Friday, March 23, 2012
Kelenna Azubuike to Mavericks
By Marc Stein
The Dallas Mavericks signed swingman Kelenna Azubuike to fill the roster spot vacated by Thursday's release of Sean Williams.
Although Azubuike hasn't played since early in the 2009-10 season because of a knee injury, Mavericks officials are intrigued by the progress Azubuike has made in his rehabilitation efforts, sources said.
Azubuike will receive a deal for the rest of this season and a team option for next season, sources said. He will start his comeback with the Frisco-based Texas Legends, Dallas' D-League affiliate. He is expected to practice with the Legends on Friday and could play for them as early as Saturday night against the Reno Bighorns at home, sources said.
"We like him as a player," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told reporters in San Antonio on Friday morning following the team's shootaround. "The hope is that he can possibly help us this year.
"He's an energetic, athletic guy that's a very good 3-point shooter. (He's) the kind of athlete that we're trying to find for our team."
After playing on the Golden State squad that upset Dallas in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, Azubuike averaged 13.9 points through the first nine games of the 2009-10 season under then-Warriors coach Don Nelson when he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
He was later included in Golden State's sign-and-trade acquisition of David Lee from the New York Knicks in the summer of 2010, but Azubuike never played a game with the Knicks and was released Feb. 28, 2011.
Undrafted out of Kentucky, Azubuike began his pro career with the Fort Worth Flyers in the D-League and was regarded as a quality defender and 3-point shooter before his knee troubles (the Fort Worth franchise has since relocated to Reno, Nev.).
Williams played in only eight games with the Mavericks after leaving his team in Israel to sign with his hometown team on Dec. 21, averaging 3.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.1 minutes.
The former Mansfield (Texas) High School standout played in 24 games on multiple assignments to the Mavericks' D-League affiliate in Frisco, averaging 14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the Del Harris-coached Texas Legends.