The Mavericks’ practice on Wednesday was enough to make the players feel like they were back on their college campuses.
School colors were everywhere.
On hand at the Biosteel practice facility were coaches and/or staff members from numerous universities, including head coach Rob Lanier from SMU and Todd Bozeman, who coached Jason Kidd at Cal and has made numerous college and pro coaching stops.
The TCU program was well represented with women’s coach Raegan Pebley and members of her staff.
As it turns out, inviting college coaches to Mavericks’ practices is something that serves as a two-way street for Kidd and his staff.
It’s not simply about helping college coaches see how an NBA practice is run.
After all, you never know when these college coaches will have pertinent information about players who are about to enter the NBA.
“We’ve reached out to everyone to invite them, I think in the state of Texas,” Kidd said. “We might have stretched it to Arkansas and Kansas, just to start the relationships. With COVID, everybody’s kind of been at home. To be able to invite different schools in to watch practice, but also to talk basketball and ask what they saw or if they have questions of different things that we’re doing. It’s a great way to start a relationship.”
And as for building future connections?
“Maybe we’re trying to get information,” Kidd said. “I think it’s a great way to start a relationship, especially when you have a young front office, and so I think it’s great on all fronts, not just for myself, but for the front office or scouts to get some intel.
“This is all about us helping each other to improve. We learn from one another. You saw SMU here, TCU’s girls head coach was here, so it was good. We have had quite a few schools here so far and it’s only been two days.”
This is in addition to having Frank Vogel, former Lakers and Pacers coach, and other NBA coaches who might be in transition visiting at camp practices.
Luka joins in: On the second day of training camp, Luka Dončić got into the action, running with his teammates in five-on-five scrimmages.
The superstar point guard sat out much of the first day of workouts in deference to having had a summer full of international play for the Slovenian national team.
But there was no holding him back on Wednesday.
“He did everything today,” Kidd said. “He looked great. It’s hard to get him out of the scrimmage. He loves to compete. I think he played the whole scrimmage. And he did a great job.”
As a whole, the Mavericks had all hands on deck Wednesday with nobody sitting out for injuries or illnesses.
“The energy, effort was high,” Kidd said. “Sometimes after Day One, the excitement, that second day can be a little slower. But I thought the guys did a great job with the energy and effort. Everyone participated, so a lot of good stuff.”
Ties that bind: Christian Wood had a connection with the Mavericks even before he was traded to them before the draft.
When he played in Detroit, Wood worked with Sean Sweeney, the Mavericks’ assistant who then was an assistant with the Pistons. Sweeney, the Mavericks’ defensive specialist, has been the coach Wood has been working out with most over the last three months.
“Not the same concepts,” Wood said of the Mavericks’ defensive scheme. “This team’s concepts defensively are totally different and he’s the team’s defensive guy. So that’s literally how we start our workouts, with defense.”
In addition, Wood played the last two seasons in Houston for former Mavericks’ assistant Stephen Silas.
“I loved Silas,” Wood said. “He was good to me, always an honest man. Great guy. Honest coach, especially on the court. I loved playing for him.”
European memories: Many of the Mavericks’ coaches went to Europe this summer for an assortment of reasons.
Most notably, they got to watch Dončić and Tyler Dorsey play in the EuroBasket tournament.
But there were other highlights for Kidd and his crew.
“It was great to see him (Dončić),” Kidd said. “Not to say he was second fiddle, but we had to see Dirk get another number retired. Hopefully, that’s the last number he’s worn because we can’t go to any more retirements.
“Did he wear a number when he played tennis? I hope not.”
All kidding aside, Kidd said it was a treat to watch how revered Nowitzki is in his native country. The Eurobasket opened in Cologne, where the jersey-retirement took place.
“It was actually kind of cool that we got to see Dirk get his number retired, 14, which is incredible,” Kidd said. “And also to be able to hang with Luka, and not just Luka, but I also got to hang with the coaching staff of his national team. We got to compare notes. And I think Luka liked that we came over.”
Kidd said other coaches went to different places, too, such as Greg St. Jean going to Germany to see Maxi Kleber.
“That was like the first time, Maxi said, that a coach had come to see him,” Kidd said. “We tried to get out and see our players this summer. And it was really nice to see Luka play and perform on that stage.”