President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson met with reporters today to discuss the Amar’e Stoudemire signing, the NBA trade deadline, and more. Here’s a quick rundown of all the big points he hit.
Nelson is confident that the newest Maverick will fit in with the team well, and said although Stoudemire won’t play in tonight’s game against Oklahoma City or tomorrow night’s tilt with the Houston Rockets, it’s not a health issue whatsoever.
“That was a big get for us,” Nelson said. “He adds a dimension that we currently don’t have in our frontline and certainly solidifies physicality. That’s important come playoff time. He knows how to win playoff games so we’re really excited about that addition.”
The Mavs have almost an entirely new roster from last season’s team, with the only holdovers being Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, and Bernard James, currently on a 10-day deal. The front office made chemistry a top priority last summer and, although there have been even more roster shuffles including Stoudemire and the addition of Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell via trade, Nelson said the team will jell just fine.
“I would say if we were overly concerned, we wouldn’t have pulled the trigger,” he said. “Like Rondo, (Stoudemire) is well worth the price of admission. Those two guys, one gives us a quarterback that’s been there and don that and knows how to win at the highest level, a pass-first guy, a defender, a rebounder, and things that fit well with us. And Amar’e, it’s a guy that can add that physical element, knows how to win playoff games, and isn’t afraid of any playoff scenario.”
THE TRADE DEADLINE
This was one of the wilder trade deadlines in recent memory, but aside from yesterday’s Stoudemire signing, the Mavs have remained quiet. However, that doesn’t mean the team was inactive.
“We made lots of calls and we received lots of calls,” he said. “More than anything, you want to know what’s going on out there. Sometimes there’s opportunities to develop a little interference, which certainly has its place, to make sure things go East.”
Wait, were the Mavs trying to play the spoiler role?
“It certainly helps when some of these guys end up in the Eastern Conference,” Nelson chuckled. “If we can be helpful to our friends in the East, certainly we’ll step in and take those opportunities when we can get them.”
As far as the volume of trades happening around the league, including Goran Dragic moving to Miami, Brandon Knight moving to Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas going to Boston, Arron Afflalo being flipped to Portland, and Kevin Garnett returning to Minnesota in a shocking move, Nelson said he anticipated possibly even more deals might have happened.
“There was a lot of scenarios that were fairly close that didn’t happen that were relieving,” he said. “But I think there were some teams that definitely helped themselves. But again, it’s also good to see some of the names that have done damage in the past to go East. I think overall we feel good about our positioning and now it’s just a matter of getting the boys in blue to get acclimated to each other and get ready for the playoffs.”
James, who the Mavs signed to a 10-day contract last week, isn’t going anywhere for the time being.
“When his 10-day is up, we will absolutely, 100 percent, renew him for another 10 days,” Nelson said.
Sarge scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds, and blocked three shots in nearly 22 minutes last week against Utah, his season debut. He played an integral role in the victory, playing big minutes due to Tyson Chandler’s injury-forced absence.
“We’re big fans of Bernard,” Nelson said. “He’s been with us, he knows our system. Great guy in the locker room, can’t say enough about his character. So whether he’s, like the other night, if he was thrust into significant minutes or whether he’s more of a support role, we’re looking to get guys like Sarge in our locker room.”
The Mavs had to cut someone to sign Stoudemire, and it was Ricky Ledo. The second-year swingman has spent most of the season on assignment with the Texas Legends, where he averaged 16.0 points, 4.6 boards, and 3.8 assists per game on 46.0/30.4/77.4 shooting.
“Ricky’s great. He’s got a bright future,” Nelson said. “He spent quite a bit of time in the D-League, which has been really helpful for his development. We feel like his better days are ahead. Unfortunately, for the here and now for the playoff push, we had to cut our Ricky experiment a little bit short.”
That doesn’t prevent Ledo from returning to Dallas, though. Reports indicate he cleared waivers today, meaning he’s a free agent. If he chooses to continue playing in the D-League, the Mavs have confirmed that the Legends would retain his rights. However, he’s still available to sign with an NBA team at any time, be it on a 10-day contract or a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season and the years to come.
“It doesn’t preclude us from revisiting (him) in the summer once we have some roster room,” Nelson clarified, “but I think the future is bright for Ricky, whether it’s in the Mavericks uniform or with another NBA team.”
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