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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Rudy Fernandez expected in camp and happy

By Jeff Caplan

Contrary to a report out of Spain on Monday, Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Rudy Fernandez will be in Dallas next week, not to ask for a buyout and return to Madrid, as the report suggests, but to enthusiastically begin training camp with his new teammates.

The Spanish media outlet is only stirring the drama pot, a person with knowledge of Fernandez's thinking said Tuesday, calling the report, "gossip." Fernandez has been in and out of the news throughout the offseason with overseas reports speculating that he would prefer to return to Spain full-time immediately and not fulfill the final year on his NBA contract.

"It's all garbage," the source said. "He's coming back as soon as the [deal] is ratified. He is excited to play for Dallas."

Fernandez did sign a long-term contract with Real Madrid this summer that will allow him to resume his career there after this NBA season if he chooses. Fernandez has been playing for the team during the lockout. A minor knee injury sustained on Sunday will have him sidelined approximately a week. Fernandez is contractually obligated to return to the NBA once the lockout is lifted.

After this season, Fernandez will be a restricted free agent. He can entertain contract offers from the Mavs and other NBA teams or decide to return to his home country and play for Real Madrid under a contract that will make him one of the league's richest players in history.

The lockout remains in force until the tentatively agreed upon labor deal is ratified by both sides so Mavs management cannot comment on its players. Privately, they are confident that Fernandez is excited to report to training camp and will do so with the intention of fulfilling the length of his contract.

Asked if Fernandez could seek a buyout during the season if he becomes unhappy with his role, the source said it is impossible to speculate, but that Fernandez is committed to the Mavs for this season. Dallas is crowded at shooting guard, but the 6-foot-6 Fernandez, who will enter his fourth season in the league after spending three seasons with Portland, could emerge as the starter.

In late September, a source said that Fernandez planned to use this season as a "test period" to better determine his plan for next season.

"He has to figure out if he likes it [in Spain] and he has to see if he likes the Mavs,” the source said then.