Maxi Kleber

Mavs’ Maxi Kleber Available To Play Tuesday

6:30pm: Kleber is available to play, the Mavs’ PR deparment tweets.

8:52am: Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber is on track to return to action on Tuesday for Game 4 of the Western Conference finals vs. Minnesota, reports Marc Stein (Twitter link).

The team has yet to offer any clarity on Kleber’s status beyond upgrading him to questionable for Tuesday’s contest, but Stein says he should be able to play unless he suffers a setback at some point before the game tips off.

Kleber was injured in Game 6 of Dallas’ first-round series vs. the Clippers, sustaining a right shoulder AC joint separation on May 3. The team announced at the time that he’d be out for at least three weeks before being reevaluated. Stein stated on Sunday night that the Mavs were optimistic about the possibility of Kleber potentially returning for the NBA Finals — now it sounds like he’ll be able to beat that timeline.

Whether Kleber will be able to perform at his pre-injury level is a separate question, but the Mavs will welcome any quality minutes he can give them in the frontcourt, since they’re expected to be without center Dereck Lively on Tuesday. Lively sprained his neck in the team’s Game 3 win and is listed as doubtful for Game 4.

Considered a solid defender, Kleber was limited to 43 regular season appearances due to health issues this season and averaged 4.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 20.3 minutes per night. He logged 19.3 MPG during the first round of the playoffs, bumping his scoring average to 5.7 PPG and knocking down 10-of-18 (55.6%) three-pointers.

Lively Expected To Miss Game 4; Kleber Listed As Questionable

The Mavericks won’t have their outstanding rookie center for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals but they could get another veteran big man back in action.

Dereck Lively won’t play as the Mavericks try to close out the series against the Timberwolves on Tuesday, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT tweets. Lively is officially listed as doubtful to play by the team, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets.

Lively suffered a neck sprain during the second quarter in Game 3 on Sunday when he fell backward in the lane and was inadvertently kneed in the head by Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns. Lively’s head snapped forward upon contact. He was down on the court for several minutes before appearing dazed as he was helped to the locker room.

Lively has knocked down all 13 of his field goal attempts in the series. He had a 14-point, 9-rebound outing in Game 2.

Fortunately for Dallas, Maxi Kleber could be back in action. He’s listed as questionable, according to MacMahon.

Kleber has been out since May 3 due to a right shoulder injury, officially labelled an AC joint separation. He averaged 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.5 minutes per game while appearing in all six first-round games against the Clippers.

Luka Doncic (right knee sprain/left ankle soreness) is also listed as questionable again, though it would be surprising to see Doncic sit out a closeout game. Doncic was a game-time decision on Sunday and wound up dominating with 33 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals in the 116-107 victory.

Stein’s Latest: Redick, Cavaliers’ Coaching Search, M. Brown, Kleber

J.J. Redick has several assistants in mind if he becomes the Lakers‘ next head coach, sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link). The ESPN broadcaster is believed to be the frontrunner to land the job, and Stein cites this latest rumor as more evidence that L.A. is leaning toward hiring Redick.

According to Stein, Redick hopes to add Celtics assistant Sam Cassell and Pelicans assistant James Borrego, who both interviewed for the head coaching job and were described by The Athletic as “the initial leading targets” along with Redick two weeks ago.

Redick would also like to land Mavericks assistant Jared Dudley, who finished his career with the Lakers in 2021, Stein’s sources say. Dudley reportedly built strong relationships with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during that time.

Stein offers more inside information from around the league:

  • Terry Stotts is among the head coaching candidates being considered by the Cavaliers, according to Stein’s sources. If Cleveland plans to keep Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland together, it could be beneficial to hire Stotts, who was successful in Portland with a similar small backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is considered to be the leading candidate to replace J.B. Bickerstaff, but Stein confirms that Borrego, former Cavs coaching consultant Dave Joerger and Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant are among the other names under consideration. Bryant previously worked with Mitchell in Utah. Atkinson has reportedly received endorsements from Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, whom he coached in Brooklyn.
  • Mike Brown’s salary demands and the Kings‘ lack of postseason success have led to a stalemate in extension talks, Stein adds. Both sides recently agreed to table negotiations on a new deal, which means Brown could enter next season as a lame-duck coach. He has a four-year contract, but the final season is a mutual option, which means he and the team would both have to opt in.
  • Stein hears that the Mavericks remain optimistic about a potential Maxi Kleber return if they reach the NBA Finals. The versatile big man has been sidelined since separating his right shoulder May 3 in the final game of the first-round series against the Clippers.

Mavericks Notes: Kidd, Parity, Kleber, Gafford, Lively

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd believes the league is pleased to see teams like the Timberwolves and Pacers make the conference finals, according to Eddie Sefko of The league has been striving for parity, rather than a few powerhouse teams winning all the championships.

“The league loves it,” Kidd said on Monday. “It’s great. It’s great for the league. I saw a question today: is there any more dominance? Is there ever going to be another dynasty? With player movement and the league being so young, we’ll see. But it’s great. That (the parity) gives everyone the opportunity that they truly believe they can win a championship at the starting line of this marathon.”

The Mavericks, Timberwolves and Pacers were all 20-to-1 or higher to win the championship prior to the season among most wagering sites.

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • Big man Maxi Kleber will remain sidelined for at least the start of the series against the Timberwolves, Sefko reports in the same story. Kleber has been out since May 3 due to a right shoulder injury. “Still out,” Kidd said. “Looked good today. He looked good on the treadmill. We’ve done it already in one series (playing without Kleber). We’re going to have to do it again until he comes back. But that gives other guys the opportunity to step up and we truly believe everyone in that locker room is going to hold it together until he gets back.”
  • Kidd was one of the NBA coaches on the hot seat entering the season. He’s quieted his critics as the season has unfolded. He received a contract extension earlier this month and now has his team in the conference finals, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. “Our goal is to win a championship; that’s what we’re trying to do, but sometimes you guys don’t see that,” Kidd said. “And it’s all right, you’ve got to do your job. Because we really don’t care. That’s the beauty of our culture, is that we’re not affected by what’s written negatively. We just go out there and play and play for each other. And that’s what’s going to win a championship.”
  • Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively will face a major challenge against the Timberwolves’ bigs, Schuyler Dixon of The Associated Press writes. They will have to deal with the Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid. ”One thing for sure, we got to make sure we stay out of foul trouble,” Gafford said. ”Really, just stay patient. We’re not going to keep them from scoring points, but staying to our tendencies and just sticking to our principles is something that’s going to help us throughout this series.”

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.

Mavs’ Maxi Kleber To Be Reevaluated In Three Weeks After Shoulder Separation

MAY 5: An MRI revealed that Kleber suffered a right shoulder AC joint separation, the Mavericks confirmed (via Twitter). His condition will be reevaluated in three weeks.

MAY 4, 2:22pm: Kleber has been diagnosed with a full dislocation of the AC joint in the right shoulder, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, Kleber will be out for a “significant” period of time — perhaps the entire postseason.

MAY 4, 1:08pm: Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber is undergoing an MRI to assess the severity of the right shoulder sprain he sustained in Friday’s Game 6 win over the Clippers, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).

Kleber suffered the injury early in the second quarter when he drove to the basket to attempt a layup and was fouled by Clippers wing Amir Coffey (video link). Kleber fell to the floor hard, landing on his right shoulder. He stayed in the game to shoot his free throws, making one of two, but then immediately checked out and didn’t return.

As we relayed earlier today, head coach Jason Kidd told reporters after the game that he wasn’t sure if the injury would cause Kleber to miss time or how long he might be sidelined, adding that the team will take a “next man up” approach.

Still, if Kleber is unable to suit up when the Mavericks’ second-round series vs. Oklahoma City tips off, it would be a meaningful loss for Dallas. The German was one of the club’s most-used reserves in the first round, averaging 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 19.3 minutes per game off the bench. He’s a solid frontcourt defender who knocked down 10-of-18 three-pointers (55.6%) vs. the Clippers.

Dereck Lively, Daniel Gafford, and P.J. Washington would be among the candidates for increased roles if Kleber misses time, with Dwight Powell – who only played garbage-time minutes in round one – moving up the depth chart.

Mavericks Notes: Kleber, Future, Irving, Doncic

Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber went down hard after a foul in the second quarter of Game 6 against the Clippers and left for the locker room. According to The Dallas Morning News, the Mavericks diagnosed Kleber with a right shoulder sprain and he didn’t return for the rest of the game. Head coach Jason Kidd said he didn’t know how long the big man would be out.

Next man up,” Kidd said.

Kleber had a big role off the bench for the Mavericks’ first five games of the series. He averaged 6.0 points per game while making 60.0% of his threes in 22.2 minutes in his five appearances off the bench. In Game 5, Kleber knocked down five of his seven three-point attempts, finishing the game with 15 points in a 30-point win.

In the regular season, Kleber averaged 4.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 34.8% from deep in 43 games and seven starts.

We have more Mavericks notes:

  • The Mavericks are well-positioned for the future, Tim Cato of The Athletic writes, with only two role players over the age of 28: Kleber (32) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (31). Dante Exum (28), Jaden Hardy (21), Dereck Lively II (20) and Josh Green (23) are among the team’s biggest contributors, and Dallas acquired 25-year-olds P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline, both of whom emerged as starters right away. While Kyrie Irving is 32, he’s continuing to put up impressive playoff performances like his 30-point closeout Game 6 and questions about his fit with Luka Doncic have been answered.
  • A duo of stars complemented by solid role players appears more sustainable than building an expensive big three, Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News writes, with the Mavericks a living example. Teams like the Clippers and Suns are faced with second apron hurdles, Sherrington observes, while Dallas is getting contributions from players on mid-sized or rookie contracts while their stars continue to shine.
  • Doncic said there was extra satisfaction in defeating the Clippers after falling to them in the playoffs in two of his first three seasons in the league, according to The Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend (Twitter link). “Of course. I lost twice to them, so it was even bigger motivation to beat them,” Doncic said. “But they have a great team. We had to work really, really hard to beat them. I’m happy we did it this time.

Southwest Notes: Ryan, Morant, Grizzlies, Gafford, Mavs

When the Pelicans converted Matt Ryan from his two-way deal to a standard contract on the day before their regular season finale, they used their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal that paid him $1.5MM in guaranteed money for the final two days of this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

In exchange for that substantial end-of-season payday, Ryan gave the Pelicans two additional years of low-cost control — he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($2,196,970) in 2024/25, with a non-guaranteed minimum-salary team option ($2,381,501) for ’25/26.

Ryan’s salary for ’24/25 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season, but there are no trigger dates before that point, so New Orleans won’t necessarily need to make a decision on him until the fall.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is now being represented by Lift Management, according to a tweet from the agency. Morant reportedly parted ways with longtime agent Jim Tanner earlier this spring. The two-time All-Star has seen his stock drop following multiple suspensions for his off-court behavior, along with a shoulder injury that cost him nearly all of the 2023/24 season, but his maximum-salary contract runs for four more seasons.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what the Grizzlies want to see from their young players this summer, including projected Summer League participants like GG Jackson and Scotty Pippen Jr. As Cole observes, it’ll also a big offseason for Jake LaRavia, who will be entering his third NBA season, but it’s rare for former first-round picks to return for a third year of Summer League.
  • With center Daniel Gafford listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Clippers on Friday due to back spasms, the Mavericks could be forced to make a change to their starting lineup, writes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Dereck Lively would likely be the top candidate to move into the starting five, though Maxi Kleber – who has averaged 27.0 minutes per game so far in the series – would also play a major role. Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris are also in the mix as depth options.

Injury Notes: Luka, Warriors, Zion, Ingram, Young, Turner

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was ruled out for Friday’s matchup with Golden State due to right knee soreness, as first reported by Marc Stein (via Twitter). Sources tell Stein there’s optimism that Doncic will return on Sunday vs. Houston.

The injury “shouldn’t be long term,” head coach Jason Kidd said (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon).

It will be the 10th missed game this season for Doncic, which will hurt his chances of claiming his first MVP award — frontrunner Nikola Jokic has only missed three games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the other primary candidate for the award, will miss his seventh game of 2023/24 on Sunday in Charlotte.

Mavs big man Maxi Kleber, who played 21 minutes in yesterday’s win over Atlanta, is also out Friday with back spasms, the team announced (via Twitter).

The Warriors will also be shorthanded for Friday’s matchup in Dallas, which is the second of a back-to-back for both clubs. Andrew Wiggins is out with left ankle soreness, while Jonathan Kuminga — who warmed up with the intent of playing — will miss his sixth straight game with knee tendinitis, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter links).

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, who is dealing with a left finger contusion, was considered a game-time decision for Friday’s contest vs. San Antonio. However, he was later ruled out (Twitter link via the Pels). Prior to Friday’s game, head coach Willie Green also provided an injury update on Brandon Ingram, who is currently sidelined with a left knee bone contusionHe’s jogging on the treadmill,” Green said, per Christian Clark of (Twitter link). “He’s in the weight room. Other than that, we don’t have anything new to report.” Green confirmed a recent report that New Orleans is optimistic about Ingram returning before the regular season ends, Clark adds.
  • On his podcast (YouTube link), Hawks point guard Trae Young provided an update on his rehab from hand surgery, as Brad Rowland relays (via Twitter). “I got another call with the doctor next Monday,” Young said of when he could return. ” … Hopefully next week I can make a fist and I can get out of this cast. And then I can play. So hopefully next week.”
  • Pacers center Myles Turner suffered a dislocated right index finger in Monday’s victory over Brooklyn, which caused him to miss Wednesday’s rematch with the Nets, but he was back in the starting lineup on Friday against Oklahoma City, the team announced (Twitter link). Turner has dealt with several injuries over the course of his career but he has been relatively healthy in ’23/24, appearing in 73 of 78 games.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Mamukelashvili, Pelicans, Mavs

Gregg Popovich is the only active NBA head coach who also holds the title of president of basketball operations. But when he was asked on Tuesday about the Spurs‘ offseason plans and whether Victor Wembanyama‘s strong rookie season would accelerate the club’s rebuild, Popovich didn’t offer any real hints, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

“I don’t pretend to know what we’re going to do,” he said. “We have a lot of possibilities ahead of us, whether it’s money in the bank or draft picks or being creative trade-wise. All those things are on the table. But aren’t they for every team? I don’t know why we’re any different. We’re just younger.”

There has been some speculation that Wembanyama’s rapid development might make the Spurs feel more urgency to build a competitive roster around the rising young star, but Popovich made it clear that he and general manager Brian Wright aren’t feeling any pressure from team ownership to make win-now moves.

“If your organization is unable to understand that rebuilding takes time, then you just never get there,” Popovich said. “We’re fortunate because we’ve always had under the leadership of the Holt family the ability to do what we think has been best. So we’re always grateful for that.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs big man Sandro Mamukelashvili got a rare chance to play a rotation role on Tuesday vs. Houston, logging double-digit minutes for just the second time in the past two months. After recording six points, five rebounds, and three assists in 11 minutes, Mamukelashvili earned praise from Popovich for his performance. “Sandro was exceptional,” Popovich said, per Orsborn. “He moved well without the ball. He pursued rebounds. He was really good for us tonight.” The 24-year-old will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.
  • The Pelicans have quietly emerged as one of the NBA’s best teams since the calendar turned to 2024, according to Danny Chau of The Ringer, who suggests they’ve flown under the radar in part because their stars have been merely very good rather than transcendent. Buoyed by excellent depth, New Orleans has a 20-11 record since January 1 and the team’s +7.9 net rating during that time is comfortably the best mark in the Western Conference.
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic poses four burning questions that he believes could define the rest of the Mavericks‘ season, starting with which of the team’s players can be relied upon in the postseason. As Cato details, Dallas has leaned on reserves like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber a little less as of late, with Dante Exum taking Hardaway’s place as the first player off the bench.