Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Hamilton

Rudy Fernandez using season as 'test period'

September, 26, 2011
Rudy Fernandez plans to use this season -- partly in Spain during the NBA lockout and later for the Dallas Mavericks, assuming the season will be saved – as a “test period” to decide where he wants to resume his career a year from now.

“He has to figure out if he likes it [in Spain] and he has to see if he likes the Mavs,” said a source with knowledge of Fernandez’s thinking.

A week ago Fernandez agreed to a contract with Real Madrid of the Spanish Liga Endesa, which recently changed its name from the ACB League. The deal includes an opt-out clause for this season and Fernandez will join the Mavs when the lockout is lifted.

The deal also allows Fernandez next summer to explore his best option, either a return to Real Madrid or remain in the NBA. Under the NBA’s expired collective bargaining agreement, Fernandez is due to become a restricted free agent after this season with a $3.2 million qualifying offer.

The Mavs, who traded the 26th pick in the June draft -- former Texas Longhorn Jordan Hamilton -- to Portland (who then shipped him to the Denver Nuggets) for the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, can match any offer for Fernandez by other NBA teams.

“All of that will come out next summer,” the source said of Fernandez’s final decision.

If money is the end game, the Mavs likely either won’t be able to compete with Real Madrid’s offer or simply won’t want to. Reports out of Spain earlier this summer suggested that Real Madrid was prepared to make Fernandez the highest-paid player in the league, in the neighborhood of $4.3 million a season.

“Real Madrid,” the source said, “can smash the [Mavs’] qualifying offer.”

The Mavs acquired Fernandez to provide an athletic, youthful shooter around its aging core of veterans as it seeks to defend the franchise’s first NBA title. Dallas, in full-blown win-now mode, placed more value in trading for a veteran player than breaking in another rookie on a roster it knows has a limited shelf life.

Whether the Mavs would have gone through with the trade had they realized Fernandez’s potential desire to return to Spain after one season is uncertain. NBA clubs are prohibited from speaking about current players during the lockout.

Fernandez, the source said, is excited to join the world champs, but also said that he was a bit surprised to be traded to Dallas because of its stable of shooting guards that includes veteran Jason Terry and developing talents in Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones. The Mavs have also said they hope to re-sign unrestricted free agent DeShawn Stevenson. Corey Brewer, acquired last season, is also an option at two-guard.

Re-signing Stevenson, a defensive standout and 3-point shooter in the Mavs’ march to the championship, could prove difficult and it would open a potential starting spot for Fernandez.

In his first three seasons in the NBA with Portland, Fernandez averaged 9.1 points on 39.4 percent shooting from the floor and 36.4 percent from 3-point range. His numbers dropped off in the playoffs, bottoming out last season with a miserable first-round series against the Mavs. He averaged 2.8 points on 22.2 percent shooting in just 13.8 minutes a game.

Some point to Portland’s low-possession offense as being a poor fit Fernandez, who might feel more comfortable playing in Dallas’ flow offense led by point guard Jason Kidd and anchored by Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki.

Mavs' young guards are on their own

July, 1, 2011

Which Dallas Mavericks will the lockout affect the most? On a veteran-laden team, it's not a difficult question to answer. The young guys are the biggest losers.

Take Dominique Jones. Instead of working out right now at the American Airlines Center with assistant coach Monte Mathis and others, the little-used rookie with the freshly inked Larry O'Brien Trophy on his neck is on his own. Mathis right now would be awaiting the compilation of the roster he'd coach at the annual mid-July Las Vegas Summer League, a roster that would include Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois (had a second surgery on his left foot not been necessary) during this important developmental offseason.

Instead, Mathis -- and the rest of the coaching staff -- is barred from working with players.

Hours before the lockout became official Thursday night, the Mavs exercised the contract options for next season on Beaubois and Jones. That move to keep their 2009 and 2010 first-round picks in the fold was obviously never in doubt.

What is in doubt is if either player can make an impact next season. Jones was drafted as a rugged shooting guard that could create his own offense by fearlessly driving to the basket. He made a living doing it and getting to the free throw line at South Florida. But, a flat jumper and veteran depth kept him at the end of the bench or with the Texas Legends, Donnie Nelson's D-League team in Frisco.

The bigger mystery is Beaubois. The Mavs were so high on him following his flashes-of-brilliance rookie campaign that during the team's exit interviews, coach Rick Carlisle revealed Beaubois would command a sizable chunk of the team's game-planning. The Mavs went so far as to dub Beaubois a budding "superstar" on a billboard campaign gracing North Texas highways.

Of course, the broken left foot Beaubois suffered last summer practicing with the French national team never healed properly and after re-injuring the foot during the regular-season finale (when he was also removed from the starting lineup) required a second surgery just last week. He is expected to be out two to three months, which could conceivably take Beaubois all the way to training camp -- if the lockout doesn't wipe it out, too.

Suddenly, the offensive player the Mavs mistakenly thought they couldn't live without is an enormous question mark heading into next season, his third. Dallas, in win-now mode, acted upon its concerns on draft night when it traded first-round pick Jordan Hamilton to the Portland Trail Blazers for established shooting guard Rudy Fernandez.

At 6-foot-6, Fernandez provides the Mavs with the tall, young and athletic shooting guard they've long desired. He will have every opportunity to join the starting lineup if he isn't penciled in already. Sixth man Jason Terry isn't going anywhere and will command at least 25 minutes a game.

Even figuring DeShawn Stevenson will likely move on, it would seem few minutes at the two-guard remain up for competition between Beaubois and Jones, neither of whom have shown a readiness to back up the point on a full-time basis, another reason this summer is so critical to both players' growth.

The Mavs have been impressed with Jones' vision and decision-making in limited stints at point last year in Vegas and with the Legends. The plan after last season was to develop Beaubois as Jason Kidd's heir apparent, but clearly that plan has hit hurdle after hurdle.

So, as Beaubois again begins to rehab, this time outside of the Mavs' reach, and Jones hopefully hones his skills in a gym somewhere, questions abound during what looks to be a long, hot, quiet summer.



Monta Ellis
20.5 4.6 1.5 33.7
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.6
AssistsM. Ellis 4.6
StealsM. Ellis 1.5
BlocksB. Wright 1.5