When Michael Kidd-Gilchrist became available after he was waived by the Charlotte Hornets Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks were one of the first teams to pursue him.
On Tuesday morning, the Mavs got their man, signing the 6-6, 230-pound forward.
“He’s a guy that we’ve liked for a long time,” coach Rick Carlisle said following Tuesday’s practice. “He’s a great competitor, a helluva defender, a great rebounder and a guy who is working on his shooting, and his 3-point shooting is getting better every year.
“We’re constantly looking for athletic guys that compete hard, have great length and can guard multiple positions, and we think he’s a guy that at 26 years old that still has a lot of upside, and he’s a great worker. He’s really everything that we are trying to be about here in Dallas as a culture, so we’re happy to have him here.”
Before joining the Mavs, Kidd-Gilchrist spent his entire NBA career with the Hornets after they made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Now, he has a new home.
“I’m excited to be here,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “Being in a place like Charlotte for eight years, I was 18, now I’m 26. It’s an honor to be a part of a winning culture.”
Kidd-Gilchrist went through his first practice with the Mavs on Tuesday, and he wasn’t treated with kid’s gloves.
“All of my teammates are great so far, and I just want to compete,” he said. “That’s who I am.
“I’m going to push myself and I’m going to push our team and I want to add to the culture here and win some games.”
The Mavs believe because Kidd-Gilchrist is multi-talented, they can use him in multiple positions without any concerns on whether he can handle the different work load.
“We see him as a multi-position player, probably more (power forward) and (center) as the game continues to get smaller and faster,” Carlisle said. “But we feel like he can guard any position on the floor.
“But in situations where he’s (a power forward) and (a center), and they’re switching on (guards), he’s shown the ability to guard those guys as well.”
In 12 games for the Hornets this season, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged four points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game, and he has career averages of 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Carlisle said Kidd-Gilchrist will suit up and be available to play in Wednesday’s home game against the Sacramento Kings, but isn’t sure how much he’ll play.
“He hasn’t played much this year,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to spend some time today doing some conditioning stuff and try to get himself ready.
“The guy has a reputation for being a gamer and a helluva competitor. We talked to him a little bit and he said, ‘Hey, if you need me tomorrow I’ll go in there and compete.’ But we’ll see.”
Even if Kidd-Gilchrist does play against the Kings, the Mavs know it certainly won’t be for any heavy minutes.
“We want to do what’s best for him and for the team,” Carlisle said. “We’ll integrate him as quickly as we can.
“We threw some stuff at him today and he absorbed it pretty well, and we’ll just keep moving forward. It’s basically two days and then the All-Star break, but he’ll have some things to kind of take into the break to think about.”
Carlisle stopped short of saying he will take Kidd-Gilchrist through his version of a boot camp, which he has done with some players in the past.
“The more work he can get in our environment, the better for his rhythm and the better for his feel and so on and so forth,” Carlisle said. “He’s here now and we want to integrate him the best way possible.”
The Mavs have been besieged with injuries lately, which is one of the reasons they actively pursued Kidd-Gilchrist.
“We were very truthful about things we thought he could do for us right away and the things we thought we could help him with in progressing his career,” Carlisle said. “Very honest conversation and very genuine both ways.
“He’s a worker and he’s got a big heart.”
In order to sign Kidd-Gilchrist, the Mavs waived forward Ryan Broekhoff, who averaged four points in 59 games in a little over a year-and-a-half with Dallas. Carlisle described parting ways with Broekhoff as a “tough” decision.
“We had a really nice visit with him,” Carlisle said. “These situations are never easy or fun, but the kid has great class.
“He’s an NBA player and he’s got a unique skill with his shooting ability and his knowledge of the game. I think it’s a very good chance that he’s picked up on waivers. There’s two or three teams I know that are very interested.”