Rick Carlisle

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Carlisle, Matthews, Tanking

Injuries have limited Nerlens Noel to just 24 games and six starts this season, leaving his impending unrestricted free agency as a major question mark. The former sixth overall pick will be able to sign with any team this upcoming offseason and he intends to approach the process in the best shape of his life, Isaac Harris of NBA.com writes.

“Once this summer ends I’ll be working harder than I’ve ever worked,” Noel said. “Just growing in this league and being older. Getting the priorities right and evolving. My mindset has only grown stronger in what I really want in life and want from this game. Right when the season ends I will strictly be working on my game and staying to myself and just letting things play out.”

Noel is still just 23 years old and his status as a former lottery pick with upside on defense and rebounding will likely attract a fair amount of suitors. Noel said he is open to a reunion with the Mavericks but will enter the summer with an “open mind” when it comes to signing his next deal.

Check out more Mavericks notes below:

  • The Mavericks’ recent win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden was proof that head coach Rick Carlisle is still taking his job seriously, despite the team’s poor record, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Carlisle is owed a sizeable $7MM annual salary and has job security through 2022 but he does not want to concede in any way. “Competing just takes on a different form in our situation,” Carlisle said. “I have chosen to be here. I have a long deal. I knew we were probably going to hit a lower point. It’s just part of the cycle of the NBA.”
  • With Wesley Matthews out for the remainder of the season with a stress fracture, several Mavericks players stand to see increased minutes. Sefko writes that players such as Dorian Finney-Smith, Doug McDermott, and Jalen Jones will likely see the most increased minutes.
  • After the Mavericks’ win over the Knicks, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki addressed the topic of tanking in the NBA. Nowitzki said it’s clear which teams are purposely trying to lose and which ones are trying to win despite their record. “We keep playing hard,” Nowitzki said, per Sefko. “There obviously are some teams that are going for some losses now. We’re one of the teams that still wants to win and see where we end up in the draft.”

Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes Weigh In On Tanking

The Mavericks snapped their four-game losing streak on Monday, picking up their first win since owner Mark Cuban was fined $600K by the NBA for his comments about losing being in the team’s best interest. Following Dallas’ win over Indiana on Monday, veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes weighed in on the subject of tanking, disputing Cuban’s idea that a series of late-season losses are best the franchise.

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]

“You don’t really want a culture here that’s just giving up and quitting and not playing hard,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future. … I think it’s important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard. You play your minutes hard. That’s the only way to get better. That’s the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we’ll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win.”

As MacMahon details, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle – who spoke before the All-Star break about focusing on “player development” over the season’s final two months – has reversed course to some extent in the Mavs’ last couple games. Carlisle got his veterans plenty of playing time, particularly in the fourth quarter, during Saturday’s loss to the Jazz and Monday’s win over the Pacers.

Carlisle’s approach is endorsed by Barnes, who acknowledged that the tanking issue is one that’s hard to avoid, but suggested that the team should still be doing what it can to win games. Like Nowitzki, Barnes said that the act of tanking can lead to bad habits that become hard to shake.

“Any time you don’t play to win or you’re just kind of going through the motions, that can become contagious,” Barnes told MacMahon. “That can become a habit, and that can become your culture. ‘Oh, it’s OK for us to do this. Oh, it’s OK for us to not give full effort.’ Then next season rolls around, and you can’t flip that switch. It’s still that malaise that you had from the year before.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Weber, Green

While it seems Kawhi Leonard may have partially torn his shoulder, the Spurs don’t seem particularly concerned about the injury. Immediately after mentioning the tear to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, head coach Gregg Popovich said that the forward could potentially return before the end of the team’s three-game road trip.

According to ESPN’s Michael Wright, Leonard has not even been formally ruled out for Thursday’s game.

Sidelined until mid-December with a quad injury, Leonard will now miss time just as he began to see an increased work load. Since the Spurs’ Boxing Day contest, Leonard had played four of five games, averaging 28.2 minutes and 21.3 points per game.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavs are one team that could potentially benefit from “competitively tanking” but doing so may be easier said than done, Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News implies. The scribe says that Rick Carlisle isn’t a great coach for tanking and adds that Dennis Smith Jr. may have other plans following a losing year at N.C. State.
  • The Rockets may have a looming decision to make with regard to Briante Weber, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Because of the 45-day limit on his two-way contract Houston may need to convert his deal into a standard one if they plan to keep featuring him while James Harden recovers from an injury.
  • Houston native and recent Rockets addition Gerald Green has made an impact in his brief time with the franchise, averaging 19.8 points per game off the bench in his last five games. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes there wasn’t much of a market for his services prior to his signing. “No team wanted me, man. No team wanted me. No team wanted me,” Green said. “No overseas team. Not even a D-League team. So this is the only team that took a chance on me. For me, I’m just so overwhelmed and excited about the opportunity.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Noel, Carlisle, Paul

Anthony Davis will undergo further examination on his groin injury when the Pelicans return to New Orleans tomorrow, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He will be held out of tonight’s game in Portland.

Davis suffered the injury Friday night in Utah, collapsing under the basket while going after a rebound. He had to be helped off the court and later used crutches as he left the locker room. He was still on crutches as he arrived at the Moda Center tonight, according to Mike Richman of The Oregonian (Twitter link).

Davis has been among the league’s top young stars since being taken with the first pick in the 2012 draft, but durability has been a persistent problem. He appeared in 75 games last season, which marked the first time he was able to play in more than 70.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Nerlens Noel didn’t get off the bench for the fourth straight game today, but he got some attention in the media dining area, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Noel stopped in for a hot dog at lunchtime, which is an unusual act for a player in uniform. He explained that he got hungry during the afternoon game and needed “fuel” in case he was called on in the second half. Whether it was an innocent gesture or an act of protest, it’s clear that Noel is unhappy being stuck on the bench. “I’m doing everything I need to, staying in shape, continuing to work on my game and working on the little things,” Noel said. “It’s frustrating at times. But I think I got laser focus right now for what I want to do and where I want to be. I’m anxious to play. When that comes, it comes.” But when asked if he expects that to happen in Dallas, he replied, “I honestly have no idea.”
  • Today’s win was number 700 for Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, Sefko notes in a separate story, which underscores how long he has been with the organization. He spent two seasons as head coach in Detroit and four years in Indiana before coming to Dallas at the start of 2008/09. “It means I’ve been very fortunate to have three great owners and a lot of great players,” Carlisle said. “I’ve never been one to count that kind of stuff. As time goes on, I count those things even less.”
  • Rockets guard Chris Paul and forward Luc Mbah a Moute will make their first trip back to Staples Center tomorrow since leaving the Clippers over the offseason, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Both say their emotions will be lessened because they are facing the Lakers instead of their former team.

Mavs Notes: Smith, Antetokounmpo, Centers, Curry

Although they enjoyed a 32-point win over the Bucks on Saturday, the Mavericks have struggled to find their rhythm early on this season, going 3-14 through their first 17 games and finding themselves in last place in the Western Conference.

Despite the rough start, however, head coach Rick Carlisle is not going to let his star rookie Dennis Smith Jr. pick up any losing habits. According to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Carlisle and Smith spend a lot of time together, one-on-one, going over film, both before and after games.

“He’s an important part of our team,” Carlisle said. “It’s gotten to the point where our winning is largely dependent on him playing well, which is a great compliment to him and what he’s been able to establish.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Saturday was a bittersweet night for the Mavericks. While they beat the Bucks handily, they were also reminded of what they missed out on after passing on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. As Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News highlights, it was owner Mark Cuban who ultimately made the decision not to select Antetokounmpo.
  • According to Carlisle, Seth Curry is not expected to be back on the court this week, tweets Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. There is no timetable for Curry’s return.
  • Despite having “a forklift full of centers,” the Mavericks are aware that the position is somewhat of a roulette wheel at the moment, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News“It’s a bit of a by-committee position,” Carlisle said. “The guys got to roll with it and understand the things they do may only fit in certain stretches.”

Mavericks Exploring Upgrade Opportunities

The Mavericks entered the day with the worst record in the league and the franchise is looking to make improvements. Coach Rick Carlisle alluded to the team’s unbalanced roster being a primary reason for the poor start and he indicated that the team is in the market for anybody who can help them, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News relays in a series of tweets.

“It’s almost like we went to Costco and got a forklift full of centers. Carlisle said.

Dallas has five centers on the roster, including Nerlens Noel, who has seen just seven minutes of action over his last three games. Dirk Nowitzki playing the majority of his minutes at the five this season only compounds the issues and it’s easy to envision the team making a move.

The Mavs are closely monitoring the G League and the waiver wire, though the combination of lackluster available options and a full roster may delay any movement. Sefko notes that the team may have to wait on bringing in significant talent until December 15 —the date when many offseason signees become eligible to be included in deals.

Western Rumors: Paul, Ball, Nurkic, Noel

Chris Paul is ramping up his workouts and could return to action on Thursday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. The longtime All-Star point guard has been out since suffering a bruised left knee in the Rockets’ opener. “We’ll see how he feels Tuesday and Wednesday,” coach Mike D’Antoni told Feigen. “That [playing Thursday] is what we’re shooting for.”

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball is shooting 31.4% but team president Magic Johnson said during a radio interview the coaching staff won’t alter his shooting stroke. Johnson made the comment during an interview on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show, which was relayed by USAToday’s Andrew Joseph. “Let him shoot the way he’s been shooting and hopefully they’ll go in. And so, we’re not gonna mess with it,” Johnson said. “We’re gonna let him shoot and play his game. If after the season, and he’s not shooting well, then we’ll sit down with him and say, ‘Hey, let’s maybe look at different way or let’s try to improve the way you are shooting.'”
  • Jusuf Nurkic isn’t brooding over his lack of crunch-time minutes in recent games, Mike Richman of The Oregonian reports. Coach Terry Stotts has gone with the backup Ed Davis in the fourth quarter the last two games but the starting Trail Blazers center says he’s not upset. “No drama, man,”  Nurkic told Richman. “It’s all about the [next] game.”
  • Nerlens Noel‘s lack of playing time doesn’t mean there’s a rift between him and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Noel has played just eight minutes over the last three games but he can work his way back in the rotation by playing hard-nosed basketball, Sefko continues. Noel will get a chance to rejoin the rotation in the near future, Sefko predicts.
  • Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler scored 25 points against the Suns on Saturday, and he vows to remain a bigger part of the offense, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Butler had scored 16 points or less in seven of his 10 previous games with his new team.  “I do think I have to start scoring the ball a lot more,” Butler told Zgoda. “I think I’ve come too far to be as passive as I am right now. I’m always going to pass the ball to the open man, but if I feel like I can get my shots off and think I can make it, I’m going to take each and every one of those.”

Southwest Notes: Noel, Black, Grizzlies

Even if Dallas honors its perceived obligation to Dirk Nowitzki and continues to feature him at the five, there are plenty of minutes available to Nerlens Noel behind him. One of the problems, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes, is that the Mavs have one of the most imbalanced rosters in the NBA with a whopping seven centers on the payroll.

While Noel is, on paper, the best option to slot in behind Nowitzki, he hasn’t earned the trust of head coach Rick Carlisle. Suddenly, the 23-year-old long-term Mavs building block that was allegedly offered a four-year, $70MM contract in the summer is watching Salah Mejri take his minutes.

Tjarks spoke with Carlisle about Noel, gaining insight into why the Mavs haven’t made more of an effort to develop the big man in his first full season with the franchise. Noel’s defensive inefficiencies and struggles to fill the exact role requested of him have contributed to the current standstill.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • In another article about Nerlens Noel‘s role with the Mavs, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes that the big man isn’t on a specifically short leash. “There’s no doghouse here,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “There just isn’t. It’s pretty simple. You compete and if you earn minutes, you get minutes. You got to compete. And our guys have to have an edge. No one’s given anything. That’s how we have to do things. The situation is we have a lot of tough opponents, record’s not good right now. Competing is what it’s all about.
  • The Rockets haven’t found a way to incorporate Tarik Black into their regular rotation. Until they do, the productive reserve will need to continue to prepare, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “There’s nothing like basketball rhythm. I have to get back on the court. As far as staying prepared, every day I come in here and prepare like I am playing. I do my same routine and after the game, if I don’t play, do extra work,” Black said.
  • The Grizzlies have drawn from last year to effectively navigate through a plague of injuries, Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “We had our moments last year when we were down to nine guys. So, you have to figure out how to use them and put them in a position to succeed,” head coach David Fizdale said.

Rick Carlisle Talks Mavericks, Draft Process

Coach Rick Carlisle recently appeared on ESPN Dallas’ Dennis and Cowlishaw radio show (h/t The Dallas Morning News) to discuss the Mavericks‘ offseason and the pre-draft process. Here are some highlights from the discussion:

  • Dallas is currently slotted with the ninth pick, though the franchise has a 6.1% chance at landing a top-three pick in the draft, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details. While Carlisle would certainly like to move up, he believes you can get a productive player anywhere within the top 10.  “I’ve been looking at it for about 10 days now,” Carlisle said. “It’s deep. It’s 13 or 14 deep with guys that are going to legitimately help teams; not only teams that are bad but teams that are good. It’s a good year to be in the top-10. We’ll take advantage of it. There’s a lot of work to do between now and draft night.”
  • The Mavericks don’t usually pick this high in the draft and Carlisle admits that it puts added pressure on the organization getting the selection right. “This is the kind of pressure you want, an opportunity,” the coach said. “And we know it’s big. We haven’t been even in the mid-first round very much.”
  • Many people within the front office will have input on who the team selects, but ultimately, it’ll be the owner the makes the final call, Carlisle explains. “Even if some guys are hired in GM positions and they say, ‘I have decision-making power in this job,’ not really. You’re always running it by your owner. And so ultimately Mark [Cuban] makes the final call and we’ll make a recommendation,” Carlisle said.
  • Carlisle added that he’s only involved in the draft process to inform the front office on what the team’s needs since he has the best idea of what they already have.
  • He added that the Mavericks won’t draft for need: “We gotta take the best player available.”
  • Be sure to check out the whole interview via The Dallas Morning News. It’s worth a read.

Mavericks Notes: Ferrell, Carlisle, Lottery

Yogi Ferrell is confident that he can be the Mavericks‘ starting point guard, though he’s willing to play whatever role is best for the team, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

“I feel like, yeah, I am a starting point guard, and I’m going to play whatever role coach decides to put me in,” Ferrell said. “I’m definitely just blessed to be here and glad to be here. I definitely want to be here for a very long time.”

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Coach Rick Carlisle believes Ferrell has earned a place in the league, but he added that it’s unfair to project what kind of role the Indiana product will play going forward, Sefko adds in the same piece. “I do like Yogi in our franchise, on our roster,” Carlisle said. “He certainly has proven that he can be a rotation player in this league. We didn’t have a good record. At this point in time, projecting exactly where he’s going to be is not really fair. I love him as a competitor. He’s grown each and every day, each and every game. I’m just really thrilled we have him here.”
  • Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News can envision the Mavericks contending for the eighth seed next season, but he’s bearish on the team’s chances of rising any higher in the standings. The scribe adds that if unless Dallas moves up in the lottery, the team is a season or two away from 50 wins. Mark Cuban’s franchise has a 1.7% at the No. 1 overall selection and a 6.1% chance at a top-3 pick, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details.