- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former NBA lottery pick Rashad McCants arrived in Dallas right around midnight Sunday and will officially join the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate for his first practice Monday, according to team sources.
Barring any snags, McCants is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday when the Nancy Lieberman-coached Texas Legends play their home opener against the Austin Toros.
McCants missed all of training camp and the Frisco-based team’s first three games, but team officials never gave up hope that the shooting guard would eventually conclude that his best route back to the NBA was provided by the Legends, who arguably receive more exposure than any other team in the highly scouted D-League because of Lieberman’s presence on the bench and the four other former first-round picks (Antonio Daniels, Joe Alexander, Sean Williams and Reece Gaines) on the roster.
The delay in McCants’ arrival, one source close to the 26-year-old insisted, stemmed from a few lucrative offers in China that he ultimately turned down to join what ranks as a star-studded lineup by D-League standards.
The maximum salary in the D-League is $25,500 – well shy of the $2.6 million McCants earned in his last season in the NBA with Minnesota and Sacramento in 2008-09 – but the source said McCants intends to donate his Legends checks to the Urban Born youth and teen charity foundation (www.urbanborn.org).
The Legends ultimately envision McCants slotting into the backcourt next to Daniels, with Gaines at small forward, Alexander at power forward and Williams at center. They are 2-1 after recovering from a nationally televised season-opening loss to the defending champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers with two weekend road wins over the Idaho Stampede.
The Mavericks signed McCants and Williams on Oct. 20 largely to ensure that the Legends could secure their D-League rights before the D-League draft. Both were waived by the Mavs within 48 hours of signing, but a new NBA rule allows D-League teams to claim the rights to three players from the training camp roster of their NBA parent teams who are released before Opening Night.
Because of the allocation rule, McCants has to play for the Legends if he wants to play in the D-League this season. It is generally assumed in NBA personnel circles that the No. 14 overall pick from the 2005 draft will almost certainly earn another NBA shot if he plays well for the Legends, despite more than a year passing since his last NBA job. He averaged 10.0 points per game in four pro seasons.
"I think this is an ideal situation for Rashad to prove to everyone in the NBA that he's got what it takes to be a star two-guard in this league,” Mavericks president of basketball operations and Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson said earlier this month. “If there's any work that needs to be done in terms of [fixing] the perception he has around the league, this is the perfect place for him to do that."
The Legends have a season-ticket base of roughly 1,700 at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, which will be configured to hold an estimated 3,500 fans for Legends games. Ticket information is available by calling (214) 469-0822 or going to the team’s website (http://www.nba.com/dleague/texas/).