DALLAS — With a bevy of summer moves to upgrade their roster, the Dallas Mavericks added both depth and stability to the point guard position.
Despite dealing away starting lead guard Jose Calderon and rookie Shane Larkin to New York in a six-player trade on the eve of June’s NBA Draft, the Mavericks now remain stacked at the point while bringing in 30-year-old veteran Raymond Felton from the Knicks. The Mavs also re-signed fan favorite Devin Harris, who shook off toe surgery last season and emerged as a key contributor off the bench. But the Mavs didn’t stop there, inking 10-year veteran and former All-Star Jameer Nelson on July 24 to add even more depth and versatility to the backcourt.
“Well, there’s going to be turnover at that position,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in regard to the point guard spot while addressing the Calderon trade. “We’ll see what happens there, but that’s an important position. There’s no doubt about that.”
However, with so much quality depth at the position, who does Carlisle peg as his starter?
That decision hasn’t been made yet, according to the championship-winning coach.
In Felton, the Mavericks get the fifth overall selection in the 2005 draft, who is hungry to prove that last season’s struggles with the Knicks were just a fluke. Felton holds career averages of 13.1 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals during stints with Charlotte, Denver, Portland and New York. Perhaps more importantly, the 6-foot-1 former standout at North Carolina has started 611 of his 667 career games.
Meanwhile, Nelson comes to Dallas after spending his entire career with the Orlando Magic. He holds career averages of 12.6 points, 5.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals, making 556 starts with the Magic. He also left Orlando as the franchise’s all-time leader in assists with 3,501, giving Carlisle another proven playmaker at his disposal.
But, after missing the first 41 games last season and battling back from toe surgery to average 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in his 40 outings, Harris enters training camp armed with the most familiarity with Carlisle’s system. Harris also stepped up his game when it mattered most, averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 assists as the Mavericks pushed the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games during their first-round playoff series.
Now, in addition to second-year guard Gal Mekel, Carlisle will have the benefit of choosing between three proven veterans when selecting his starter heading into this upcoming season.
“You know, ultimately, who’s better may not be the one that starts,” Carlisle confessed. “I mean, we’ve done things a little different way than some teams the last several years. We’ve had guys like Jason Terry and Vince [Carter] and [Brandan] Wright, and Devin came off the bench for us last year. So, we’ll have to see. The thing that’s exciting is the possibility of having another roster full of capable players, guys that are good and guys that are experienced. And, at this point in their careers, they’re aiming more towards winning and getting back into the conversation of getting a ring than just trying to get some stats and get their next deal.”