Game 12: Mavs at Celtics

Mavericks vs. Celtics

Dirk Nowitzki scores 23 points as the Mavericks rally to beat the Celtics 106-102.

Addition of Rajon Rondo solidifies Mavs’ starting five

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle reacts to the Rajon Rondo trade and looks ahead to Saturday's matchup against the Spurs.

DALLAS — With the addition of four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to bolster their backcourt, the Dallas Mavericks figure to feature one the most potent starting lineups in the NBA.

Thursday, the Mavericks (19-8) announced the acquisition of Rondo and center Dwight Powell from the Boston Celtics in exchange for backup big man Brandan Wright, reserve swingman Jae Crowder, starting point guard Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick. And while Powell, the 45th overall pick by Charlotte in June’s draft, will attempt to add support to the Mavs’ front line behind starting center Tyson Chandler, it’s the addition of Rondo that is expected to instantly increase Dallas’ championship odds.

Rondo, an eight-year veteran that previously spent his entire career with the Celtics, garnered All-Defensive Team honors four times during that stint. The 6-foot-1 lead guard was also an All-NBA Third Team selection in 2012, bringing to Dallas championship experience after he helped lead the Celtics to the ’08 title.

Already rolling out the No.1 scoring offense in the league, which averages 110.1 points per game, the Mavericks will now try to integrate one of the top pass-first floor generals into the equation. And while joining a starting lineup that’s already featuring leading scorer Monta Ellis, 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, new addition Chandler Parsons and Chandler, Rondo couldn’t contain his excitement as he took to Twitter to react to the trade.

“My time in Boston has meant so much,” Rondo posted. “I’ve grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal and supportive fans in the league is unmatched. My teammates have shown nothing but heart the last couple of seasons. They are some of the hardest working guys I have played with and I wish them the best. I’ve experienced my most successful and challenging years with the Celtics, fans and city. The opportunity to play with guys like Dirk, Monta, Tyson and the young talent of Chandler is exciting. I look forward to building something special in Dallas.”

While the Mavs’ bench production could take a dip with the move of Wright and Crowder, the first unit is expected to be strengthened with Rondo in place of Nelson.

This season, Nelson is averaging a career-low 7.3 points and 4.1 assists while starting all 23 of his appearances for the Mavs. Nelson is also shooting just 37.4 percent from the field, the lowest percentage of his career. Vice versa, Rondo averaged 8.3 points and a league-best 10.8 assists in his 22 games for the Celtics, connecting on 40.5 percent from the field as he continues to battle back from reconstructive knee surgery that caused him to miss the second half of the ’12-13 season and the first half of last season.

For his career, Rondo holds averages of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals, making 474 starts in his 527 appearances. He also led the league in assists during both the ’11-12 and ’12-13 seasons, dishing out 11.7 and 11.1 an outing, respectively.

Rondo leaves the Celtics holding franchise records in assists for a season with 794 during the ’09-10 campaign, assists per game with 11.7 in ’11-12 and assists in a playoff game with 20 in 2011. All of which figures to only add to a Dallas offense that ranked seventh in the league while dishing out 23.6 assists a game as a team this season before the addition of the former All-Star.

And with Rondo expected to slide right into the vacant first-string point guard role vacated by the trade of Nelson, the Mavericks’ offense should continue to flourish en route to another championship chase.

Note: Returning to action at American Airlines Center on Saturday, the Mavericks will next play host to the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavs a 101-100 road loss on Oct. 28. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.


Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:
Raymond Felton, right ankle, questionable

Mavs acquire four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have acquired four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo and center Dwight Powell from the Boston Celtics in exchange for center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, guard Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick.

Rondo (6-1, 186) is an eight-year guard who has spent his entire professional career with the Celtics. In addition to being a four-time NBA All-Star (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Rondo has been named All-NBA Defensive Team four times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), All-NBA Third Team (2012) and was the starting point guard on Boston’s 2008 NBA Championship team. He has played in 527 career games (474 starts) and holds averages of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 32.9 minutes per game.

The veteran point guard also has extensive postseason experience having competed in two NBA Finals and starting each of his 92 career Playoff games. Rondo holds postseason career averages of 14.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 38.5 minutes per game.

Rondo currently leads the NBA in assists with 10.8 assists per game. He led the league in that category in both 2011-12 (11.7 apg) and 2012-13 (11.1 apg). He also holds several Celtics’ franchise assists records including single-season total with 794 assists (2009-10), assists per game with 11.7 apg (2011-12) and assists in an NBA Playoff game with 20 (2011).

The Louisville, Ky., native was originally the 21st pick of the 2006 NBA Draft after declaring as an early-entry candidate out the University of Kentucky. In just his freshman season as a Wildcat, Rondo set Kentucky’s all-time single-season steals mark with 87 steals in 34 games.

Powell (6-11, 240) is a rookie center who hails from Toronto, Canada and has seen action in five games this season with averages of 1.8 points, 0.2 rebounds and 1.8 minutes per game.

A former Stanford University standout, Powell was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 45th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was originally traded from Charlotte to Cleveland before being acquired by the Celtics in a late-September trade that landed him in Boston, along with John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy, while Keith Bogans was sent to the Cavaliers.

As a senior at Stanford, Powell was named All-Pac-12 First Team while averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was also named Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Jae Crowder looks to fill void of Mavs’ departing veterans

DALLAS — Although he’s yet to fully carve his own niche in the NBA since entering the league as the 34th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Dallas Mavericks third-year pro Jae Crowder has gradually began to tap into his potential.

The 6-foot-6 versatile swingman has been used in a multitude of ways by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle through his first two seasons, playing in 78 games in both campaigns while providing production off the Dallas bench. This season, however, the 24-year-old appears ready to step into his own role and out of the shadows of his departing mentors, attempting to fill the void left by Shawn Marion and Vince Carter in free agency.

“It’s a grand opportunity,” Crowder confessed while acknowledging he figures to see the most playing time in his young career this upcoming season. “It’s the best opportunity I’ve had. You know, those guys [Carter and Marion] really taught me a lot coming into it, and I just try to learn from that and build on each year I’ve been here. I think the opportunity is there, and I just have to take it.  Just being a pro on and off the court. You know, those guys are real professionals and they’ve been in the league for a long time. And just seeing how they work and how they operate day in and day out, I’ll never forget it. And I’ll take it from here until the day I retire.”

Backing up Marion at small forward the past two seasons, Crowder was often asked to defend the top perimeter scorers in the league when the four-time All-Star headed to the bench. The former Marquette standout also played alongside Carter in the second unit, learning what it takes to provide instant offense off the bench.

Now, after losing 10 pounds during the offseason while working on his conditioning, Crowder will try to step into a valuable role for the Mavericks this season.

“Physically, I feel great. Coming into camp, I felt 100 percent. You know, physically, I came into camp ready and I lost a little weight. I came in with a good mindset — free and with a free mind. And we’ve been playing hard and getting after it,” Crowder explained.

With Carter vacating the sixth man role in Dallas to join the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, the Mavs may look in Crowder’s direction for production with the reserves. In order to be relied upon in that role, however, Crowder knows he’ll have to step up after admittedly hitting a wall in his first two seasons.

After starting 16 games during his rookie season, Crowder saw a slight dip in his production in Year 2 while finishing ’13-14 averaging 4.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, .8 assists and .8 steals. And despite raising his shooting percent from 38.4 percent to 43.9 percent in a year’s span, Crowder continued to struggle with his outside shot while connecting on only 33.1 percent from behind the three-point arc.

“By Game 50 or 60 my first two years, I had a little drought and I think that kind of was fatigue. That’s why I changed my body a little bit, trying to fight through that as the season goes along,” Crowder explained. “(I lost) 10 more pounds, and that’s right where I want to be. I feel great, I’m flying around, I’m moving well and I’m right where I want to be.”

Still, it’s at the defensive end that Crowder figures to provide the Mavs with the most support while emerging as a lockdown defender that Carlisle can turn to down the stretch of games. And after impressing his head coach with his intensity early in training camp, don’t be surprised if Crowder is called upon to operate as the team’s defensive closer this season.

“He’s in by far the best shape he’s been in, in three years, and he’s been in good shape in other years,” Carlisle said while praising Crowder’s offseason conditioning. “But he’s trimmed down, he’s gotten leaner, he’s committed to a diet that’s really gotten his body composition where it needs to be to be at his best, and he’s just a tireless worker. I mean, he just keeps working on everything with shooting, running and movement stuff. He knows both the three and the four, and he knows the two. And he’s guarded ones, so that versatility is a key factor for us.”

“I feel like it’s a collective effort for all of us and all of us wing players,” Crowder added. “We have to hold our ground with the best scorers in the league. And it’s a collective effort, as we all know. But I just want to make it hard on guys when I match up on Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Just make it tough on them the whole fourth quarter, and maybe in the fourth quarter those shots aren’t falling for them. You know, it’s a collective effort, but I want to feel like I’m doing my part.”

Note: The Mavericks will return to the practice court before making their first road trip of the preseason, taking on four-time MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. The game will air at 6:30 p.m. CT on TXA 21.

The Mavs return to Dallas to host the Memphis Grizzlies at American Airlines Center on Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:
-Monta Ellis, sprained left knee, day-to-day
-Raymond Felton, high right ankle sprain, out at least 10 days

 

Who will emerge as Mavs’ sixth man after Vince Carter’s departure?

DALLAS — For each of the past seven NBA seasons, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t have to worry about who would assume the role of sixth man.

After starting for most of his first three seasons in Dallas, former Maverick Jason Terry slid to the bench during the 2007-08 schedule. The following season Terry won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, averaging 19.6 points per game and supplying the Mavs with instant offense off the bench during the ’08-09 campaign.

When Terry migrated to Boston in free agency during the summer of 2012, eight-time All-Star Vince Carter quickly assumed the sixth-man responsibilities after previously accepting a bench role the season prior. Now, with Carter also departing Dallas in free agency during the summer to join the Southwest Division rival Memphis Grizzlies, the Mavs will again look for someone to step up in the second unit this upcoming season.

But who is ready for the bulk of that responsibility?

The Mavs’ reserves finished amongst the league leaders a season ago, posting the sixth-most points by a bench at 35.7 a game to help Dallas’ offense rank eighth with a scoring output of 104.8 points a contest. Carter supplied most of that secondary scoring, leading the reserves by averaging 11.9 points per game during the regular season while appearing in 81 outings.

Still, while not putting all of the burden on one player’s shoulders to fill the void left by Carter’s departure, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle will make it a shared responsibility to supply scoring and production off the bench.

“We’ve got to be a strength-in-numbers outfit here,” Carlisle explained during last season. “We need our bench to give us intensity, persistence and scoring. But it’s not all about those guys putting points on the board. You know, they’ve got to play hard and at full capacity within our defensive system and rebound. … We need contributions from everybody, and (last season) we got a depth of contribution from everybody.”

An odds-on favorite to assume the sixth-man title for the Mavs during the ’14-15 campaign is combo guard Devin Harris, who shook off an offseason toe surgery last year to provide the team with plenty of production off the bench.

Harris missed the first 41 games last season but battled back to average 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in his 40 outings. The cat-quick guard 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.

And after re-signing with the team this summer, Harris knows he could be asked to step into Carter’s shoes while also supplying depth to a point guard-heavy backcourt rotation that features veterans Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton.

“They haven’t really defined it as who’s going to start,” Harris explained in an interview recently with SiriusXM NBA Radio. “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.”

But the Mavs may also look in a multitude of other directions to supply scoring from the reserves.

Signing 34-year-old small forward Richard Jefferson this summer, the Mavs will have a proven veteran to turn to off the bench that has averaged 14.5 points per game in his 13-year career. Jefferson started 78 of his 82 appearances for the Utah Jazz last season, averaging 10.1 points and 2.7 rebounds. He also provides perimeter shooting, connecting on 45.0 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from behind the three-point arc during the ’13-14 season.

Jefferson is now expected to back up fellow new addition Chandler Parsons at the three spot, boosting a position that lost four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and Carter’s leadership during free agency.

In the interior, 26-year-old big man Brandan Wright is expected to pick up where he left off at after averaging 9.1 points and shooting 67.7 percent from the field last season in 58 appearances off the Dallas bench. But the Mavericks may ask for other younger contributors to step up this season as well to assume the sixth-man duties, inking 23-year-old Al-Farouq Aminu this summer and looking for forward Jae Crowder, 24, to mature in his third season.

Last season, Aminu started 65 of his 80 appearances for the New Orleans Pelicans and averaged 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. For his young career, he’s averaged 6.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 303 total games. Meanwhile, Crowder played in 78 outings for the second straight season, looking for a bigger role this year after averaging just 4.6 points and 2.5 rebounds a season ago.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that Carlisle will once again turn to his bench for depth and scoring support this season. And with the subtraction of Carter, someone will need to step up for the Mavs in the second unit.

“I view it really the same as all the guys, even the younger guys,” Carlisle explained. “I mean, if you played them for 10 or 11 minutes in a row, it’s going to be hard for them to go full board the way they can if they go seven or eight minutes in a row. Ideally, we want a deep team. We want guys in the game playing at full capacity and till exhaustion. And then, when they get tired, we’ve got other guys going in.”

Positions of need entering draft: small forward

Mavs.com’s Earl K. Sneed takes a look at different directions the Mavs might look to go in leading up to Thursday’s draft.

DALLAS — It was a position of strength over the past few seasons for the Dallas Mavericks. However, with veteran leaders Shawn Marion and Vince Carter set to enter free agency on July 1, the Mavericks head into the offseason with questions at small forward.

Led by Marion’s versatility and defensive prowess in the starting unit, the Mavs showcased plenty of depth at the 3 this season as Carter supplied instant scoring off the bench and second-year standout Jae Crowder emerged as a two-way player. But, with it unclear whether Marion or Carter will return to the team next season, the Mavericks’ brass may look to add a young contributor into the fold via Thursday’s draft.

“We’ll be looking at the draft,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said during his exit interview last month while turning his attention from the 2013-14 season. “I know we don’t have our first-round pick, but we have an early second. That’s an important pick for us and it’s a deep draft, so we’re going to do our homework on that.”

Hoping to re-sign both the 37-year-old Carter and 36-year-old Marion, the Mavericks will attempt to retain the veterans’ services when the two hit the open market. First, the Mavs’ front office may also look to go in a different direction by adding a young forward capable of stepping in and contributing immediately.

Surrendering their first-round pick, the No. 21 selection overall, to Oklahoma City via a top-20 conditional protection in the Lamar Odom trade with the Los Angeles Lakers back in December of 2011, the Mavs will now try to make a splash with two picks in the second round. That puts more importance on landing at least one player that can step in on Day 1 of training camp with the 34th pick overall and 51st selection, assuming the Mavericks stand pat and don’t make a move into the first round.

“I don’t know of any young guys outside of the lottery that are going to be impact players, but it is a deep draft,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said in regard to the second round. “You know, the difference between the early 20s and the 40s, I think most NBA guys have that kind of being the same pool of players. So, we’re fairly well-positioned with the [34th] pick. It’s almost like it’s got first-round potential, and then of course we’ve got our later second-round pick. And so we’ll be aggressive as always, whether it’s free agency or the draft, to put the best possible product on the floor next year.”

Jae Crowder hopes to build consistency going into Year 3

DALLAS — It was an up-and-down second season for Dallas Mavericks forward Jae Crowder, but the former Marquette standout now enters the summer with plenty to build upon.

Playing in 78 outings for the second straight season, the 6-foot-6 Crowder would see his number of starts cut in half after finding himself in the first unit 16 times during his rookie campaign. He also saw his production slightly dip from Year 1 to Year 2 while going from 17.3 minutes per game as a rookie to 16.1 minutes an outing this season.

But, after boosting his shooting percentage from 38.4 percent in his first year to 43.9 percent this season, Crowder felt like he gained the confidence of his teammates while making strides on the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s just a mindset. I don’t know when I’m going to get my shot (in the games), but when it comes I have to step into it aggressively and take them,” Crowder said during the season. “I know I can shoot the ball and my teammates have faith in me, so I just have to step in and shoot.”

Committed to bettering his outside shooting after connecting on just 32.8 percent from three-point range as a rookie, Crowder worked tirelessly last summer to find a better rhythm behind the arc. Known for his defensive prowess while often relieving veteran Shawn Marion and guarding the opposition’s best perimeter stars, Crowder looked to develop into more of a two-way player during his second season. The 34th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft then came out the gates firing on all cylinders to start the season, following up a career-high 18-point outing on Nov. 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers with 17 points the next night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I just stayed in the gym and worked on my shot,” the 23-year-old Crowder explained. “I knew I wasn’t a 32-percent three-point shooter.  In the offseason, I spent a lot of time in the gym and really worked on my shot. I have a lot of confidence.”

He added: “I came into camp knowing I had to improve on my outside shooting and be more consistent. To get minutes on this team I need to be able to stretch the floor, and that’s what I’ve been trying to work on and that’s what the coaches have been working me with and trying to get better every day.”

However, by season’s end Crowder would once again find himself in a slump, finishing the year shooting just 33.1 percent from long range.

After briefly falling out of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation, Crowder regained  his confidence during a brief stint with the team’s Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends. Crowder immediately dominated with the Legends, recording consecutive triple-doubles and a combined 55 points, 32 rebounds and 20 assists in two appearances. However, despite connecting on 44.4 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range during Dallas’ first-round playoff series in seven games against the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs, Crowder played just a minimal role for the Mavericks and averaged only 2.7 points and 1.7 assists in his 11.6 minutes of work off the bench.

Still, Carlisle says he saw gradual improvements in Crowder’s game that figures to benefit the team next season.

“You know, I think Crowder is going to keep getting better. … And you’ve got to have a system where younger guys are getting better,” Carlisle said. 

With both Marion and sixth man Vince Carter set to enter free agency on July 1, the Mavericks may need to call on Crowder even more so next season at the small forward spot. With that said, Crowder showed that he can handle a larger role, playing a career-high 40 minutes and registering 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting during a 107-90 road win at New Orleans on Jan. 10.

But consistency is what Crowder will search for before heading into his third season, looking to become a more reliable contributor for the Mavs going forward.

“It’s a dream come true to play in the NBA,” Crowder modestly said. “I really stamped my NBA mark here and I can go up from here. I just need to keep working hard, let the moment last and get ready to come back and play hard.

“It’s an honor to play for the Mavericks and to put on this uniform. You’re playing for those guys in the locker room and the organization. It’s a great feeling. I just want to give it my all every day.”