Mavs see David Lee fitting in immediately along front line

Mavs welcome David Lee

Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki comment on the addition of David Lee.

DALLAS — With a veteran big man set to join the team after a small roster shakeup, the Dallas Mavericks believe they might have added the missing piece to a playoff puzzle.

Monday, the Mavericks (30-27) announced that they had officially waived fourth-year guard John Jenkins, making a space for 10-year veteran power forward David Lee on the roster. Lee averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game during his 30 appearances for the Boston Celtics this season prior to finding himself out of the rotation, which led to his eventual buyout talks and release on Friday.

Lee, a two-time All-Star with career averages of 14.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists, reportedly signed a prorated deal for the Mavs’ $2.1 million cap-room exception. His addition brings another big body to the Dallas front line. And although Mavs coach Rick Carlisle admitted that it was hard to see the organization cut ties with the team’s leading scorer in the preseason, Lee’s presence in the locker room should immediately be felt.

“This is a tough situation,” Carlisle confessed following the Mavs’ 129-103 home win Sunday over Philadelphia. “You don’t want to let anybody go with a locker room like we have. My hope is that sometime in the future we can have [Jenkins] back here, because he played well when he was here. It’s just strictly a numbers game. There are some other considerations, but he’s been a great asset to our culture and our team. Lee is here and we expect to sign him (Monday). We’ll get him ready in the next couple of days.

“We think [Lee] can play both big positions, some four and and some backup five. I just think he’s a quality veteran player who has been in a situation in Boston where they were overstocked and decided to go with younger guys. And we believe he can help us.”

Lee, 32, entered the league as the 30th overall pick of the New York Knicks during the 2005 NBA Draft, impressing his counterparts quickly around the league for his skills around the basket. He then produced a career season for the Knicks during the ’09-10 campaign, playing in 81 games while averaging 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists an outing.

The former Florida standout then migrated to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal on July 9, 2010, in exchange for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf prior to the ’10-11 season. With the Warriors, Lee emerged as one of the Western Conference’s premiere big men the following year while averaging 20.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists during the lockout-shortened ’11-12 schedule.

However, Lee eventually found himself out of the rotation as the Warriors sprinted to the NBA title last season, and he once again was on the move to Boston in exchange for forward Gerald Wallace and guard Chris Babb during a trade on July 27. And after Lee recorded a season-high 14 points in 15 minutes against the Mavericks in Dallas’ 106-102 win in Boston back on Nov. 18, his new team sees him fitting in immediately.

“Well, he’s a smart player,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said of his newest teammate. “He’s a veteran, and he knows how to play. He can score around the basket, he’s a good passer out of the post and on the drive, and he’s a good rebounder. Sometimes we have issues with our rebounding, so he should help us there. And I just think it’s another solid veteran that wants to win and knows how to play.”

“D-Lee is a proven player and a good veteran who is going to come in and do what we need him to do,” forward Chandler Parsons added. “I think he’s a two-time All-Star, so he’s had a great career. You know, he’s slowed down a little bit the last two years, but I think for our system he’ll be good. He’s just another experienced and vet guy that we can add to our roster to make this push at the end here.”

Lee is now expected to help a Dallas team that has struggled all season in the rebounding department.

The Mavericks rank 17th in the league while pulling down 43 rebounds per game. The Mavs also have a 48.3 rebounding percentage. All of which figures to see a spike now with Lee’s addition to the front line. And with Lee also bringing his championship experience, the Mavericks expect to have another player capable of assisting them during the stretch run of the season.

“David is a great rebounder, and he’s got a great understanding of the game,” sixth man Devin Harris said. “In pick-and-rolls, he understands when to pop and when to roll. I think he’ll fit in with what we do, and I think he’ll be a great addition.”

“Well, obviously, he’s a champion,” swingman Wesley Matthews added. “He rebounds, and he’s a great rebounder. He’s an inside presence, and he does everything. He knows the game. He’s a veteran, he can play the game, and hopefully he can add to this team.”

Note: The Mavericks will now play the second outing of their six-game homestand on Wednesday, hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City leads the season series 3-0. 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.

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Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

There’s no injuries to report at this time.

Chandler Parsons’ minutes at power forward give Mavs added dimension

OAKLAND, Calif. — He showcased plenty of versatility during his first season with the Dallas Mavericks after signing with the team in free agency during the summer of 2014. Now, small forward Chandler Parsons may be displaying even more flexibiity during his second campaign with the team.

Battling his way back from a hybrid microfracture surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee on May 1, Parsons has been on a tear of late while seeing his fair share of offensive success. That trend continued Wednesday night as the 6-foot-10 forward scored 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds during a 127-107 loss to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the final outing of a three-game road trip. And while taking on a heavier workload as the Mavericks’ starting small forward and primary backup to power forward Dirk Nowitzki, Parsons showed why his versatility figures to give the Mavericks (26-22) a boost throughout the course of the season.

“Just trying to string a couple together,” a modest Parsons said of his recent personal success. “I’m shooting the ball at a very high level of confidence right now, so from that point it’s a positive.”

Parsons averaged 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing for the Mavs last season, battling through several nagging injuries to appear in 66 games. He then sustained the knee injury that later required surgery during Game 1 of the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series against his former team, the Houston Rockets, leading to his delayed season debut on Nov. 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The former Florida standout then admittedly got off to a sluggish start to the season, averaging just 8.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists during the month of November. However, Parsons seems to have worked his way back to his old form in the last six games, posting averages of 23.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists during that span. And while playing both forward positions, Parsons has earned the praise of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.

“He’s been aggressive, continuing to get a rhythm out there. There’s a lot of things on this trip that he can build on, for sure. And the fact that he’s bouncing back and forth between three and four is a dimension that really helps our team,” Carlisle said while highlighting Parsons’ versatility.

Assuming the primary backup minutes behind Nowitzki recently, Parsons has shown an ability to exploit his head-to-head matchups against bigger players. He’s also used his ballhandling abilities to his advantage, initiating the Dallas offense at times.

Parsons has become one of the Mavericks’ top rebounders in recent games as well, scoring 17 points and pulling down a team-high nine boards Tuesday night during the team’s last-second 92-90 win over the Lakers. Carlisle then opted to slide Parsons up in place of a resting Nowitzki during Wednesday’s contest, acknowledging the added dimension that the 27-year-old’s minutes at power forward give the team.

“It just creates mismatches,” Parsons said while highlighting the benefits of his move to power forward. “You know, I can bang down there and play with bigger guys. And offensively, there’s not very many fours that can guard me out there, so I think it gives us a different look. It just puts a heavier load on our guards to get in there and rebound and block out, and that’s been a big struggle for us.”

“Well, he likes it. He’s running around out there with bigger guys trying to chase him, so it’s been good,” Carlisle added. “You know, it’s challenging from the standpoint that now he’s guarding guys that are bigger and now he’s got a bigger rebounding responsibility, but he did a great job (Tuesday night). He was our leading rebounder with nine, so he’s doing a lot of good things. And I think it also speaks to his flexibility as a player that he can go from three to four, and he can be a point power forward at times ’cause he handles the ball so well.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return home Friday night, hosting the Brooklyn Nets. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 119-118 overtime road win on Dec. 23. That 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 presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

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Zaza Pachulia (right lower leg soreness) — day-to-day

Devin Harris (left great toe sprain) — day-to-day

Unheralded new addition Jeremy Evans takes on heavy responsibility during Mavs’ training camp

DALLAS — Although he was one of the Dallas Mavericks’ unheralded signings this offseason, versatile big man Jeremy Evans has been handed the most responsibility early during the team’s training camp.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Evans spent his first five seasons in Utah, coming to Dallas after averaging 3.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 10.8 minutes in 219 games. He also showcased plenty of raw athletic ability, winning the Slam Dunk contest at All-Star weekend in 2012.

Evans, 27, played collegiately for four seasons at Western Kentucky University, averaging 10.0 points and 6.9 rebounds in 34 games during his senior year. He also left as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 224, making him attractive to Utah in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft before being selected with the 55th overall pick.

The Mavericks then inked Evans to a reported two-year deal worth the league minimum this summer, looking to use his rare athleticism to fill the void left by two of the team’s top contributors from last season. And while working the athletic big man at three different positions during training camp, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is already attempting to tap into Evans’ full potential.

“Well, he’s the only guy on the team that we’re having learn three positions, which is hard,” Carlisle said while praising Evans’ versatility following Thursday’s team practice. “It’s a daunting task, ’cause the five, the four and the three are all so different. The five and four are certainly more similar, but three is different than the bigger positions. So, you know, that’s going to be a lot of work and it’s going to be a lot of reps. You know, (Al-Farouq) Aminu ended up doing that last year. It took a while for him to really get comfortable with it, and I suspect it’s going to take a while for Jeremy to get completely comfortable with it. But it speaks to the kinds of diverse abilities we feel he has.”

Evans primarily saw time as a backup power forward in Utah, averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 38 games for the Jazz last season. He also connected on 55.2 percent from the field, showing a rare ability to finish above the rim with regularity.

The Mavericks now hope Evans can fill the void of former big man Brandan Wright, who was moved in the five-player trade with Boston last season for the acquisition of four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. But as Carlisle points out, Evans is being asked do much more than just fill Wright’s shoes.

“You know, you’re always going to miss a guy like Wright. You know, particularly from a roll-and-finish standpoint. He’s a very special player, but this is a different year. We wanted to get a couple of younger, athletic guys like that. You know, Jeremy Evans and Maurice Ndour are guys we’re looking at to kind of feel that niche for us,” Carlisle explained.

He added: “I spent a lot of time with [Evans] this summer, so I feel like I got a good head start with kind of what I feel he can do. And look, we’re expanding what’s being asked of him. In Utah, he was playing mostly backup four, and he’d play occasionally five when they went small. But it was not very often. You know, we’re stretching out his shooting range to the three-point line. And he’s made a few threes in his career, but he hasn’t shot that many. And we’re having him learn three positions, so it’s a great opportunity for him. But it is a lot of work.”

Evans, a career 20-percent shooter from three-point range, says he’s up to the challenge, looking to expand on the role that Wright thrived in during his team in Dallas.

Prior to the mid-season trade, Wright averaged 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes an outing while coming off the bench in 27 games for the Mavericks. More impressively, Wright connected on a staggering 74.8 percent from the field, developing a chemistry with Mavs sixth man Devin Harris in the team’s pick-and-roll sets.

Evans will now look to excel in a more expanded role, hoping to add a three-point shot to the above-the-rim finishes that Mavericks fans came accustom to seeing during Wright’s 3 1/2 seasons in Dallas.

“The past eight years I’ve been at the four and five. You know, back in high school, of course, I used to play (on the perimeter). But that’s a big change, especially for the NBA,” Evans explained while addressing his added responsibilities. “You build habits of running into the paint, rebounding and just guarding guys inside, and it’s tough taking a step outside against bigger and faster guys and guys at this level.

“It’s pretty tough, just because you want to come in and do what [Carlisle] asks and catch on quick, but basically I’ve just been trying to do what they ask of me. It’s tough learning (to play small forward). But as far as getting it down, I’ve just got to go over the plays and spend extra time with the coaches. You know, this summer and right now in practice, I feel tremendous as far as knowing that I’m going to knock (outside shots) down. If I shoot it, I feel like now I’m going to make it. So, I feel like now it’s a big change. The coaches, they’ve told me where I’m going to play, and I’ve been in positions where I’m going to shoot the ball. I’ve been comfortable, and I’ve just been taking the shots and knocking them down. I feel like that’s big, because they’re putting me exactly where they want me to be. I’ve just got to stay focused and stay under control, come out and keep working every day. That’s why we’re here to practice.”

Evans admits to being caught in a whirlwind early in training camp while attempting to grasp everything Carlisle threw his way. However, the lanky big man has been able to turn to a former teammate in Harris, who also played in Utah for 1 1/2 seasons after being moved from the then-New Jersey Nets during the ’10-11 campaign.

Harris says Evans is more than capable of thriving in Carlisle’s system, using Wright as an example of how effective the new addition could be this season. With that said, the veteran guard knows Evans has plenty on his plate while playing more on the perimeter, looking to make life easier on the newcomer when the two have been on the court together during practice.

And after forming a chemistry with Wright during their time together, Harris hopes his time with Evans in practice will translate to the games when the regular season gets underway.

“Well, I’ve played with Jeremy in Utah, so I know what he’s capable of. For him, it’s about getting the right timing, because he’s playing multiple positions,” Harris said. “You know, he’s playing some three and some four, so he’ll get it. It’s just more about us being on the floor at the same time and kind of reading one another. You know, he’s got to read my faces a little bit better and kind of figure out what I want when I see different situations, but I think he’s definitely getting better. He’s also asked to do something he’s never been asked to do. He’s on the perimeter a lot more, so I think that’s where his focus is right now.

“[Wright] was my go-to. He was like my bail-out guy and a guy I could always find on the court. We struggled a little bit with (not having Wright), but I think we have something similar with Jeremy.”

Dirk Nowitzki leaves door open to possible return to German national team

DALLAS — While his emotions were clear following Germany’s 77-76 loss Thursday to Spain in an elimination game during the second round of EuroBasket 2015, Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t completely ruled out a possible return to international competition.

Albeit in a defeat, Nowitzki scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds as the German national team was eliminated from the tournament with a 1-4 record. However, after being moved to tears as the Berlin crowd sent the 7-footer off the floor with a standing ovation following what was believed to be his last international game, Nowitzki hinted that Thursday’s outing may not have been his final time to play in a German uniform.

And should the opportunity present itself in the future, Nowitzki may again suit up in his No. 14 German jersey.

“Well, I thought so,” Nowitzki told EuroBasket2015.org when asked if Thursday’s outing was his last with the national team. “But now, I’ve heard that there is a chance [for Germany] to get a wild card to host a pre-Olympic tournament. So, we’ll just have to wait to see, or come back together next summer and talk about it. But for me, in my head, at the end, that was it.”

Nowitzki certainly didn’t close the door on a possible return as an opportunity may still loom to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And after becoming the No. 2 all-time scorer in EuroBasket history earlier in the week, the NBA’s No. 7 all-time scorer may not be able to resist the urge to put his home country on his back yet again next summer.

Averaging 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists an outing during this year’s European championships, the 37-year-old Nowitzki certainly proved that he has something left in the tank to contribute. However, Nowitzki admits that the jam-packed schedule was difficult to navigate after playing five games in six days, connecting on only 36.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the three-point arc.

Prior to this summer, Nowitzki hadn’t competed with the German squad in EuroBasket since 2011 shortly after he led the Mavericks to their first-ever NBA title. He garnered MVP honors while leading Germany to the EuroBasket final in 2005, lifting his team to the silver medal while averaging a double-double in the tournament with 26.1 points and 10.6 rebounds.

Still, Nowitzki may once again give it a go for the German squad should the opportunity be extended next summer, looking to take advantage of another chance to rise to the occasion and qualify his home country for the Olympics.

“I had said it before [EuroBasket 2015], if the tournament was anywhere else, I would not be there,” Nowitzki explained. “But since it was here in Germany and the fans have supported me for so long, my entire career, this was sort of a ‘thank you’ to them, for me to come and play one more time.

“If there is a slight chance to play next summer, if there is a pre-Olympic tournament here in Germany, then that’s for sure my last time playing.”

Dirk Nowitzki finds his stroke in Germany’s friendly matchup against Poland before EuroBasket 2015

DALLAS — Although the games have yet to begin counting prior to the start of EuroBasket 2015, the German national team certainly received a boost Saturday in the form of Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki’s play against Poland.

Scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Nowitzki also grabbed seven rebounds, recorded two blocks and dished out an assist in just 23 minutes of work during Germany’s 82-69 victory. The outing served as a nice follow-up for the 37-year-old power forward after finishing with just 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting while adding six rebounds in a 74-72 overtime loss in Zagreb to Croatia last Friday night.

Nowitzki will now try to use the team’s warm-up games to rekindle his form, expecting to receive a boost from playing in front of a hometown Berlin crowd when group play of EuroBasket begins in early September.

“You know, if it had been in July or early August, then I think there would have been no chance,” Nowitzki explained after making the decision to return to international play in June. “That would have meant that I would have had to practice right through and not even take some time off. But this way it’s, like I said, in September. I’m usually here (in Dallas), playing with the guys anyways in five-on-five, so that really was the big key for me. That way, all month of May, I was traveling some, and June was off. I got some family time in. I was just home (in Germany) a couple of days, saw my family and went to the Champions League final in Berlin, so I had some great times already.”

Dirk Nowitzki drops 18 and 7 against Poland

Dirk Nowitzki in 23 minutes against Poland: 18 pts (5/5 2pt fg, 2/4 3pt fg), 7 rbs, 2 blks, 1 ast.

Making his 13th All-Star appearance while filling in for injured New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Nowitzki also ascended to No. 7 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the ’14-15 season while averaging 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 77 games. He then upped his numbers in the first round of the playoffs, scoring 21.2 points and snatching down 10.4 rebounds to average a double-double as the shorthanded Mavericks fell in five games to the second-seeded Houston Rockets.

However, even after a grueling 17th season, Nowitzki couldn’t turn down an opportunity to suit up for his home country one more time in international play.

Nowitzki has played in a total of 17 FIBA and FIBA zone events at the youth and senior levels, suiting out with the national team 13 times in the past. He last competed with the German squad in EuroBasket 2011 after leading the Mavs to their first-ever NBA title.

Garnering MVP honors while leading Germany to the EuroBasket final in 2005, Nowitzki averaged a double-double in the tournament with 26.1 points and 10.6 rebounds to boost his home country to the silver medal. He now hopes to once again put the squad on his back, joining forces with Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder and Utah Jazz summer signee Tibor Pleiss.

Nowitzki and the German team begin competing in the European championships on Sept. 5, taking on Iceland in the first of five group-play games that will be held in Berlin. Group play then continues for the Germans the following day against Serbia, Sept. 8 versus Turkey, Sept. 9 versus Italy and Sept. 10 against powerhouse Spain.

And with a spot in the 2016 Olympic games on the line in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the team will certainly need more outings like Saturday from the 7-footer in order to advance to the knockout stage.

“You know, to me, it was the big deal that the tournament, or at least the first round, is in Germany,” Nowitzki confessed. “I think I’ve never had a home European championship or world championship at home. This means a lot to our country and to the basketball world in our country. Berlin is an amazing basketball city already over the last 10, 15 or 20 years, so this should be fun. We have a murderous group with a lot of great countries, but we’re going to give it our best and see what happens. But at 37, obviously, that’s not easy. I think in the first round we’ve got like five games in six days, but I’m going to get in shape now. … And then, you know, the games start in early September, so the rest of the summer is going to fly by from here.”

Could Mavs address fullcourt needs in Thursday’s NBA Draft?

DALLAS — While there appears to be obvious holes in the backcourt heading into next season, the Dallas Mavericks might look to bolster their frontcourt in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

With four-time All-Star floor general Rajon Rondo and backup point guard J.J. Barea both set to enter free agency on July 1, the Mavericks certainly have a need at the lead guard position. Should leading scorer Monta Ellis also decide to opt out of the final year of his contract on Wednesday and test the open market in free agency, the Mavs may also have to fill a vacancy at the shooting guard position.

Much like the backcourt needs, the Mavs also have holes to fill at center as Tyson Chandler and backup big man Amar’e Stoudemire both enter free agency. The same could be said for high-energy forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who gave starting small forward Chandler Parsons a reliable backup.

Still, could the Mavericks use Thursday’s draft to supply 13-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki with a backup that could help lighten the 17-year veteran’s load going into the 2015-16 season? That’s exactly what one mock draft has the Mavs doing with the 21st overall pick in the first round.

While DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net both have the Mavericks thinking point guard in the first round, tabbing Utah senior Delon Wright and Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant, respectively, CBSSports.com has the team going in a different direction by adding UCLA’s freshman standout Kevon Looney.

Looney, a 6-foot-9 power forward, emerged as a walking double-double in his lone season with the Bruins, averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in 30.9 minutes of work while appearing in 36 games during the ’14-15 campaign. The 220-pounder also showcased an ability to put the ball in the basket, connecting on 47 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from behind the three-point arc.

Viewed more as a versatile power forward than a three at the next level, Looney is said to possess strong ball-handling skills and an ability to defend multiple positions. That should help the undersized 19-year-old as he continues to grow into his frame.

Looney possesses a 7-3 wingspan, making him an attractive prospect to teams looking to add length to their front line. However, it’s Looney’s high motor and rebounding prowess that could help the Mavs most after the team ranked 23rd in that department this season while pulling down 42.3 boards an outing.

“We’ve got to get some monsters that push and shove and throw people out of the way, and go get the ball,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said while addressing the rebounding concerns this season. “We’ve got to get more of those guys. We’ve got to block out, and we’ve got to have five guys going (for the rebound) all the time. And when it matters, we’ve got to get the rebounds.”

Keeping Dirk Nowitzki fresh is collective effort for Mavs in ’14-15

DALLAS — Averaging his second-fewest minutes in a season since his rookie campaign, 12-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki was able to remain fresh while leading the Dallas Mavericks during the 2013-14 schedule.

Returning to All-Star form following an injury-riddled ’12-13 season, Nowitzki led the Mavericks back to the playoffs by averaging a team-high 21.7 points a game. Perhaps more importantly, Nowitzki clocked just 32.9 minutes an outing, playing in 80 games and coming up just shy of another 50-40-90 season by connecting on 49.7 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from 3-point range and 89.9 percent at the free-throw line.

All of which led to Nowitzki passing Oscar Robertson (26,710) for 10th on the league’s all-time scoring list just one season after averaging his lowest output since his rookie campaign at 17.3 points a game following arthroscopic knee surgery.

“You know, it’s crazy that 16 years are in the books,” a reflective Nowitzki said before heading into the offseason and re-signing with the Mavericks. “It’s actually a little sad but also exciting. It’s been a crazy ride, and I was excited this year that I played 80 games, which nobody really saw coming after last season. So, I’m happy about that, that I could compete every night and try to be out there for the team every night. So, yeah, if I feel like that, I still think I can play a couple more years at a high level. And we’ve just got to wait and see. … The year before I was a little worried with the knee injury and not getting going for a long, long time. But this year I felt a lot better about my body and my health, so I still think that I can play at a high level for a couple of years.”

There’s no doubt that Nowitzki has plenty left in the tank and will once again compete at a high level this upcoming season, despite turning 36 years old this summer. However, with the pending free-agent departure of Shawn Marion and lack of tested depth behind him at the power forward position, Nowitzki could be asked to shoulder a heavier dose of minutes.

Reportedly voiding free-agent signee Rashard Lewis’ contract after it was discovered that he would require knee surgery, the Mavericks then went in a different direction to add quality depth behind Nowitzki at the four. The 6-foot-10 Brandan Wright could possibly see more time at the four after playing mostly center for the Mavs during his first three seasons in Dallas. Roster hopeful Ivan Johnson will also look to earn a spot in the rotation after two seasons in Atlanta prior to spending last year in China, where he averaged 26.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.9 steals in 24 games for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls.

The 6-8, 255-pound Johnson worked to expand his game beyond the three-point arc last month with the Mavs’ summer-league squad, attempting to give the team a coveted stretch four off the bench. Fellow new addition Greg Smith could also see some time spotting Nowitzki when the 7-footer heads to the bench, although the three-year pro will most likely use his 6-foot-10 frame to relieve starting center Tyson Chandler.

For short stints, the Mavs could also go small with 6-9 forwards Chandler Parsons and Al-Farouq Aminu sliding up to the four. That leaves Mavs coach Rick Carlisle with a few options to turn to while once again trying to keep Nowitzki’s minutes relatively low. Still, even Carlisle knows that the burden could continue to be heavy on Nowitzki as the Mavericks try to reclaim the title.

“[Nowitzki] has such high impact on everything that goes on with our team and everything that goes on with our organization,” Carlisle said during his exit interview back in April following the Mavs’ first-round playoff exit in seven games at the hands of the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.

He added: “This is 30 years for me in the league, and I played with [Larry] Bird and I played with some great guys. But there’s nobody I’ve been around that carries a bigger load for a franchise or an organization than Dirk Nowitzki. I mean, I can’t say in words how much respect I have for him, what he stands for and everything he’s done for this organization and for me in six years. And he’s got a lot of good years left. I think that’s pretty evident.”