WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — For the first time in the preseason the Dallas Mavericks will have their starting backcourt intact as veteran point guard Jose Calderon slides into the first unit to make his exhibition debut for the team Saturday night in Greensboro, N.C.
Missing the Mavericks’ first four preseason contests while battling a strained left hamstring, Calderon was reduced to being an onlooker from the bench as the team took the court without the Spaniard while getting off to a 2-2 start in exhibition play. However, when the Mavs face off with the Charlotte Bobcats at Greensboro Coliseum, the backcourt will be at full strength as Calderon joins forces with fellow newcomer Monta Ellis.
“I’m really happy and excited to be back and playing games, and it’s going to be fun,” Calderon said following the team’s Saturday morning walkthrough at Wake Forest University. “I’ve been practicing with the team, so it’s to the next step and we’ll see how it goes tonight. But I’m excited to wear that Mavs jersey for the first time, even if it is just preseason.”
“Experience always helps,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added after being forced to start 25-year-old rookie Gal Mekel in the first four preseason contests. “We wouldn’t have won a championship a few years ago without a high level of experience, and Jose being back is going to be a big plus for us.”
With Calderon sidelined, Ellis took over the primary playmaking responsibilities while dishing out an average of 7.3 assists through the first four games. With the eight-year veteran floor general back in action, however, the Mavs figure to have two primary ball handlers that are interchangeable.
Meanwhile, Calderon will try to pick up where he left off at last season while leading the NBA with his 46.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. And with opportunities to stretch the floor expected to open up thanks to Ellis’ dribble penetration, Calderon vows to be ready to shoot when the ball is swung his way.
“Well, I’m really just ready to play with [Ellis] and just be in that corner waiting for him to pass me the ball and I can make a few threes, so it’s going to be great. I think both of us can make plays for our teammates, and that’s going to be a little more difficult to guard. So I’m really happy and excited to play with him and with everybody. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can really do different things. We’ve got guys who really know how to play basketball, and it’s going to be interesting. We’ll start from tonight and start building that chemistry from tonight and see how it goes,” Calderon concluded.
Note: The Mavericks return to action Saturday night on the road in Greensboro, N.C. for a matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats (3-2). The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CT.
The team returns to American Airlines Center Oct. 23 against the Atlanta Hawks. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.