The Dallas Mavericks will host free agent Jameer Nelson on a recruiting visit Thursday, as part of ongoing negotiations with the former Orlando Magic point guard, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks are bringing Nelson to town in hopes of finally closing a deal with him, as Dallas continues to pursue a veteran point guard to help fill the void created by Jose Calderon's exit in June.
The Mavericks had to part with Calderon to reacquire center Tyson Chandler in a trade with the New York Knicks. Since then, they have been chasing Nelson and fellow veteran Mo Williams to give coach Rick Carlisle another trusted ballhandler.
Longtime Maverick Devin Harris is the projected starter at the point, after he landed a new, four-year deal worth more than $16 million this month. Newly acquired point guard Raymond Felton and second-year point guard Gal Mekel are also on Dallas' roster, but the Mavericks have made the signing of another point guard their priority, if they are to spend the $2.7 million room exception they still have at their disposal.
Dutt said they aren't certain yet about the severity of the injury or how long Lewis will be sidelined.
The Mavs signed Lewis, 34, a 16-year veteran, to back up Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. The two-time All-Star averaged 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game for the Miami Heat last season, primarily coming off the bench.
Yahoo! Sports earlier reported that Lewis needed surgery.
“We’re talking to a couple of players, but it’s one of those things that if we don’t get the right player, we’ll just hold it so that during the season when a player gets cut, we’ll have that opportunity to offer,” Cuban said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Fitzsimmons and Friedo.”
There has been mutual interest between the Mavs and guard Mo Williams throughout the free-agency period. However, Williams has offers for more than the $2.7 million salary the Mavs can offer, sources said.
A source also told ESPNDallas.com recently that Williams wasn’t the Mavs’ top target for their $2.7 million exception, declining to elaborate on the player who is a higher priority. (Jameer Nelson?)
If the Mavs opt not to use the exception this summer, they’d be positioned to outbid many teams for veteran players who receive midseason buyouts. That is how the Mavs acquired swingman Corey Brewer during the 2011 title season.
It’s a legitimate question, just like it was four years ago. The Mavs hope the evidence to the contrary is just as conclusive as it was during Chandler’s first stint in Dallas.
During his last season in New York, Chandler didn’t really resemble the center who was such a critical piece to the 2011 Mavs’ championship puzzle, much less the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year or 2013 All-Star. His production in an injury-plagued season (averages of 8.7 points and 9.6 rebounds in only 55 games) was his worst since his lone season in Charlotte, just before the Mavs acquired Chandler in a salary-dump deal.
Yet Chandler, who turns 32 in October, has no doubt he can be the big man Mavs fans remember from four seasons ago. He’s physically healthy -- and hopes to stay that way with the help of the Mavs’ outstanding medical staff -- and mentally rejuvenated after the dysfunctional Knicks traded him back to Dallas.
“I think I can be better.” Chandler said during his conference call with Dallas reporters last month. “I finished the season healthy, so this summer I was able to start earlier. I took a couple of weeks off and then I already started getting back in the gym and improving things. I want to get back to thinking and moving the way I moved. I started correcting things mentally and physically. I was already looking forward to this summer because I felt like there was so many things I could improve on.
“Then once I started in the gym, I’ve already seen in the six weeks or two months I’ve been working out so much improvement already that I’m truly excited. When this happened and I know I’m putting myself in a situation again to really have a shot at making a run, it just gives me more to work on and more excitement and more drive.”
LAS VEGAS -- With 10 days in the desert now complete, here are some passing thoughts on players of intrigue who made noise one way or another for the Dallas Mavericks in Las Vegas during summer-league play.
The 5-foot-8 Japanese guard is a perfect fit for the Texas Legends, Dallas' NBA Development League affiliate. The diminutive prospect certainly has game, but is clearly limited due to his small frame. He will have to fight an uphill battle, much like former Dallas point guard J.J. Barea did, if he wants any shot at making an NBA roster. Togashi made it clear after the Vegas finale that he will not play in Japan and hopes to be selected in the D-League draft. Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson is a co-owner of the Legends, so it's a relatively safe bet to assume that Togashi lands in Frisco, Texas.
The high-flying standout earned himself a non-guaranteed, one-year contract with the Mavs over the weekend after separating himself from the pack with his athletic play on both ends of the floor. In a sense, his athleticism is reminiscent of forward Shawn Marion; the comparison is particularly apt on offense in that a coach won't have to draw up plays for either forward. On the other end, Griffin is a solid help-side defender, closing up real estate to the opposition in a hurry. Griffin impressed the cast in Las Vegas; he'll have to do the same with the likes of owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle if he wants to make the 15-man roster. If he doesn't, he'll join the Texas Legends. Don't be surprised if forward Ivan Johnson also earns an invite to training camp.
Sources told ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon that the Mavs are expected to re-sign James. Nelson said he believes James' play in Vegas has garnered interest around the league and that the Mavs are at the top of the list. James did not play in the team's final game in Vegas, and Nelson was quick to note that it wasn't because the team had reached an agreement with the center. Rather, Nelson said, it was an opportunity for James to get a "well-deserved" break for his summer-league efforts. Assuming the sides reach a mutually beneficial deal, James should return to fill out the back end of the roster.
Ledo's summer-league performance had plenty of highs and lows. The swingman, 21, ended his run with an impressive all-around performance in the Mavs' Vegas finale, scoring 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting and adding a game-high nine assists. (The rest of the players on both teams combined for only 11 assists.) Ledo is still probably another season away from being a rotational player at the NBA level, but the coaching staff was pleased with his effort in Las Vegas. He will just need to continue trending in the right direction.
After dealing with a knee surgery and subsequent setback to his calf late last season, Mekel said his conditioning was much better by the end of his Vegas stint. His goal will be to continue adapting to the speed of the NBA game and working on his shooting mechanics. Mekel left the team over the weekend to be with his family in his native Israel. While there, he will join the Israeli national team, which has begun its training camp and will start international play in August. Mekel plans to stay there until early September, then return to Dallas to prepare for training camp.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder will replace DeJuan Blair as the banging backup. The Mavs hope Smith can create some constructive chaos -- much as Blair did -- on the defensive end. Smith will have to prove that his knees are healthy and able to endure the beating of an 82-game season. If he's able to make it through, Dallas might have an intriguing big-man combination.
Richard Jefferson/Rashard Lewis
For the league minimum, you could certainly do a lot worse than acquiring both Jefferson and Lewis. Both are expected to provide perimeter shooting and bench depth for Dallas. The departures of Vince Carter, Blair and Wayne Ellington took a bite out of said depth, a Mavericks' strength in recent seasons. Based on Carlisle's reserve options going forward, there very well could be stretches of games in which either Jefferson or Lewis don't see time on the floor.
The Mavs will hope that Harris doesn't suffer an injury setback like he did last summer, when he lost half of the regular season. Dallas will need Harris ready to go, because the team is still dealing with relative instability at the point-guard position. Given his chemistry with Brandan Wright, it's very possible that Harris will come off the bench, leaving Raymond Felton as the starting point guard.
The Mavs were able to strike a deal with Parsons as the summer league was in its opening stages. Making his first address to the Dallas media last week, it's quite apparent that the forward has a chip on his shoulder after coming over from the Houston Rockets. It will be quite interesting to see how Carlisle decides to use the versatile Parsons. It's safe to assume that Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki will create a rather formidable two-man game. At 25, one must wonder whether, assuming he continues to mature and develop as a player, Parsons could become the new face of the Mavericks. Time will tell.
Dallas' star continued to show that he is one of a kind by agreeing to a deal that was lower than expected -- three years, $25 million -- to remain in Dallas. The 36-year-old turned down max offers from the Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers to show how committed he is to the only NBA organization for which he has played.
LAS VEGAS -- You don’t always see players in their mid-30s running, jumping and diving around the basketball floor during the Las Vegas Summer League. Former Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Howard, 34, is an exception to the rule. After multiple ACL surgeries, Howard is not giving up on the dream.
"It's just hard work, consistent prayer," Howard said on what has allowed him to keep going. "There's a lot of trainers who have been pushing me. I've still got the motor, and I want to keep playing."
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into the league. While those players have had sustained success, the No. 29 pick of that draft has gone down a different path. He spent his first six and a half season with Dallas, before being traded around the league multiple times.
Howard is a former NBA All-Star, but the surgeries and inconsistent play of recent seasons left him the Austin Toros last season in the D-League. Looking to impress teams into giving him a shot, Howard joined the New Orleans Pelicans' summer league squad.
The Pelicans don’t have a lot of money to spend and could use help off the bench at the small forward position. Theoretically, Howard fits their need, if he can still show that the can play at the NBA level and, more importantly, stay healthy.
Howard looked impressive in his first game of the summer league as he scored 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. His game hit a wall of sorts as he scored just six points in the remaining two games he played during the summer league.
The veteran forward is hoping the Hornets will give him a shot. If not, he'll keep trying to find a team that will get him back into the league. If that door shuts, Howard intends to pursue another avenue to stay in the game.
"I've never been a quitter. I want to try to snowball my career into coaching or scouting," Howard explained. "I have a good feel on watching guys and how they play. Even if I don't make a team, maybe someone will offer me a job in that area because I've been around, I know the game."
Howard still lives in Dallas and runs his annual basketball camps in the area. He still keeps in communication with some of the people in the organization and knows some of the newer players they have brought in. Forward Dirk Nowitzki is still someone Howard interacts with. Howard couldn't be any happier to see that his former teammate is in a great place in life, on and off the floor.
"Just to see my guy happy, to see him get a ring, I was happy for him," Howard said. "When I came in as a rookie, I watched his work ethic, and he's one of the guys who had a big impact on my career."
Howard is hoping that his motor and drive will connect to general managers around the league and he can earn one more shot in the league. If he gets it, it's likely his final one.
"It won't affect us at all," Howard said Friday of Parsons signing a three-year, $45-million deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
Parsons was a three-year starter that complemented Howard and guard James Harden.
"We have myself and James," Howard said. "We have the best center and the best two guard in the game on the same team. It's on us."
Howard, who spoke at his father's 10th annual Howard/Howard basketball camp in Atlanta, said he wishes his former teammate well with the Mavericks. But Howard said he and Harden will be able to carry the load without the 25-year-old Parsons, who had career highs with 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and four assists for the Rockets last season.
How it happened: Fresh off signing a non-guaranteed, one-year deal with the Mavs, high-flying forward Eric Griffin delivered a 20-point performance, finishing 9-of-13 from the field and adding three rebounds and three blocks. Griffin ends his run in Vegas as one of the more impressive and athletic players to play in the desert.
Griffin has essentially earned himself an invite to Dallas' training camp. If he does not make the Dallas roster, Griffin’s D-League rights will be owned by the Texas Legends, the Mavs' D-League affiliate.
Yuki Togashi played more minutes at point guard with Gal Mekel sitting out the final game and departing for Israel. The 5-foot-8 Japanese guard showed flashes of his aggressive game as he attacked the lane within the flow of the team's offense. Togashi could be a prospect for the Texas Legends.
The Suns were led by forward Elias Harris and second-year guard Archie Goodwin, as they combined to score 28 points.
What it means: The Mavs end the summer league on a high note. The team will depart Saturday morning. Most of them will go on their own way after that, with some preparing for Mavs training camp early in the fall.
Mavs player of the game: After a rough performance in their one-point loss to the New Orleans Hornets, swingman Ricky Ledo bounced back with an impressive all-around performance. Ledo scored only nine points on 2-of-16 shooting in the team's loss to the Hornets, but responded friday with a 15-point performance on 6-of-13 shooting.
Showing his playmaking skills, Ledo added a game-high nine assists. The rest of the players on both teams combined for only 11 assists.
Stat of the day: Dallas struggled to shoot with consistency and turned the ball over in their summer league losses. But in their victory over the Suns, the Mavs shot 49.3 percent from the field and committed only 13 turnovers.
Dirk's deal: When Dirk Nowitzki said he'd re-sign with the Mavs early in free agency, sources would only say that Nowitzki had accepted a three-year deal similar in structure to the last contract signed by San Antonio's Tim Duncan, which was a three-year, $30 million deal. After the dust settled in regards to the restricted free-agency window with Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki's three-year deal ended up being for $25 million.
"We’re just blessed. Dirk is a better human being than he is a basketball player," Nelson said. "He’s a very special man. It’s a sign that he’s willing to sacrifice anything, playing time, financial or whatever, to make us a better team and put us in a position to championship. You can count those kind of guys on one hand."
Nowitzki consented to such a steep pay reduction to give his team the necessary flexibility to strengthen the supporting cast around him.
Harris' return: Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Devin Harris would re-resign with the Mavs and that the four-year deal is worth $16.55 million, with the fourth season partially guaranteed. The guaranteed figure for the fourth year is $1.3 million. Nelson commented that the veteran point guard followed the lead of Dallas' face of the franchise.
"Devin is another guy that sacrificed for the betterment of the team. He was flexible and patient," Nelson said. "We really appreciate that because every penny counts in free agency.The difference of having a little flexibility here and there can mean the difference of you getting a significant player or not."
Dallas now has a trio of point guards as Harris joins Raymond Felton and Gal Mekel. The Mavs have shown over the years that they will often bring some of their best players off of the bench. That likely leaves a touch of doubt in regards who will actually be the starting point guard once the season begins.
Summer league standout: Small forward Eric Griffin signed a non-guaranteed, one-year contract Friday.
"Griffin is one of the real surprises of the summer league," Nelson said. "Here’s a guy that did it the old fashion way, playing overseas. He got cut a couple of times, but he didn’t lose his focus and he’s put himself in a great position.
"I think he’s a guy that, with time, coaching and development, can be a special small forward that might be able to swing to a power forward."
Prior to their final game Friday, the 6-foot-8 high-flying forward averaged 9.8 points in 19.3 minutes during four games with the Mavs’ team in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Mavs' flexibility: The Mavs still have their $2.7 million cap-room exception at their disposal. While there's still a need for perimeter shooting, particularly from the guard position, Nelson said that they will keep all of their options open.
"Nothing new there (to report)," Nelson said. "We’ve got a number of conversations going. Stay tuned."
They will keep their options open, including the idea of leaving an open roster spot and not using their exception.
"We like that. Philosophically, we like leaving roster spots open," Nelson explained. "If there’s something really good, we’ll pull the trigger. If not, we’ll stay flexible."
"It's been a long time coming, but it's a blessing at the same time," Griffin said. "I'm just happy to be part of a team that wants me."
The 6-foot-8, 194-pound Griffin averaged 9.8 points in 19.3 minutes during four games with the Mavs’ team in the Las Vegas Summer League. He had several highlight-worthy slam dunks during the summer league.
Griffin has played professionally in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Italy in addition to spending the 2013 preseason with the Miami Heat. If he does not make the Dallas roster, Griffin’s D-League rights will be owned by the Mavs affiliate Texas Legends.
"It's definitely not over," Griffin said of his dream of playing in the NBA. "I've got to prove myself to the team and the organization."
The Mavs still have their $2.7 million cap-room exception and a minimum-salary slot available to fill out their roster.
Bryan Gutierrez contributed to this report.
The popular belief is that the two major moves the Mavs made this summer -- the trade for center Tyson Chandler and signing of small forward Chandler Parsons in restricted free agency -- could push Dallas from fighting for an eighth seed to the middle of the West playoff pack.
Well, according to a loose application of one advanced statistic, the Mavs have actually taken a significant step back with their summer remodeling. The total win shares from last season’s Dallas roster equaled 48.3, just a fraction of a win shy of their actual total of 49. Last season’s total win shares from the 13 players on the Mavs’ roster right now: 43.7.
Just the stats:
2014-15 MAVS WIN SHARES
Dirk Nowitzki: 10.9
Jose Calderon: 6.3
Brandan Wright: 5.1
Monta Ellis: 4.9
Samuel Dalembert: 4.9
Shawn Marion: 4.3
Vince Carter: 4.3
DeJuan Blair: 3.4
Jae Crowder: 2.3
Wayne Ellington: 0.7
Bernard James: 0.1
Ricky Ledo: 0.0
Shane Larkin: -0.1
Gal Mekel: -0.4
CURRENT MAVS WIN SHARES FROM 2013-14
Dirk Nowitzki: 10.9
Chandler Parsons: 7.6
Brandan Wright: 5.1
Tyson Chandler: 4.9
Monta Ellis: 4.9
Richard Jefferson: 2.7
Jae Crowder: 2.3
Raymond Felton: 2.2
Rashard Lewis: 1.7
Devin Harris: 1.6
Greg Smith: 0.2
Ricky Ledo: 0.0
Gal Mekel: -0.4
Some things to consider that aren’t reflected in those win share totals:
*The Mavs still have their $2.7 million cap-room exception at their disposal. The player they sign with that slot is likely to have been worth at least two win shares last season.
*Dallas is counting on Chandler’s performance last season with the New York Knicks being the exception, not the beginning of a steep decline. He had at least 9.3 win shares in each of the previous three seasons, including 9.4 with the Mavs in 2010-11.
*The Mavs are also banking on a bounce-back year from Felton, who had the second lowest win share total of his career last season. Felton had more than four win shares in four of the previous five seasons.
*A knee injury limited Smith to 11 games last season. He had four win shares as a 16-minute-per-game role player the previous season.
*It stands to reason that Harris can at least double his win shares from last season, when he sat out the first half of the year while recovering from complicated toe surgery.
The “Merry Minimums,” as the Mavs’ brass often refers to the minimum-salary veterans that fill out the roster, included significant contributors Devin Harris and DeJuan Blair last season.
The Mavs filled three of their minimum slots this summer with players who should at least factor into Rick Carlisle’s rotation, if not play every night. Swingman Richard Jefferson, small forward Rashard Lewis and center Greg Smith are all good bang-for-buck additions.
A look at how the three new members of the Merry Minimums can help the Mavs:
Vince Carter and Jose Calderon. The 34-year-old made 40.9 percent of his long-distance attempts for the Utah Jazz last season, the third time in four years that he shot better than 40 percent from 3. He averaged 10.1 points in 27 minutes per game as a starter for the Jazz, but the Mavs won’t ask nearly that much from him.
Lewis: At 34, Lewis hardly resembles the scoring threat the Mavs tried to steal from Seattle long ago. The two-time All-Star is a role player now who has the experience of playing in three NBA Finals, including the last two seasons with the Miami Heat. “We’re always looking for veteran players who are pros and know how to win playoff games,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “He definitely fits that mold.” Lewis also fits the mold of a stretch 4, allowing the Mavs the luxury of having a legitimate backup for Dirk Nowitzki that doesn’t require completely changing the offensive scheme. The 6-foot-10 Lewis is a career 38.6 percent 3-point shooter and a quality defender, especially in pick-and-roll and isolation situations.
Smith: The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder, who was sent to Dallas in a salary-dump deal from Chicago, will replace Blair as the Mavs’ bargain-priced banger. “Our front line really needs a DeJuan-type presence,” Nelson said. “[Smith] is a thick-body rebounder and enforcer.” Smith, 23, had season-ending knee surgery in February, which the Mavs anticipate will be a “maintenance issue” this season. But there is hope that Smith can get back to his form from 2012-13, when he averaged 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game for the Houston Rockets.
LAS VEGAS -- The summer league springs hope for those looking to get into the league and those looking to get back into the league. Former Dallas Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois fits into the latter group. After going through the entire 2013-14 season without an NBA deal, Beaubois joined the Los Angeles Lakers summer league squad. Simply put, Beaubois had to start over.
"Nobody wants to go through all of that (having to fight to get back into the league), but injuries happen,” Beaubois said. "I just need to keep working so I can get back into the league.”
Beaubois showed plenty of promise as a rookie, but he has since seen his career marred by a series of nagging injuries. His time in Dallas ultimately ended as the Mavs decided to go in a different direction in the summer of 2013. The Mavs bid adieu to Beaubois and went on to reload the guard position with the likes of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris, leaving Beaubois without an NBA home.
"Things happen. I just need to bounce back, keep working and try to come back,” Beaubois said. "That’s my goal. My hand (his last major injury) is good, so I just need to keep going.”
Beaubois has many eyes on him in Vegas. But the enigmatic guard has struggled to find traction. Stats in the summer league are often irrelevant, but Beaubois hasn’t really delivered consistent play in the games he’s played in, averaging 3.5 points on 29.4 percent shooting in 12.3 minutes per game.
While he’s struggling to re-establish his NBA career, he doesn’t hold any grudges with the organization that brought him into the league and ultimately sent him out of it.
"It was a great experience in Dallas,” Beaubois said. "I would have loved for it to keep going on. I can only control what I can control. I just need to get into the best shape possible, find a team and get better.”
Goals and perspectives are varied amongs those who are participating in the Vegas summer league. With a level of success achieved early in his career, Beaubois understands that he has ability and potential to play at the highest level, but there’s something that is still holding him back.
"It's the health thing,” Beaubois explained. "I’ve had a few injuries that have kept me off the court for a long time. I need to do what I have to do to stay healthy. Whether it is staying with the trainers longer, I need to do it. I just need to keep working on my body."
We will have to see if Beaubois can run free once again in the NBA. It might take more than his time in Las Vegas to garner some consideration.
Dirk Nowitzki is the epitome of what every city wants from its superstar athlete.
Humble. Gracious. Honest.
And, occasionally, self-deprecating, too. He's involved in charity work, and takes his responsibility as the face of the franchise seriously.
Dirk makes himself available after every game. Win or lose, blowout or not, he's there.
And that's why Dirk, who has matured from the 19-year-old kid sporting a hoop earring to a married father of a toddler during his 16 seasons with the Mavericks, has made his name every bit as synonymous with Dallas as Emmitt Smith, Mike Modano or Sonny Bryan's BBQ.
You believe Dirk when he says he cares about the city and considers it as much of his home as Wurzburg, Germany.
And he removed any sliver of doubt skeptics might've had when he signed a deal this week that will pay him $25 million over the next three seasons -- chump change for a player of his skill and accomplishment.
Clearly, Dirk doesn't care, and that says more about Dirk the person than it will ever say about Dirk the basketball player.