Dallas Mavericks: NBA

Where are they now: Josh Howard

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
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This is a series focusing on Mavericks of the past and how they're using the Las Vegas Summer League to try to extend their careers.

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."

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Howard is part of the draft class that brought the likes of 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.

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 88, Suns 62

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
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LAS VEGAS -- The Dallas Mavericks Dallas Mavericks fell into an early 11-1 hole to start the game but ran the Suns out of the gym from that point on in the consolation round of the Las Vegas Summer League playoffs. Dallas ended the summer league with a record of 3-2 after Friday's 88-62 win. Phoenix ended up 2-3.

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.

Nelson talks Dirk, Devin, what's next for Mavs

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
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LAS VEGAS -- President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson spent a few minutes with ESPN Dallas on Friday to talk about Dirk Nowitzki's new deal, Devin Harris being back with the club, the summer league in Las Vegas and what other moves the Mavs may make.

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."

Where are they now: Rodrigue Beaubois

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
9:00
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This is a series focusing on Mavericks of the past and how they're using the Las Vegas Summer League to try to extend their careers.

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.

Where are they now: Delonte West

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
9:00
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This is a series focusing on Dallas Mavericks of the past and how they're using the Las Vegas Summer League to try to extend their careers.

LAS VEGAS -- Now with a clear mind, a positive outlook on life and a new baby, former Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West is playing in the Las Vegas Summer League.

West, who turns 31 this month, doesn't look at the time in Vegas as hitting the restart button. He's using it as an opportunity to do the thing he loves and to help young players as they try to chase their dream.

[+] EnlargeDelonte West
Jack Arent/NBAE/Getty ImagesDelonte West is playing for the Clippers' summer league team in hopes of creating a path back to the NBA.
"It should be a celebration for these young fellas. They're trying to compete for a jobs and trying to make a roster," West said. "This is a big step. Summer league is just one step closer. I know how important it is to be confident and comfortable out there to display your skill level. This isn't a big fraternity. I'm helping all of the young guys out if I can."

West said his conditioning and weight have been an issue, but he gained a "good five pounds" with a good steak thanks to some per diem from the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he's playing for during the summer league, earlier in the week. West said summer league is an opportunity for anyone who is geared toward playing in the NBA, even the veterans, as long as they have the right perspective.

"It's basketball, man," West said with a laugh. "Summer league could be so much bigger than it already it is if some of the veteran guys came out and played. A lot of veteran guys or guys who are lined up with a contract don't want to shoot themselves in the foot out there, but it's great basketball.

"Take your shades off, take your chain off, put your car in the garage and come play some basketball."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers gave West another chance with the summer league invitation and said that it has been great to see him out playing basketball again.

"It wasn't hard," Rivers said on the process of having West come to Las Vegas. "He called me, and I said yes. That's how it happened. He called me up and asked if I had any problem playing on the summer league team, because it would help. I said yes.

"He's a good guy. We know all the personal stuff that he's gone through. I just think it's good for everybody."

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Greg Smith 'happy' to play for Mavs

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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LAS VEGAS -- After completing the team physical, center Greg Smith joined the Dallas Mavericks' summer league team in Las Vegas.

Smith, who is coming off knee surgery in February, will not participate in the team's final game in the summer league. He is healthy, but the team wants him to focus on getting in shape and preparing for training camp. Smith said he's ready to prove he's 100 percent healthy once he gets to training camp.

[+] EnlargeGreg Smith
Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsGreg Smith says he will bring defense to the Mavs as he backs up Tyson Chandler.
"I'm happy. It's like going home," Smith said. "I'm happy to be in this situation. ... Playing for a team like the Dallas Mavericks, their organization is just wonderful. I'm happy to be there."

Smith's grandparents, mother and uncle all live in Dallas. Smith said he was pleased to hear that the Mavs were trying to acquire him for the past two seasons via trade.

"It's great to go somewhere that they want you," he said.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Smith averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game over the past three seasons with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls signed him through next season after Houston waived him in April.

"He's got a skill set that we need in our front line," Donnie Nelson, the Mavs' general manager and president of basketball operations, said earlier this week. "He's thicker and he's got the right combination of experience and youth. With Chicago it was kind of more of a salary dump to do a bigger deal. It didn't cost us anything.

"We think we got a really good young player that can provide us punch in our front line."

Mavs owner Mark Cuban had previously said Smith was someone the team has been trying to acquire for the past two seasons. Smith is slated to play more center than power forward and will back up Tyson Chandler.

"I'll bring a lot of defense," Smith said of his role. "I love playing defense. I'm going to learn being next to Tyson, and I'm excited to play with Tyson. I'll be a banger.

"I'll be that guy who is a stopper that won't allow anything inside."

Playing for Houston, Smith was teammates with Chandler Parsons. Smith is excited to be reunited with Parsons and says he believes Dallas will be pleased with what the versatile forward can bring to the team.

"He's going to bring so much to the team," Smith said. "People don't understand what he gave to the Rockets. He means a lot, and he'll bring a lot to the Mavericks."

The experience in Houston allowed Smith to bang and work alongside the likes of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, two of the league's best defensive centers. Smith said that was a huge learning experience for him, and he plans to take what he learned from his time with the Rockets and expand on it in Dallas.

"I feel like I can showcase what they taught me and be able to play defense against anyone in the league," Smith said.

Mavs fall in Vegas playoff round

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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LAS VEGAS -- The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Charlotte Hornets in the team's opening round game of the Las Vegas Summer League playoffs. Charlotte had lost its first three games in the preliminary round.

How it happened: Dallas fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first half but was able to tie the score at 77-77 with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter. The Mavs regained the lead with just over two minutes to go, but Gal Mekel split a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds left. Hornets guard Robert Nelson hit a contested 3-point basket at the buzzer for the win. It appeared that Nelson had a foot on the line, but instant replay is not used during the summer league.

Japanese guard Yuki Togashi kept the team afloat in the first half with his eight points. The 5-foot-8 guard was an irritant on defense and did a nice job creating offense for himself and others. He finished the game with 12 points, but his scoring productivity in the first half proved to be instrumental in the comeback attempt.
Ricky Ledo struggled from the field as he went just 2-of-16 for only nine points. He never could gain any traction with his shot in the game.

Mavs forward Ivan Johnson was ejected from the game during the third quarter. He got tangled with a Hornets player and tripped and fell. He argued the call, was given a technical foul and ejected. It's not known if he will be available for the team's next game.

The Hornets were led by rookie P.J. Hairston as he scored 18 points in the victory. The 26th pick of this year's draft spent time with the Texas Legends, Dallas' D-League affiliate in Frisco, last season.

What it means: Dallas will now move on to the consolation bracket of the tournament. The Mavs will face the Phoenix Suns on Friday at 1 p.m. PT. That will be their final game in Las Vegas.

Mavs player of the game: Mekel asserted himself as Dallas' offense struggled to generate baskets. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists. Mekel will not play in the team's finale as he will head back to Israel to be back with his family and prep to play with the Israeli national team.

Stat of the day: Dallas struggled from the field, starting the game missing nine of its first 12 shots. The Mavs' execution ultimately got them into a major deficit in the first half. They finished the game shooting just 36.8 percent from the field.


The Mavericks had a two-year, $20 million offer on the table to Stephenson, contingent on the Houston Rockets matching their offer for forward Chandler Parsons. If Houston had matched, Stephenson would have signed with Dallas, sources said.

The two sides had a handshake agreement.

Instead, Stephenson is headed to Charlotte to play for the Hornets for the next three seasons. His contract is worth $27 million, league sources said.

The contract, which includes a team option for the final season, ends Stephenson's productive yet volatile four-year stay with the Indiana Pacers.

Mavs hope to teach an old dog new tricks

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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LAS VEGAS -- Although forward Ivan Johnson is essentially auditioning for every NBA team during the Las Vegas summer league, it appears the Dallas Mavericks are invested in keeping the inside track on giving him a contract, should the situation present itself.

Want proof?

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle spent time with Johnson after "training camp" practices in Dallas to work on his 3-point shot.

Johnson had 19 total attempts from long range in his 125-game stint with the Atlanta Hawks from 2011 to 2013. The Mavs clearly see something in the 30-year-old forward. But the results of the work in the first two games in Las Vegas weren’t great, as he went 1-for-11 from 3-point range.

The persistence paid off in the team's final preliminary game of the summer league, however, and Johnson finished 2-for-4 from 3 in a win over the Toronto Raptors.

"Practice makes perfect," he said.

Dallas certainly will look to see if his strong finish in shooting in the preliminary round can translate into the summer league playoffs. The Mavs will stay the course with the veteran forward and continue to let him shoot those perimeter shots.

"We're going to stay positive with him," said Mavs summer league coach Kaleb Canales. "They're open looks and good looks in our system. We want him to shoot [3-point baskets] and shoot them with confidence. He knocked them down [on Sunday], and we're going to keep encouraging him to shoot that shot."
[+] EnlargeThe Mavericks hope forward Ivan Johnson can develop a new dimension of his game with 3-point coaching.
Jack Arent/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Mavericks hope Ivan Johnson can develop a new dimension of his game with 3-point coaching.


Dallas president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said before the team left Las Vegas that Johnson was "more than just a summer league guy" for his team. Based on that statement and Carlisle's time investment, Johnson could be in the process of being groomed for a roster spot -- groomed with a very specific skill added to the arsenal, that is.

Johnson is an undersized low-post player in a similar vein to DeJuan Blair. Such players are brought in the game to change the flow of the game and create constructive chaos. It's intriguing to see the Mavs trying to develop his shooting range, when he's known more as an aggressive player who gets in the middle of things.

"I'm still that same dude," Johnson said, flashing a smile that showed off his six-tooth gold-and-diamond grill. "I'm still that dude, but I'm expanding my game."

While they are trying to add a new dimension to his offensive game, the Mavs also are trying to ensure Johnson maintains the assertive identity he's known for on the defensive end of the floor and when he attacks the glass. In maintaining his style and spreading out the floor, the staff hopes to bring a different dynamic to Johnson's game altogether.

Showing he is coachable in the development of a perimeter shot could go a long way in extending Johnson's career. That's what the Mavs are envisioning with this assignment for Johnson.

"We've talked about it as a staff in terms of what we want him to specifically do this summer," Canales said. "He's doing a good job with that. We're going to keep getting in the gym with him and keep trying develop that shot for him, which I think will be a good weapon for him going forward."

If persistence and practice pay off for Johnson, he'll be able to continue his dream of playing in the NBA -- whether it’s for the Mavs or elsewhere.

Jason Terry won't rule out return to Mavs

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
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Jason TerryMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJason Terry is focused to winning more championships at this stage of his career.
LAS VEGAS -- Former Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry joined ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s "Fitzsimmons and Friedo Show" to assess what the Mavs have done this summer with their acquisitions. Suffice to say, Terry is a fan of what his former team has done this summer. After barely holding on for a playoff spot last season, Terry believes that Dallas is going to be right in the mix in the highly-competitive Western Conference this season.

"Instantly, you put them in the top four teams in the Western Conference," Terry said.

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The Mavs are still in the market for more perimeter shooting. Terry, who is fully healthy and ready to go next season after dealing with knee surgery, would love the opportunity to rejoin the Mavericks.

"I won’t rule out returning back to Dallas. It's my home and my heart," Terry said. "I bleed blue. I’m a Maverick."

While Dallas does have it's $2.7 million exception in play and has looked at the likes of Mo Williams and Mike Miller to help fill the void of perimeter shooting and Terry would love to have a reunion, he is under contract with the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento would have to buy out the rest of Terry's contract, which is in the final year at roughly $5.9 million.

The situation in Sacramento is one centered around rebuilding and youth, not exactly one catering to a 36-year-old shooting guard. Being rather direct, Terry said that the situation with the Kings wasn't an ideal one for him.

"I wouldn't say it's rebuilding, but a building process," Terry said. "DeMarcus Cousins, a huge talent. Attitude, a little shaky. Rudy Gay, not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around.

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Gal Mekel leading, proving he's reliable

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
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Gal MekelGarrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesGal Mekel is averaging 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting with 2.0 assists in the Summer League.
LAS VEGAS -- The desert delivers hope, promise and ultimately disappointment. For the NBA's Summer League, players like Mavs swingmen Ricky Ledo and Eric Griffin are the prized possessions due to their youth and potential. Sometimes a reliable hand falls through the cracks because they're no longer new and flashy. That's likely where Gal Mekel is now.

With the preliminary round of the league under his belt, Mekel averaged 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting while averaging 2.0 assists per game. The averages for the assists will raise red flags, but he's creating good looks for his teammates and those leading passes he makes have led to teammates missing shots or hockey assist-like passes. The low number of assists are deceiving.

Mekel raised some eyebrows last summer with his ability to run a team, near-effortless ability to facilitate for others and underrated perimeter defense. Within a couple of days, many wondered if Mekel was playing in Vegas without an NBA contract. They were turned away as the Mavs signed the Israeli guard to a three-year deal at the league minimum.

While the results haven't been as flashy, Mekel has been the reliable hand of Dallas' offense.

"Gal has done a great job into our offense and establishing what we want to do offensively," Mavs summer league coach Kaleb Canales said.

Mekel has been asked to take on more of a leadership role with this roster due to his experience in this format and in general.

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Mavs strike with aggression this summer

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
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LAS VEGAS -- After pushing the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs to a Game 7 in the first round, the Dallas Mavericks will return with a much different roster next season.

The Mavs have acquired center Tyson Chandler, small forward Chandler Parsons, point guard Raymond Felton, a young big man in Greg Smith and a veteran perimeter forward in Richard Jefferson. They have been incredibly aggressive this summer. As always, they've tried to stay opportunistic in the market, whether it be by trade or the free-agent market. To this point, they've done well.

[+] EnlargeRichard Jefferson
Brad Rempel/USA TODAY SportsRichard Jefferson will join his sixth team, having played for the New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Golden State and Utah in his 13-year career.
"Ideal would have been Carmelo and LeBron coming for the minimum, but that didn't happen," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told ESPN Dallas on Monday.

You can't fault Nelson for being ambitious or for his wit. The Mavs ultimately got the man they wanted in Parsons. It was a move that was priority No. 1 for Dallas.

"We targeted Parsons from a very early stage. We feel he can play 4, 3. He can shoot the long ball, he can get the ball into the gut and make passes," Nelson said. "He's also a team guy and he knows what to do without the ball. He can grab it off the glass and push the ball. He knows what to do without the ball and doesn't need the ball to be effective.

"Where do you stop? He's kind of a perfect, tailored guy for the Mavericks."

Looking around the league, a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come out smelling like roses in regard to their summer spending. That said, you can't discount what Dallas has done as they've made big moves. Continuity was a big buzzword for the Mavs going into the offseason. Continuity is nice, but getting better talent is, well, better.

"We're doing well. We're changing the team, we're getting it better and improving," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN Dallas. "Those are all things that are exciting. We've got more spaces to fill and we've got more good prospects. We're going to keep pushing forward."

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The three members of the Mavs' brain trust -- Mark Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle -- likely will go on their own separate paths for the remainder of the week. While that might be the case, all three have been hovering around the gyms this weekend, watching the summer league team playing and spitballing ideas. Whenever visible, the three of them would have conversations with one another in corners of the arena, formulating ideas to finish out their roster.

Their last major asset left in terms of money is their $2.7 million exception. While they could go different ways with the money, one focus is on their mind.

"I think we're looking for the best player," Nelson said. "As long as we can get that, we're happy. There's lot of backup roles that are needed. We can go in a variety of different directions, from point guard to center. I think we're going to try to get the best possible player we can."

Whoever the final pieces to the puzzle are, they will put a nice shiny bow on a successful offseason. The challenge will then become trying to become successful in terms of regular season and hopefully playoff games.

Sources: Mavs now target Mike Miller

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
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LAS VEGAS -- Even with the acquisition of small forward Chandler Parsons, the Dallas Mavericks are still in the market for more perimeter shooting. It was reported this weekend that the Mavs do intend to sign forward Richard Jefferson for the league minimum, and now sources have told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Mavericks and the Houston Rockets have barged into a Mike Miller sweepstakes. The objective is to acquire a perimeter-oriented small forward and to keep LeBron James' sharpshooting teammate from Miami away from Cleveland.

[+] EnlargeMike Miller
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesMike Miller averaged 7.1 PPG and 45.9 percent from 3-point range for the Grizzlies last season.
The 14-year veteran forward averaged 7.1 points on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 45.9 percent from 3-point range for the Memphis Grizzlies last season.

With Memphis unable to come to terms with Miller, the Grizzlies went on to sign former Mavs forward Vince Carter to a multiyear deal. For his career, Miller has shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

The Mavs have only their $2.7 million exception to offer Miller. Cleveland's offer would likely be similar to Dallas', but James will likely try to convince his former teammate to join him and the Cavs. Miller was a teammate of James during both championship wins for the Miami Heat.

It is believed that the Denver Nuggets have had the best financial offer on the table for Miller. It appears that the Mavs, Rockets and Cavs are further down on the list.

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 88, Raptors 57

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
8:00
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LAS VEGAS -- The Dallas Mavericks beat the Toronto Raptors in the team's final game of the preliminary round of the Las Vegas Summer League. The Mavs finished with a record of 2-1 in the preliminary round.

How it happened: The Mavs made a full 180 from their opening game of the prelims to their final one. Chemistry was there, and the players who needed to play well ultimately have done what they needed to do.

Ricky Ledo shined again, playing with a little more poise as he led the Mavs with a game-high 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting. He showed more of his versatility by attacking the glass with four rebounds and facilitating with five assists.

Gal Mekel continued to show a nice and steady hand as the team's point guard. He finished the game with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. While he didn't record a single assist, he did a solid job of getting the team in its sets and communicating on the floor. His jumper is still a work in progress, but he appears to be shooting it with more confidence.

Bernard James looked solid, finishing the game with six points and seven rebounds in just under 19 minutes of action.

Forward Ivan Johnson had struggled with his perimeter jumper in the team's previous two games. Showing a strong sense of confidence, Johnson continued to shoot the shots when they were there and the results finally came around. After going 1-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first two games in Vegas, Johnson bounced back with a nice 2-for-4 shooting performance from long range. He finished the game with eight points.

What it means: Dallas now moves on to tournament play in the league. All teams advance to this portion and seeding will be determined by record, with ties being broken using tiebreaker criteria. Teams seeded 9-24 will play in the first round of the tournament and teams seeded 1-8 will receive a first-round bye. The tournament will consist of five single-elimination rounds to determine the NBA summer league champion. The Mavs will know where they stand after play on Tuesday.

Mavs player of the game: Ledo shined once again. He has some bad habits, mainly trying to create extra space when he attacked off the dribble. The referees are catching on to it, but Ledo remains aggressive. Many members of the coaching staff were impressed with his vision as he recorded a game-high five assists.

Stat of the day: You can't necessarily say the Mavs had a high level of defensive disposition, but they did hold the Raptors to 30.2 percent shooting from the field. Dallas shot 50.8 percent from the field in the victory.

Cap space: Harris, Dirk agreements stand

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
6:57
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks still have to formally sign Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris, which would take up the rest of their cap space. When asked about the idea of altering the agreements with both players in order to create more space, Cuban said that wasn't going to happen.

"I wouldn't ask them to do that. We're good," Cuban said. "We're set. We have our 2.7 [million-dollar exception]. We'll go from there."

The Mavs clearly have a couple of different areas they will want to improve in, and they'll pick the best player in those different areas.

Big man coming
The Mavs acquired Greg Smith in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Tadija Dragievi on Monday, and it's expected that Smith will go through a physical on Tuesday and could be available for summer league play starting Wednesday.

Cuban went out of his way to say that Smith was a player the team has coveted for quite some time.

"We've been trying to trade for him for two years, so we're thrilled," Cuban said.

"He's a 5/4 [center/power forward], backing up Tyson and being able to bang. He's athletic and really skilled. He's young, so like most big men, it's going to take some time.

"He banged against Dwight [Howard] all last year, so he's got some experience there, too. He can play."

Cuban wasn't quick to rule that the addition of Smith would mark the end of DeJuan Blair's time in Dallas.

"Greg has a change to take Blair's place if DeJuan leaves," Cuban said. "There's a chance DeJuan stays. There's a chance we keep any of our guys. You never know."

That remains up in the air as ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported over the weekend that Dallas was in advanced negotiations with the Washington Wizards in regards to a potential sign-and-trade deal for Blair. There hasn't been any update in those talks.

Backing up Dirk
If the Mavs are limited in cap space, they will have to be creative in finding a backup for Nowitzki. If you ask Cuban, it appears the search may not be that hard.

"B-Wright [Brandan Wright] will play more 4," Cuban said. "Right now, there's guys that we think will be minimum players but they don't want to be minimum players, so they're holding out to get the best offer they can get. We'll see what we can do."

That idea of Wright playing the power forward seems like more of a change in direction over recent seasons as the Mavs preferred to have a floor-spacing big man to back up Nowitzki. What has changed since then?

"He's had time with Devin [Harris]," Cuban said of Wright. "For us, the Devin/B-Wright combination is lethal. Chandler can throw a lob. He's good at that, too, so we'll see him in the pick-and-roll. I think we got a lot more versatile."

With Smith logging more minutes at center and Wright shifting to power forward, is it possible that Wright and Tyson Chandler could be on the floor together?

"Yeah, because as long as we put shooters around them," Cuban said.

With the addition of Parsons and veteran forward Richard Jefferson, the Mavs hope they will have acquired perimeter shooting with room for more.

"Guess who was second in the year on corner 3s last season," Cuban questioned.

"Monta. And Richard Jefferson shot above 40 percent and shot 49 percent on corner 3s. If you have one skill that you can be top-10 NBA, I want you even if the rest of you sucks because there's a situation where we can put you to work."

Ellis shot 54.2 percent on corner 3-pointers last season, to be specific.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9