Mavs’ backcourt versatility could become area of strength in ’16-17

DALLAS — Returning five key members in the backcourt from last season, the Dallas Mavericks are expected to once again call on the play of their guards during the grueling 82-game schedule.

Re-signing three-time All-Star point guard Deron Williams to steer the ship, the Mavericks should benefit from having the same floor general in the starting lineup for a second straight season. The Mavs will also have a healthy Wesley Matthews on the wing to pair with newcomer Harrison Barnes, hoping to get more out of the veteran sharpshooter a full year after his Achilles surgery. Meanwhile, veteran guards Devin Harris and J.J. Barea will once again come off the bench to provide a boost, joining forces with second-year pro Justin Anderson, offseason signee Seth Curry and summer-league standout Jonathan Gibson. And according to Harris, the Mavericks will showcase plenty of versatility with all of the guards at coach Rick Carlisle’s disposal.

“I think we’ll be able to play with different speeds,” Harris explained last month during a live-streamed appearance on the team’s Facebook page. “You know, obviously, we’ll start the game off with a little bit of a slower pace. But I think the guys off the bench, especially with us getting younger, will be able to play with more speed and more of a motor. And I think that will definitely benefit a lot of the guards, especially myself and J.J.”

With Williams finishing second on the team in scoring behind 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki by posting 14.1 points per game, the Mavs were certainly reliant on their guard play to initiate offense last season. Williams also served as the team’s best playmaker, dishing out 5.8 assists a game in that role. He may now be asked to do even more after the free-agent departure of fellow veteran Raymond Felton to the Los Angeles Clippers this summer. But with key additions to supply depth in the backcourt, Carlisle sees production from his guards being a shared responsibility.

Finding success playing at a slower pace late in the 2015-16 season, Carlisle admits that it hasn’t been determined what tempo will best serve the team this season. But with added versatility in the backcourt, the Mavs will have the option of playing at different speeds. The Mavericks ranked 16th in the NBA while averaging 102.3 points per game as a team during the ’15-16 season. Dallas also finished the season with a 104.8 offensive rating, which was good for 10th in the league. However, the Dallas offense ranked just 18th while dishing out 22.1 assists a game, connecting on only 44.4 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three-point range. That said, Carlisle believes those numbers could all receive a boost thanks to multiple guards capable of operating with and without the ball in their hands.

“You know, at this point and time, everything is on paper, and we’re really going to have to look closely in terms of what’s the right style of play for this team,” Carlisle explained during a recent interview with 103.3 FM ESPN. “Whether it is going to be continuing to be a real up-tempo, fast-paced type of team, or is it going to be a little more of a medium-tempo type of team? We’ll see. But I think we’re going to have the option to play different ways, which is a very important thing to have.”

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:

baylor

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

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

Mavs’ perimeter duo of Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons showcase their versatility in win over Milwaukee

Postgame: Chandler Parsons

Mavs F Chandler Parsons dishes on Monday's win over the Bucks, his rapport with Wesley Matthews and more.

DALLAS — They were two of the offensive catalysts for the Dallas Mavericks during the team’s 103-93 win at home Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. But according to swingman Wesley Matthews and small forward Chandler Parsons, they’re just beginning to scratch the surface of how effective they can be when in the lineup together.

Rejoining the first unit after accepting a reserve role while working his way back from a hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason, Parsons lined up alongside Matthews on the opposite wing to finish with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in the win. Meanwhile, Matthews showed no signs of the torn left Achilles tendon that ended his 2014-15 season after only 60 games with Portland, leading four Mavericks in double figures with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting and hitting 5 of 7 from three-point range.

And although the two expect more production this season after forming a bond during their rehabilitation processes this summer, both admit that Monday night was a step in the right direction.

“You know, it’s a great combination with what he does and what I do,” Parsons proclaimed following the Mavericks’ third straight win. “We can really play off of each other with the way he posts up and the way I cut. You know, he’s an unbelievable defender and I can play make, especially playing off of each other. He’s an extremely hard worker, and just going through both the surgeries and rehabs we went through this summer was cool to have someone to go through that with. Him going through the Achilles rehab and me going through the knee rehab, you know, it’s been a long time coming. And we’re finally starting to feel like we’re getting back to ourselves and getting to where we should be.”

“I think it’s more exciting that we’re not anywhere close to what we can be as a tandem and as a duo, but I think we have flashes of it,” Matthews added. “We’re nowhere near it, but we’re on that path, and it’s going to be scary when it happens.”

Last season, Parsons played in 66 games during his first campaign with the Mavericks (18-13), averaging 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing. He then had his season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against his former team, the Houston Rockets, suffering cartilage damage in his right knee that required surgery on May 1.

Meanwhile, Matthews suffered his season-ending injury against the Mavericks on March 5, finishing the ’14-15 campaign averaging 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while connecting on 44.8 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. And after both Matthews and Parsons vowed to return from their respective injuries better than they were before, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says Monday’s outing was just a glimpse of what’s to come.

Postgame: Wesley Matthews

Mavs SG Wesley Matthews weighs in on his game-high 22-point performance in Monday's win over Milwaukee.

“We are getting there, but I don’t think there is any magic date. When you go through injuries like those two guys did, I think it is an ongoing challenge to continue to build it up. Both of these guys stated very clearly when their injuries happened that their goal was not only to be back, but to be back better than they were before. And to do that, it is going to be a long-term proposition,” Carlisle explained. “I think that both of these guys understand that. Parsons has gained a lot of respect for what it is like to go through something like this. He has never had an injury like this with the process involved and the mental challenges along with all of the physical aspects. Wes is going through the same thing. They both were serious injuries requiring surgery, but they were different in nature. They are both doing well, and they will do better and better as the season goes on.”

Parsons has slowly began to hit his stride while having his minutes restriction lifted over the last week, averaging 9.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists on the season in 24 games. Matthews has also shown glimpses of his old self, posting 12.9 points a contest and connecting on 36.1 percent from three-point range while starting all 29 of his appearances this season.

And while both say they feel great physically, the duo also acknowledges that it’s still an uphill climb to become the players that they hope to be by season’s end.

“I feel better,” Matthews said. “I feel good. Every week I get stronger, and every day we are doing something to make my body stronger. Not even just the Achilles, but everything else. I’m making sure we are doing all the right things, and I feel good.”

“It’s a long process, man. It’s an ongoing process, too. A couple of good games this week doesn’t mean I’m a finished product,” Parsons added. “I definitely feel good. Playing 37 minutes (against Milwaukee) is an awesome sign, and hopefully when I wake up I’ll feel great. My knee feels perfect, and I’m not thinking about it. I’m playing confident, playmaking and defending, and it’s all good.”

Note: The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, hosting the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. 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.

baylor

Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Deron Williams (left hamstring strain) – questionable

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.”

Wesley Matthews continues to focus on his return, though season opener viewed as ‘long shot’

Practice Report: Wes Matthews

Wes Matthews on how important it is for him to be ready by opening night: "I don't miss games. I don't sit out. I don't miss practices. I want to be ready. I love basketball. I love this game and I think the best way you pay respects to it is by giving everything you have."

DALLAS — He was the prized offseason signing for the Dallas Mavericks this summer in free agency, inking a reported four-year deal worth $70 million to come to town after five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now, while rehabbing his way back from a torn left Achilles tendon, swingman Wesley Matthews says he’s doing everything in his power to be on the court by Opening Night when the Mavericks begin the regular season in Phoenix on Oct. 28.

Matthews saw his 2014-15 season cut short after suffering the injury against the Mavericks on March 5. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 60 games for Portland last season prior to the injury. He also connected on 44.8 percent from the field, swishing in 38.9 percent from behind the three-point arc to make the six-year pro an attractive prospect for the Dallas front office during free agency.

And with the goal of being ready for the season opener still at the top of his agenda, Matthews has entered the team’s training camp working closely with Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle and head athletic trainer Casey Smith to get back to 100 percent.

“Every day, every practice, we’re getting stronger and getting better,” Matthews said while giving an injury update following the team’s Wednesday practice. “You know, right now, it’s strength and it’s timing. You know, I haven’t been able to run in six months, let alone do basketball stuff, so it’s an adjustment. But today I was a lot better than I was yesterday, and the most important thing is there’s no soreness.

“It’s more of just a patience thing,” he added. “It’s something that you can’t rush and you can’t push. Like I said at the press conference (on Media Day), it’s like a battle that I’ve never experienced before, because it’s like a battle against my own body. It’s not an opponent or anybody but me, so I’m being receptive to what my body is telling me. I’m listening and trusting what the experts are saying and pushing within the limits.”

Matthews has yet to be cleared for full contact or full-speed drills, hoping to receive permission to take the restrictions off by the end of the first week of training camp. He’s then expected to slide into the Mavs’ starting lineup this season, looking to fill a void at shooting guard left by the free-agent departure of leading scorer Monta Ellis to Indiana.

The San Antonio native and son of two-time NBA champion Wesley Matthews Sr. played four collegiate seasons at Marquette, averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 35 games as a senior to earn All-Big East Second Team honors. For his NBA career, he’s averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals in his six professional seasons, making 381 starts in 441 total games.

Matthews now vows to take the court even better than he was before the injury, looking to showcase versatility during his first season with the Mavs.

“You know, we’re still progressing up to that, and I think we’ll start doing that by the end of the week,” Matthews said when gaging how soon he will be able to go through contact drills. “You know, I’m on the treadmill and we will incorporate that down to the court, but for now it’s a lot. You know, it’s a lot to load up right now. Right now, I’m responding how I figured I’d respond.

“I mean, obviously, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be tough, but I think you guys are going to quickly know me. If you didn’t get it by the press conference, I don’t really care about what’s tough. You know, I’m going to get it done. It will be a challenge, but we’ll get there. You know, I’m doing three different (forms of cardio) a day. Obviously, you can’t simulate games until you’re in it and I’ll be winded for a little bit, but I’ll be alright. I’ve gotten better every single year, and I’m a no-excuse type of person. I felt that, if I had not gotten hurt, I would have been a lot better this next season. I’m not going to let an Achilles take that away from me. I put too much into this game. I care too much about this game. I want to win too badly to not become a better player. And I already feel it.”

Matthews has played in all 82 games three times in his young career, displaying his durability prior to going down with the injury last season. He now hopes to pick up where he left off at, looking to develop into the team’s iron man.

With that said, Carlisle is tempering the expectations for Matthews’ return to the court, taking a more cautious approach as the sharpshooter heads into the first season of a four-year deal.

“You know, the possibility of Wes being back for the opening game has not been ruled out. I personally view it as a bit of a long shot, but it is possible. He has done extremely well, and how it goes over the next few weeks will determine where he’s at,” Carlisle confessed.

Entering the league as an undrafted free agent with Utah before the ’09-10 season, Matthews has been defying the offs ever since. He also has seen growth in his game every season, expecting for that trend to continue during the upcoming schedule.

Known for providing stellar perimeter defense, Matthews also left Portland as the franchise leader in made three-pointers with 826. Matthews now sets out to shake himself free of the three-and-D label, hoping to display his full offensive repertoire in Carlisle’s system.

And while still targeting the opening game as his return date, Matthews doesn’t think the Mavericks’ fan base will have to wait long to see dividends from the organization’s investment.

“I don’t miss games, I don’t sit out, I don’t miss practices, and I want to be ready,” Matthews proclaimed. “I love basketball. I love this game. And I think the best way you pay respects to it is by giving everything you have. You know, I don’t want to wait. Again, I’m not pushing it. But if I’m ready to go, I want to be out there.

“I definitely understand the business aspect of it, and I understand that they want me. It’s a great thing to be wanted by a franchise, and they want me. Of course, they want me for four years. I just feel like the four years start Opening Night.”

Mavs may look to rely on Chandler Parsons’ playmaking, ball-handling skills more in ’15-16

DALLAS — After he admittedly used the 2014-15 campaign to get his feet wet in a new system, you can expect to see the ball in Chandler Parsons’ hands more for the Dallas Mavericks next season.

Spending his first three seasons with the rival Houston Rockets, Parsons battled through his fair share of nagging injuries to play in 66 games during his first campaign with the Mavericks, averaging of 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing. He then found his season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff exit at the hands of his former team due to a right knee that required arthroscopic surgery to repair a cartilage injury on May 1.

Still, it’s the playmaking and ball-handling skills that the former Florida standout displayed over the course of the season that gives the Mavs encouragement that they can initiate more of the offense through him going into next season.

“His game has grown a lot,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said while praising Parsons’ versatility in his first season with the team. “He’s not only a shooter and a scorer, but he’s a playmaker. He’s a defender and a rebounder. He’s one of our best all-around players. As the season went on, his responsibilities grew. And they will continue to grow going forward. This period where he’s going to have surgery and recover, there are going to be plenty of things that he can do to refine his game, even if he’s not on the court going 100 percent. I’ve had long discussions with him about that. There will be no time wasted, and he will continue to get better and be one of the best young players in the game.”

Finishing third in scoring on the team behind starting shooting guard Monta Ellis and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, Parsons was able to impact games in a multitude of different ways this season.

The 26-year-old Parsons connected on 38 percent from behind the three-point arc to finish second on the team in that department during the regular season. He also came alive after a sluggish start to the season, stepping up his play in December while averaging 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 14 games, in addition to shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from behind the three-point arc during that span.

He then regained his shooting stroke in April, averaging 17.2 points on 50.8 percent shooting and 42.9 percent from long range in 10 games during the month. But, according to Nowitzki, it’s important that Parsons looks to become more of a creator and facilitator next season in order for the Mavericks’ offense to fully flourish.

“I think as the season got along he did more and more,” Nowitzki said while assessing his young teammate’s play during the ’14-15 schedule. “He actually had some great games there before he got hurt with his knee, where he got the ball, pick-and-rolled it and took some big shots. Just more of the same, really. Some ball-handling on some pick-and-rolls, some show-and-goes, and he’s great on the fast break. I don’t think he’ll ever be the player where we give it to him and say, ‘Create a shot.’ I’m not sure if that’s his game. I’m not sure if that will ever be his game. He’s great on the move. He’s great on pick-and-rolls. He’s a great passer for his size, and just doing more of that and being more efficient doing so.

“You know, just sometimes you go through little stretches where just nothing seems to go in, and then you go through stretches where you can’t seem to miss. And in those stretches where you’re having a tough time, you’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep stepping into your shots and you’ve got to make plays for your teammates, which he’s great at when he drives off the pick-and-roll. He’s a great lob passer to the guys, so we want him to stay aggressive and make plays for himself and others on nights when he’s not shooting the ball that well. Obviously, we want him to do more than just stand there and shoot threes. You know, we want him to be effective and drive and get to the basket. He’s got that little Euro step in the lane, so that’s what he’s got to do.”

Before signing a three-year deal with the Mavs last summer worth a reported $46 million, Parsons filled up the stat sheet with the Rockets while averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 213 games. However, with plenty of lethal scorers around him in Dallas, Parsons hopes to transition into more of a playmaker next season while taking over some of the ball-handling duties.

Entering into a summer of rehabilitation, Parsons says he’s eager to get back on the court to show what he can do. He’s also ready to take on more responsibility with the ball in his hands, looking to operate more as a “point forward” when called upon.

“I’m going into my prime,” Parsons proclaimed after the season. “I think I’m ready. I feel like this year was more of a year to get comfortable and get my feet wet. I had some big games. Next year, I hope for a much bigger role. I want the ball in my hands. I want good players around me. I think we have a chance to make some noise next year. Like I said, this year was a little frustrating health-wise with the ankle and the foot, and then with the knee. So, my biggest goal right now is to do whatever I have to do to fix my knee, no matter how long that’s going to be. I think that’ll be good, because it will allow me to basically reset my body and take time to work on my feet and my hips. And it will allow me to get stronger than I have ever been and not too overweight, hopefully.”

He added: “With this knee injury, I think it’ll be a blessing in disguise. I’ll be able to work on all aspects of my game. I’ll be able to get much stronger, and I’ll be able to get much faster. I’ll feel like a new guy with a new game. Being 27 at the start of next year, obviously it’s not ideal. But it’s good timing, and I’ll be able to do things and spend time with things I never have before. I’ll get in the gym, work on my shot, work on everything and just continue to be a versatile player to do a little bit of everything on the floor.”

Chandler Parsons is eager to show his versatility for Mavs this season

DALLAS — Prior to ever taking the court for an official practice with his new team, Dallas Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons had already began to turn heads during offseason workouts.

Joining the Mavericks this summer during free agency after signing a reported three-year deal worth $46 million, Parsons knew he would have to take another step in his budding career following three seasons with the Houston Rockets. So, after not making the final cut for the USA Basketball National Team that competed in the FIBA World Cup, Parsons immediately traveled back to Dallas and began working on his game in anticipation for the upcoming season.

In the process, Parsons quickly earned the respect of his veteran teammates, who see the 25-year-old’s talent and versatility boosting the Mavs at both ends of the floor.

“Chandler Parsons is a great addition,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said with high praise for the young newcomer. “You know, just watching him over the years, I think he’s a great player at not needing the ball but still finding ways to be efficient and scoring. He can shoot, he can run some screen-and-rolls and he’s a great passer for his size, so I think we’re going to use his versatility.”

“I think he’s a young player and very talented. Actually a lot more talented than I thought coming here,” center Tyson Chandler added after working out with Parsons this summer following his trade from New York. “Being in the East, I only faced him a couple of times a year. And he’s surprised me in the couple of weeks that he’s been here and I’ve been here. He can do a lot more things than I thought he could. You know, he’s a better shooter, better driver, better ball-handler and passer. I didn’t think he was as capable as he actually is in a lot of those categories, so I’m really looking forward to watching him progress, especially learning from Dirk and those guys.”

Producing career-high numbers last season with the rival Rockets, Parsons filled up the stat sheet while averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists an outing. But, after deferring to All-Stars Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston, Parsons will now try to take a lead role with the Mavericks, looking to immediately slide into the starting lineup in place of the departing Shawn Marion.

Entering the league as the 38th pick in the 2011 draft, the former Florida standout has become accustom to playing with a chip on his shoulders. So, it’s no surprise that Parsons is ready to assume more responsibility in Dallas than with his former club while also showcasing his all-around skill set.

“You know, I was fortunate enough to play with two superstars in Houston to where I learned from those guys, too. But a lot of times, you know, Rockets win, Rockets lose, it was all on James and Dwight,” Parsons explained. “When I’d have a big game, you know, they’d talk about me, but I’m ready for that next step in my career. I’m ready to come here and have a bigger role and be more of a leader. And that’s why I came here. I think I can do that and I think I’m ready for that. I’ve worked extremely hard this summer. So, you know, if they haven’t seen me, they will this year.”

However, joining a team that already features Nowitzki and second-leading scorer Monta Ellis, Parsons likely won’t be asked to carry the offensive load on a nightly basis. He’ll also be called upon much more defensively than in years past, needing to provide similar perimeter defense as his predecessor at the position.

Still, with eyes of unleashing his versatility on the rest of the league, the 6-9 Parsons sees himself fitting right into the puzzle as the Mavs look to reclaim the title.

“Well, I’ve always been a team guy,” Parsons said. “I’m not trying to come here and get mine and be the go-to guy necessarily. I’m going to do whatever it takes for our team to win as many games as possible. Coming here and looking at the options, I loved the core that they had. You know, Dirk is one of the greatest to ever play. Monta can really score the ball. And then add in Tyson, who’s one of the best defensive centers in the league and can really finish. So, I thought with that core and me being 25 years old, I could come and I could help them out. I could make my teammates better and just continue to be one of the more versatile players in the league.

“I think I’m going to have a big year. I think our team is going to have a bigger year, so whatever I can do to help and whatever Coach [Rick Carlisle] needs me to do. I plan on guarding one through four and being a versatile player, making my teammates better, passing the ball, creating for others and just making the game come easier for them. And I’ve worked on getting a lot stronger this summer for when Dirk comes out. I can move to the four and play a little power forward, so I’m just working on all aspects of my game. I don’t want there to be one thing that I can’t do out there, so I’ll just continue to do that every single day.”