrie Irving at the February trade deadline with the goal of keeping him around “long term,” as veteran reporter Marc Stein relays (Twitter links). Cuban added he thought the Mavs had “a good shot” at retaining Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

When asked if he thought Irving was worth a maximum-salary contract, Cuban replied, “I’m not going to negotiate with you,” tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The longtime owner said re-signing Irving is the team’s top offseason priority, but was noncommittal on big man Christian Wood, another potential free agent.

I’m not going to go through individual players,” Cuban said, per MacMahon (Twitter link).

Both of the Mavericks’ star guards — Luka Doncic and Irving — will be available for Wednesday’s game, the team announced (via Twitter).

Here’s more from Cuban’s media session:

  • Cuban claims the Mavs “never had the opportunity” to give former guard Jalen Brunson a four-year, $56MM extension in January 2022, tweets Stein. Dallas’ owner went on to explain that Brunson’s camp was looking for a deal in the range of $18-23MM annually in early February 2022, but the Mavs could only offer him $14MM per year due to the limitations on veteran extensions, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), the Mavs technically could have given him a deal in the $18-23MM range after the 2022 trade deadline, when Brunson was eligible to renegotiate his contract, but they would have had to clear $25MM+ in salaries in order to do so.
  • As for last summer, when Brunson signed a four-year, $104MM contract with the Knicks, Cuban claims Brunson’s side never gave the Mavs a number he would accept, per Townsend (Twitter links). The Mavs had Brunson’s Bird rights, so they theoretically could have offered him more years and more money than a rival team. Cuban added that he had a strong relationship with Brunson and his agents, but “things went south” when Brunson’s father, Rick, took over the contract negotiations (Twitter link via MacMahon).
  • It seems odd that Rick Brunson was ever in charge of negotiations, considering he was finalizing a deal to be an assistant coach with the Knicks on June 2, and free agents couldn’t sign until June 30. The elder Brunson previously worked under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, but resigned from the Wolves after allegations of improper conduct toward women, which he and his lawyer denied.
  • Cuban’s tone regarding the Brunson situation was markedly different last summer, notes Fred Katz of The Athletic (via Twitter). Last July, a week after Jalen Brunson signed with the Knicks, Cuban said he had “no hard feelings” about Brunson leaving and that the guard had “earned the right to make a decision as a free agent” (link via Zach Braziller of The New York Post).
  • According to Townsend (Twitter links), Cuban took responsibility for the Mavs’ poor season and for not recognizing they needed more help defensively, as the team has dropped from seventh to 23rd in defensive rating. “It’s absolutely my fault for not recognizing that,” he said. Cuban also said that the team plans to bring back head coach Jason Kidd next season.
  • Cuban, who has owned the team since 2000, said he believes Doncic wants to spend his entire NBA career with the Mavs, “but we have to earn that” (Twitter link via MacMahon). Doncic has expressed frustration and disappointment with how the season has gone and recently said he missed Jalen Brunson “a lot.”

Mavs GM Harrison On Irving Trade, Kidd, More

Mavericks president of basketball operations and general manager Nico Harrison sat down for an interview with Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News prior to Wednesday’s loss in Philadelphia.

We have provided a few highlights below, but it’s worth checking out in full for any Mavs fans.

On why the team has struggled after trading for Kyrie Irving last month:

“When we made the trade, we expected those two guys — Kyrie and Luka (Doncic) — to jell by now, so that’s definitely below expectations. I’m not even saying they haven’t jelled, but the team — they haven’t had enough minutes together to jell. Kyrie was out, Luka was out, one played, the other played, so we’re behind where we wanted to be.

“But those two work. Like, two guys at that level work. Then it’s how these guys around them — how do they fit in and play off them? That’s the tougher thing. You’ve got all this analytical data to say these lineups work, but guess what? Since the trade, we haven’t had consistent players out there, so it’s tough to say, like, absolute which lineups work because it’s very little minutes that they’ve all played together because it’s been change after change after change.”

On whether there’s enough time to evaluate the team as it sits outside of the play-in tournament with only five games remaining:

“Everybody knows we’re fighting to get into this playoffs. I just think every game we’ve got to continue to make strides. Even if players aren’t healthy, we don’t have any choice. We have to go. That’s why I say we have high-character guys. Nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves. They’re positive guys, and they’re hard-working guys. They’re high-character guys, so we’ll figure it out. Hopefully we figure it out sooner or later. The clock’s on us.”

On how players have responded to head coach Jason Kidd since the trade:

“I think Jason’s done a great job, starting with the top, making sure Luka and Kyrie are communicating and on the same page, which he’s done well. I think it’s tough for a coach every day. A lot of times you guys think we’re being cute when you’re like ‘Hey, are they playing today?’ And we’re like ‘Yeah, we don’t know yet.’ You’re like ‘Yeah, they know,’ but we’re looking at each other like, ‘Hey, what do you think?’

“If you’re Jason, how do you game plan when you don’t know who’s available? I think he’s been put in a tough position. I think what Jason’s done really well is he’s really dug into being positive with all the uncertainty. It’s easy to start pointing fingers. He’s really dug into being positive, and I think that’s super helpful. I think the guys can feel the positive energy and again, I think he’s been in a tough position.

“Honestly, we weren’t playing good before the trade, so the trade was never going to be a magic pill all of a sudden, but we did expect those guys to play more games together to figure each other out. Again, I’m not really worried about those two figuring each other out. It’s the players around them.”

Mavericks To Protest Loss To Warriors

The Mavericks plan to file an official protest with the league office after tonight’s 127-125 loss to the Warriors, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The protest is in response to an alleged officiating error late in the third quarter that led to an uncontested basket for Golden State (video link from The Athletic). All five Dallas players were on the opposite side of the court as the Warriors inbounded the ball, resulting in an easy dunk for Kevon Looney.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban provided an explanation of the play (via Twitter), claiming the referees informed his team that it would have the ball after a stoppage in play.

“For those wondering about the play with 1:54 to go on the 3rd, let me explain what happened,” Cuban wrote. “The ref called Mavs ball. The announcer announced it. Then there was a timeout. During the time out the official changed the call and never told us. Then when they saw us line up as if it were our ball, he just gave the ball to the Warriors. Never said a word to us. They got an easy basketball. Crazy that it would matter in a 2 point game. Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA. All they had to do was tell us and they didn’t.”

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also addressed the play in his post-game press conference, claiming that officials didn’t handle the situation properly (Twitter link from Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News).

“If there’s confusion, it’s easy to just come in and blow the whistle and get us restarted,” Kidd said. “Because it was confusion. Understanding that we thought it was our ball, the referee pointed towards our bench. That was the signal of the timeout, but there was confusion on the play before it even started with whose ball it was because he pointed, I thought, to us first. Then he changed it and then went to a timeout, and pointed to us.”

In a tweet from the league, crew chief Sean Wright explained why officials handled the play the way they did.

“Initially on the floor the original signal was in fact Golden State ball as this can be seen on video,” Wright said.  “There is a second signal but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs.”

Under NBA rules, notice of the protest must be submitted to the commissioner’s office within 48 hours of the end of the game. Both teams will have five days to submit evidence to the NBA after the protest is filed, and commissioner Adam Silver will then have an additional five days to make a ruling.

No team has been successful in protesting a game since 2008, notes NBA writer Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Morris, Kidd

All-NBA guard Luka Doncic (left thigh strain) will remain unavailable on Wednesday when the Mavericks visit San Antonio, the team confirmed (via Twitter). However, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Doncic did accompany the Mavs on their road trip, which will continue in Los Angeles on Friday and Memphis on Monday.

As for Doncic’s backcourt mate, Kyrie Irving (right foot soreness) was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest, but said today that it’s “not looking good” for him to return, per MacMahon (Twitter link). It would be a third straight missed game for Irving, who continues to experience pain, especially in his big toe.

“This injury on my foot, it’s going to take a little bit more time than I thought,” Irving said (Twitter link via MacMahon). “It’s obviously still day to day, but we’ve just got to take more time.

“It’s right around my big toe, right around my plantar. I took a wrong step in New Orleans and it just felt like my knuckles cracked. I just wanted to take precautionary (measures) at this point in the season. I make my whole entire living with my feet, so I’d rather take care of it now than when I’m 40 years old.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The other player Dallas acquired in the Irving trade will also likely be unavailable on Wednesday in San Antonio, as Markieff Morris (left knee soreness) has been downgraded from questionable to doubtful, according to the team (Twitter link). Morris has only logged 24 minutes across five appearances since joining the Mavs.
  • Having lost three consecutive games and nine of their last 12, the Mavericks now hold the ninth seed in the West and have fallen below .500 (34-35). Tim Cato of The Athletic wonders if Dallas’ season is beyond fixing, but identifies five ways the team might turn things around, including playing by more pragmatic lineups and committing to a direction with Christian Wood.
  • This year’s Mavericks may be charting the same course the Hawks did in 2022, when Atlanta was quickly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals a year earlier, writes Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. The Hawks’ inability to recapture their 2021 form ultimately led to Nate McMillan‘s dismissal this year, Cowlishaw notes, adding that it’s hard to say where things will stand for Jason Kidd if the Mavs don’t bounce back in the next few weeks.

Jason Kidd: Irving’s Talents Needed For Championship Run

Coach Jason Kidd brushed off criticism of the Mavericks’ acquisition of Kyrie Irving, saying that the team now has a much better shot at winning a title, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes.

“We feel that the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed,” Kidd said. “We feel that getting him is going to help put us in a position to win a championship.”

The deal with the Nets became official earlier today. Irving flew to Dallas on Monday and could make his Mavericks debut on Wednesday against the Clippers. He won’t play with new backcourt partner Luka Doncic immediately, however. Doncic will remain sidelined on Wednesday by a heel contusion, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan.

Once the duo takes the court together, Kidd expects the Mavs to be even more dangerous than they were last year when Doncic and Jalen Brunson led the team to the Western Conference Finals, Caplan writes.

“He’s played with the best players in the world, and he’s had success doing that,” Kidd said of Irving. “To give Luka an opportunity to come down the court without having to dribble or run every play, this gives us an opportunity to do different things. We look back at when we had [Jalen Brunson], being able to have a playmaker like that. When you look at Ky — nothing against JB — but Ky is at a different level, so this gives us another weapon. Someone’s going to be free. Someone’s going to have the advantage.”

Kidd doesn’t seem too concerned about Irving’s past issues and unpredictable moods. Irving idolized Kidd growing up and they developed a friendship while sharing a personal trainer, Robin Pound. Irving also attended Kidd’s Hall of Fame induction.

“He’s all about basketball,” Kidd said. “He wants to win, and he wants to be coached, and this is a great opportunity for me to have someone like this to help.”

Kidd also predicts that Doncic will benefit from not having to bear such a heavy burden. Doncic’s usage rate is highest among all NBA guards.

“It’s going to come down. And that’s a healthy thing. It’s not a bad thing. … Actually, he’ll be stronger in the fourth (quarter),” Kidd said. “The team will be better. Then the trust between the two — it’s going to take some time to get that rhythm and trust, but Kai is about winning.”

Dallas owner Mark Cuban also feels the team is much more dangerous offensively with the addition of Irving, Caplan reports in a separate story. Cuban believes that will override the loss of defensive ace Dorian Finney-Smith, who was part of Dallas’ package.

“They are the two players in the NBA that are most able to get anywhere they want on the court,” Cuban said. “They can create their own shots and finish every which way. That should make us incredibly potent on the offensive end. And while it’s going to be tough to fill Dorian’s shoes defensively, we think Josh (Green) will be able to step in and take advantage of the increased minutes he will be getting.”