Dorian Finney-Smith

Mock NBA expansion draft
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Mock NBA expansion draft: Mavericks, Rockets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Spurs

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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division (here is the Atlantic Division, Central Division, Pacific Division, Northwest Division and Southeast Division). Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Southwest:

Dallas Mavericks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 4

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: Seven of Dallas’ protections were easy calls. They’re all players locked up long-term. That left deciding between Tim Hardaway Jr, who has been a starter for the Mavericks but has a player option, and several other useful players.

Ultimately, the Mavs can’t afford to lose Hardaway, who has rediscovered his solid offensive play from his Hawks years. That leaves Justin Jackson and three big men in Dwight Powell (coming off a torn Achilles’) and Boban Marjanovic and Willie-Cauley-Stein (both backups for Dallas). The most likely to be selected player is probably Jackson, but that’s a risk Dallas has to take.

Houston Rockets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 2

Ineligible – 5

Analysis: No decision points for the Rockets. Houston is protecting the entirety of their eight-man rotation.

Chris Clemons could make for an interesting expansion pick because his scoring ability at guard. Isaiah Hartenstein has shown some flashes in the G-League as well.

Memphis Grizzlies

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 1

Analysis: Just how hard the Grizzlies’ protection decision were is a testament to how well their rebuild has gone. Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton were all locks. Justise Winslow was just acquired at the trade deadline as the centerpiece of a deal. Tyus Jones is the ideal backup point guard behind Morant, so he stays as well. That left Jonas Valanciunas vs Kyle Anderson for the final protected spot. Valanciunas’ presence allows Jackson to play power forward, so the big man gets the final spot.

Memphis is gambling that Anderson’s slow-mo style of play and $9.5 million salary isn’t what an expansion team is looking for. Jontay Porter is another risk, but he’s got a lengthy injury history of his own. The Grizzlies will hope one of the other three is selected and might be willing to offer a small incentive to make it happen.

New Orleans Pelicans

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 4

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: New Orleans’ protections are cut and dry. Every player protected, minus Brandon Ingram, is signed for at least one more season. This includes several players on rookie scale contracts. Ingram will most assuredly be re-signed this summer, so that decision was easy as well.

The only gamble among the unprotected players is Nicolo Melli. He’s become a rotation player for the Pelicans, but he’s not as valuable as the younger players. The other three players are mostly out of the New Orleans’ rotation and not anyone the team will worry about if they are selected.

San Antonio Spurs

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 4

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Spurs are banking on keeping DeMar DeRozan this summer. He either opts in or re-signs in San Antonio. LaMarcus Aldridge is an easy decision as well. Dejounte Murray will start his extension this coming season. Everyone else is on their rookie scale contract, minus Jakob Poeltl. Poeltl is a restricted free agent that the Spurs hope to retain this offseason.

San Antonio is gambling that the big salaries of Rudy Gay and Patty Mills will keep them from being selected. That exposes Trey Lyles, who has a relatively small guarantee, and young big man Chimezie Metu. The Spurs would like to keep both, but not at the expense of losing a rookie scale player.

NBA sends teams memo stressing rules of conduct by staff at games

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The NBA sent a memo to teams reminding them of rules that govern conduct of owners, coaches and other team personnel during games.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, laid out parameters for proper conduct by team personnel toward game officials, how team personnel other than coaches are not allowed on the court during games and how they cannot use “profane or objectionable language that might be heard by spectators” during the game.

Further, it said the league’s “enforcement of these rules with enhanced penalties will be a point of emphasis for the league office” during the rest of the season and beyond.

The memo about the rules of conduct for team personnel does not mention Cuban specifically, though he typically sits near the Mavericks’ bench during games.

“Team personnel who watch games from seats, especially seats near the court, should set a positive example for fans by ensuring that any isolated comments directed at the game officials or the officiating are respectful and appropriate,” the league said in its memo. “Of course, brief social interactions resulting from courtesy between team personnel and game officials are always permitted.”

The first order of business Friday was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denying the Mavericks’ protest of the outcome of a Feb. 22 game against Atlanta. Dallas contended that goaltending rules were misapplied when a late basket by Atlanta’s John Collins was counted. Collins scored as a whistle was blown and goaltending of a layup attempt by the Hawks’ Trae Young was called on Dallas’ Dorian Finney-Smith. Collins grabbed Young’s miss and scored, as confusion reigned.

“What I’ll say on the record is hopefully they’ll let us release our actual filing of the protest,” Cuban said Friday before the Mavericks’ home game against Memphis. “I’m waiting to hear back from them. Then everybody gets to see why we thought it needed to be protested.”

Cuban also said he would match the fine with a donation that would include funding the heart transplant of a local man.

Cuban was also fined $500,000 for his Twitter rant about that call in Atlanta. The fine raised the total that NBA has fined Cuban over the years to at least $3.1 million, and the Mavericks’ owner has said in the past that he always donates the equivalent of the fine amount to charity simultaneously. This was the third time a fine of at least $500,000 against Cuban was announced by the league; he was fined $500,000 for comments about officiating in 2002 and $600,000 in 2018 for public comments on tanking.

Mark Cuban blasts NBA officials following Dallas loss in Atlanta

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The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night and following the game, Mark Cuban lost his mind on the officials.

With 8.4 seconds to play in the game and Atlanta leading by two-points, Dorian Finney-Smith blocked Trae Young‘s attempted shot. Officials blew the whistle and called the block a goaltend. As this happened, John Collins grabbed the ball and scored. Following review, it was determined that the block was clean and not a goaltend, but that Collins was in his shooting motion as the whistle blew. The officials waived off the goaltending call, but counted Collins’ basket. This gave the Hawks a four-point lead and effectively ended the game.

Following the game, Crew Chief Rodney Mott spoke with a pool reporter and said:

“The ball was blocked and reviewed. The ball hit the rim, so it was deemed an inadvertent whistle because it was ruled a good block. By rule, it’s an inadvertent whistle. It’s Rule Two. Because he (Collins) was in his shooting motion when my whistle blew, it’s deemed a continuation, so therefore, the basket counts.”

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle expressed confusion over the call after the game. Carlisle said counting Collins’ basket was “hard to fathom”.

It didn’t stop there, as noted referee critic Cuban unleashed a series of tweets blasting the sequence:

 

Cuban is no stranger to run-ins with the NBA over officiating. In 2002, after saying the NBA’s head of officiating Ed T. Rush “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen”, Cuban was fined by the NBA. He then famously accepted Dairy Queen’s invitation to work for a day at one of their Texas locations.

Overall, Cuban has been fined over $1.6 million for various infractions during his tenure as owner of the Mavericks. He had notably softened his public criticism of referees in recent years, before his outburst on Saturday night. Cuban’s most recent fine was for $600,000 in 2018 for publicly saying that Dallas should “tank for the rest of the season” when the Mavericks were struggling.

This series of tweets, as well as comments made directly to the media, are bound to add to the money Cuban has donated to NBA-supported charities over the years.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reportedly agrees to contract with Dallas

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The Dallas Mavericks organization likes a good reclamation project. The team also needs forwards/wings with some size and length.

Enter Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

As expected, he has agreed to terms with the Dallas Mavericks. Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with the story, but there have been a number of reporters confirming the news.

 

Dallas had to create a roster spot for Kidd-Gilchrist, which was bad news for Ryan Broekhoff.

Kidd-Gilchrist is a quality defender and plays with energy, and that could fill a role in Dallas behind Dorian Finney-Smith. The difference is Finney-Smith is shooting 38.5 percent from three on more than four threes a game, while Kidd-Gilchrist is shooting 29.4 percent from three and is taking about a quarter as many.

Coach Rick Carlisle will find a role for Kidd-Gilchrist to eat minutes during the regular season, just don’t expect a big playoff role.

Watch Bradley Beal’s game-winning layup as Wizards top Mavericks

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WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal‘s last-second layup handed the Dallas Mavericks another loss without Luka Doncic.

They felt as though things slipped away well before that.

Beal made a layup with 0.2 seconds left to finish with 29 points and give the Washington Wizards a 119-118 victory Friday night over Dallas, which has dropped three of five since Doncic went out with a sprained right ankle. The Mavericks committed 14 turnovers that turned into 23 Wizards points, and they weren’t themselves defensively in part because Kristaps Porzingis got into foul trouble.

“The game was lost throughout,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had too many miscommunications, and it was a collection of defensive mistakes over 47 minutes and 58.2 seconds or whatever it was that led to this. Just very disappointing.”

Beal’s heroics came after Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. drew a blocking foul and hit one of two free throws with 1.8 seconds left.

“He was reading the defense really well and it’s a great play, good screen, good finish,” coach Scott Brooks said.

Beal fell one point short of reaching 30 for an eighth consecutive game, but felt great about getting the 18-32 Wizards to the edge of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference. They’re three games back of the eighth seed.

“It just meant a lot to win at the end of the day,” said Beal, who was 11 of 28 from the field. “We’ve got four or five home games before the break. We can take full advantage of that and be sitting right in the playoff picture.”

Washington made 19 of 38 3-pointers. Davis Bertans was responsible for five of them and finished with 20 points.

“We’ve just got to do a better job guarding guys,” Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. “We’ve got to limit the wide-open 3s.”

Rookie Rui Hachimura took it to Porzingis, getting the Mavericks center into foul trouble and finishing with 17. Porzingis, who played without a protective face mask two nights after breaking his nose, picked up his fifth early in the fourth quarter and had 11 points in just 21:16.

Shuffling Porzingis in and out didn’t help the Mavericks’ rhythm, especially on defense, where players blamed a lack of communication.

“This team is way too close to not talk as much as we did tonight,” Jalen Brunson said. “We have very good chemistry, we all enjoy each other, so this is a very uncharacteristic night for us not talking defensively.”

Doncic is progressing in his rehab, and the Mavericks hope he can play at least one game before the All-Star break, which begins for them after a game against Sacramento on Feb. 12. This is the second time Doncic sprained his right ankle this season, and it’s unclear what kind of maintenance it’ll need over the next few weeks and months.

“Any time you have any body part that’s been injured a couple times, the training staff’s going to watch it very closely,” Carlisle said.