Mavs’ style of play, effort will excite fans this season, team owner Mark Cuban says

State of the Mavs: Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explains why the team is poised to surprise a lot of people this season.

DALLAS — After suffering his first losing season during the 2016-17 NBA campaign since agreeing to purchase on Jan. 4, 2000, team owner Mark Cuban fully expects the squad to bounce back during the upcoming 82-game schedule.

Seeing 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki miss 25 of the team’s first 30 games last season due to a right Achilles strain, Cuban watched helplessly as the Mavericks got off to a slow start before rallying to finish the year with a 33-49 record. The owner now expects the Mavs to rely on their continuity to learn from those downfalls, returning 11 players from last year’s team. And while watching rookie first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. integrate himself into the fold during preseason play, Cuban says he expects Mavericks fans to fall in love with the team’s style of play this season.

“I mean, we’re super excited about the season,” Cuban said while addressing the Dallas media on Monday. “I mean, obviously, there’s continuity for the first time in a long time where guys had a chance to play together last year and become better. But now, going into the season versus last year, everybody has got a better understanding of their roles. Harrison (Barnes) didn’t know what to expect. Now, we know he can be our go-to guy, particularly. Dirk obviously is Dirk, and he’s going to get us buckets. You’ve got Yogi (Ferrell) more comfortable. You’ve got [Dorian Finney-Smith], you’ve got Wes (Matthews) and you’ve got Seth (Curry) more comfortable, and I think that’s going to pay off dividends. I think the key to this team isn’t our talent, but it’s our effort. If we are one of, if not the hardest-playing team in the NBA, we’re going to have a good year. If we don’t keep up that effort, then it will be more of a challenge for us. We’ve got young guys for the most part, other than grandpa [Nowitzki], and we’re going to be athletic, we’re going to be fast and we’re going to be intense. I think fans are going to love just a bunch of good, good guys with good hearts that love the game. I think chemistry is going to pay off for us, and we all want to see what Dennis can do. I mean, we’re all excited to see him.”

Hoping Nowitzki can return to an elite form during his 20th season with the franchise, Cuban also expects the Mavericks’ supporting cast to elevate its play this year. Meanwhile, the owner hopes Smith can slide into the lineup and immediately evaluate a Dallas team that ranked near the bottom of the NBA in every major offensive category.

Last season, the Mavericks ranked 30th in the league in scoring while posting just 97.9 points per game as a team. Dallas also dished out just 20.8 assists an outing as a team, ranking 27th in that department. Meanwhile, the Mavs played at the second-to-last slowest pace in the league. But according to Cuban, that figures to change this season with Smith at the point.

“I’m excited about this team. I really am. I think we’re young, energetic, athletic and exciting. And Dirk leading the way is always key,” Cuban proclaimed.

“I mean, seeing us go and watching Dennis, it’s funny. When guys come in the league for the first time and they play with Dirk, they watch some of the shots he makes in the game. You just see them smile and shake their head, and you’re seeing the same thing now with Dennis. You see it with Harrison,” he added. “You know, with Dennis, he’ll go up, and there will be an athletic 7-footer who’s a shot-blocker, and Dennis gets up higher. And I think the other thing that he hasn’t really harnessed it yet is Dennis is fast. I mean, he’s easily the fastest guy on the team, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s the fastest guy end line to end line in the NBA. So, I think once he learns to harness that speed, watching him get a rebound and go coast to coast, fans are going to be fired up.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday for the regular-season opener against the Atlanta Hawks. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (rest) — out

After strong close to ’16-17 season, Mavs have high expectations for Dwight Powell this year

DALLAS — He came on strong to close the 2016-17 season, making the most of additional playing time near the end of the schedule as the Dallas Mavericks rested their veterans. Now, the Mavericks are hopeful backup big man Dwight Powell can continue his progression this upcoming season while carving out a bigger role with the team.

Last summer, Powell signed a reported four-year contract worth $37 million, hoping to emerge as a multi-positional player with the team. The 26-year-old then produced career-high numbers across the board during his third season in the NBA, averaging 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.3 minutes an outing while making 77 appearances. However, Powell saw his most production while averaging 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per outing during the Mavericks’ final four games of the season. And after seeing the 6-foot-11 big man begin to tap into his full potential, Mavs owner Mark Cuban says Powell could be set for a breakout season.

“He’s got to be consistent like he has been (late last season) to be a stretch four,” Cuban said while assessing Powell’s play during the ’16-17 schedule. “The first 70 games, he wasn’t. We wanted him to be, but he wasn’t. But as a pick-and-roll guy, he’s been amazing. And if he can shoot 35 or more percent from three, that changes his game dramatically. And then he’s just got to improve on the defensive end. You know, I think Dwight leads the league in (bad) calls against him. I mean, it’s not even close, and so we’ve got to talk to the league to find out why he’s the fall guy so often. And then Dwight’s got to improve his shot blocking, because he’s got the length and athletic ability to be able to block more shots and rebound. But I think he’ll improve in all of those areas. Again, he played more minutes than he ever has, and I don’t think people really recognize that to mentally go from all of a sudden playing four minutes a game for 50-60 games to 20 minutes a game, by the time you get to the end of the season, that’s tough.”

Powell finished last season shooting 51.5 percent from the field, but he connected on just 28.4 percent from behind the three-point arc while continuing to add perimeter shooting to his repertoire. He also saw his three-point shooting percentage climb to 33.3 percent from long range during the team’s final six games, playing more time at power forward after seeing the bulk of his minutes previously as a backup center. Powell registered a career-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range during a 124-111 loss in Phoenix on April 9, grabbing five rebounds, dishing two assists, collecting two steals and recording a block to boot in 32 minutes of action. And according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, Powell’s biggest challenge entering this season is to continue making strides as an outside shooter.

“I thought Powell continues to really do well with his three-point shooting, which is a really encouraging sign,” Carlisle said following last season. “He’s gotten a lot better with it. … Again, that’s a part of his game that needs to come around, and he knows that. He’s been busting his tail working on it, but we just haven’t been able to get him the reps in games. And so, again, now is a time we can look at that, and we can get him some of those shots. Young players in many cases are just so excitable that they get in the game for a short period of time and they’re just so hyped up, and it’s difficult to get into a rhythm. I want to see him play a little more extended minutes at the four, ’cause he’s played almost predominantly at five all year long.”

Acquired by Dallas along with former point guard Rajon Rondo on Dec. 18, 2014, in a deal that sent Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round pick and a second-round pick to Boston, Powell joined the Mavericks eager to prove that he was more than just a throw-in to complete the trade. He then showed plenty of promise during the ’15-16 campaign, averaging 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds during just 14.4 minutes per outing in 69 games prior to inking his new deal. However, despite a spike in those numbers last season, Powell still admittedly has more work to do in order to take the next step in his career. And after seeing the Mavericks miss out on the playoffs following a 33-49 record, Powell says he will have to increase his individual level of play at both ends of the floor this upcoming season.

“Expanding my range and continuing to develop all facets of the game offensively and defensively is a long process, and I’m just going to keep working at it,” Powell explained. “Obviously, I had higher expectations for myself. I wanted to help this team more, and I wanted to win more. … Whatever it takes to help this team win and to put myself in a situation to be successful and help our team be successful, I’m willing to do whatever role [Carlisle] wants me to do. That means continuing to develop really all facets of the game to be ready for those opportunities.”

Mavs value Dennis Smith Jr.’s character, demeanor as much as his athletic ability

DALLAS — Although his raw athleticism and pure basketball skills were on full display last month during the MGM Resorts Summer League, the Dallas Mavericks say their investment in No. 9 overall draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. goes well beyond the basketball court.

Last month, Smith averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per outing, leading the Mavericks’ summer squad to the semifinals of the tournament and a 5-1 record. In the process, he earned a spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team after connecting on 45.7 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from behind the three-point arc. Smith’s production solidified the Mavs’ selection in the first round of the draft as the team tries to rebuild from a 33-49 season. But according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, the first-year floor general checks all the boxes off the court as well, crediting Smith’s character and demeanor during the pre-draft process.

“You know, there’s a lot of stories that circulate throughout the summer or the spring as people get ready to draft and mock drafts, and there’s analysts, there’s scouts and there’s a million and one experts. But we have a great scouting department,” Cuban said following the drafting of Smith back in June. “Dennis is someone we’ve had our eye on since we started scouting this class, and we’ve done a lot of work. We’ve talked to a lot of people. But of all the film and all the games we watched and all the people we talked to, the most impressive interview we had was when we talked directly to Dennis. It’s amazing how you read things, and then when you actually sit down and talk to the person, or have our folks talk to him, the real person comes through. You know, as much as I can brag about his athletic abilities and his basketball abilities, it’s just who he is. We have a team psychologist, Don Kalkstein, and he grills kids. You know, some of them crumble, but not Dennis. Dennis really stood up, and we found out who he really is. You know, that’s led to us being really, really excited. We were shocked when he fell to nine, and we think we got the steal of the draft.”

Bouncing back from an ACL tear that cost him his senior season in high school, Smith showed no signs of the injury while earning Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and All-ACC Second Team honors during his lone collegiate campaign at North Carolina State. He also was the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play, averaging 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists during his freshman year and becoming the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the 1996-97 season.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle will now try to take Smith’s do-it-all ability and integrate him into a team full of veterans. And after seeing Smith slip in the draft, the coach expects the rookie to have plenty of motivation to succeed during his first season.

“We know that we’ve got a kid that’s very motivated and that has tremendous ability, and our job going forward here is to give him the tools to have ultimate success to become a great player and to become a franchise caliber player,” Carlisle proclaimed. “I really believe that he understands there’s a lot of work involved. I don’t believe he wants anything handed to him, and I think he has full intention of earning everything. We’re excited to have him here and to get started.

“I’m just really impressed with Dennis’ personality,” the coach added. “He’s obviously a guy that has great confidence, on the one hand. But on the other hand, he has a very obvious humility, and so that’s special to me. … He holds up extremely well to scrutiny, and I think what you see is what you get here. You know, he’s a no-nonsense guy that’s not a big talker. I think he’s a guy that really wants to get out there and prove it.”

That no-nonsense persona comes from the tutelage of his father and Smith’s humble beginnings as a child while growing up in Fayetteville, N.C.

Smith starred at Trinity Christian School, becoming one of the nation’s top recruits after averaging 22.2 points per game as a junior. That season, Smith was also named North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. However, while being raised by a single father, Smith was taught lessons of humility to accompany his success on the court. And according to Smith, those lessons will motivate him throughout his NBA career while representing his family and hometown at a high level on a nightly basis.

“Everybody is not able to make it to this point, especially where I’m from. So, me being able to come out and just play basketball at the highest level is a blessing. I’m thankful for that,” Smith explained last month. “Fayetteville, my family, I’m a product of my environment. You know, I chose the right path, and everybody wants to choose the right path. A lot of people that end up in the wrong things played basketball or football, and they’ve got the same aspirations as I have. And being able to come out and do it whenever they can’t, whether it’s by death or by prison, I think that’s a blessing. I feel a ton of pride representing where I’m from, everybody that can’t do it and my whole family. I take a lot of pride with that. … I think it’s more than just basketball with that. That’s the way I was raised to be as a man. And that’s a credit to my whole family, especially my father. And it just translates from being a man to basketball.”

Mavs chose continuity, fostering young talent over free-agent frenzy this summer

DALLAS — Opting not to make a big splash in free agency this summer after missing the playoffs during the 2016-17 campaign, the Dallas Mavericks feel like they’ll return to the court a better team this upcoming season simply by fostering their young talent and building continuity with the returning players on the roster.

Ravished by injuries last season, the Mavericks finished on the outside looking into the playoffs following a 33-49 campaign. The lackluster season placed the Mavs in the NBA Draft lottery for the first time since 2013, allowing the organization to select rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall pick in the first round. Now, the Dallas front office hopes Smith can immediately step in and help the Mavericks return to playoff contention. And according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, adding Smith to an emerging young core that already features 25-year-old leading scorer Harrison Barnes made it a successful offseason.

“I mean, we like what we have. You know, we’re not going to rush out with Dennis, Nerlens (Noel) and Harrison as a super young core,” Cuban explained in June of the decision to stand pat this summer in free agency.

“I think that young core is what we want to continue to build on, grow with and hopefully surprise a lot of people,” he added. “You know, once we have a better feel, we can talk about adding. But we’re not out there looking and saying, ‘We have to go find something.’ I think Dennis is going to be able to come in, play and hopefully have an impact his first year, and we don’t want to take anything away from that.”

Seeing 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki miss 25 of the Mavericks’ first 30 games last season while being hampered by a right Achilles strain, the team got off to a sluggish 4-17 start without its leader. The Dallas offense also suffered without the No. 6 scorer in NBA history on the floor, ranking near the bottom of the league in several statistical categories all season long.

The Mavericks ranked 30th by producing just 97.9 points an outing last season and 27th while dishing 20.8 assists a game as a team. Dallas also finished with an offensive rating of 103.7, ranking 23rd in that department. Injuries certainly played a role in the Mavs’ offensive struggles as Nowitzki, veteran guard J.J. Barea and versatile backup Devin Harris all missed lengthy periods of time. But with Nowitzki healthy and re-signed for a 20th campaign, the Mavericks should see much more offensive success this season. And while plenty still hinges on the re-signing of the 23-year-old Noel, a restricted free agent, Cuban is confident that improved health and continuity with virtually the same roster could lead to more wins during the ’17-18 season.

“We had a lot of injuries last year, and the bad news is we had a lot of injuries that impacted our season,” Cuban confessed. “The good news is we ended up with Dennis. And I think with Dennis and a little more time together with Nerlens and our young core, I think we have an opportunity. You know, we made a run last year, and it didn’t pan out. But I think we’ll be a lot better.”

Mavs expect Dennis Smith Jr., Yogi Ferrell ‘to push each other’ for minutes in ’17-18

The Film Room: Dennis Smith Jr.

Bobby Karalla breaks down Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.'s game, and how he can use his athleticism to take the Mavericks' offense to the next level.

DALLAS — There was a revolving door at point guard for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2016-17 season, leading the front office to nab North Carolina State freshman standout Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 pick in last month’s NBA Draft. Still, despite high hopes for Smith during his rookie season, the Mavericks don’t expect the cat-quick guard to be awarded the starting spot without a challenge from second-year lead guard Yogi Ferrell.

Last season, Ferrell averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 36 games with the Mavericks, making 29 starts after originally being signed to a 10-day contract on Jan. 28. He also shot 41.2 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, garnering a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team to become the first Mav to do so since Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard during the ’03-04 campaign. Ferrell was also named Western Conference Rookie of the Month during February, becoming the first Mav to receive the honor since Devin Harris in 2004. And according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Ferrell will certainly challenge Smith for the starting point-guard duties when training camp gets underway in late September.

“I think Yogi and Dennis are going to push each other,” Cuban said during Smith’s introductory press conference with the Dallas media last month. “You know, Yogi is super competitive. He started a lot of games as a D-League call-up and basically a 10-day, and I know that he’s just as competitive as Dennis is. They’re going to push each other. And I think that young core is what we want to continue to build on and grow with, and hopefully surprise a lot of people.”

Smith is ready for a healthy competition, according to Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, after a stellar season at the collegiate level.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Smith averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season, shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. He also earned Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and a spot on the All-ACC Second Team after becoming the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play. Likewise, Smith became the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season. Now, Nelson says Smith is ready to thrive in Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s system as he tries to revitalize a Dallas attack that ranked 30th in scoring (97.9 ppg), 27th in assists (20.8 pg) and 23rd with an offensive rating of 103.7.

“Those keys are earned. You know, it’s going to be an interesting training camp,” Nelson explained. “I think Dennis is going to play for one of the best coaches in the NBA. That being said, I think internally you can’t help but be excited by the potential, but he wouldn’t want it any other way. Just knowing the character of Dennis and knowing his family and surrounding structure, he’s going to want to earn those minutes. He’s truly a winner in every sense of the word.”

Dennis Smith Jr.’s raw athleticism helps Mavs keep pace with NBA’s new trend at point guard

DALLAS — After seeing newly-named MVP Russell Westbrook dominate the NBA en route to a record number of triple-doubles in a season, the Dallas Mavericks are hoping that a player with similar athletic ability can also take the league by storm next year.

This season, Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists, becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson during the ’61–62 campaign to average a triple-double for an entire season. He also broke Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles in a single season with 42, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 33-9 record in those games. Westbrook’s dominance speaks to a growing trend in the league of athletic and explosive lead guards to welcome in a new era. That said, the Mavericks hope the selection of former North Carolina State freshman standout Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 pick in last week’s NBA Draft has a similar impact on their team next season.

“I believe it translates well,” the 19-year-old Smith proclaimed during his introductory press conference with the Dallas media last week. “Russell Westbrook is super athletic, and that’s a guy I watch a lot of. And he dominated this year. He had a great year, and I think that’s largely due to how athletic he is compared to other point guards. I believe I can be similar to that, in terms of above-average athleticism. … Russell Westbrook is just relentless. He attacks at every opportunity, and he competes every possession.”

Possessing a 48-inch vertical, Smith’s athleticism was well publicized after one season at the collegiate level. His ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways is also something that figures to elevate the play of the Mavericks after a 33-49 season.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season, shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. In the process, Smith earned Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and a spot on the All-ACC Second Team after becoming the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play. The Mavs now hope Smith’s athleticism and do-it-all play translates to the next level. And according to Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, Smith’s pure athleticism should complement 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki at the offensive end.

“I couldn’t be more excited about adding Dennis Smith to the roster,” Nelson said. “He’s an electric young player with tons of potential. Obviously, he’s young and minutes are earned in this league, but his skillset is rare. I think he’ll be a terrific fit. He’s a pick-and-roll player with big-time athleticism and tons of potential. And I think with [Mavs coach Rick Carlisle] and specifically the system that we play, it’s a really, really good fit. This was the guy that we were after. And if we had drafted a lot higher, he was the guy that we had circled. A strange set of circumstances panned out, a surprise pick or two, and we got our guy. So, again, positionally it fits. Really, the big hole was at point guard. He fits in really well with our guys, our chemistry and where we’re going. We think he can be a nice building block in our retool. And with Dirk specifically, he and Dirk in the pick-and-roll is exciting to think about. So, we think it’s really good in the here and now. It gives us a building block to move forward with, and we are just excited.”

Smith played at Trinity Christian School and averaged 22.2 points per game as a junior before being named North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. However, after tearing his ACL, Smith was forced to miss his senior season in high school and rehab his way back onto the court. The Fayetteville, N.C., native then showed no signs of the injury during his only season in college, dazzling fans with explosive plays on a regular basis. But according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Smith won’t be able to rely on simply his athleticism in order to be effective in the league.

“Dennis is someone we’ve had our eye on since we started scouting this class,” Cuban explained. “Dennis is a money player. He’s here to produce, and the results will speak for themselves. You know, we can project, we can hope and we can talk about a lot of different things, but it’s all just talk until he walks out to the court. But the good news is, as you heard him say, he works hard, he prepares and he watches tape. There’s a lot of kids that will come in, and just because they’ve been so much better physically and athletically than everybody at the different levels they’ve competed at they don’t really take the cerebral approach. Knowing that Dennis likes to watch film, knowing that he likes to learn, I think that’s going to be the difference maker. … Like I said earlier, we can watch him athletically, but it’s how he approaches the game, it’s his cerebral approach to the game and his willingness and desire to learn that makes the difference between a guy with All-Star potential and somebody that actually reaches that potential. So, we’re hoping when he walks on the court, I’m not going to say who he compared himself to with a jump shot, but hopefully he has that kind of rookie year.”

Mavs may be closing in on Frenchman Frank Ntilikina with No. 9 overall pick in NBA Draft

DALLAS — At the age of 18 years old, French point guard Frank Ntilikina is still considered to be a project as he continues to tap into his full potential. However, after a reported meeting with the Dallas front office, the 6-foot-5 budding star could find himself as a key member of the Mavericks’ future later this month in the NBA Draft.

The Mavericks finished this season ranked 30th while producing just 97.9 points per game as a team. The Mavs also dished only 20.8 assists per game, ranking 27th in that department as the offense sputtered at times this season. Meanwhile, Dallas finished with the 23rd-best offensive rating of 103.7. And according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, the team is certainly in the market for a point guard to boost its offensive production going into next season.

“Well, we’ve got to get better at point (guard). There’s no question,” Cuban matter-of-factly said near the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. “You know, if we can’t do it in the draft, we’ll look at free agency and see what we can do. … We’ve got to get that one pass-first point guard. That’s what we don’t have. And just playing time and consistency will help, too.

“We can maybe go a little bit more for a project, but we’ll see,” he added. “Every year they say it’s a great draft, and it never turns out to be as great a draft as they say.”

Not turning 19 until July 28, Ntilikina’s physical attributes at his age are what make him an intriguing prospect at the NBA level. His upside is also what has many mock drafts moving the lanky guard up their boards in recent weeks.

Ntilikina averaged just 5.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 18.2 minutes an outing during his 32 appearances this season for Strasbourg in the LNB Pro A, connecting on 43.1 percent from three-point range. However, the Frenchman dominated the European under-18 championship, averaging 22.7 points, 6.7 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.7 blocks while dropping 31 points in the title game against Lithuania. Ntilikina’s 7-foot wingspan and lateral quickness also figure to translate well at the defensive end of the floor immediately. And with needs on both sides of the ball in the backcourt, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki admits that he expects the Mavericks’ brass to give Ntilikina a serious look prior to the draft on June 22.

“I mean, obviously, we’d love to have a point guard. I think that’s not a secret. But we’ll just go in and see what’s out there,” Nowitzki said while making an appearance at the Mavs Basketball Academy’s hoop camp last week. “I think sometimes the philosophy is to draft the best player that’s available at your pick, and some guys draft by position. I think we’ll just have to go and see. I’ve been obviously in the war room a couple times now, and you always have this plan. But if you don’t have the first pick, you know, and things just don’t go as planned, everything and the whole plan is out the window. You know, I’ve seen Cuban with three phones on his head and [Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson] with eight phones, and things happen there so quick. So, I think you can make all the plans you want, but you have to be spontaneous once you’re in there and react, and hopefully find a player who can play, can contribute and has a bright future. The good thing is the draft is deep, I guess, with a lot of good players, and we’ll see who we end up with.

“I’ve seen ‘French Frank’ only on Youtube or whatever when we watched some highlights, so I really don’t have an educated opinion, but that’s why we have 50 scouts that we pay on the payroll. I’m sure they’ve seen him play plenty and watched him play some, so they probably have a way better clue than I do. You know, you can watch a highlight tape and be like, ‘This kid looks pretty good.’ But you have to see a whole game, or two, or three to see how he reacts in certain situations. Like I said, I don’t know much about him, but we’ll see if he’s the route we take once it gets to the ninth pick. But I have no idea, as of now.”