Game 2: Mavs vs. Jazz

Highlights: Mavs vs. Jazz – 10/30/14

Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons both scored 21 points to lead all scorers as the Mavs rolled past the Jazz in their home opener.

Preseason Game 7: Mavs at Pelicans

Postgame: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle comments on Thursday night's preseason game against the Pelicans and looks ahead to Friday's tilt against Orlando.

Preseason Game 5: Mavs at Pacers

Mavericks vs. Pacers

Chris Copeland scores 22 points, David west adds 16 points as the Pacers top the Mavericks 98-93.

Stars are aligning for Jameer Nelson to be Mavs’ starting point guard Opening Night

DALLAS — With Raymond Felton slated to miss the first four games of the 2014-15 schedule and fellow veteran Devin Harris thriving in a reserve role a season ago, the stars may be aligning for newcomer Jameer Nelson to be the Dallas Mavericks’ starting point guard on Opening Night.

Handed a four-game suspension by the league for pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm while in New York prior to being dealt to Dallas on the eve of June’s NBA Draft, Felton will undoubted be looking forward to a fresh start with the Mavericks. However, after starting 611 of his 667 total career games during stints with Charlotte, Denver, Portland and New York, Felton will miss out on a chance to challenge for the first-unit lead guard spot vacated by the departing Jose Calderon.

“I demonstrated poor judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Felton said in a statement shortly after news of his suspension broke on Aug. 7. “Moving forward, I’m eager to get to Dallas, to start fresh and make a positive impact in the Dallas metropolitan area.”

The 6-foot-1 Felton is hungry to prove himself after a lackluster ’13-14 season with the Knicks, averaging a career-low 9.7 points per game, 5.6 assists an outing and connecting on just 39.5 percent from the field, his lowest shooting percentage since his second season in the league. He’ll now be forced to wait to prove that he can get back to the elite level he displayed during the 2010-11 campaign, when the fifth overall selection in the ’05 draft put up nearly career numbers across the board while averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Knicks.

Felton’s suspension brings the Opening Night battle down to second-year guard Gal Mekel, Harris and Nelson.

In Mekel, the Mavs have a former two-time Israeli MVP who saw limited playing time as a rookie before undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee on Jan. 17 that ended his season. Mekel could use more seasoning, averaging just 2.4 points and 2.0 assists while shooting only 34.9 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from behind the three-point arc during his 31 appearances last year. And with proven veterans ahead of him, Mekel will likely have an uphill climb to crack the rotation.

Meanwhile, Harris may once again be called upon to lead the Mavericks’ second unit, especially after the Dallas bench took a hit with the free-agent departure of Vince Carter.

Harris missed the first 41 games last season but battled back from toe surgery to average 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in his 40 outings. He also provided the Mavs with a huge lift off the bench during their first-round playoff series, averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 assists as the Dallas team pushed the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games.

Still, despite re-signing with the team this summer, even Harris envisions himself coming off the bench this upcoming season after earning the trust of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle by providing instant offense and perimeter defense.

“We’re deeper at the point guard position than we were a year ago with Jameer, myself and Raymond Felton, a lot of veteran guys, and I think we’re deeper,” Harris explained in an interview last week with SiriusXM NBA Radio.

He added: “They haven’t really defined it as who’s going to start. I know [Carlisle] wants to use a three-guard rotation to play a little (more) uptempo than we did last year. I think he likes me coming off the bench, which I’m fine with, and maybe closing out some games. But I think he’s going to use all three of us in different types of roles.”

Which brings us to Nelson, who signed with Dallas this summer during free agency after spending his entire 10-year career with the Orlando Magic.

Nelson holds career averages of 12.6 points, 5.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals, making 556 starts with the Magic. He also left Orlando as the franchise’s all-time leader in assists with 3,501, ranking second in games played (651) and field goals attempted (7,033), third in minutes played (19,038), three-pointers made (874) and three-pointers attempted (2,335), fourth in scoring (8,184 points) and field goals made (3,109) and fifth in steals (619).  

The former St. Joseph’s standout was also an All-Star during the ’08-09 season, when he averaged 16.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from three-point range. And with Nelson likely to assume the starting job entering the grueling 82-game schedule, the Mavericks hope he can recapture his All-Star form prior to the season opener on Oct. 28 in San Antonio.

Can Gal Mekel move up Mavs’ loaded depth chart at point guard?

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DALLAS — Hoping not to become the forgot man in the Dallas Mavericks’ backcourt, second-year guard Gal Mekel believes that a summer of basketball will boost his chances of cracking the rotation this upcoming season.

Playing in 31 games as a 25-year-old rookie during the 2013-14 campaign, Mekel averaged just 2.4 points and 2.0 assists before undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee on Jan. 17 that ended his season. The two-time Israeli MVP also struggled with his perimeter shooting before sustaining the injury, connecting on only 34.9 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from behind the arc in his first year.

Still, after looking comfortable in his second summer running the Mavs’ system while helping to lead Dallas’ summer-league squad before competing with the Israeli national team, Mekel believes that he will see much more success in Year 2.

“I didn’t play for a long time because of my injury, and that’s the first time that I’m going to play five-on-five after a long time. I’m going to have a long summer with summer league and then the national team in Israel, so I’m looking forward to this summer to get back in the groove,” Mekel said.

He added: “I took three weeks off in the summer and got a lot of treatment, and I can say that I’m feeling good. … [Outside shooting] is what me and the coaches are talking about, especially the three-point shots. If I’m going to make them consistently and a good percentage, I can really help our team during the season. And this is what I want to work on.”

Leaving Las Vegas with his best performance coming in the Mavericks’ fourth of five summer-league contests, Mekel showcased his all-around skills while scoring 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbing down five rebounds and dishing out six assists in a last-second 82-81 loss to Charlotte on July 16. He now hopes to help his home country qualify for EuroBasket 2015.

But, upon returning stateside, Mekel will face a far different challenge when the Mavericks begin training camp after the team stockpiled at the point guard position during the offseason.

Trading away last season’s starting lead guard, Jose Calderon, to New York in the six-player deal that brought back center Tyson Chandler to Dallas, the Mavericks landed veteran Raymond Felton to help fill the void. The Mavs re-signed Devin Harris and inked former All-Star Jameer Nelson as well during free agency, giving coach Rick Carlisle three veteran floor generals at his disposal.

Now, Mekel will once again have to compete for time on the court while showing that he’s elevated his play from a season ago. With that said, don’t be surprised if Mekel makes his way onto the hardwood next season following a summer of hard work.

“Well, he’s worked hard,” Carlisle said of Mekel’s progression entering his second season. “You know, he’s had to overcome an injury situation, which has been challenging. But it looks like he’s gotten to a point where he is good with his knee. You know, he just needs to get out there and play. His shooting has gotten better, he’s a good ball handler, he knows how to run a team and he’s got a real knack for getting in the paint and making things happen.”

2014 Summer League Game 4: Mavs vs. Hornets

Togashi Turns Heads at Summer League

Point guard Yuki Togashi has quickly become a fan favorite at Las Vegas Summer League.

Rick Carlisle takes short break from free agency to sit in on summer-league practice

Rick Carlisle talks Mavs’ 2014 Summer League

Mavs head coach stops by summer league practice to address the media about the roster heading to Las Vegas, NBA free agency and much more.

DALLAS — With the back of his mind centered on the happenings in NBA free agency, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle still found the time to show his support for the team’s summer-league squad this week.

Taking a brief break from courting free agents, Carlisle stood as an observer as one of his top assistants and head coach of the summer-league team, Kaleb Canales, passed down the Mavericks’ philosophies to the roster of young pros and NBA hopefuls. Carlisle then addressed the team, hoping to provide the players with some confidence before they leave for Las Vegas to begin play on Friday.

“Just to do things hard and keep things simple,” Carlisle said when asked want he conveyed to the players. “You know, we’ve had some of our guys from a developmental standpoint working on things to get better, and now is the chance to put it into force in practice and game situations. So, trust what you’ve trained, do it hard and be decisive.

“You know, thirty years ago, I was in the position of these players. I was coming in, I had a shot, I was a third-round pick but no guarantees. And I had a shot to make a team. And this is a great opportunity for all these guys.”

When Carlisle entered the gym, players immediately ramped up their level of intensity with hopes of garnering the coach’s attention while trying to earn an invitation to training camp this fall. That made the team’s live scrimmages that much more competitive, according to second-year guard Gal Mekel.

“I mean, you know how it is when the head coach is around, especially for the guys that are not on the team. I’m sure they want to show him that they can play,” Mekel joked.

“We’re a team that has roster spots open, so it’s a good time to be in this kind of situation with the Mavericks. There’s some opportunity here,” Carlisle added.

With Carlisle watching from the stands in Las Vegas, Canales will try to pass on the Mavs’ core principles while implementing the team’s offensive and defensive systems. Still, the 36-year-old Canales says Carlisle’s fingerprints will be all over the Mavericks’ summer squad as it competes in a tournament-style competition that will crown a champion on Monday, July 21.

“For me personally, he’s been a great mentor over the years and he talked to the guys and said what he sees on the floor,” Canales said after Carlisle sat in on the team’s practice. “It’s priceless. It’s priceless for us, priceless for me and priceless for the team.”