Rick Carlisle

Western Notes: Burks, Williams, Doncic

When Alec Burks signed with the Warriors, not many people expected him to play 27.0 minutes per game. Even fewer expected him to be one of the most reliable scorers on the team. However, injuries have opened the door for him to take on a greater role.

“I definitely knew he could score,” Draymond Green said (via Logan Murdock of NBCSports.com). “When he’s been on any team, he comes off the bench and he gets it going. Going downhill, getting to the basket and I think he’s definitely improved his jump shot”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans have endured a bevy of injuries this season and Kenrich Williams has stepped up when they needed him the most, as Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com relays. “He makes winning plays, and that’s why we have to have him on the court,” said coach Alvin Gentry. “So we inserted him back into the lineup. I never even look at his stat line, because he just helps you win basketball games.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details the ever-evolving relationship between Rick Carlisle and Luka Doncic. Some within the league were skeptical that the pairing would work long-term given Carlisle’s propensity to be harsh on point guards, but the Mavericks are confident that the right coach is in place. “When we had people here who didn’t think they needed to learn anything, that’s when we’d run into conflicts,” Owner Mark Cuban said. “Luka is a sponge, on the court and off.”
  • Carlisle believes in Doncic, which wasn’t the case for Dennis Smith Jr. and Rajon Rondo were they were on the Mavericks, MacMahon passes along in the same piece. The ESPN scribe hears that Carlisle expressed concern about Rondo’s fit before the Mavs traded for him.

Western Notes: Walton, Chandler, Nuggets, Hardaway

Kings players already feel a closer bond with new coach Luke Walton than they did with previous coach Dave Joerger, Jason Jones of The Athletic reports. Having a coach that would help bring in free agents and make current roster members want to stay in Sacramento is part of the reason why Walton was hired.

“He just comes in, and it’s an instant connection,” Kings guard Buddy Hield told Jones. “He’s played before so he knows that player relationship and now he’s a coach so he knows how to relate to us, so that’s big coming from him.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mentoring Clint Capela is a major reason why the Rockets brought in veteran center Tyson Chandler, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Chandler signed a one-year contract in July. The Rockets want Capela to become an elite defensive presence and anchor and Chandler will help facilitate that process.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon enters the preseason as a starter but Danuel House could make a push for that status, Iko adds in the same piece.
  • The Nuggets have promoted John Beckett from director of player development to full-time assistant coach, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. Ognjen Stojakovic has taken over Beckett’s previous spot, while Boniface N’Dong has been added to the player development staff.
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle believes Tim Hardaway Jr. has been cleared to participate in training camp, Dwain Price of the team’s website tweets. Hardaway met this week with the surgeon that performed the surgery in April on his left tibia and got a positive review. Hardaway’s availability for camp would coincide with the anticipated timetable following the surgery.

Mavs Notes: Powell, Barea, Dirk, Porzingis

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell enjoyed a career year in 2018/19, establishing new career-highs in PPG (10.6) and FG% (.597) to go along with 5.3 RPG in a part-time role. Now, he’ll have to make a decision on a $10.26MM player option for 2019/20.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), Powell said, “I definitely want to be here.” However, he didn’t offer specifics on whether that meant picking up his player option or opting out and negotiating a new deal with Dallas. Even exercising his option and then working out a contract extension could be a possibility.

For their part, the Mavericks intend to do all they can to make sure Powell sticks with the team “for years to come,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said on Thursday (Twitter link via Townsend). According to Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link), owner Mark Cuban went a step further, suggesting during a radio appearance that the club plans to extend Powell for three seasons.

Nothing’s official yet, so while we wait to see what sort of agreement Powell and the Mavs might reach, let’s round up a few more items out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea continues to recover from a significant Achilles injury, but it sounds like the free-agent-to-be expects to be back with the Mavericks, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays (via Twitter). “I know what they want. They know what I want,” Barea said. “We’ll figure it out.”
  • Discussing his decision to retire earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki said he just recently finalized his decision, adding that his ongoing foot issues helped cement his decision. “It just doesn’t make any sense to do that for one more season,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Saad Yousuf of The Athletic, meanwhile, offers an entertaining oral history of Nowitzki’s final home game in Dallas.
  • Could Nowitzki become involved in the Mavericks’ ownership group during his retirement? Both he and Mark Cuban appear to be open to the idea, as Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com writes.
  • Kristaps Porzingis will be the Mavericks’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason, Donnie Nelson said on Thursday. Head coach Rick Carlisle intends to visit Latvia and Slovenia this summer to see Porzingis and Luka Doncic (Twitter links via Townsend).

Stein’s Latest: Lakers, GM Openings, Sixers

Marc Stein of the New York Times released his latest newsletter today (subscribe here) and it’s filled with a handful of nuggets on coaching and front office movement. We passed along the latest on the Timberwolves’ management earlier today. Here’s the rest of the highlights from Stein’s latest newsletter:

  • The Lakers have interest in nabbing Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle to the same position, Stein writes. Los Angeles is widely expected to let Luke Walton go at the end of the season.
  • Tyronn Lue is believed to be a top candidate for the Lakers‘ job, Stein hears from coaches within the league, citing Lue’s “presumed acceptance” from LeBron James. Lue coached James for two-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland, helping to bring the franchise its lone NBA championship.
  • Mike Zarren of the Celtics and Bucks executive Milt Newton are two names to watch out for with GM positions opening up, Stein hears. Zarren figures to be considered by the Pelicans (currently being run by interim GM Danny Ferry), and could also be a candidate for the Wizards, should owner Ted Leonsis decided to dismiss longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld.
  • The Sixers would be smart to keep the core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris together if they win the Eastern Conference, though Stein believes the chatter to break them up will intensify if they fail to reach that goal. Both Butler and Harris will be free agents this summer.

Mavs Gave Rick Carlisle Extension, Raise Before Season

The Mavericks “quietly” reworked Rick Carlisle‘s contract with the team before the 2018/19 season, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who reports (via Twitter) that Carlisle received an extension and a raise at that time.

Carlisle had already been on a five-year contract that was projected to run through the 2021/22 season, but the Mavs extended that deal by one year, keeping him under team control through ’22/23, league sources tell Stein. While the amount of Carlisle’s salary increase was undisclosed, Stein notes that Carlisle’s five-year deal had initially been worth $35MM.

The head coach in Dallas since 2008, Carlisle led the franchise to its first-ever NBA championship in 2011 and has compiled a 464-407 regular season record during his time with the Mavericks.

The last few years have been rough for Carlisle and the Mavs, as the team won just 33 games in 2016/17 and 24 last season. Dallas (27-40) will finish below .500 again this year, but things are trending in the right direction with the additions of promising young prospects Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and Mavs management and ownership still has total confidence in Carlisle, as his latest deal indicates.

Carlisle is currently the third-longest-tenured head coach in the NBA, trailing only Gregg Popovich (Spurs) and Erik Spoelstra (Heat).

Southwest Notes: Anthony, Smith Jr., Matthews, Davis

The Rockets will improve their luxury tax situation if the proposed trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Bulls goes through, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Houston started the day with a projected luxury tax bill of $13.9MM but will see that number drop to $12.4MM if the trade becomes official. It will also create a $1.5MM trade exception and open up a roster spot. Big man Kenneth Faried, signed earlier in the day, will earn $917,271 with the Rockets incurring a $683,661 cap hit.

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Dennis Smith Jr.’s decision to rejoin Mavericks on Tuesday was mostly about damage control and protecting his future value, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Smith realized after talking to coach Rick Carlisle it was in his best interests to return, rather than the club making up excuses about him being ill, MacMahon said. It’s unlikely that the Mavs will find a palatable deal before the deadline but those talks can be revisited and new suitors could emerge during the offseason if he finishes strong, MacMahon adds (Twitter links).
  • Wesley Matthews has heard the trade chatter about getting thrown into a potential deal involving Smith but he’s handling it professionally, as he explained to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. Matthews has an expiring $18.6MM contract and the Mavs are reportedly searching for deals with his contract as bait. “I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me,” Matthews said. “No one’s supposed to feel sorry for me. I didn’t get into this business with people feeling sorry for me. No one felt sorry for me when I wasn’t drafted. No one felt sorry for me when I tore my Achilles. … There’s bigger things than trade rumors and hater fans and all that [expletive]. That’s never going to affect me.”
  • Anthony Davis‘ finger injury is a body blow to an already scuffling franchise, Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate writes. The Pelicans face a tough stretch of games heading into the trade deadline despite beating Memphis by 20 points on Monday. They remain below the .500 mark and are in danger of falling completely out of the playoff picture with Davis expected to miss 1-2 weeks with a left finger sprain.

Dennis Smith Jr. To Return To Mavericks

Amidst reports of tension in the Mavericks‘ locker room between head coach Rick Carlisle and Dennis Smith Jr. – which led to reports that Smith was being put on the trading block – it appears that tension has subsided.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium is reporting (via Twitter) that Carlisle and Smith spoke on the phone and were able to have productive conversations. Smith will, in turn, report back to the team on Tuesday. Charania also tweeted that Carlisle apologized to Smith and expressed his remorse over the situation.

The Mavericks play the Clippers on Tuesday and the plan is for Smith to play in that game, which will be his first game since January 7.

For the season, Smith is averaging 12.6 points and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 37.5% on 3-pointers, a significant improvement from last season. While the Mavericks may continue to look for possible trades involving Smith, it appears tensions have calmed down for now.

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Conley, White

In what is a surprise to many, the Mavericks are the current kings of Texas, having jumped out to a strong 13-11 start. As Brad Townsend writes for SportsDay Dallas, the additions of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan have helped boost the Mavericks from the lottery to the playoff picture.

Doncic has been sensational as a rookie, averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while hitting several clutch shots down the stretch of games. Jordan has improved the Mavericks’ rebounding and has provided an interior presence that the team has lacked in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ bench has been very successful, as J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell have played well in their specified roles. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks appear to be a very competitive team this season that has a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • Mike Conley is struggling with a dislocated finger, which hampered his play against the Lakers last week. As David Cobb reveals for Commercial Appeal, Conley had trouble holding the ball, which obviously isn’t a good thing for the Grizzlies‘ leading guard. Conley believes the swelling and discomfort will improve in the coming days.
  • Derrick White continues to work on regaining his confidence and comfort after coming back from injury earlier this season. Jabari Young of The Athletic details the support that White has received from the Spurs‘ coaching staff and some of his teammates as he looks to make his mark in the Spurs’ depleted backcourt.
  • A recent Southwest notes post detailed Dirk Nowitzki‘s upcoming return to action, how the addition of Joakim Noah impacts other bigs on the Grizzlies roster and much more.

Western Notes: Korver, Nowitzki, Rockets, Rose

Shooting guard Kyle Korver knew the Cavaliers’ front office might deal him early in the season and he listed the Jazz as one of his preferred destinations, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Korver was traded for Alec Burks and two future second-round picks. “It feels like a good fit,” Korver told Woodyard. Korver is in his second stint with Utah, having played there from 2007-10. He has averaged 8.5 PPG in 19.5 MPG in his first two games since the deal.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Dirk Nowitzki participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of practice on Monday as he nears his return to action, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. The longtime Mavericks power forward has not played this season due to a left ankle injury. Dallas is hopeful he can make his season debut sometime this month. “He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys,” coach Rick Carlisle told Sefko. “Sprinting, moving and all that. It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players. But you got to do what you can do.”
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni believes improved health will lead to better defense, as he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets currently rank 26th in that department. Nene and Chris (Paul) coming back, first of all, that’s two of the better defenders in the league, so that helps,” D’Antoni said. “That’s going to take minutes off Clint (Capela) and P.J. (Tucker). So they’ll be better defensively because they won’t be as tired. … We know we need to be in the top 10 to be a real contender.”
  • D’Antoni has high praise for the Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose, who has reinvented himself as a shooting guard, Feigen writes in a separate story. Rose is averaging 19.3 PPG despite starting just five of 21 games. “Accepting new roles is tough. Some guys can do it. Some guys just can’t do it,” D’Antoni said. “They can try to shoot threes all they want. When they can do it, for the team, obviously, it’s beneficial. The league has changed. If you want to be effective, you have to change sometimes.”