DALLAS — After using a revolving door in the backcourt during the 2012-13 season, the Dallas Mavericks are positive that they now have their starting point guard and shooting guard for years to come.
Signing veterans Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis last summer to multi-year contracts during free agency, the Mavericks surrounded 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki with staples in the backcourt. And after seeing how much help the two guards lent him on offense, Nowitzki says he is looking forward to teaming with the pass-first Calderon and cat-quick Ellis next season.
“We made it pretty clear that those two guys are our backcourt for a while. We signed both of these guys, Jose and Monta, to multi-year deals and they played great,” Nowitzki said. “Monta really helped me, obviously, in the later stage of my career. So, those two guys were great and they’re going to be our backcourt moving forward.”
Alongside Nowitzki, the two guards helped the Mavs push the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to the brink of elimination in the first round of the playoffs before falling in the decisive Game 7. Still, both Ellis and Calderon say the Mavericks showed just a glimpse into what’s to come as they try to improve on their play going into next season.
Finishing second on the team to Nowitzki in the regular season while averaging 19.0 points per outing, the 28-year-old Ellis was the only Mav who played in all 82 games. He also show that he has another level he can ascend to, averaging 20.4 points in the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against the rival Spurs.
Meanwhile, Calderon, 32, played in 81 games this season while averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists an outing, connecting on a team-best 44.9 percent from 3-point range. And after silencing their critics following last summer’s signings, the two hope to lend Nowitzki even more help next season.
“Even with [Mavericks owner Mark Cuban] getting criticized for signing me and being in the same backcourt with Jose, you know, a lot of guys took a lot of criticism with this team,” Ellis explained. “So, I think we put it on our back and proved everybody wrong.”
“At the end of the day we showed we’re right there and we’re close,” Calderon added. “We were in a seventh game with maybe the best team in the NBA. You’re always going to add a couple of pieces, but at the end of the day it’s just believing in the system and believing what we want to do. If you keep the core together, usually every year it’s going to get better.”