With Dirk Nowitzki predominately at center, Mavs expect to see more offensive production in ’17-18

DALLAS — Despite signing fourth-year pro Nerlens Noel this summer during restricted free agency to continue to man the middle of the lineup for the Dallas Mavericks inside, coach Rick Carlisle believes the team could see its best offensive success during the 2017-18 season with 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki featured at center in the starting lineup.

This summer, the Dallas front office signed Noel to a reported one-year qualifying offer worth $4.1 million, hoping the athletic big man could build off his production last season after he averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.1 blocks while clocking 21.9 minutes per outing during 22 appearances with the Mavericks. The 23-year-old Noel was also expected to contend for the first-string center job after making 12 starts with the team last season following the multi-player trade that sent him from Philadelphia to Dallas on Feb. 23. However, according to Carlisle, the 6-foot-11 big man will initially be featured in a reserve role this season while Nowitzki slides up from his customary power forward position. And with hopes of playing at a faster pace, Carlisle believes the move will lead to much more offensive production this season.

“You know, I had a discussion three days ago with Nerlens and his agent, Rich Paul, about that, and then two days ago Nerlens, myself, Rich and [Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson] were on a conference call talking about it. You know, I basically said to them that I am not sure that he is going to start,” Carlisle explained Monday before his team opens training camp Tuesday morning. “You know, at this point and time Dirk at the five position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here, and so there’s a very good chance Nerlens is going to come off the bench. He said he’s good with it.

“Nerlens is ready and he’s motivated. But look, Dirk is not going to play 82 games. We’re going to rest him some games this year. And in those games that Dirk rests, if we start out starting Dirk at the five, then Nerlens will be the starter,” the coach added. “That’s pretty clear, but I think we need to have the flexibility with the lineup at this point and time. Nothing is set in stone, but my sense right now is the best way for us to go will be with Dirk starting at the five to start the season. But we’ll see.”

Entering his 20th season with the Mavericks, Nowitzki will try to bounce back after an injury-riddled ’16-17 campaign that saw him miss 25 of the team’s first 30 games due to a right Achilles strain. The 7-footer will also try to provide his team with a much-needed lift on the offensive end of the floor after the Mavs ranked near the bottom of the league in several statistical categories last season.

The Mavs ranked 30th in league in scoring last season, posting just 97.9 points per game as a team. Dallas also dished out just 20.8 assists an outing, ranking 27th in that department. The Mavericks finished second to last in pace as well, averaging 94.16 possessions per game last season. That said, Nowitzki knows the Mavs will have to be open to changes during training camp in order to find a lineup that creates more offense when the season opens at home against Atlanta on Oct. 18.

“I mean, it’s whatever,” Nowitzki said when asked about the position change. “I had no idea I was going to play the five last year a lot of the minutes, so it’s whatever happens. You know, I want to help the team, obviously, by spreading the floor still and being efficient, hopefully. We have some great, great penetrating guards with Devin (Harris), J.J. (Barea) and Dennis (Smith) now, and even Yogi (Ferrell) is fast and can get in there. So, hopefully I can be out there and set some picks, getting those guys going downhill, in transition and getting those guys on the run. I will be trailing, for sure. I won’t be leading on the break, but playing faster can be fun. Sometimes when you play at a higher pace your skill level needs to be there, ’cause sometimes it looks a little sloppy. So, we’ve got to make sure we practice that here the next three weeks, and hopefully it will be fun to watch. I think we have some new guys that are going to be really fun to watch.”

Finishing with a 103.7 offensive rating to ranked 23rd in the league during the ’16-17 campaign, the Mavericks hope to see much more success on that side of the ball this season. The Mavs also hope playing at a faster tempo will lead to more transition scoring opportunities to keep from having to generate offense in the halfcourt.

The Mavericks averaged the fewest amount of freak-break points in the league last season, posting just 7.8 points an outing in transition. The Dallas offense also ranked last in points scored in the paint, averaging 32.8 points per game in the interior as a team. That’s something that must change in order for the Mavericks to contend for a playoff position, according to leading scorer Harrison Barnes. And with Nowitzki at center, the Mavs believe spacing the floor will help generate more offense.

“It will be huge for us. I mean, we had an extensive playbook last year, and we played almost exclusively in the halfcourt,” Barnes explained. “That led to us having one of the slowest offenses in the league and some of the lowest assists in the league, so it was primarily isolation basketball. Being able to just got out in tension and get our shooters open more will allow us to get easier buckets and allow us to play not always against a set defense.”

Signing of Nerlens Noel solidifies Mavs at center position for ’17-18 season

Noel Highlights 2016-2017

2016-2017 Nerlens Noel Highlights

DALLAS — He was a much-needed presence inside for the Dallas Mavericks after a mid-season trade that sent him from Philadelphia to Big D during the 2016-17 season. Now, the Mavericks hope the free-agent signing of big man Nerlens Noel on Monday is the final piece of the puzzle that helps the team return to the playoffs during the upcoming season.

Last season, the 6-foot-11 Noel was acquired by the Mavs from Philadelphia in a trade-deadline deal on Feb. 23 in exchange for former first-round pick Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut (who was later bought out) and a pair of second-round picks. The former Kentucky standout then went on to average 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.1 blocks during 22 appearances with the Mavericks, clocking 21.9 minutes per outing and making 12 starts. He entered restricted free agency from there on July 1, hoping to ink a long-term deal with the franchise to keep him in Dallas. But after a long negotiation that reportedly led to him signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Dallas front office worth $4.1 million, the 23-year-old is expected to anchor the Mavs’ center rotation prior to entering unrestricted free agency next summer.

“That’s a trade that made a lot of sense for us, because we had an overload at the wing position,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of the initial deal for Noel’s services shortly after the conclusion of the ’16-17 season.

“You know, he’s going to gain more strength as time goes on,” the coach added. “You know, we put a big emphasis on the development of players’ bodies, keeping them healthy and keeping them strong. I talked to him about it in detail, and he’s on board as a guy that’s had an ACL (injury) and stuff like that. He understands at age 23 that your body is your vocation. It’s what earns you your living and stuff, so I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s a very likable guy. The guys in the locker room took to him, and he’s an exciting young talent. And I do think he can expand his game, but we’ve got to be careful about doing too much too soon. So much of success in this league is really geared towards a group of guys being tied together in the locker room and having a set of definable skills. We want there to be an element of positive predictability within the team, so everybody knows what everybody can do.”

Signing former Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey, 27, the Mavericks added depth to a center position that only had Tunisian big man Salah Mejri on the roster for this season. The Mavs now believe that Noel can solidify the middle of the lineup by anchoring a front line that features leading scorer Harrison Barnes and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. Meanwhile, Carlisle and the Dallas coaching staff will attempt to tap into Noel’s full potential during the ’17-18 season, hoping the athletic big man continues to grow his own individual game.

Suffering a torn ACL during his lone collegiate season at Kentucky, Noel missed the entire ’13-14 NBA schedule after garnering First Team All-SEC, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Rookie of the Year honors. The three-year pro now holds career averages of 10.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks in 193 total games with the Sixers and the Mavericks, shooting 51.1 percent from the floor during that span. Noel quickly showed no effects of the ACL injury during his rookie season, averaging 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks in 75 games to earn a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He’ll now attempt to eclipse those numbers in Dallas, hoping to build on his production during a short stint with the team last season. And with a full year in Carlisle’s season, Noel believes he and the team will see a lot of success together.

“You know, I learned a lot,” Noel said while summing up his time with the team last season. “I met a lot of great people and I started a lot of great relationships. And being around all the vets they have around here, it’s definitely something I took in with all the knowledge and all the small habits that help you succeed in this league for the duration of time that you’re in it. It’s been great. I love Dallas. You know, in my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a great time. And with the pieces that we have and the opportunities that will be seen in the near future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.”

Mavs see new center Andrew Bogut having an immediate impact inside this season

Bedgear Training Camp Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki dishes on the Rangers, playing alongside Andrew Bogut, when he expects to play in the preseason and much more.

DALLAS — Although he’s yet to step onto the court for the Dallas Mavericks in game action, newly-acquired center Andrew Bogut has already made a good first impression in the locker room.

Still waiting to make his preseason debut for the Mavericks (1-1) after joining the team via a trade with Golden State this summer, Bogut has quickly impressed coach Rick Carlisle and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki during training camp and practice, which is presented by Bedgear. The 7-footer has also made a seamless transition into the starting lineup, according to Carlisle, while stepping into the vacated spot at center left open by the free-agent departure of Zaza Pachulia. And while ranking Bogut amongst some of the game’s all-time great big men, Carlisle expects to see the former No. 1 overall draft pick rekindle his elite form this season.

“Very seamless,” Carlisle said while addressing Bogut’s integration into the lineup. “He’s an extremely knowledgable player with a great feel for the game, and as we put things in he always picks up on the nuances right away. You know, the reads, the counters, the things to take advantage of when the defense cheats, and he really is a brilliant player from the standpoint of his basketball intellect and feel for the game at that position.

“Zaza had a lot of the same qualities. You know, I was an assistant coach with (Arvydas) Sabonis back in the ’90s, and he’s one of the best ever. I really think Bogut is one of the best ever in that same kind of elk of playmaking big men. I played with (Bill) Walton, and look, Pachulia was very, very good. He had a very good all-around game, too, so we’ve been fortunate. We’ve had a lot of good players come through here, and I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with a lot of guys that really are some of the very best.”

Traded from Golden State to Dallas on July 7 along with a future second-round pick in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick, the 31-year-old Bogut will certainly be motivated during the upcoming season. Bogut played in 70 games last season, averaging a career-low 5.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes an outing. He also helped the Warriors sprint to an NBA-record 73 wins and a second straight trip to the Finals before suffering a left knee injury in Game 5 of that series as Cleveland claimed the title in seven games. But after joining forces with two-time MVP Stephen Curry to make back-to-back trips to the Finals, the veteran center now comes to Dallas with a chip on his shoulder.

Bogut holds career averages of 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 644 games during his previous stints with Milwaukee and Golden State. He also showed no lingering signs of the injury that he suffered during the Finals while competing with the Australian national team in the Rio Olympic Games this summer, averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in seven games to lead his home country to a fourth-place finish. With that said, Bogut could have an immediate impact simply by equaling Pachulia’s effectiveness in the middle of the Mavs’ lineup.

Bedgear Training Camp Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle weighs in on Andrew Bogut's passing ability, Jonathan Gibson's performance in camp and more.

Pachulia averaged 8.6 points and 9.4 boards a game last season, recording a career-high 26 double-doubles to boot. Vice versa, Bogut averaged a double-double in three consecutive seasons with the Bucks from 2008-11 and posted a career-high 15.9 points to go along with 10.2 rebounds per game during the ’09-10 schedule. Playing alongside Pachulia last season, Nowitzki saw plenty of personal success while becoming the oldest player to lead his respective team in scoring with 18.3 points per game. Nowitzki now hopes to see more success personally and as a team alongside Bogut, looking to lead the Mavericks out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since capturing the championship in 2011. And with Bogut’s aforementioned all-around ability on display so far in training camp, the twin towers look to form one of the league’s most potent front lines.

“I mean, he’s got to be one of the top passers at the big-man spot that this league has,” Nowitzki said while praising Bogut’s abilities. “He’s smart, he’s patient with it, and he fits it in between defenders. It’s fun to play with him, and that’s a guy who wants to share the ball and wants to make his teammates better on both ends of the floor. And he’s been fun to play with, so hopefully we’re better with him as a group. But I really like what he brings on both ends. I mean, like I said, he’s a great and really smart defender, a rim protector, and on offense he can share the ball. He sets unbelievable screens. I mean, playing with him for the last two weeks, it’s no wonder Steph was always open. I mean, he’s so smart that he just picks the right angles and the right spots to set guys great screens, so he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with.”

Note: The Mavericks will travel to Madison, Wis., to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in the third preseason test. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on 103.3 FM ESPN.

The Mavs return home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center next Tuesday night. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Andrew Bogut (rest) — out

Devin Harris (left great toe surgery) — out

Salah Mejri (right knee surgery) — out

Dirk Nowitzki (rest) — out

Deron Williams (sports hernia surgery) — out

Dirk Nowitzki looks forward to teaming with new Mavs center Andrew Bogut during ’16-17 season

DALLAS — After competing against each other throughout their NBA careers, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and new Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut figure to make a lethal combination inside together this upcoming season.

Traded from Golden State to Dallas on July 7 along with a future second-round pick in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick, the 31-year-old Bogut will certainly be motivated during the 2016-17 campaign. The 11-year veteran and former Utah standout will also try to lift the Mavericks back to prominence in the Western Conference after helping to lead Golden State to the 2015 title, joining forces with fellow ex-Warrior Harrison Barnes in Dallas following the free-agent migration of Kevin Durant to Oakland from Oklahoma City. And according to Nowitzki, Bogut will immediately help the Mavs compete in the West while sliding into the starting center spot.

“It started slow there on the first couple days in July. All the free agents kind of went quickly. Sometimes you get a little fortunate, and I think with KD going to the Warriors it played in our favor a little bit,” Nowitzki said last week when recapping the Mavs’ moves in free agency. “They had to get rid of Barnes and they couldn’t keep Bogut at that amount of money, so we were able to get those two guys. They’re champions, they’re great players and they’re a part of a championship team, so they know how to play and they know how to win.”

While Barnes is expected to assume a larger role after signing a reported four-year deal worth $94 million, Bogut will also have a chance to fully display his skills at both ends of the floor.

Bogut holds career averages of 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 644 games, making 630 starts during his stints with Milwaukee and Golden State. He also garnered All-NBA Third Team honors with the Bucks during the ’09-10 season, earning a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team with the Warriors on their way to the title in 2015. The former No. 1 overall pick of Milwaukee in the 2005 draft was the first Australian ever taken with the top selection as well, averaging a double-double in three consecutive seasons with the Bucks from 2008-11 and posting a career-high 15.9 points to go along with 10.2 rebounds per game during the ’09-10 schedule. But after seeing a dip in his production last season with the Warriors, Bogut will try to build on an impressive run with the Australian national team in the Rio Olympic Games this summer.

Last season, Bogut played in 70 games for the Warriors but averaged a career-low 5.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes an outing. That said, he proved to still be an above-average rim protector in reduced time while equaling his career average with 1.6 blocks per game as the Warriors sprinted to an NBA-record 73 wins and a second straight trip to the Finals. Bogut then suffered a left knee injury in Game 5 of the Finals, forcing him out of the remainder of the series as the Warriors eventually fell to Cleveland in seven games. But after seeing Bogut show no lingering signs of the injury during the Olympics while averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in seven games to lead Australia to a fourth-place finish, Nowitzki says the fellow 7-footer is sure to have a big season in Big D.

“I think Bogut will be a great player for us,” Nowitzki proclaimed while looking forward to teaming with the big man on the Mavs’ front line. “He’s a smart player. He can defend, obviously, and defend the rim. He’s a great passer, and probably one of the best passing big men there is in this league, so it should be fun playing with him.”

New Mavs center Andrew Bogut dazzled in Australia’s Olympic opener

DALLAS — After a severely bruised knee forced him out of the lineup for Golden State during the NBA Finals back in June, new Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut showed no signs of the injury in his first outing for the Australian national team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Clocking 22 minutes during Saturday’s contest against France, Bogut finished with 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting. He also filled up the stat sheet by grabbing four rebounds, dishing five assists and recording a block to lead Australia an upset 87-66 win. And with questions about his health going into the Olympics, Bogut turned heads as he tries to lead his home country to a gold medal.

“I didn’t think I was going to have the impact that I did,” Bogut confessed to reporters after the win.

He added: “I felt good out there and scored some easy baskets. I got my confidence rolling, and I just tried to impact the game defensively.”

Showcasing an ability to easily finish above the rim with multiple spectacular alley-oop highlights, Bogut made the most of his opportunity against a French team that’s led by San Antonio Spur Tony Parker. Bogut also dominated his personal matchup against Frenchman and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert inside. Despite battling foul trouble, he continued his dominance against Serbia on Monday with nine points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in less than 25 minutes during Australia’s 95-80 win. A matchup against teammate Harrison Barnes now looms as Australia squares off against Team USA on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ front office hopes that both continue to use their international experience to get ready for the start of training camp in late September.

“There are instances when playing on a national team can be akin to a really good base preparation for training camp,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said last season.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know Andrew,” he added in a recent interview with NBA TV. “He’s overseas … with their national team. And you know, it will be a lot happening quick.”

Mavs’ trade for veteran Andrew Bogut adds ‘legitimate’ starting center, Rick Carlisle says

DALLAS — Although the summer signing of 24-year-old budding star Harrison Barnes received most of the offseason headlines for the Dallas Mavericks, it was the acquisition of another member of the Golden State Warriors’ 2015 championship squad that figures to have a big impact this upcoming season.

Working out a trade with Golden State for the services of center Andrew Bogut on July 7, the Mavericks also received a future second-round pick in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick. The 31-year-old Bogut is an 11-year veteran with plenty of big-game experience, averaging 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 644 total outings for his career during stints with Milwaukee and Golden State. The 7-footer and former No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft is now expected to have a major impact on the Dallas defense, which ranked 16th in the league last season with a 104.3 defensive rating. And according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, the acquisition of Bogut gives the team a solidified force in the middle of the lineup.

“You know, it gives us not only a legitimate starting center, but it gives us one of the best centers in the game,” Carlisle said while addressing the trade for Bogut during a recent interview with NBA TV.

He added: “I’m looking forward to getting to know Andrew. He’s overseas in Australia with their national team. And you know, it will be a lot happening quick.”

Earning All-NBA Third Team honors with the Bucks during the ’09-10 season, Bogut continued to add to his extensive resume when he also was named to the All-Defensive Second Team with the Warriors as they made their championship run during the ’14-15 campaign. Bogut also averaged a double-double during three consecutive seasons with the Bucks from ’08-11, showcasing his offensive versatility and rebounding prowess. He’ll now be asked to step into a role that was manned primarily by fellow veteran Zaza Pachulia in Dallas’ starting lineup last season.

Playing in 70 games for the Warriors during the ’15-16 schedule, Bogut averaged a career-low 5.4 points and 7.0 rebounds while clocking just 20.7 minutes an outing. Vice versa, Pachulia averaged 8.6 points and 9.4 boards a game, recording a career-high 26 double-doubles to boot. But it’s the defensive impact that Bogut figures to have that has the Mavs most excited as he steps into a starting role.

Last season, Bogut proved that he’s still an above-average rim protector while equaling his career average by registering 1.6 blocks per game. Compare that to Pachulia’s .3 blocks an outing, and the Mavs certainly expect an upgrade to their interior defense. Bogut also held a 97.2 personal defensive rating and 111.4 offensive rating when he was on the floor last season, finishing the year with a 14.2 net rating that was ranked 14th in the entire league. All of which should now benefit the Mavericks as Bogut joins a front line that already features 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.

Mavs’ plan in free agency wasn’t impacted by drafting A.J. Hammons

DALLAS — Believing that they may have come out of the second round with the steal of the NBA Draft last week, the Dallas Mavericks now turn their attention to adding top-level talent to improve the roster when free agency gets underway on Friday.

Selecting 7-foot big man A.J. Hammons out of Purdue with the 46th overall pick last Thursday, the Mavericks may have filled a hole at center by integrating an experienced four-year collegiate player. The Mavs may have also acquired a player capable of protecting the rim by drafting the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. But according to Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, that won’t stop the team from possibly pursuing a big man that can serve as an anchor inside during free agency.

“This was all about taking the most valuable guy at 46, and I don’t think there’s any relation to what our strategy is going to become on July 1,” Nelson said shortly after selecting Hammons in the second round. “You can never have enough talent in your center bullpen. And given the guys that we have right now, we’ve got shot blocking, we’ve got athleticism, we’ve got more thin rim runners, and A.J. gives us a low-post presence. He’s a guy that’s got a thicker body, a guy that can take some of the pressure off of Dirk (Nowitzki) with that big body, and he’s smart. He knows how to play the game, so he checks off a lot of boxes.”

With veteran big man Zaza Pachulia set to test the open market in free agency to leave a hole inside, the Mavericks enter the summer with only Tunisian center Salah Mejri and seldom-used JaVale McGee under contract for next season. That made the drafting of Hammons important as the Mavs added depth along the front line.

Pachulia, 32, served as the Mavs’ starting center for much of the 2015-16 season, sliding into the first unit 69 times during his 76 appearances. He also averaged 8.6 points and a career-high 9.4 rebounds a game, recording 26 double-doubles. As a senior, the 23-year-old Hammons averaged 15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 24.6 minutes in 33 games for the Boilermakers, earning Honorable Mention All-America and First Team All-Big Ten honors in the process. He also departed ranked 17th in school history with 1,593 points, third with 930 rebounds and second with 343 blocked shots. But although Hammons could be asked to step in right away and contribute next season, the Mavericks likely will still look to add a proven veteran this summer.

“You know, we’re always looking to maximize impact in terms of talent, and that will be the same,” Nelson said while foreshadowing the team’s summer strategy. “We’re optimistic, and I think it’s an exciting time. This was a good first step to what will hopefully be a great summer for the Mavericks.”