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Dirk Nowitzki set for 20th season, but the Mavericks need more star power

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DALLAS (AP) Dirk Nowitzki decided a while back that he would play a 20th season for the Dallas Mavericks.

The big German has a potential heir in Harrison Barnes, some intriguing young players with rotation potential around him and a good enough feeling about his body that the 38-year-old might even hang around beyond next season.

But the Mavericks are coming off their worst record (33-49) since 1997-98, the season before Nowitzki arrived. They’ve missed the playoffs twice in five seasons after qualifying 12 straight years. And they still haven’t won a playoff series since winning the franchise’s only championship in 2011.

Whether with a top 10 draft pick or a signing in free agency after years of summer failures, Dallas needs more star power.

“It’s an important summer for this franchise, for sure, to head back in the right direction, if you want to say, starting with the draft,” Nowitzki said. “And then free agency is important, too. So, yeah, this is a big summer, but we tend to stand here the last few years and always say it’s a big summer for the franchise.”

The losing record was the first in the 17 full seasons that Mark Cuban owned the team. Rick Carlisle had just his second sub.500-season in 15 years as a head coach.

Injuries, including an Achilles problem for Nowitzki, played a part because most of them came during a difficult schedule early, dooming Dallas to a 4-17 start. Since the Mavericks were out of contention, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson transformed the roster at the trading deadline.

Nerlens Noel, an athletic center and sixth overall pick in 2013, came from Philadelphia in a trade. Undrafted rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell, added on a 10-day contract and now signed for next year, was given a chance to start when veteran Deron Williams was waived by his hometown team.

Seth Curry, Stephen Curry‘s younger brother, emerged as an option at both guard spots before a late-season shoulder injury. Argentine rookie Nicolas Brussino showed some promise as a 3-point threat, and the Mavericks like the defense of Dorian Finney-Smith.

“I love the way Mark and Donnie turned over the roster at the All-Star break and just pointed us in the direction of developing younger guys for our young core,” Carlisle said. “But we have to have great players.”

Things to consider with the Mavericks currently holding the ninth pick in the draft going into the lottery May 16:

DIRK’S OUTLOOK

The smooth-shooting 7-footer said a year ago he didn’t want to be part of any rebuilding. But he essentially backed off that, acknowledging once and for all that he’s a Mav for life.

“At the end of the day, I just can’t imagine myself in a different uniform,” said Nowitzki, who reached 30,000 points for his career and has an outside shot at Wilt Chamberlain for No. 5 on the career list. “If we’re rebuilding, then I’m the face of that.”

BARNES’ TEAM

After signing a max contract at $94 million over four years, Barnes led the Mavericks at 19.2 points per game and could have averaged 20 without a late-season focus on youth. He’s ready to accept the role as the next face of the franchise, and likely will play Nowitzki’s old power forward spot most of the time. It’s where he had his best success this season.

BUT FIRST, NOEL

The 6-11 center is a restricted free agent, and Cuban has said the Mavericks are likely to match any offer. Dallas covets Noel’s shot-blocking and general athleticism, and wants to make him more of a threat on the offensive end. “He’s an exciting young talent and I do think he can expand his game. But we’ve got to be careful about doing too much too soon,” Carlisle said.

FERRELL’S FUTURE

After a flashy start that got him a multiyear deal, Ferrell was steady enough to make the Mavericks believe he has a future. But Carlisle still isn’t ready to say the former Indiana player is an NBA starter.

“We didn’t have a good record,” Carlisle said. “At this point in time, projecting exactly where he’s going to be is not really fair.”

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2017 PBT Awards: All-Rookie Teams

AP Photo/Morry Gash
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Kurt Helin

First team

Malcolm Brogdon
Jamal Murray
Dario Saric
Willy Hernangomez
Joel Embiid

Second team

Yogi Ferrell
Buddy Hield
Jaylen Brown
Caris LeVert
Marquese Chriss

This is a tepid rookie class, and after a few obvious choices it felt like a dozen or more guys could have gotten the final five or six spots. There was not a lot of separation. Also, guys like Skal Labissiere and Ivica Zubac could end up being some of the better players in this class, but they didn’t get enough of a shot this season to make this team.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • Joel Embiid, 76ers
  • Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
  • Dario Saric, 76ers
  • Willy Hernangomez, Knicks
  • Rodney McGruder, Heat

Second team

    • Yogi Ferrell, Mavericks
    • Jaylen Brown, Celtics
    • Jamal Murray, Nuggets
    • Marquese Chriss, Suns
    • Buddy Hield, Kings

The final first-team spot came down to Rodney McGruder and Yogi Ferrell. The final second-team spot came down to Buddy Hield and Caris LeVert. The other spots fell in line easily enough.

Yes, this was an uninspiring rookie class.

Dane Carbaugh

First team

  • Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
  • Dario Saric, 76ers
  • Jamal Murray, Nuggets
  • Marquese Chriss, Suns
  • Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

  • Willy Hernangomez, Knicks
  • Buddy Hield, Kings
  • Yogi Ferrell, Mavericks
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics
  • Skal Labissiere, Kings

Adam Silver told Mark Cuban NBA would not honor Tony Romo contract so he could play

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Adam Silver stood up to Mark Cuban — and it was the right move.

Tuesday night the Mavericks honored former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo by having him be a “Maverick for a day.” He went through shootaround with the team, went through the layup line pregame, and sat on the bench in uniform for an NBA game. It was a marketing stunt, and while there was plenty of debate about whether it went too far on sports talk radio, it was ultimately harmless.

However, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had wanted to sign Romo to a one-day contract and play him in that game, but Commissioner Adam Silver shot the idea down, Cuban told Todd Archer of ESPN.

If Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had his way, Tony Romo would not only have dressed for Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, he would have found his way into the game.

When he approached NBA commissioner Adam Silver with the idea, Cuban said, “I told him what I was going to do and said, ‘Fine me if you don’t like it.'”

Silver told Cuban the contract would not be honored, which killed the idea but did not stop the Mavericks from honoring the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

Good on Silver. That was the right call.

Having Romo in layup lines is one thing, having him play in the game is another. That would be denigrating the game. That would be an insult to all the guys busting it nightly in the D-Leauge just to get a chance to prove they deserve a shot in the NBA. Romo in a game would have been a step too far.

As it was, some fans thought this was a step too far, but Cuban told them to chill — the NBA is entertainment, and that’s all this was. He’s right. But only thanks to Silver.

Tony Romo says he felt like a “turtle” at Mavericks’ practice, but he hit at least one shot

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Go ahead and make your “can he get through warmups without getting injured” jokes, but it’s happening:

Tony Romo is going to be a Dallas Maverick for a night Tuesday, and he went through shootaround and a little practice on Tuesday afternoon. He was asked about it afterward and said he felt like a turtle, but that he’ll get more street cred sitting on the bench as a Mav than he ever did as a Cowboy. You can see the interview above.

Here’s what we know from practice, Romo has a little midrange game.

Caron Butler: Tony Romo could have played professional basketball

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Tony Romo will apparently be in uniform, though not playing, for the Mavericks tomorrow.

Maybe the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback could have actually had a career in professional basketball if he pursued it.

That’s at least the theory of Caron Butler, the former NBA player who played high school basketball in Wisconsin the same time as Romo.

Butler, via Todd Archer and Marc Stein of ESPN

“Believe it or not, man, when we were in the prime of our careers, I used to always talk about it: [Romo] could have easily been a professional basketball player,” Caron Butler told ESPN. “And a lot of people were like, ‘Man, you’re crazy for saying that,’ but Tony could shoot. He could handle the ball. He had a knack for scoring, man, he really did.

“He was a really good football player, obviously, being a quarterback. He was great at golf. And he was really good at basketball. Obviously it worked out for him with the football, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he would have made it playing basketball. He had a great feel for the game, man. And it’s not surprising. Golf is a cerebral game; you gotta have that mental component to conquer the course. And then football’s the same thing; you gotta be able to think on the fly and do all these things. And then basketball, I thought, all those components worked together.”

I mean, maybe. Romo obviously has a certain type of athletic talent.

But he was just 6-foot-2 and didn’t necessarily have the running/jumping ability to play high-end basketball — no matter how well his mental attributes would translate.

The best thing for the legend of Romo as a basketball player is that he never had to prove it.