“My dog trainer introduced me to some great guys,” Finney-Smith said. “He has six horses himself, and he just said come get the horse and whenever you don’t want it, just sell it to me.
“For me, it was just to get into that game. I love dogs and I love animals. Shout out to Stevie.”
Finney-Smith may also have wanted to shout out to himself and the Mavs after they advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season and completed the franchise’s most successful season since they captured the 2011 NBA title. However, Finney-Smith, going into his seventh season with the Mavs, hopes they will be able to pony up and gallop even farther in the playoffs next season and perhaps ride away with another NBA championship.
“The whole playoff experience was fun,” Finney-Smith told Mavs.com on Friday at the Mavs Academy Hoop Camp at Prestonwood Sports and Fitness Center. “I enjoyed it, I know everybody on the team enjoyed it, but we want more.
“I want to win the championship. That’s what I’m working for and that’s what everybody’s working for.”
Finney-Smith steadfastly believes the offseason acquisitions of Christian Wood (6-10) and JaVale McGee (7-0) will be vital in the Mavs’ quest to win another championship. Wood was acquired from the Houston Rockets in a June 24 trade, and McGee was a July 9 free agent signee from the Phoenix Suns.
Both Wood and McGee are avid rebounders and are nice additions that can help the Mavs, who finished 24th in the league in rebounds last season and were battered on the boards throughout the playoffs.
“I like to run in there and get a couple of tip dunks. Hopefully we’ll just be better in that area. We need that. I feel like we struggled on the backboards, so that’s going to be good, alongside with our defense.”
Finney-Smith noted that it’s not just the rebounding prowess of Wood and McGee that will be beneficial to the Mavs.
“Wood can shoot it, so I feel like he can space the floor and he can roll (to the basket on the pick-and-roll), too,” he said. “I feel like we just added another weapon.
“JaVale as well. He’s a great lob threat. And playing with (point guard) Luka (Doncic), I just think he’s going to make (McGee) look that much better.”
Finney-Smith also addressed the elephant in the room. And that is the loss of guard Jalen Brunson, who spent his first four seasons with the Mavs, but recently signed a four-year, $104 million free agent contract with the New York Knicks.
“We’re going to miss him, but I’m happy he got paid,” said Finney-Smith, who signed a four-year, $52 million extension on Feb. 12. “I’m going to talk so much stuff to him, and he’s going to regret leaving us.”
Obviously, that was said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
“I’m happy for him,” Finney-Smith said. “Going into this year we were in the same position.
“He helped me with the mindset – it’s only up from here — and he was right. It was only up for both of us. He got a lump sum, and we can take care of our families with that.”
Throughout his six-year career – all with the Mavs – Finney-Smith has seen players come and go. He knows the NBA is a business, and sometimes things don’t always go the way the players or management wants them to go.
“I’ve never had the same team two years in a row,” he said. “You just try to appreciate the day-to-day, but also know it’s a business on top of that.
“You just got to value your relationships and keep things business when they need to be business. They’re saying it’s not likely when guys stay with one team for this long, so I’m just counting my blessings. My kids got to be in one spot. My (five-year old) son has been here (in Dallas) his whole life, so I appreciate that.”
Finney-Smith also appreciates kids’ camps like the one he attended Friday in Plano.
“All the camps, I love doing them,” he said. “I love kids. I love seeing kids smile.
“So if I can have any positive effects on their day, that’s what I’m here for.”
While he’s having a positive effect on kids, Finney-Smith, in addition, would love to help galvanize the Mavs. He actually started becoming more of a vocal leader last season, and plans to add to that platform this season.
“Coach (Jason Kidd) started telling me the effect that I have on the team when I don’t come out with that energy,” Finney-Smith said. “So I start realizing that I do have an effect on the team when I do come out talkative and when I talk more.
“I can talk to Luka, and he listens to me because I earned his respect. This year I plan on talking more because I feel like that’s what we need, especially on the court.”
Finney-Smith saw the value of the voice when the Mavs lost to the eventual world champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
“Late in those games in the playoffs, that’s what they had and we didn’t,” he said. “They communicated well and we only communicate well when things were going good.
“So I think that’s the next step we need to take. I feel like getting out of those first two series (against Utah and Phoenix) it would have been much easier if we would have communicated better throughout those series.”
Undrafted out of Florida in 2016, Finney-Smith paused Friday to pay homage to former Mavs guard JJ Barea. Undrafted out of Northeastern in 2006, Barea announced his retirement from basketball Wednesday.
Barea and Finney-Smith were Mavs’ teammates from 2016-20, and he remembers the diminutive playmaker as: “probably the best undrafted player ever. He still was averaging 15 (points) when I first came into the league. He was killing it! It was, ‘Oh my God, who is this little (man)? How is he doing this?’ He was just getting in the paint.
“He’s not the fastest. He’s quick, but he’s not the quickest. But he just knew how to change speeds, he knew how to play the game, he knew how to play with Dirk (Nowitzki), he knew how to use Dirk, too. He’ll give Dirk the ball probably once or twice in the pick-and-pop, then he starts playing the game. He was nice. Even when we were bad those years, our second unit was amazing just because of JJ. He kept us in the game, for real.”
As far as himself, Finney-Smith helped keep the Mavs in several games this past season. He averaged career highs in points (11.0), assists (1.9), steals (1.1), minutes (33.1) and three-point shooting (39.5%), and also started a career-high 80 games and shot 47.1 percent from the field while averaging 4.7 rebounds.
And not long after riding into the sunset following a profitable season for him and the Mavs, Finney-Smith purchased Stevie. As of now, that purchase is one of his joys.
“I haven’t ridden him yet,” he said. “But I’m going to learn how to ride.”