In the case of Kemba Walker, it’s better late than never for the Mavericks.
They had pursued Walker in the summer of 2019, when the 6-0 point guard was an unrestricted free agent and coming off a season when he averaged 25.6 points per game.
The Mavericks were prepared to offer a maximum contract to pair Walker with a rookie of the year named Luka Dončić and a recovering-from-knee-surgery Kristaps Porzingis.
That didn’t work out as Walker ended up in Boston.
On Tuesday, the Mavericks made it official, reeling in Walker by signing him to a veteran’s minimum contract.
It’s not the same Walker they would have gotten in 2019. Injuries have robbed the 11-year veteran of some of the speed that made him so lethal in the prime of his career.
But he’s still only 32 and the Mavericks who have played against him before know what Walker is capable of.
“Excited for sure,” said Dwight Powell. “He’s a great scorer. Great in the pick and roll. I can remember it being a nightmare trying to figure out how to cover him. I’m excited for what he’ll bring to the squad.
“He’s been around for a long time and been a great player in this league. So it’s exciting.”
The Mavericks have been searching for a third playmaker to go with Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Walker has suffered from left knee problems in recent years. He averaged 19.3 points as recently as the 2020-21 season, but played only 43 games. Last season, he was signed by the New York Knicks and averaged 11.6 points and played just 37 games before being benched.
Walker was drafted ninth overall in the 2011 draft and spent eight seasons with Charlotte. He has career averages of 19.5 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
He will wear No. 34 for the Mavericks.
The biggest question surrounding Walker is whether he can resuscitate his career in Dallas in the same sort of way that Derrick Rose did in New York.
Theo Pinson was at New York when Rose joined the Knicks.
“That’s one of the things – I was there when Derrick came to the Knicks the second half of the season and it helped us tremendously,” Pinson said. “It’s cool, man. I’ve heard he (Walker) is a really good guy. I know he’s a really good player. So I’m excited to see what happens. I think it’ll help us a lot.”
Coach Jason Kidd has seen Walker as a player and as a coach. He’s glad to be able to add a capable ballhandler to a roster that has lots of assets, but has been shy on playmakers outside of Luka and Dinwiddie.
Walker has been a four-time All-Star, most recently with Boston in 2019-20. He is a career 36-percent three-point shooter.
“He’s been an all-star, he’s a veteran, knows how to play the game the right way,” Kidd said. “He can get you a basket, so we’re lucky to have him.”
Walker, scheduled to meet with media members on Wednesday, also is expected to practice with the Mavericks then and likely will go with them on the road trip that starts Thursday in Detroit and continues in his hometown of New York on Saturday.
But Kidd said all that has yet to be decided.
“First we have to get him on the court and we’ll see how he feels,” Kidd said. “He hasn’t practiced for a while. We’ll see how he feels. Hopefully get him some time on the court tomorrow and then see how it goes.”
Golden State coach Steve Kerr had the chance to coach Walker in the 2019 World Cup.
“I’m a big fan,” Kerr said before Tuesday’s game. “He’s a talented player but a wonderful teammate, leader.”
Campazzo a casualty: To make room for the arrival of Walker, the Mavericks had to clear a spot, which they did by waiving Facu Campazzo.
The 5-10 Argentine guard played in eight games with the Mavericks and had a few solid showings, but played only 52 total minutes and shot just 3-of-13 from the field.
The fact that the Mavericks are keeping that 15th spot on the roster as a non-guaranteed contract gives them flexibility, Kidd said.
“Some could say we didn’t give Campazzo a fair shot,” he said. “He didn’t play a lot of minutes. But this is the way we want to use this 15th spot – look at different situations or different guys. Hopefully, Kemba is the guy if Luka or Spencer are out that he can play that role as a backup.”
Kidd also said that Jaden Hardy, who was recalled from the G-League Texas Legends on Tuesday, could also be an option as a playmaker at some point this season.
Briefly: The Sign Guy, of Internet fame, made an appearance at AAC on Tuesday with a simple message on his cardboard sign: Luka > Steph . . . Reggie Bullock returned from a one-game rest but did not return to the starting lineup. Tim Hardaway Jr. remained in the starting five . . . Hardy, by the way, had been sizzling with the Legends, averaging a G-League-best 29 points and shooting 48.2 percent from three-point range. He had 41 points Saturday against Rio Grande Valley. “He’s with us this week,” Hardy said. “Hopefully he gets an opportunity to play.” Hardy is a native of Detroit, where the road trip starts Thursday.