Dallas Mavericks: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks will open the preseason against the Houston Rockets at the American Airlines Center on Oct. 7. After spending his first three seasons in Houston, Parsons signed a three-year, $46 million deal with the Mavs in restricted free agency.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, center Dwight Howard and shooting guard James Harden have all made comments diminishing the impact of Parsons’ departure. All have been duly noted in public fashion by Parsons.
The preseason finale features a reunion for point guard Jameer Nelson, another free-agent addition for the Mavs. The Mavs will finish the preseason on Oct. 24 in Orlando, where Nelson spent the first 10 seasons of his career before being waived this offseason. The Orlando Magic put up billboards around town expressing their appreciation for Nelson after that decision.
One other reunion on the Mavs’ preseason schedule: Vince Carter will come to town with the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 20. The Mavs hoped to re-sign Carter after his contributions the last three seasons, but he opted to go to the Grizzlies for a three-year, $12.2 million offer, more than the Mavs would have ended up being able to offer.
The Mavs’ preseason schedule:
Oct. 7: vs. Houston Rockets
Oct. 10: vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Oct. 12: vs. Indiana Pacers
Oct. 17: at Cleveland Cavaliers
Oct. 18: at Indiana Pacers
Oct. 20: vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Oct. 23: at New Orleans Pelicans
Oct. 24: at Orlando Magic
"We appreciate the great job Tony did for us the last three years in Dallas and wish him the very best," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said in a text message.
Mosley was an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers the last four seasons and spent the five seasons before that with the Denver Nuggets.
Most of Johnson's veteran-minimum salary is not guaranteed, a source said.
The 6-foot-8, 255-pound Johnson will compete for a roster spot after playing in China last season. He started for the Mavs’ Las Vegas Summer League team this month, averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.
In two seasons with the Hawks, Johnson averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.
Johnson is the 16th player on the Mavs’ roster. The team can carry 15 players during the regular season.
Aminu, 23, officially signed with the Mavs on Tuesday. It’s a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum with a player option for the second season.
That’s tremendous value for a player who was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft and started in New Orleans the last two seasons.
The Mavs also believe Aminu, who has career averages of 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, can blossom as a role player on the Mavs.
“He’s still a young player,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I feel like he’s got big upside and skill. We’ve got to get him better. His outside shooting can improve, but we’ve got to put him in position to play to his strengths now.”
Those strengths offensively are rebounding, running and finishing. He’s a poor shooter (29.2 percent from 3-point range for his career), but the Mavs are confident that Carlisle can figure out how to make Aminu a useful offensive role player.
If that happens, the Mavs expect Aminu to emerge as an elite defender. Given his length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and athleticism, his Synergy Sports defensive stats from last season were surprisingly mediocre. One Mavs source said he thought the Pelicans crushed Aminu’s confidence and killed his energy by essentially demanding that he not shoot the ball.
The expectation is that Aminu, who still led NBA small forwards in rebounding percentage for the second consecutive season, will be mentally recharged by joining the Mavs, giving him the opportunity to contribute to a playoff team for the first time in his career. The hope is that Carlisle will get more out of Aminu than his previous coaches have.
If Aminu is the same player he was for New Orleans, he’s still a great value for the minimum. But the Mavs believe Aminu can be much better than that.
It’s been that case for several years, with Shawn Marion sliding over a spot for most of the minutes when Nowitzki rested. Marion’s tenure in Dallas has almost certainly ended, but the Mavs have several players on the roster they believe are capable of playing quality minutes at power forward.
Coach Rick Carlisle, who would like to cut Nowitzki’s minutes down to 30 per game if possible (the 36-year-old played nearly 33 in 2013-14), listed Chandler Parsons, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jae Crowder and Richard Jefferson as the primary candidates. He’s also open to the idea of giving Brandan Wright more minutes at power forward, although Wright’s career has been redefined in Dallas an athletic center who thrives with floor-spacers around him.
"I don’t see us having a problem of finding a guy who can play that position effectively," Carlisle said. "It’s a matter of figuring out who plays well with who, getting the right guys on the floor together."
Parsons played some small-ball power forward for the Houston Rockets and will continue to do so for the Mavs. He presents a major matchup problem for the opposing defense when he plays that position. He has struggled defending bigger power forwards in the post, which is part of the reason he’s emphasizing strength training this summer.
However, Parsons might not necessarily play the majority of the power forward minutes when Nowitzki is off the floor, as Marion did.
Carlisle sounded especially intrigued by the idea of Aminu, an extraordinary athlete who is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, at power forward. He sees Aminu, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Mavs for the veteran’s minimum with a player option for the second season, as someone who can mitigate some of the things the Mavs will miss absent Marion.
The Mavs believe Aminu has elite defensive potential. He has proved to be a premier rebounder, leading the league’s small forwards in rebounding percentage the past two seasons.
"He’s played mostly the 3 so far in his career, but I really feel like the 4 is a better position for him,” Carlisle said. “Those backup Dirk minutes are going to be a possibility for him to really bring a different dimension."
That comes straight from owner Mark Cuban, who offered an emphatic “no” when asked whether the Mavs would look to move Felton, who was acquired along with center Tyson Chandler in last month’s six-player trade with the New York Knicks.
“We like him and think he will have a great year,” Cuban told ESPNDallas.com via the Cyber Dust messaging app. “Do quote me on that.”
The Mavs envision Nelson, Felton and Devin Harris all getting significant playing time at point guard and some minutes at shooting guard behind Monta Ellis, as well.
Nobody, least of all Felton, denies that the nine-year veteran point guard is coming off a dreadful season in New York. Felton averaged a career-low 9.7 points and a near-career-low 5.6 assists for a disappointing Knicks team that failed to make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.
Felton, who has averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 assists during his career, dealt with injury issues (a groin strain) and off-court problems (a divorce and arrest on gun charges) last season. He’s healthy now and hungry to prove himself again.
“Just to show everybody that I’ve still got it, I still can play,” Felton said on a recent conference call with Dallas reporters. “I still can play the game at this level. I still play as an elite point guard at this level. That’s just all.
“When you come off a season like I had last year, there’s always a point where you’ve got to prove yourself coming back the next season. And trust me, I look forward to it.”
So do the Mavs, Cuban insists.
The Mavs are on the verge of signing former Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson using the $2.7 million cap-room exception, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports, giving Dallas three veteran point guards on the roster. (UPDATE: Nelson signed on Thursday.)
That style of play fits the Mavs' personnel, particularly with Ellis and prized free-agent addition Chandler Parsons manning the wings. Ellis and Parsons both ranked among the league’s top 20 in fast-break points last season, according to Synergy Sports stats. The Mavs have two big men in Tyson Chandler and Brandan Wright who can run and finish in transition. Power forward Dirk Nowitzki, 36, has never been known for his blazing speed, but he’s a lethal 3-point threat as a trailer in transition.
Nelson, who averaged 12.6 points and 5.4 assists during his decade in Orlando, provides an element Dallas’ other point guards lack with his perimeter shooting. That was a major need for the Mavs after they gave up Jose Calderon in the Tyson Chandler trade.
Nelson’s 3-point accuracy dipped under 35 percent in each of the past two seasons for the rebuilding Magic, but it should trend significantly upward with the Mavs, considering the quality of his looks should be much better with the attention defenses give to the Nowitzki-Ellis-Parsons trio. Nelson is a career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter and has shot better than 40 percent from long range in four seasons, the last coming in 2010-11, when the Orlando offense revolved around Dwight Howard.
It’d be far too optimistic to expect Nelson, 32, to put up the kind of numbers he posted during his lone All-Star season six years ago. But, in a complementary role as part of a point guard rotation, the Mavs can rightfully anticipate very good return on the limited investment they intend to make in the veteran point guard.
Dallas doesn’t have a backup for Dirk Nowitzki.Shawn Marion to power forward when the face of the franchise rested. The odds of Marion returning to Dallas are awfully slim at this point, but Chandler Parsons will play some power forward. Mavs officials have also mentioned that Brandan Wright will play more power forward than he has in the past few years.
Still, it’d be ideal to have a power forward with perimeter-shooting ability on the bench, giving the Mavs a backup for Nowitzki who wouldn’t force fundamental changes to the offense when he’s on the floor. That’s why a healthy Lewis would have been a good fit for the veteran’s minimum.
Some potential minimum-priced free agents who might be able to fill that role:
Charlie Villanueva: He was a disaster in Detroit after signing a five-year, $38 million contract, playing only 20 games in the final year of the deal last season. Maybe he’d benefit from a change of scenery. He’s 6-foot-11, 232 pounds, turns 30 next month and has career averages of 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He shot a career-best 38.7 percent from 3-point range in 2010-11, his last relatively productive season.
Earl Clark: The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Clark has played for five teams since the Phoenix Suns selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft. His best season came as a part-time starter for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012-13, when he averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game. His career shooting percentages (40.4 from the floor, 33.1 from 3-point range) aren’t exactly appealing.
Antawn Jamison: It’s been more than a decade since Jamison’s one-season stint in Dallas, when he earned the Sixth Man of the Year award. At 38, Jamison might not have any gas left in the tank. He averaged only 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 22 games last season for the Los Angeles Clippers before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the deadline. The Hawks waived him and Jamison didn’t get a job the rest of the season.
Al Harrington: At 34, the 6-foot-9 Harrington might be ready to make the transition to coaching after 16 seasons in the league. A career 35.2 percent 3-point shooter, Harrington averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game for the Washington Wizards last season, playing in only 34 games.
“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.
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.