Jalen Brunson

Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Report: Mavericks’ Willie Cauley-Stein sitting out; Dallas signs Trey Burke

Leave a comment

The NBA season typically ends in June. This year, due to coronavirus, players are set to enter a bubble at Disney World in July and stay through as late as October.

That schedule doesn’t work for Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein, but does open the door for Trey Burke.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

In some ways, this feels unfair to Cauley-Stein. Sitting out will cost him $188,119 of base salary plus $23,515 for each play-in and playoff game Dallas plays (up to $329,209 in total lost base salary).* But players often miss time to attend birth of children without having their pay docked.

Yet, coronavirus has forced the NBA to take special precautions. It’s unsafe for players to freely enter and exit the campus at Disney World. Cauley-Stein would face a long quarantine. Playing is also much more burdensome than usual, and continuing players are increasing the salary pot for all players.

On the other other hand, if Cauley-Stein were on one of the eight done teams, he could stay outside the bubble AND keep his salary.*

*With league-wide revenue way down, no players will get a full share of their base salary.

Coronavirus has created numerous difficult situations. This is one of them.

The Mavericks traded for Cauley-Stein in January to replace injured center Dwight Powell. Burke won’t help there, but he will add depth in the backcourt with Courtney Lee and Jalen Brunson also injured. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle often uses two-point-guard lineups, and Burke should fit.

Maybe the Mavericks will make another move to address center. Waiving Lee, who’s on an expiring contract, is an option.

Or Dallas could just roll with Kristaps Porzingis, Boban Marjanovic, Maxi Kleber, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dorian Finney-Smith in creative lineups. Porzingis is very talented and very effective at center, but he’s too slight for some matchups, and he’s not the ideal roll threat to complement Luka Doncic. Marjanovic is too lumbering for many matchups. Kleber, Kidd-Gilchrist and Finney-Smith are small-ball options.

The Mavericks would benefit from having a more-prototypical center (like Powell and Cauley-Stein were). But it’s not paramount.

Reports: Mavericks’ Courtney Lee out after ‘freak accident’ calf injury

Mavericks guard Courtney Lee
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Courtney Lee‘s most prominent roles with the Mavericks have been burdensome salary accepted to get Kristaps Porzingis then tradable expiring contract.

But Lee started Dallas’ last four games before the season got suspended and could have filled a role as play resumes at Disney World.

Unfortunately, the shooting guard apparently suffered a calf injury and underwent surgery.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Bobby Marks of ESPN:

The Mavericks have a full roster. However, they could open a spot by waiving Lee, who’s on an expiring contract. They’d lose his Bird Rights for the offseason, but those likely won’t matter, anyway. At 35 next offseason, Lee won’t command a high salary if Dallas wants him back.

The Mavericks have plenty of backcourt depth with Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry, Delon Wright and J.J. Barea. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle likes using two-point guard lineups.

So, the Mavericks should get by. They just lose some optionality, especially with Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson also injured.

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

Mock NBA expansion draft
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Leave a comment

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.

Dallas’ Jalen Brunson has surgery on right shoulder, timed with break in play

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dallas’ backup point guard Jalen Brunson had missed the team’s last 10 games due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. It needed surgery to fix the problem, but it couldn’t get worse and he wanted to play when it got to the playoffs for Dallas, so the surgery was put on hold and he was going to return to the lineup.

Now, with the league on a 30-day break due to the coronavirus, Brunson went ahead with the surgery, the Mavericks announced.

Smart move by Brunson and the Mavericks.

Brunson, the former Villanova star, has given Dallas a solid 18 minutes a night off the bench this season, averaging 8.2 points and shooting 35.8 percent from three.

Second-year Luka Doncic sets Mavericks’ career triple-double record (video)

Leave a comment

DALLAS — Luka Doncic scored 30 points and broke Dallas’ career triple-double record with his 22nd, helping the Mavericks hold off the New Orleans Pelicans 127-123 in overtime Wednesday night.

Doncic added 17 rebounds and 10 assists, and Kristaps Porzingis had 34 points and 12 rebounds in the nationally televised matchup between young stars Doncic and Zion Williamson. Williamson scored 21 points in 35 minutes in the first back-to-back of his NBA career.

Just five days after his 21st birthday, Doncic broke Jason Kidd’s record for triple-doubles.

Neither team led by more than three points throughout the fourth quarter or overtime until Doncic fed Porzingis for a dunk with 49 seconds left to give Dallas a four-point lead. Doncic had hit a 3 to snap a 118-118 tie with 1:10 to play.

Williamson held up well in his first back-to-back since making his NBA debut Jan. 22. He has scored double figures in all 16 games he’s played in and has 20 points or more in his last 13.

Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 27 points, but fouled out in overtime. Lonzo Ball added 25.

The Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli sent the game to overtime with a tying 3 with 7.4 seconds left after missing his first six 3s of the game.

The Mavericks led by as many as 11 in the first half, but New Orleans kept it close. Dallas led by two at the end of each of the first three quarters.

Williamson gave New Orleans its first lead at 75-73 when he drew contact with Maxi Kleber, who fell to the ground without a call, giving the Pelicans rookie a clear path for a dunk.

While both coaches insisted that the matchup was greater than the two young stars, both showed flashes in the opening quarter. Williamson bulled his way to the basket on two drives, while Doncic drained a 3 with the Pelicans rookie in his face at the other end.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: G J.J. Redick remains out with a left hamstring strain.

Mavericks: Coach Rick Carlisle said there is no timetable for the return of G Jalen Brunson, who missed his sixth game in a row with a right shoulder sprain. The Mavericks also played without G J.J. Barea, who was out with right ankle soreness.

BLOCK PARTY

The Mavericks set a franchise record with 11 blocks in the first half, three of those at Williamson’s expense. After Kleber swatted away one of his shots, Williamson crashed to the floor and got up shaking his head.

Dallas’ previous high was 10 blocks in a half against Philadelphia on Jan. 29, 2005.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Host Miami on Friday night.

Mavericks: Host Memphis on Friday night.