Friday, December 9, 2011
Different look for champs in camp opener
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- The defense of the 2011 championship officially hit the hardwood Friday afternoon as the Dallas Mavericks returned to the practice floor for the first time since winning the title, and with a noticeably thinner cast.
Ten players worked out with newly signed forward Brandan Wright the only newcomer to this point. Shooting guard Rudy Fernandez is still stuck in Spain waiting out visa issues. Jason Kidd looked to be in fit condition after a long offseason of playing some of this country's top golf courses and Rodrigue Beaubois took part in the full practice as he looks to make his way all the back this time from a second surgery on his troublesome left foot.
It made for an interesting feel at the undermanned practice as the team leaves behind some big contributors and bigger personalities, and moves forward in this accelerated training camp period with the season opening in two weeks.
"We've got to worry about what’s in this locker room right now and wish them guys the best of luck wherever free agency is leading them," forward Shawn Marion said. "But, we’ve got to get ready for Dallas Mavericks basketball."
Coach Rick Carlisle said the roster is not complete. Currently 11 players are under contract. The Mavs will need to fill two more spots to reach the league minimum of 13 on the 15-man roster. A veteran point guard could be at the top of the list.
Carlisle, who kept the tone of the day forward-thinking, announced several obvious adjustments, starting with Brendan Haywood taking over as the starting center with Ian Mahinmi sliding in as a true No. 2 for the first time in his brief NBA career. Beaubois and Dominique Jones will both get plenty of work at point guard with the loss of Barea. The backup position will be critical this season to allow Kidd the rest he will be need to navigate through a 66-game schedule in 123 days, and with the playoffs starting on the 125th day.
"I’m big on what’s going on today and right now and getting our guys geared up to make our situation right now the best that it can be and we’re going to do that," said Carlisle, who enters his fourth season as Dallas' head coach. "We had some guys that did some great things for us here that are probably not going to be back, but that’s part of the circle of life in the NBA. And, we’re all going to adjust, guys are going to step up into some opportunistic situations and we plan on defending our crown with a lot of pride."