DENVER – To help with their lack of depth in the backcourt, the Dallas Mavericks signed guard Justin Holiday on Wednesday.
Holiday played this season for the Atlanta Hawks before he was traded to the Houston Rockets on Feb. 9. On Monday, Holiday and the Rockets reached a contract buyout agreement, and he was subsequently nabbed as a free agent by the Mavs.
In explaining why the Mavs are a good fit for him, the 6-6, 180-pound Holiday said: “They have a really good team, first of all. A team that puts the ball in the basket, a team that has a chance to win and do something special, and I want to be a part of that. I think what I do on the court compliments what this team does.
“I can shoot the ball, obviously. The biggest thing I think that I can help them is just playing defense. I defend one through four.”
And defense – or lack thereof — has been an albatross around the Mavs’ neck this season.
“I’m a vet, so I know coverages, I know what other teams are going to do, I know what players are going to do,” Holiday said. “So I just think I can come in and help the team as much as I can, because this team is an amazing team.”
Holiday also likes the idea of playing alongside the Mavs’ star-studded backcourt of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
A 10-year veteran, Holiday, 33, comes from a family of basketball players. One of his brothers, Jrue, plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, and another, Aaron, plays for the Hawks.
“I think when you talk about Justin, you look at just his ability, his length, his ability to make shots and being a pro,” coach Jason Kidd said. “You look at his family and the success that they’ve had in this league, so we’re really excited to have the opportunity to have him on board.”
As is Holiday.
“Obviously, I know what to do from being on other teams,” Holiday said. “But once I get to play with them and see what they like, I’ll just do the little things to try to help those two guys (Doncic and Irving) out.
“But then again, this team is very, very exciting. I know I’m going to see a lot of amazing things with these two guys on this team.”
Holiday averaged 4.5 points and 14.7 minutes in 28 games for the Hawks this season. And for whatever reasons, he only played 11 minutes since Jan. 1.
Now playing with his 11th franchise, Holiday said he doesn’t know Doncic, but he had previously met Irving.
“Me and (Irving) both were in Harrison Barnes’ wedding,” Holiday said. “So we spent a little bit of time together.”
A SHORTER NBA SEASON? With so many players – particularly, All-Star-caliber players – missing a plethora of games this season, that age-old question popped up again Wednesday on if the 82-game season should be shortened, thus possibly lowering the chances of players getting injured.
“I don’t think the league will ever do it,” Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “There’s too much historical significance with an 82-game season.
“I’ve been a part of a few lockouts and part of a few shorten seasons with Covid in the bubble.”
Malone, however, is a realist.
“I think if you want to get the best player availability, shortening the season may be in the best interest of everybody involved,” he said. “But that’s also a lot of money being lost, TV games, money. Let’s not forget, this is a business, so we’ll have the wait and see how the NBA views it. it.”
Coach Jason Kidd also has heard the chatter of possibly reducing the number of games NBA teams play.
“There’s always going to be talk,” Kidd said. “But with the finances of today’s games, if you’re rolling back (games) that means you’re probably going to have to roll back the finances.
“So, I don’t think the players or the employees of the NBA will go for that, but who knows. We’ll see.”
Malone commends NBA commissioner Adam Silver for trying to strike a balance between doing what’s right for the players, the fans and the league.
“That’s one thing he really prioritizes — player availability, star player availability,” Malone said. “And they’ve done everything they can within their power to try and eliminate as many back-to-backs as possible, (and) four games in five nights. But this is a long season.”
BRIEFLY: Guards Kyrie Irving (lower back stiffness) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (right hamstring tightness), center Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear) and forward Davis Bertans (left calf strain) all missed Wednesday’s game. Coach Jason Kidd said of Irving’s injury: “It happens. It could be from a fall in that game (against Minnesota on Monday).” Kidd also said he anticipates Irving will play in Sunday’s All-Star game. . .Kidd said his message to his players going into the All-Star break is to “just enjoy the break. We’ll look at having 22 (games) after (the All-Star break). So get some rest, and then it turns into a sprint. We will start to play a lot more of the Western Conference teams ahead of us or behind us, so just to be ready.”. . . Asked what he’s looking forward to as he plays he’s fourth All-Star game on Sunday, Luka Doncic said: “Sunday, when I fly to Mexico.”. . . The Mavs were 2-2 against the Nuggets this season. Will the Nuggets continue being the best team in the Western Conference when the regular season ends? “I think there’s a lot of great teams, but obviously with a guy like (Nuggets center Nikola) Jokic, they obviously are probably the favorites (to win the West),” Doncic said. “It’s so hard to play against him. So when you have a guy like Jokic on your team, you’re the favorite always.”