Tag: Dallas Mavericks

Dante Exum

Dante Exum injury revives debate about risk, reward of playing for national teams


It was one of the big topics of last summer, sparked by the injury to Paul George at a Team USA exhibition:

Can these national team injuries be avoided? Should players be potentially risking their careers over this? Where is the line between the reward of playing for one’s country and the risk of injury?

Those injuries hit NBA teams much harder than they do a national team (particularly a deep USA basketball roster). George missed most of what was a lost season for the Pacers because of that gruesome leg injury, all to play in a FIBA World Cup that draws yawns from fans in the United States (winning it did earn the USA an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics). That has long been Mark Cuban’s issue — if he and the Mavs have to assume the risk of Dirk Nowitzki getting injured playing for Germany, they should get some of the financial rewards of the event. That doesn’t happen.

The potential ACL injury to Utah’s Dante Exum playing for Australia this summer has revived this discussion.

That injury hasn’t slowed the more than 40 players who will be in Las Vegas for the Team USA mini-camp this summer because guys still want to make the Olympic squad. That is the event we care about stateside, plus it is a massive platform internationally to grow a brand. Players are not giving that up. However, a number of name players coming off injury or just feeling tired — Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, among others — will attend but not participate in drills during the camp.

Bottom line: Exum’s injury — a setback for an up-and-coming Jazz team — has people talking.

The big issue is wear and tear. It’s a question of rest.

Guys can suffer injuries anywhere — in a pickup game at UCLA, working out at a Las Vegas gym, during the NBA season, or trying to get out of their car. Injuries happen. The fact is with national teams (particularly Team USA) and international competitions, these guys play fewer minutes and have very good training staffs around them. Injuries are going to be caught faster, and the player taken care of better with Team USA than at private workouts. USA basketball’s staff and facilities are top notch.

And if you are a player who wants to learn from and test yourself against the best, USA Basketball is the place to do it.

The question is how much should guys do for their national teams? When will they get enough rest and let their bodies recuperate? We already know that the NBA is working to adjust its schedule — doing away with four games in five days, reducing back-to-backs — because of concerns about the body needing rest. That marathon grind is seen as the reason for the rash of high-profile injuries that plagued the NBA last season.

“Of course it’s a concern when players are getting injured. It’s not necessarily worse than it’s been historically. But it’s to the point, especially when you see star players going down and missing serious numbers of games, it’s something that we’re focused on…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the NBA Finals (not long before Irving suffered his knee injury).

“We’ve revamped the entire scheduling process this year to try to do everything to clear more windows at our arenas, to clear more broadcast windows,” Silver said. “… I think the science over time zone travel has gotten much better, where moving four time zones, we think, may have an effect on players’ bodies that we may not have understood historically.”

Since there is no chance the league and players will agree to shorten the NBA season (nobody is giving up that revenue), these are at least some smart steps.

But if players are with their national team during the summer, are they getting enough physical down time? This is not a new concern — China never let Yao Ming rest, he played every summer for the national team, until his body started just to give out on him. Foreign players — such as Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol of Spain, or Exum in Australia — face added pressure because, unlike Team USA, there isn’t the same depth of talent. If the Gasols don’t play for Spain, that team is not nearly as good, there are no comparable replacements.

Cuban wants the NBA to put on its own World Cup, so at least they get paid. That seems unlikely.

But the NBA and FIBA need to talk and come to an understanding. One major tournament every four years — the Olympics — is enough. Soccer, where the World Cup is the biggest event, turned Olympic soccer into an under 23 tournament. There is still some good young talent out there, and these are younger players who can handle the additional training and games more easily, but the big name veterans get to rest more.

There are real challenges in getting this done — all centered around money, of course — but it’s the direction basketball needs to go. We’ve seen the data and it’s clear — players need more rest. International competitions cut into that, and there need to be some limits.

And even if they do all that, injuries will happen. It’s part of the game.



Dirk Nowitzki used to sing Counting Crows “Mr. Jones” at free throw line, sings few bars on podcast

Dirk Nowitzki

My first thought: Hey, DeAndre Jordan, do you know the lyrics to “Einstein on the Beach?”

Let’s go back to the beginning.

We know that Dirk Nowitzki has different musical tastes than the average NBA players. Most guys are listening to Drake or J. Cole, while thinking Jay-Z is a god, and Nowitzki is listening to David Hasselhoff. So why not some Counting Crows? Frontman Adam Duritz is an NBA fan (Warriors to be specific), and they are a little bit older now, just like Dirk.

When Nowitzki was a younger player who would get nervous when he had to sink pressure free throws, he used to sing a little Counting Crows Mr. Jones to relax, he told Adam McKay and Adam Davidson on the Awesome Boring podcast (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

It works, Nowitzki shot 88.2 percent from the stripe last year, right at his career average.

So, Jordan, about learning some Counting Crows songs…

Devin Harris says he wishes DeAndre Jordan had handled situation with maturity

Las Vegas Summer League Behind the Scenes

Mark Cuban says he has moved on. The Dallas Mavericks organization moved on and went out and got Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia.

Still, the DeAndre Jordan mid-stream reversal is the story of their off-season.

Dallas fans haven’t all moved on — wait until the Clippers visit the American Airlines Center — but in an interview with Earl K. Sneed of the team’s official Web site, reserve point guard Devin Harris summed up the feelings of many around the team:

The problem for Dallas is now they are a team battling for the eight seed in the West next season, a team without a clear path to return to the Finals while Dirk Nowitzki can still contribute. Not that Jordan alone was going to make that happen, but he was a big step down the path (along with signing Wesley Matthews, who stayed with the team).

What Jordan did was fully within his rights — it may have violated the way things are usually done, but he can change his mind any time up to signing the contract. Cuban and the Mavericks admit that.

However, this circus ended up being an extension of Jordan’s personality — he’s fun-loving, and not always the most mature guy in the locker room. He’s 27, he doesn’t have to drive a mini-van and act like he’s 47. He’s a good guy (from my limited interactions with him), and he should be enjoying all Los Angeles and life have to offer. But his personality was all over how this series of events went down, and he should have at least called Cuban as it was happening and explain his change of heart. That would have been the adult thing to do.

Now, we should all just move on… well, until the Clippers come to Dallas.

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle says team will err on side of caution with Wesley Matthews return

New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers

Players have bounced back from a torn Achilles, as Wesley Matthews is trying to do in Dallas this season. That said, history is not kind to them. Those players often are never quite as explosive, their efficiency tends to take a big dip.

And the worst case scenario is what happened to Kobe Bryant — another injury.

Which is why Dallas is going to take it slow and easy with Matthews, something coach Rick Carlisle told the official Dallas Website.

“You know, we’ve done research on it,” Carlisle said while speaking on Matthews’ injury. “We’ve talked to his people, and we talked to the doctor that did the surgery. Casey has all that information. He’s definitely on track for a full recovery, but we’re going to be erring on the side of being conservative and cautioned. I think the most important thing is that he makes a full recovery, because we’re signing him to a four-year deal. The first year is more about making sure that he’s right and getting him out there on the right terms, and from there we want him to make a full recovery and continue to get better.”

Thinking long-term is the smart approach, the only one the Mavericks should consider. The only fair one to Matthews.

Consider this a reminder that this next season in Dallas is not about a quick rebuild to contention, but hopefully taking some steps in that direction. Like getting Matthews healthy, seeing what Deron Williams has left, and seeing if guys like Maurice Ndour can develop into useful players.

Just making the playoffs should be the goal in Dallas. And that may be too lofty a goal. But what really matters is sticking with the path.

Report: Mavericks give Salah Mejri fully guaranteed salary

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The Mavericks have at least 14 players with guaranteed salaries for next season.

One name in that group is a bit of a surprise, at least once you get past Dallas’ well-publicized pursuit of Maurice NDour.

The Mavericks also gave a fully guaranteed 2015-16 salary to Salah Mejri, whom they’d been linked to for a while.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

Dallas’ 14 players with reportedly guaranteed salaries for next season:

  • Wesley Matthews
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Deron Williams
  • Zaza Pachulia
  • J.J. Barea
  • Devin Harris
  • Raymond Felton
  • Justin Anderson
  • Jeremy Evans
  • John Jenkins
  • Charlie Villanueva
  • Maurice N’Dour
  • Salah Mejri

The Mavericks will also have Samuel Dalembert and Jarrid Famous (unclear guarantees), Jamil Wilson and Brandon Ashley (small guarantees) and Dwight Powell (unguaranteed).

Those are 19 players competing for 15 regular-season roster spots.

Mejri’s guarantee would seem to give him a leg up, but Dallas hasn’t shied from eating guaranteed contracts in the past. He’ll have to earn his roster spot in training camp just like everyone else.

Mejri is a 29-year-old, 7-foot-2 center who played for Real Madrid last season and represented Tunisia in the 2012 London Olympics. He uses his size relatively well on both ends of the floor – finishing at the rim, defending the paint and crashing the glass – but facing NBA athleticism will be a major adjustment.

The Mavericks are desperate at center after DeAndre Jordan reneged and re-signed with the Clippers. Maybe Mejri will help. The best thing I can say about him: Dallas believed in him enough to fully guarantee his 2015-16 salary. That’s either a positive signal or sign of desperation – or maybe a bit of both.