J.J. Barea

Andrew Wiggins presented with 2014- 2015 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award

Andrew Wiggins throws it down and J.J. Barea ends up in poster (VIDEO)

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Canada and Puerto Rico met in the finals of the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup, which is essentially a tune-up for FIBA Americas, which starts next week (that event is a 2016 Rio Olympics qualifier).

What we learned in this game is that if Canada’s Andrew Wiggins wants to dunk, Puerto Rico’s J.J. Barea will not be able to stop him. Not even close.

Wiggins finished with 20 points and Canada won 78-72, picking up its first Continental Cup. There is a lot of hype in Canada that for the first time since 2000 their national team could make the Olympics — the top two finishers at FIBA Americas in Canada get their cards punched for Rio. Canada (with eight NBA players) looks like a team that could make it. Especially if Wiggins keeps doing that.

 

Mavericks sign JaVale McGee

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets
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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

BASKET-EURL-ANADOLU EFES-REAL MADRID
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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.

J.J. Barea negotiates a raise from Mavericks after DeAndre Jordan defection

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three
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Wesley Matthews got more money from the Mavericks when DeAndre Jordan spurned Dallas for the Clippers.

Apparently, J.J. Barea – who agreed to a two-year, $5.6 million contract – got the same treatment.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

On one hand, the Mavericks had extra cap space laying around after Jordan’s surprise turnaround. On the other hand, they could have used that money to improve the team this year and in coming years.

Instead, they lock up the 31-year-old Barea, who fits Rick Carlisle’s system but relies on his quick first step to get to the basket. If he loses athleticism into his 30s, Barea could become unplayable.

As the salary-cap rises, $4 million per season isn’t a huge investment. But it eats into the Mavericks’ flexibility, and they lock in further with a roster that’s mediocre in the Western Conference.

I can see why Mark Cuban wants to let those types of teams into the playoffs.

Report: Deron Williams talking buyout with Nets so he can join Mavericks

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four
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The Nets wanted out from under the contracts of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams this summer, but D-Will was always going to be the harder to deal. Williams is set to make $43 million over the next two years, which is a lot of money for an erratic 13 points and 6.6 assists per game (his per-game averages last year).

So the Nets may just buy him out.

Then he would go home and sign with the Dallas Mavericks.

That according to Marc Stein at ESPN.

Former All-Star point guard Deron Williams is in talks with the Brooklyn Nets about securing his potential release this offseason to clear the way for Williams to sign with his hometown Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources….

A buyout, if Williams’ representatives and the Nets can come to terms, would be Brooklyn’s preference compared to outright waiving the 31-year-old. The Nets have been adamant since the end of the season that they do not want to simply release Williams via the stretch provision, even though it would allow them to pay out his remaining salary over the next five seasons and reduce their luxury-tax bill, as long as such a measure is executed before the Aug. 31 deadline….

Sources say the Mavericks, by contrast, are very motivated to sign Williams after being spurned in free agency by DeAndre Jordan, provided Williams can extricate himself from the Nets and get to the open market.

Nets GM Billy King previously said there was no chance the Nets would buy out Williams. Apparently he meant no chance until there was zero chance he could trade Williams. Just buying out Williams would still leave the Nets with a pretty hefty salary cap hit they are trying to avoid (they are close to the repeater tax)  so waiving and stretching out his contract (spreading the salary cap hit over five years at more like $8.6 million rather than $21 million this year) is certainly a possibility.

Back in 2012 Williams chose Brooklyn over Dallas when it was time to renew his deal. However, he grew up in Dallas, and as an added draw his former Jazz teammate Wesley Matthews is now a Maverick player. Dallas certainly needs a point guard, and Williams would be an upgrade over Devin Harris and J.J. Barea.

This makes some sense for both sides. The Nets get out from under some salary and can start to rebuild. The Mavericks can be a little better, more respectable and maybe a playoff team in the West (maybe, the West remains stacked).

It’s something to watch. Brooklyn will do what it takes to get out from under this contract.