Maxi Kleber

And-Ones: Schröder, Kleber, Poythress, Alexander, Ayayi

Dennis Schröder has apologized to Maxi Kleber for recent comments he made about Kleber’s participation in international competitions with Germany’s national team, according to

Kleber was upset with Schröder regarding the guard’s criticism of the Mavericks’ big man’s lack of participation in the EuroBasket competition last year.

“Maxi wasn’t there last year,” Schröder said. “If you didn’t commit — that was actually the message for all of us — then you won’t be there next year either.” 

Schröder tried to smooth things over in a statement released on the German Basketball Federation’s website.

“All of this was never something personal against Maxi Kleber from my side,” said Schroder, who signed with the Raptors as a free agent this summer. “Anyone who knows me knows that I am a direct type and always assume that the person I am talking to understands what I mean by what I say, but I have once again been shown that this is not always the case. I still appreciate and respect him and his career and hope he accepts my apologies.”

It’s unclear whether Kleber will now change his mind and play in the World Cup.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Forward Alex Poythress is departing Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv but he’s apparently found another basketball home overseas, Sportando relays via Basket News and ONE. Poythress is expected to join Italy’s Olimpia Milano. Poythress played 52 games in the NBA, mostly recently with Atlanta in 2018/19, when he appeared in 21 contests.
  • Another Israeli team, Hapoel Tel Aviv, is close to signing Kyle Alexander, according to Sportando. He played last season with Spain’s Valencia. Alexander appeared in two games with the Heat during the 2019/20 season.
  • Joel Ayayi has landed with the French team Nanterre 92, according to another Sportando story. He spent last season with the Magic’s G League team in Lakeland, where he averaged 8.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. The Gonzaga product appeared in seven games with the Wizards the previous season.

Texas Notes: Spurs, Payne, Kleber, Holmes

Following the addition of No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama to their roster, the Spurs appear to be taking a long-term approach to their future, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News.

Finger observes that president/head coach Gregg Popovich, general manager Brian Wright, and CEO R.C. Buford opted to not sign a top free agent into cap space or use their significant future draft equity to trade for a veteran star, instead hoping to develop their current youth around Wembanyama and make bigger moves in the future.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Newly acquired Spurs point guard Cameron Payne may not be long for San Antonio, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. McDonald notes that Payne and other new veteran personnel additions Reggie Bullock and Cedi Osman may eventually be offloaded by the team as it looks to build around Wembanyama.
  • Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber has opted out of playing for his native Germany in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning writes. In withdrawing from the competition, Kleber noted that it was “100% clear that I am not unreservedly welcome,” which Townsend considers a direct response to comments made by Team Germany point guard Dennis Schröder. Schröder seemed to take umbrage with Kleber not participating in EuroBasket competition in 2022. “Maxi wasn’t there last year,” Schröder said. “If you didn’t commit — that was actually the message for all of us — then you won’t be there next year either.” 
  • New Mavericks big man Richaun Holmes has resolved the lawsuit he filed against the parent company of the Sacramento Bee, writes Sam Stanton of The Bee. Holmes sued McClatchy Co. and Bee columnist Robin Epley for defamation after an op-ed column from Epley detailed damaging accusations from Holmes’ ex-wife Alexis. “We’re pleased the matter has now been resolved and Mr. Holmes is enthusiastic about a new chapter in his life as a father and basketball player,” his attorney Camille Vasquez said in a statement. According to Stanton, McClatchy and The Bee did not make any payment to Holmes as part of the settlement.

Southwest Notes: Bullock, Wembanyama, Grizzlies, Kleber

The sign-and-trade agreement that is sending Reggie Bullock and a 2030 first-round pick swap (via Dallas) to the Spurs could help them both now and in the future, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link).

As McDonald writes, Bullock will immediately become the oldest player (32) on the roster, with an opportunity to serve as a veteran mentor while competing for rotation minutes. His $10.5MM expiring contract will also push the Spurs above the salary cap floor, giving them access to the annual tax payment from the league’s biggest spenders.

However, the pick swap could turn out to be the real prize, McDonald notes. No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama theoretically will be in his prime in seven years, which might give San Antonio an edge in terms of having a better record than Dallas in 2030 (and thus the swap conveying).

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Speaking of Wembanyama, the Spurs will be cautious with their franchise player, but that doesn’t mean they have durability concerns about the 7’4″ big man, writes Mark Medina of Sportsnaut. It’s normal for top draft picks to have their minutes limited during Summer League action, as Wembanyama will when he makes his debut on Friday in Las Vegas, Medina notes. People around the league believe the Spurs are focused on Wembanyama’s transition to the NBA being as seamless as possible, which is why they want to limit his workload early on.
  • The Grizzlies‘ playing style won’t change with Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games of 2023/24, head coach Taylor Jenkins said on NBA TV. “Our system doesn’t change,” Jenkins said, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “What we emphasize offensively — the pace, the space, the unselfishness — defensively, the discipline nature that we got to have every single night, that’s what we’re going to lean on.” The Grizzlies will also be looking for internal development from Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. to fill Morant’s void, Jenkins added.
  • Maxi Kleber‘s ’22/23 campaign was ravaged by injury, having suffered a torn hamstring in December that required surgery. The Mavericks big man is healthy again now and feels much more like himself, he tells Eddie Sefko of “I’m ready, yeah. That’s what I’ve been preparing for,” Kleber said when asked if he’s ready for an injury-free season. “Last year was obviously frustrating because I was out for so long. And even coming back, I had so many issues. I couldn’t move properly. It’s something you don’t want to have to deal with during the season. So it was good to have this summer actually to recover and do some work.” Kleber also told Sefko he’ll play for Germany in the World Cup next month, his first national team appearance in several years due to various injuries.

“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.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Irving, Mavericks, Porter

After getting more discouraging news about Zion Williamson this week, the Pelicans are preparing to face the start of the postseason without him, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin announced that Williamson remains out indefinitely due to a hamstring injury, making him unavailable for the play-in tournament or possibly even a first-round playoff series if New Orleans is able to qualify.

Griffin told reporters on Friday that Williamson has participated in 3-on-3 drills with coaches, but he hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 scrimmages. Griffin also revealed that Williamson hasn’t met some “objective metrics” in the weight room or on the court, and he’s still hesitant sometimes when pushing off with the injured leg.

“We want Z back, for sure. But we can’t put a lot of time and focus into ‘What ifs.’ Right now, this is reality. That’s what we have to look at,” coach Willie Green said. “Over the last 10 games, we’ve been playing extremely well. We have to continue to do that. When that time comes when Z can step on the floor and go, then it’s, ‘Let’s go.’”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • When the Mavericks traded for Kyrie Irving in February, he requested that reporters refrain from asking him about free agency until the season was over, notes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Those questions are sure to come on Sunday when Dallas ends a disappointing campaign that fell short of the play-in tournament. Townsend adds that although the Mavs have a 9-17 record since trading for Irving, he hasn’t created any distractions in Dallas after a string of off-the-court incidents with Brooklyn. The biggest question facing the team in the offseason is how much of a commitment to make to Irving, who is eligible for a five-year, $272MM contract with the Mavericks or a four-year, $201.7MM deal with another team.
  • After finding themselves under NBA investigation for resting players Friday night with a play-in spot still within reach, the Mavericks will use a depleted roster again on Sunday, Townsend tweets. Irving, Luka Doncic, Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr.Josh Green and Maxi Kleber will all sit out the game against the Spurs.
  • Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. will miss Sunday’s game with soreness in his right knee, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. That will leave him at 59 games, one short of the 60 needed to make his games-played bonus for next season considered to be likely. Feigen adds that it won’t affect Porter’s salary (he could still earn the bonus by playing in 60 games next season), but it will open some cap room for Houston to use this offseason. The bonus accounted for $2.38MM of Porter’s cap hit for the 2023/24 season, explains Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: Heat, Sixers, Robinson, Mavericks

With the seventh seed in the East now sewn up, the Heat will rest their three priciest players and their first-round rookie draft pick tonight against the Wizards, the team has announced (Twitter link).

All-Star center Bam Adebayo will be unavailable due to a left quadriceps tendon strain, small forward Jimmy Butler will miss the bout with a right hand contusion, and veteran point guard Kyle Lowry will rest with a knee ailment. Rookie power forward Nikola Jovic will also be out due to a back injury.

Three other players are considered questionable with various maladies. The statuses of guards Tyler Herro and Max Struss are uncertain due to a right quad contusion and a hyperextended right finger, respectively. Veteran big man Kevin Love‘s availability is murky due to a right rib contusion.

Here are more injury notes:

  • The Sixers will sit All-Star center Joel Embiid, a 2023 MVP hopeful, point guard James Harden, forward P.J. Tucker and shooting guard Tyrese Maxey against the Hawks, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Forward Tobias Harris and reserve guard Jaden Springer are questionable to suit up.
  • The Knicks have announced that they will rest starting center Mitchell Robinson tonight against the Pelicans (via Twitter). At 47-33, New York is now locked into the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed, as the team is three games ahead of the Nets in the East standings with just two games left in its regular season schedule.
  • The Suns will sit their top four players tonight against the Lakers. Sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter) that Phoenix, playing in the second night of a back-to-back set of bouts, will be without All-Star forward Kevin Durant, All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker, future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul, and maximum-salaried center Deandre Ayton against Los Angeles tonight. Charania notes that the Suns have locked up the West’s fourth seed.
  • The Mavericks tweet that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, guard Josh Green, wing Tim Hardaway Jr., and frontcourt players Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood will all sit out tonight’s game against the Bulls. Dallas is just 0.5 games behind the Thunder for the West’s No. 10 seed, but sitting all these key rotation players appears to signal a subtle surrender of the club’s season. The Mavericks are currently tied for the 10th-worst record in the NBA, and given that they owe a top 10-protected first-round pick to the Knicks this year, it makes sense that they would hope to preserve their future draft selection.

Mavs Notes: Kleber, Kidd, Irving, Holiday, Bertans

There’s optimism that Maxi Kleber will return to the Mavericks‘ lineup on Tuesday versus Indiana, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). The veteran forward/center has been sidelined since December 12 after tearing his hamstring, which required surgery.

As Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News tweets, Kleber participated in his second 5-on-5 practice in the past four days on Monday, which is another promising sign that he’s nearing a return.

Integrating Kleber back into the lineup will be a welcome boost, as he is one of the Mavs’ best defenders — the club ranks just 22nd in defensive rating in 2022/23 after placing seventh last season. Through 22 games (25.6 MPG), the German big man is averaging 6.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG on .490/.369/.786 shooting.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • NBA teams were 138-0 when leading by 27-plus points in a game this season until the Mavs had an epic meltdown on Sunday against the Lakers, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Head coach Jason Kidd said the team’s lack of maturity was evident after blowing the huge lead at home. “I’m not the savior here. I’m not playing,” Kidd said when asked why he used only one timeout in the second and third quarters as the lead was slipping away. “I’m watching, just like you guys. As a team, we’ve got to mature. … We’ve got to grow up — if we want to win a championship. There’s no young team that’s ever won a championship, mentally or physically.”
  • The general consensus among rival executives that Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to is that Kyrie Irving is likely to re-sign with the Mavs as a free agent in the offseason. “Kyrie’s goal in pushing out of Brooklyn was to get his rights with a team willing to pay him,” one front office source told Pincus. “Dallas is where he’ll want to be.” As the executive noted, the Mavs will hold Irving’s Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer him more years and money than a rival team could.
  • The Mavericks signed wing Justin Holiday after he reached a buyout agreement with Houston, and he looks like he’ll be a good fit, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s a pro,” Kidd said of Holiday. “He’s been in the league. Won a championship. He’s happy to be here and he’s going to do whatever it takes to help his team win.” After rarely seeing playing time over the past couple months, the 10-year veteran is averaging 10.5 PPG, 1.5 BPG and 1.0 SPG in his first two games (25.0 MPG) with the Mavs.
  • Dallas is hopeful Davis Bertans will return to practice sometime this week, tweets Townsend. Bertans has resumed on-court activities and has been making progress in his recovery. The veteran forward has been dealing with a calf strain, having last played on February 2.

Haynes’ Latest: Suns, Rose, Curry, Lonzo, Kleber, More

Sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that the Knicks will not be picking up Derrick Rose‘s $15.6MM team option for 2023/24. While that news is hardly surprising considering the 34-year-old former MVP is out of New York’s rotation, Haynes has also heard that the Suns would be interested in Rose if he reaches a buyout agreement.

There have been mixed reports regarding Rose potentially going for a buyout with the Knicks. While it still seems “unlikely,” sources tell Haynes not to rule it out entirely.

Haynes’ report came before the Suns filled their last remaining standard roster spot with Ish Wainright, who was promoted from a two-way deal. It’s unclear who the team would consider waiving if Rose became available, as there aren’t any obvious candidates.

Here’s more from Haynes:

  • Warriors star Stephen Curry is set to be reevaluated on Wednesday in his recovery from a left knee injury. Curry was optimistic about the injury but said it was frustrating with so few games remaining and the team in a precarious position. “I can’t give a target date because this isn’t an injury I’ve dealt with before. So, I just have to be careful and patient,” Curry told Haynes. “It’s a frustrating process because unlike the other injuries I’ve been through, this is one where games are running out and we need to climb up the standings fast to make these playoffs. That’s the hard part, but I’m going to do what’s right and try to help my team make this push when I return.”
  • Injured Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is planning to receive a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to help combat the left knee soreness he’s been dealing with following two knee surgeries last year, sources tell Haynes. Chicago recently ruled Ball out for the season; he last played in January 2022.
  • The Mavericks are optimistic about Maxi Kleber returning from his torn hamstring within the next five games, per Haynes, though Kleber already said he’d be out Sunday versus the Lakers. One of the team’s best defenders, the versatile Kleber last played on December 12, having missed the past 34 games with the injury.
  • Serge Ibaka and Will Barton, a couple of veteran free agents, are “waiting for the right opportunities to present themselves,” Haynes writes. Ibaka was released by Indiana after being traded by Milwaukee, while Barton reached a buyout agreement with Washington.

Texas Notes: Dieng, McDermott, Graham, Kleber, Stone

Spurs veterans Gorgui Dieng and Doug McDermott will be tasked with helping to ensure that San Antonio’s young players continue to grow as the year winds down, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.

The team is currently mired in a 14-game losing streak en route to a prime lottery pick. McDonald writes that some of the coaching burden falls onto the team’s two most experienced players, McDermott and Dieng, who can operate as unofficial coaches on the floor.

How long both players remain on the roster beyond this season is anyone’s guess. Dieng, 33, is signed to a one-year minimum deal, and will be a free agent this summer. McDermott, 31, is the team’s highest-paid player, and is set to earn $13.8MM in the final season of his very tradable current deal, 2023/24.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • New Spurs guard Devonte’ Graham is still acclimating to his new environs, McDonald reports in another piece. After arriving in San Antonio by way of the Pelicans in a trade, he has yet to suit up for his new club in a home game. “I’m just trying to get adjusted,” Graham said. “I just packed enough to maintain for a couple of weeks… I’m just living out of a suitcase right now.”
  • Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber indicated to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) that he expects he will miss at least Dallas’ next two games as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Previous reporting suggested Kleber was hoping to return by the end of February.
  • Rockets team president Rafael Stone sat done for an extensive discussion about the team’s rebuild with Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “When we came into (the rebuild), we didn’t really have talent on the roster,” Stone said. “We didn’t have any cap space, we didn’t have any draft picks. We now have been able to recoup our draft picks, we have more cap space this summer than anybody else and I think we have a very talented roster… We need to translate those things into a team that becomes competitive and hopefully starts winning and winning big over time. And that’s the challenge in front of us starting this summer, but continuing on.”

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Wood, Valanciunas, Branham, JJJ

Luka Doncic is out tonight against the Warriors and Monday against the Jazz, but the Mavericks are optimistic that his right heel contusion won’t sideline him much longer, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Jason Kidd told reporters that Doncic underwent an MRI on Friday, and the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he might play later in its five-game road trip, which runs through next Saturday.

“Luka — right heel contusion —healing, day to day, doing better, but will not join us in Utah,” Kidd said. “We’ll see where he’s at after that Utah game.”

Kidd also provided a few other injury updates, saying that Christian Wood participated in a 5-on-5 scrimmage Friday without a setback and could be ready to play by Monday. Maxi Kleber took part in a 1-on-1 workout for the first time since having surgery on his right hamstring in mid-December. Kidd said Davis Bertans will “probably” be sidelined through the All-Star break after straining his left calf in Thursday’s game.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks appear willing to discuss a two-year extension with Wood, but probably nothing longer, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on Zach Lowe’s podcast. MacMahon is skeptical that a better deal exists in free agency, saying the teams he has talked to are showing limited interest in Wood. He also identifies Wood as the rotation player that Dallas is most likely to trade before Thursday’s deadline, although he’s not sure the team can find equal value in return.
  • Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas will undergo an MRI Sunday morning after leaving tonight’s game with a right knee injury, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN.
  • Spurs guard Malaki Branham reached new career scoring highs twice this week, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio has seen a lot of progress from Branham, who was selected with the first-round pick the team received when it sent Thaddeus Young to the Raptors at last year’s deadline. “Things are just slowing down, picking my spots on the court, and doing what I know how to do,” Branham said. “That’s just as simple as it gets.”
  • In an interview posted on the Memphis Commercial Appeal website, Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. talks about the excitement of heading to his first All-Star Game and a possible matchup against teammate Ja Morant.