Posts Tagged ‘donnie nelson’

D-Will Uninterested in Rehashing Storyline With Mavs

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Fresh off platelet-rich plasma treatment in both of his nagging ankles and a round of cortisone shots to boot, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams has looked as spry as he has all season and he’s easily playing his best basketball.

Just in time for a new pain to come to town: Mark Cuban.

Wherever the Dallas Mavericks owner goes, but especially in New York, he is the center of massive media attention. With tonight’s game marking the first time Williams will play the Mavs since the club tried to woo last summer’s top free agent to his home town, the topic will certainly be top of mind tonight.

Only Cuban, the man who recently suggested that the Lakers should think about using the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant only to see him light up the Mavs for 38 points, and then tweaked Derek Fisher for signing with Oklahoma City, won’t be there to set off potential verbal fireworks. He was speaking Friday morning at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, and the team’s media relations staff said he isn’t expected to make the short trip to say hello to the rejuvenated D-Will.

As for Williams — who is playing like an All-Star over the last five games, averaging 22.8 points, 8.4 assists and nailing 51.5 percent of his 3-point shots — he tried Thursday to head off discussion of his free-agent decision.

“There’s no reason to even go down that lane. That’s behind me. I’m part of the Brooklyn Nets,” Williams told ESPNNY.com “There’s no reason to even revisit that.”

The Mavs and Nets both met with Williams in New York at the start of the free-agency period last July. The Nets got first crack followed by a three-member contingent from Dallas that included coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and special consultant Michael Finley. Absent was Cuban, who was busy filming the TV show “Shark Tank” in Los Angeles.

Williams, who decided to stay with the Nets and sign a five-year, $98 million deal, would say later that not meeting with Cuban had an impact on his decision.

“A lot of the questions that me and my agent had for them really didn’t get answered that day — you know, pertaining to the future,” Williams said in October. “And I think if [Cuban] was there, he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. Maybe would have helped me.”

Cuban, to no surprise, scoffed at Williams’ assertion and shot back on a Dallas radio program.

“I’m a big D-Will fan, but I’m kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference. I would have expected him to say — like I’d expect one of our guys to say — ‘Hey I’m so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn’t have mattered what he did.’

“He’s a superstar point guard, but my goal is to build a team. … I’m flattered that he thought my presence would have made more of a difference than what the Nets’ management did.”

Cuban also suggested that his club, struggling at 25-32 and in jeopardy of not making the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, is actually better off without Williams and the max contract that would have weighed down Dallas’ payroll.

“But in hindsight, I don’t know if I would have been happy [had Williams signed],” Cuban said on the same radio show. “I think we’re in better position now than we would have been if we had gotten him.”

There’s probably not many Mavs fans who would agree with that sentiment right about now. Williams on Thursday said he has not spoken to Cuban since the summer. But he does have the Nets at 34-24 and seeking at top four spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It wasn’t really a back-and-forth thing anyway,” Williams said.

Dirk Loves Big D, Awaits ‘Big Summer’

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki got to talking about playing into his late 30s the other day. No one should doubt his ability to do so, or his desire to do it all with the Dallas Mavericks and the high probability that he will.

He’s on record saying as much practically more times than he’s taken the floor over 15 seasons, and with tonight’s game against Milwaukee that makes 1,082 times.

Nowitzki acknowledged that the slow trudge back from October arthroscopic knee surgery put some doubt in his mind as to his longevity. But he’s feeling and playing more like his old self now as 30 points and 13 rebounds showed Sunday against the Lakers. After that game he said he plans to play two or three more seasons once his current deal expires after next season. The ripe, old age of 40 even came up. 

“But I always say it’s got to be fun,” Nowitzki said. “If it gets to the point that the fun is gone and I’ve got to go to work, I’d rather just retire. I’ve got this year and next year under contract, so I’ll be 36 and for sure play a couple of more years.”

It is assumed that when Nowitzki, 34, signs his next deal he’ll do so seated next to smiling owner Mark Cuban, who once said he’d sign the German when he’s 73 if he can still shoot. Yet when Nowitzki discusses his future these days, he’s quick to reiterate his staying power in Dallas, but he also continually delves into the current uncertain state of the franchise, a little caveat that leaves the window cracked ever so slightly for a potential change of scenery in his final seasons.

“Once you’ve won it all and had that feeling, that excitement in the city and the franchise, you don’t want to play basically for the eighth seed two straight years,” Nowitzki said. “So it’s been tough. We made some business decisions obviously we all know about, so we’ll see what we get out of this. We have cap space for the first time in a long time. We’ll see if we can make something happen this summer.”

Actually, as Nowitzki knows, the franchise had cap space last summer, too, but swung and missed on Deron Williams. The whiff ushered in a second season of constructing a short-term roster of mostly expiring contracts, a scenario Nowitzki doesn’t view as a winning formula.

So then came this answer, the caveat, when asked if he expects to continue to make Dirk-like, or superstar, coin on his next deal. Nowitzki is owed $20.9 million this season and $22.7 million next season.

“Well, I think it’s a little too early to look, honestly,” Nowitzki said. “Basically the last couple of times, there was not much negotiating going on. It was, ‘Give me money and I’ll stay,’ right? I gave him [Cuban] a little discount last time. The CBA’s changed. We’ll talk about that when it gets to that point. I still have this year and then the full next year. We’ll see what happens and where this franchise is. Like I said, it could all depend; this is a big summer. This is a big summer.”

Since raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the Mavs are 61-60, plus a first-round sweep out of the playoffs for the first time in Nowitzki’s career. Now the franchise’s record 12 consecutive playoff appearances is in jeopardy. The pressure is on Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to come through this summer with a significant free agent to ease Nowitzki’s burden in his twilight years, or to formulate a trade that lands impact players.

Do so and no doubt Nowitzki, who will have earned more than $200 million by the end of his current contract, will cut a cap-friendly deal. But if he’s still the lone star in the summer of 2014, his asking price might just go up, potentially making things a bit uncomfortable for Cuban. Or, if Dallas remains a revolving roster, perhaps a more enticing situation elsewhere presents itself as the CBA promises more salary-shedding and roster shakeups across the league.

“We’ll make it work,” Nowitzki said. “Cube’s obviously said his bank’s open, so we’ll see what happens this summer. It’s going to be a big summer for us. We want to get back to winning ways. We always competed and were part of the playoffs, so we’ll see what happens this summer. It’s going to be a big summer for this franchise.”

Winners, Losers In Deadline’s Big Chill

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DALLAS –
The Big Chill.

If Thursday’s NBA trade deadline was a movie, the audience would have walked out in the middle from boredom. This freeze came straight from the script that is the league’s new collective bargaining agreement — with its harsher luxury tax penalties and diminished roster flexibility for tax offenders — it put the clamps on a stunningly uneventful deadline day.

The big names were on the opening credits: Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Yet, when the curtain closed at 3 p.m. ET, Orlando Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick stole the show as the lone player of significance to switch teams. The Milwaukee Bucks acquired the career 39.8 percent 3-point shooter in a six-player deal that involved five other relatively anonymous NBA names.

Only one potential blockbuster deal percolated, but ultimately died on the vine with the Atlanta Hawks going the distance in an attempt to strike a deal with the Bucks for Smith before pulling back. One reason so few big deals were discussed was simply because there wasn’t much talent realistically in play, a point that goes beyond any ramifications of the CBA.

The CBA that took effect in December 2011, and begins to smack tax-paying teams with stiffer fines next season, has clearly put franchises on the defensive. Teams that were once willing to add salary to consummate a deal no longer are. Teams that once didn’t think twice about sweetening a deal with a first-round pick, suddenly guard them with their lives.

“Cap room and draft picks, which are usually the currency of how these [big] deals get done, were at a huge premium and are something that everyone wants to have,” said Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who steered the most active club at the deadline with a couple of lower-tier deals.

There’s really no greater example of the effect of these changes than the Dallas Mavericks and their braintrust, owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. Chronic and strategic over-spenders and tax payers under the old CBA, Cuban, who took on salary in deadline deals for Jason Kidd in 2008 and Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson in 2010, analyzed the new rules and reversed field last year.

He dismantled the 2011 championship team, choosing to covet cap space and the roster flexibility granted to teams that remain under the tax threshold, as well as newfound valuing of first-round draft picks as low-priced labor and trade assets.

It’s a strategy that no longer has the Mavs on speed dial of teams looking to make a deal and dump salary.

“It’s definitely a factor,” Nelson said of the CBA’s chilling effect Thursday after the deadline expired. “There’s no question that folks have their eye on the inevitable, and there’s no question that people are getting their collective houses in order.

“There’s some teams that see that on the horizon and act early, and other teams that will procrastinate and pay a dear price. But I think we’re right in the middle of that. It’s not brand-new news and so, yeah, I think you’re going to see a lot of teams try to correct themselves financially.”

The so-called “repeater” tax really has teams scared. Several clubs tried to deal away lost-cost players to avoid the repeater tax, which will whack franchises with an additional fine if they go over the tax line in three of four seasons. Golden State was successful in this venture. Chicago was not and will pay a luxury tax for the first time since its implementation.

This “repeater” penalty deterred teams from making deals that would have pushed payroll even slightly over the tax line, deals they might have normally green-lighted in the old days. So, is this the way of the future under the current rules?

“I can’t predict the future,” Morey said, “but I think the trend is more this way.”

WINNERS

Rockets: Morey’s stockpiling of assets the last couple years has been questioned, but he’s turned it into quite a haul starting with James Harden prior to the start of the season. The day before the deadline, Morey acquired the No. 5 overall pick, Thomas Robinson, from Sacramento. Morey’s dealing didn’t damage an abundance of cap space next summer that will be used to pursue a top free agent such as Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.

Bucks: GM John Hammond didn’t get his big fish in Smith, but he pulled off the deal for Redick, who should really help a club that’s been skidding down the East standings and needs a boost. Hammond held onto Jennings and Ellis and will have room to maneuver in the summer to add more pieces.

Thunder: GM Sam Presti continues to make shrewd moves. The acquisition of Ronnie Brewer from the New York Knicks for a second-round pick gives OKC another strong perimeter defender to help Thabo Sefolosha.

Celtics: Jordan Crawford might not be Jamal Crawford, but he can score in bunches and Boston was desperate to bolster its injury-ravaged guard backcourt. Boston fans are the winners here, too, with the team’s heart and soul, Garnett and Pierce, staying put.

Mavericks: Sure, on the surface, picking up 3-point specialist Anthony Morrow for defensive-minded guard Dahntay Jones doesn’t sound like much. But then SheridanHoops.com reminded us of this Dwight Howard interview in Russia when he named Morrow as one of a handful of players he’d like to have as a teammate.

Blazers: The team with the leanest bench in the NBA finally got some help in a minor deal that netted OKC guard Eric Maynor, who lost his job early on to Reggie Jackson. Maynor will help Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard reduce his 38.5 mpg workload.

LOSERS

Hawks: They didn’t get the deal done to ship out Smith and now it seems they will lose him for nothing in free agency. On one level, however, it’s hard to say that this is a definitive loss. They’ll keep Smith (who might or might not come away from this experience deflated) for the rest of the season, and, with any luck, try to keep him while recruiting friend and fellow Atlantan Howard next summer. If GM Danny Ferry wasn’t pleased with the deals presented, it doesn’t always pay to take something, anything just because in the end you could be left with nothing. If Smith leaves, the Hawks will take the cap space and look to spin it in their favor.

Magic: They deal away a useful player and one they drafted in Redick and hand over his Bird Rights to the Bucks. There was no guarantee that Redick would re-sign with Orlando, but he at least had said the door was open to a return.  The Magic’s Josh McRoberts to Charlotte deal for Hakim Warrick is a head-scratcher.

Knicks: They didn’t upgrade at any position and gave away a solid defender in Brewer, who was starting for the club during their hot start out of the gates, but had slipped out of the rotation. New York did use the roster vacancy to sign veteran power forward Kenyon Martin.

Nets: They failed to land another high-priced player in Smith and failed to unload one of their own, Kris Humphries.

Feeling Lucky? Try 7 GMs With Decisions

HANG TIME, Texas — The clock ticks down, the trade deadline draws near and all 30 NBA general managers are burning up their phones with possibilities realistic and absurd.

Some need to make deals to solidify playoff teams, others simply can’t bear the thought of sitting still. As Thursday gets closer, here are seven GMs with big decisions to make:

Danny Ferry, Atlanta Hawks

Is it finally time to give up on the hope that Josh Smith can be more than a numbers-gatherer in Atlanta? Ferry, the first-year Hawks’ GM, wasted no time in moving out Joe Johnson’s big contract. Part of the decision was that J-Smoove would blossom without Iso-Joe taking up a big part of the offense. Instead he’s averaging 1.4 fewer points and one rebound less than a year ago, his efficiency rating is down from 21.14 to 19.90 and he’s shooting only 50 percent from the free-throw line. The sense is that it’s “just time.” Still, that doesn’t mean Ferry has to move him. He’s positioned the Hawks so that they could afford to keep Smith and still sign a pricey free agent next summer. But that won’t stop the likes of the Bucks, Suns, Celtics, Wizards and Sixers from making a run. The Rockets have long had eyes for Smith, but might be more inclined to wait to make their moves in free agency.

Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

Despite their 8-1 record since Rajon Rondo’s season ended due to torn knee ligaments, it’s too hard to see the Celtics making a serious and deep playoff run on the aging legs of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The obvious move would be with the 36-year-old Garnett and making that long-rumored deal to the Clippers (Eric Bledsoe). The challenge is getting K.G. to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. Can Ainge appeal to Garnett’s own best interest to get another ring or his loyalty to the Celtics organization to help them start over? Even if Rondo’s knee injury isn’t as severe as first thought and he’s able to get back on the floor for the start of training camp, the rebuilding in Boston has to start sometime. It might as well be now.

Billy King, Brooklyn Nets

If King could know for sure that Deron Williams will shake off the injuries and inefficiency and return to the All-Star form he showed in Utah, then he’d be more inclined to sit back and put his feet up. Or maybe not in the realm of Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire owner is willing to shell out big bucks, but also expects immediate results and does not handle mediocrity well. See Avery Johnson, who was fired with a 14-14 record, a Coach of the Month title pinned to his resume. The Nets will likely try to get Paul Millsap from the Jazz and could be in the running for the popular Josh Smith. Last year’s All-Rookie team member MarShon Brooks is on the block. Would Charlotte’s offer of Ben Gordon for Kris Humphries be enough? The Nets have been so inconsistent that with the possibility of a first-round bounce due to a bad matchup looming, you have to believe King won’t sit still.

Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks

“The Bank of Cuban is open.” That was team owner Mark Cuban’s declaration last month, but what must be determined is in which direction the Mavericks are headed right now. They enter the post-All-Star stretch six games under .500 and 4 1/2 games out of the last playoff spot in the West. If the Mavs decide they’re better off reloading with a fully-recovered Dirk Nowitzki next season, they certainly have a good trade chip in Vince Carter, who’d be a wonderful addition to any playoff contender. He could also bring in future assets for Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand.

Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

You put him in this slot just because Morey lives with an itchy trigger finger and might be inclined to make a deal just because he can. But with the James Harden steal under his belt and the free agency hits on Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets will probably strike only if it’s a chance at a home run. With the youngest team in the league, a position in the West playoff race and a payroll that could make them big, big players in free agency, next summer is probably when they’ll make their move. But Houston is now big-game hunting for talent to play with Harden. If a chance to scoop up a true All-Star comes their way, Morey won’t hesitate.

Mitch Kupchak, L.A. Lakers

It’s almost obligatory to put the Lakers on any potential trade deadline list, despite Kupchak saying publicly that he’s not at all interested in dealing Dwight Howard or breaking up his All-Star group of underachievers at this point. He can’t trade Pau Gasol as long as the possibility exists that Howard walks as a free agent next summer — which it does. Besides, the Lakers problems are not about needing more players but getting the ones they have to play every night with passion.

Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz

Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson? Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap? With the contracts of both of the frontcourt veterans expiring, it was assumed since Day One of this season that the rookie GM Lindsey would have to deal one of them by the deadline, if for no other reason than to make room and more playing time for Derrick Favors. It would seem to make sense, but only if the Jazz can get a bonafide star in return. That’s what the 30-24 team lacks right now. But there is no reason to make a deal just to make a deal. The future is based on a young core of Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. Millsap is the more likely one to go, but maybe only for another expiring contract in return. Salt Lake City is not a desired location for free agents. But as the effects of the new collective bargaining agreement are felt and big names teams try to avoid the increasingly punishing luxury tax, players will want to simply get paid. Don’t expect a panic move here.

No Room For Emotion in Mavs’ Rebuilding

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HANG TIME, Texas — The trade deadline is less than two weeks away and that means general managers are spending endless days on the phone and many veterans are spending sleepless nights on edge.

On one hand, athletes get to plead the case that they’re the only professional group in today’s modern age that can be swapped like heads of lettuce at a farmer’s market, having their homes and their lives relocated on short notice.

On the other, the rest of the world outside those well-paid lives usually get only a handshake and a pink slip when they’re no longer wanted or needed.

So here is 14-year-veteran Shawn Marion telling Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas that he won’t necessarily show up in a new city and play if the sinking Mavericks trade him.

“If I’m going to get traded, they’re going to tell me what’s going on and where I’m going,” the 14-year veteran said. “Because if I’m going to a (expletive) situation, I’m not going. It’s just that simple.

“At this time, I’m too old to be trying to go through and be a, you know what I’m saying, not have a chance to do anything. I’m at a point where I want to be playing for something right now.”

Certainly it is easy to understand the emotional and professional viewpoint of Marion. It was just 20 months ago that The Matrix was playing in The Finals and playing a key role on a team that would win a championship. He figures he’s paid his dues over the years, jumping from Phoenix to Miami to Toronto to find a place in Dallas where he has been comfortable and appreciated.

And all that just goes out the window because Dirk Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season following knee surgery, the Mavericks plummeted in the standings and now team owner Mark Cuban must start looking toward the future?

Well, yes.

Perhaps somebody could cue up the Lion King music for Marion, because this is just the circle of life. For all that he has done in Dallas over the past 3 1/2 years, the Mavs are probably hopelessly out of the race for even the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and must begin to look ahead.

Of course, things would have been radically different if Cuban would have been able to reel in star free-agent point guard Deron Williams or made a deal for center Dwight Howard.

But that is the past and it’s time for Cuban, team president Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle to build for the future. Can they somehow convince Chris Paul, the free agent next summer, to leave all that he’s built with the Clippers? Can they talk Howard into leaving money on the table with the Lakers to start fresh in Dallas?

They Mavs at least have to try and that means making tough choices, namely moving veterans such as Marion or Vince Carter in hope of getting draft picks, young prospects or just to clear out salary space. Marion will be owed $9.3 million next season, Carter nearly $3.2 million. Those elder statesmen are the most logical — and valuable — trade chips for a team that has to get much better real soon so they don’t squander what’s left of Nowitzki’s career.

Marion is hardly alone on the hot seat. Atlanta is evidently willing to talk to anyone about veteran Josh Smith. Despite all the claims to the contrary from Lakers G.M. Mitch Kupchak, Pau Gasol listened to the talk all season until getting sidelined by his foot injury.

By the way, from a historical perspective, players refusing to report to an undesirable location is hardly a modern phenomenon. As far back as 1950, Bob Cousy was the No. 3 overall pick in the draft by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, but would not sign and was later picked up by the Celtics. Six NBA titles later, that worked out well for Cousy.

Marion, of course, can only hope that Dallas would send him to a place where he can compete for another championship come June. But if not, the Mavs owe less to him than they do to themselves and their fans.

After a decade of excellence that included annual trips to the playoffs, culminating with the 2011 championship, it is time to move on in Dallas.

The circle of life in the NBA.

Carlisle Seeks Win No. 500 Tonight At OKC

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle probably never imagined it would take 47 games this season for his team to get 20 wins.

So, naturally, it’s taken a little longer for him to join the exclusive 500-win club. It’s been that type of a hard-coaching season for Carlisle, who will become just the fifth active coach to reach 500 career wins with the Mavs’ next victory. It could happen tonight, although it won’t be easy as Dallas is in Oklahoma City (8 p.m. ET, League Pass) to take on a Thunder team in a bit of a lull after finishing up seven of eight games on the road.

Carlisle has amassed a 499-352 (.586) record in 11 seasons with Detroit, Indiana and Dallas, where he has won 218 games in now his fifth season, the longest tenure of his career. The only active coaches with 500 wins are Gregg Popovich (1,295), George Karl (1,104), Rick Adelman (989) and Doc Rivers (570). Carlisle is one of just four active coaches, along with Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Rivers, to win a championship.

Carlisle will become the 28th coach in NBA history to achieve 500 wins. Only seven coaches have reached 1,000. One is Larry Brown (No. 6 all-time with 1,098 wins), the man who replaced Carlisle a decade ago in Detroit after he led the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals in just his second season. Brown and the Pistons won the title the next season. Brown now coaches just up the road at SMU.

“I think it’s the only team I ever took over with a winning record and I said immediately when I got the job that the values that he has are no different than the values that I have,” Brown said. “It was an easy transition for me because they were taught the right way. He knows that, we talk about it all the time. I inherited a team that was fundamentally sound, that knew how to play, they cared about their teammates, they guarded every single night, played hard every single night. I coined the phrase, ‘Played the right way,’ and he started that.”

Carlisle emerged as one of the game’s truly gifted coaches with his deft handling of a veteran Mavs team that rolled up the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and finally the Heat in winning the 2010-11 championship, the franchise’s first.

And who knows how much more quickly Carlisle might have reached 500 if late Pistons owner Bill Davidson had not jumped at the chance to hire the legendary Brown; and then later at Indiana if the “Malice in the Palace” brawl in Detroit had not thrown the franchise into chaos. Still, Carlisle managed to guide that injury- and suspension-riddled 2004-05 Pacers team to the playoffs and a first-round upset of Boston.

He spent one more season at Indiana before taking a year off working as an analyst at ESPN. Then, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban brought him to Dallas to coach Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd.

So far this season Dallas is 0-2 against the Thunder. Yet, who would have figured both games would go to overtime?

Perhaps Carlisle has something special up his sleeve to nail down No. 500.

Delonte West Does D-League U-Turn

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Delonte West has pulled an Allen Iverson and decided that the D-League isn’t for him.

Iverson, though, never actually signed a contract. He simply turned down an offer earlier this week to play for the Texas Legends, the affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, as a means to help attract the attention of NBA teams. West did indeed sign a contract last week to play for the Legends, who are co-owned by Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.

According to a source with knowledge of West’s thinking, the troubled combo guard has decided not to play in the D-League against the advisement of his representation. West is represented by agent Dan Fegan. The source said that NBA teams have been reluctant to bring in West, even on a 10-day contract, until he gets back on the court and they see him play. The Memphis Grizzlies recently kicked around the idea of offering West a 10-day contract, but no offer materialized.

Earlier on Friday, a league source said that West is in the process of changing agents, which could be delaying his arrival in Texas. That is, if it happens at all. As of Friday night, West’s name was on the Legends’ roster on the team website, although no number had been issued. Legends officials did not immediately answer messages Friday night.

While Iverson’s return to the NBA certainly appears as though it might never happen, he is 37 and had an All-Star career. West, 29, needs to get back in the league if he hopes to salvage a career that veered off course with his arrest in 2009 when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He has since had a brief second stint with the Boston Celtics and played the 2011-12 season with the Mavs on a veteran minimum, one-year contract. West, who is bipolar and has struggled with money issues, signed another one-year deal to return to Dallas this season.

But twice during training camp the team suspended him for conduct it deemed detrimental to the team and they waived him just days before the start of the season.

West had been upset with his contract situation and with what he saw as an overcrowded backcourt after the team brought in Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Dahntay Jones to go with holdovers Vince Carter, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, plus first-round pick Jared Cunningham.

West reportedly wanted to join the Legends with hopes that he could show the Mavs he was ready to be a part of their team again. However, last Friday night Mavs owner Mark Cuban made it clear that he had no intention of bringing back West. Dallas signed veteran guard Mike James last Sunday for the remainder of the season after he exhausted two 10-day contracts.

Now, by opting not to play in the D-League, West could be throwing away his career.

Iverson Turns Down D-League Route

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Donnie Nelson offered Allen Iverson a potential lifeline back to the NBA. The Answer has answered: No thanks.

As first reported Monday by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Nelson, co-owner of the D-League Texas Legends and president of basketball operations for the Legends’ NBA affiliate Dallas Mavericks, offered Iverson a chance to get back in the game.

Iverson, 37, has been seeking a path back to the NBA, but through his Twitter account on Tuesday, he made it known that he doesn’t want that path to go through the NBA Development League as some other veteran players have done successfully.

Iverson doesn’t say which route he would prefer to get back in the NBA. He’s had opportunities to make good money in China but has passed. A direct route seems preferred, but it’s one that has not materialized.

He last played in the league in 2009-10 for the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. After making his intentions clear not to join the Legends — they play in Frisco, located about 30 minutes north of Dallas — Iverson offered a series of tweets:

The Legends just helped veteran guard Mike James get back to the NBA. After signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Mavericks, the club opted to sign him for the remainder of the season. The D-League team is also on the verge of suiting up Delonte West as he hopes to play his way back into the league after being released by Dallas for poor behavior prior to the season.

Iverson sits at No. 19 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, having just been passed at No. 18 by Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki. A.I. has 24,368 points over 14 seasons. He spent his first 10-plus seasons with Philadelphia before being traded to Denver during the 2006-07 season.

He averaged 26.4 points for the Nuggets in 2007-08 and was moved to Detroit the following season.

If Iverson truly hopes to add to his career point total, he’s going to have to swallow his pride and take whichever circuitous rout is offered, even it means being a marketing tool for a D-League operation.

Otherwise, he seems out of options.

New Case For Marciulionis In The Hall

HANG TIME WEST – There is a point in “The Other Dream Team,” the excellent documentary chronicling the importance of basketball in Lithuania and the meaning of the 1992 Olympics in particular for the newly independent nation, that focuses on Sarunas Marciulionis breaking from the grip of the Soviet Union to join the NBA in 1989.

Donnie Nelson, a Marciulionis confidant who is now general manager of the Mavericks, recalls Marciulionis talking about putting himself in danger by associating so closely with a Westerner, an American at that, and therefore obviously connected to money. And Nelson was there the night before the choice between signing with the Hawks, whose then-owner, Ted Turner, had a cozy relationship with the Soviets, and the Warriors, whose relationship with no one in the Soviet or Lithuanian systems would have made picking Golden State a rebel move.

Marciulionis consulted with Gary Kasparov and lawyers for the chess champion that night before, getting input from Kasparov. As Nelson recalled in the film: “Sarunas knew the odds. He was doing something that could cost him his career. Gary said right there to his face. He said, ‘Sarunas, tomorrow you’re going to be one of the richest men in our country, free to pursue your professional dream. Or you’re going to be in Siberia.’ ”

Welcome to Line 1 on the Marciulionis Hall of Fame bid.

Simply: Has any player ever risked more to play in the NBA? Marciulionis chose the Warriors knowing the Soviets could void the contract – or, gulp, worse – and that years before they had threatened retribution against Sarunas and his family for something as minor as not wanting to read a prepared party-line speech to a group of youngsters. (more…)

Najera Ready for the Next Career Step

HANG TIME, Texas — It’s an old axiom in sports that the best coaches and managers rarely come from the ranks of the stars.

If that’s the case, keep your eye on new coach Eduardo Najera.

When you construct a 12-year NBA career without ever averaging as much as seven points a game in a single season, you must be learning and doing a lot of other things right.

For Najera, those things were rebounding, banging and never letting a loose ball get away without at least a very honest effort.

Now the first Mexican-born player drafted into the league has retired and will become the first Mexican-born coach under the NBA umbrella when he leads the Texas Legends of the Development League. He’ll also become a minority owner of the team and also hold a front office position with the Mavericks in the NBA.

“This is a dream come true,” Najera said. “I have long wondered what would be in store for me when I hung up the basketball playing shoes, and this is the perfect opportunity for my post-playing career. The chance to develop as a coach, while also assisting Mark [Cuban] and Donnie [Nelson] with the Mavs, is an ideal situation.”

Drafted in the second round by Houston in 2000, Najera played the first four seasons of his NBA career in Dallas at time when the team was trying to bury a decade of failure. The Mavs made their first playoff appearance since 1990 during Najera’s rookie year as he carved out a reputation as a power forward who would go down into the low post and do the dirty work.

“I have the utmost respect for Eddie,” said Nelson, who is a co-owner of the Legends and president of basketball operations for the Mavericks. “The work ethic he exhibited as a player, and his knowledge of the NBA game will serve him well in his role as head coach of the Legends. Whether coaching a rookie, or an NBA veteran, coach Najera will have valuable insight for all of our players. I am equally excited to begin working with Eddie in a front office capacity with the Mavericks as he learns the management side of the game. I am proud to be able to call Eddie an ownership partner with the Legends.”

If the best coaches are not simply born out of the headlines but forged in the trenches, Najera may have the experience and the scars worth watching.