Anthony Bennett has looked good playing for Canada. Will that carry over to NBA?

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Canada opens its FIBA Americas play today (Tuesday) taking on Argentina, in what should be one of the more attractive Group B matches in the tournament. It’s a game of contrasts. Argentina is the old guard, they have had international success — gold at the 2004 Olympics — but their golden generation has aged out (Manu Ginobili isn’t playing for them, for example). Canada is the young team on the rise, a squad loaded with young NBA talent — Andrew Wiggins, Andrew Nicholson, Cory Joseph, Nik Stauskas, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, and…

Anthony Bennett.

The former No. 1 pick, a guy panned as a bust, has looked good for Canada in warmups for the tournament. He was a starter and key part of Canada winning the FIBA Americas’ tuneup event, the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. Against Brazil, he scored 11 straight points and finished with 16 points in 15 minutes in that tournament.

He was asked about what is different after that win, as reported by Josh Lewenberg at TSN.

“[I’m] just playing with confidence, pretty much,” the 22-year-old forward responded. “Just going out there, playing defense, running the court. Just doing the little things first and trying to make offense come to me.”

“Anthony has been exemplary this summer,” said (Canada GM Steve) Nash, the two-time NBA MVP and future hall of fame point guard. “He’s had a tough first two years in the league but his attitude’s been amazing. His talent has never been in question but his attitude, willingness to learn and attention to detail… not that his attitude was ever an issue, but for him to come, to play in the Pan Am Games, to partake in a whole summer with us, it shows he has a real willingness to learn and get better and a want to be a great player.”

Bennett is also healthy, which has not happened a lot through his first two years in the NBA, and those injuries impacted his conditioning.

The question is, can Bennett bring this same level of play to Minnesota next season?

Bennett has had moments where he’s looked improved before — 2014 Summer League, for example — but it hasn’t translated once the NBA tipped off. Bennett was better last season in Minnesota than he was as a rookie, but he still needs to make strides to become a regular rotation player an improving Timberwolves team can count on.

That’s the ceiling for Bennett, it seem — solid rotation player. That’s nowhere near what is expected out of a No. 1 pick, but that anchor around him is more about Cleveland’s misread than it is Bennett’s game (notice the Cavs changed GMs). Bennett is what he is.

Canadian coach Jay Triano told Bennett to simplify the game — find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on doing those things exceptionally well. Crash the boards, run the floor. Everything else will fall into place.

If it falls into place for the Timberwolves, it will be one more piece in their puzzle.

Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

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The Jazz drafted Olivier Hanlan No. 42, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him this season. So, the former Boston College guard signed in Lithuania.

Team Canada apparently didn’t have room for him, either.

Canada announced its roster for FIBA Americas, and Hanlan was the final cut.

It’s remarkable that Canada can afford to drop a player drafted to the NBA, but the country’s basketball team has come a long way in a short time. The Canadians will have nine NBA players:

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Cory Joseph
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Robert Sacre
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Dwight Powell
  • Melvin Ejim

Aaron Doornekamp, Phil Scrubb and Brady Heslip round out the 12-man roster.

The top two teams in FIBA Americas – besides Brazil, which got an automatic bid as host nation – will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The next three teams, again excluding Brazil, advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Canada is definitely a threat this year and next. With such a young team, its future might be even brighter.

Maybe with a little seasoning, Hanlan will eventually make the squad.

Then again, he’ll also have to fend off the next generation of Canadian basketballers, players like Trey Lyles and Jamal Murray.

A few years ago, it would have seemed incomprehensible Canada could afford to cut a player drafted by an NBA team.

Soon, Canada might form its roster completely from NBA players.

Mavericks sign JaVale McGee

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The Mavericks were reportedly interested in JaVale McGee, and then the Lakers joined the mix.

Dallas got its man – the one who has played just 28 games the last two seasons and has more than his share of mental lapses.

Mavericks release:

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed free-agent center JaVale McGee.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Note to Kings: This is how you get value on a talented player who has underachieved and is trying to prove himself. If McGee plays well this season, the Mavericks get him on a minimum contract for next season. If he doesn’t, they don’t have to pay him anything next season. And they’re not paying him $9.5 million this year to find out whether he still has it.

But before looking to 2016-17 McGee must just make this year’s team.

McGee gives Dallas the offseason limit of 20 players. At least 15 – the regular-season roster limit – have fully guaranteed salaries:

  • 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
  • Samuel Dalembert
  • Maurice N’Dour
  • Salah Mejri

The other four:

McGee’s guarantee is unclear, as is his place on the roster. Even if McGee’s salary is fully guaranteed, he’ll have to best at least one player in the same boat for a regular-season roster spot.

He’ll compete with Pachulia, Dalembert, Mejri and Famous to fill the center role vacated by DeAndre Jordan. If he’s healthy and focused – two longshots – McGee can help. He’s 7-foot and at least had excellent hops.

There’s nothing wrong with Dallas betting on these longshots. Jordan’s defection left the Mavericks desperate. They’re throwing a bunch of players against the wall and hoping one sticks. McGee makes sense with that strategy.

I’m a bit surprised McGee accepted this deal, though. The 76ers owed him $12 million this season. After Philadelphia’s set-off, McGee will make just an extra $1,043,723 from Dallas. Was that really worth locking himself into a minimum salary for next season – especially because even that isn’t guaranteed? At some point McGee needs to reestablish his viability as an NBA player, but I would have held out for a one-year contract. The fallback would have been sitting and getting paid by the 76ers, not a two-year minimum contract with a team option.

The Mavericks need McGee to make better decisions, but he probably made a poor one merely by signing with them.

McGee remains a paradox.

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.

Mavericks sign Jamil Wilson, Brandon Ashley

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The Mavericks have at least 13 players with guaranteed salaries for next season.

They also have Dwight Powell (unguaranteed), Samuel Dalembert (guarantee unclear), Jarrid Famous (guarantee unclear) and Santam Singh (unsigned second-round pick).

Training camp will get even more crowded.

Mavericks release:

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed free agent forwards Jamil Wilson and Brandon Ashley.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Jamil Wilson is the key name here. Unlike Brandon Ashley (undrafted out of Arizona) and Salah Mejri (played professionally overseas), the Mavericks can’t waive Wilson and simply assign his D-League rights to their affiliate. That’s because Wilson – undrafted out of Marquette last year – already played in the D-League.

So, Wilson is in camp to make the NBA team. That might also be true of the other players, but it’s definitely true of Wilson. The others could be there just

He’s a combo forward who began his college career at Oregon. It’s hard to see a standout skill, but his versatility on both ends of the court is an asset.

 

 

 

Samuel Dalembert

 

Maurice Ndour

https://twitter.com/IanBegley/status/624339512722911234

Jenkins

http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas-mavericks/post/_/id/4705552/sources-mavs-agree-to-deal-with-john-jenkins