Mavericks may need summer league find after Bernard James released

Posted Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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One of the bright spots of the Las Vegas Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks was the spirited play of Jackie Carmichael.

The Mavs might need his immediate help next season after they reluctantly released center/forward Bernard James on Saturday.

In order to have the necessary salary cap space to sign free agent guard Monta Ellis to a three-year contract worth in excess of $25 million, the Mavs had to release James, whom they believe has tremendous upside.

In 46 games for the Mavs last season as a rookie, James averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game.

Dallas hopes to re-sign James once he clears waivers. But since he was only going to earn $788,872 next season, the likelihood of the 6-foot-10 second-year veteran clearing waivers is small.

The Mavs also have made an offer to journeyman guard Leandro Barbosa, who has averaged 12 points per game in 10 seasons while playing for Phoenix, Toronto, Indiana and Boston.

Meanwhile, Carmichael showed he can play with the type of heart and determination the Mavs were hoping to find from their young players.

“We learned that Jackie is a tough kid that plays with his heart on his arm and gives every ounce of energy that he can,” said summer league coach Monte Mathis, whose team posted a 2-4 record. “He’s trying to learn and get better from an X-and-O standpoint.”

As is the case with players seeking a spot on the fall roster, for now Carmichael is eager to see if he can earn an invite to the Mavs’ training camp.

“I think I showed what I can do and what I can contribute to a team,” the 6-foot-9, 240-pound undrafted power forward from Illinois State said.

After a slow start, Carmichael had 23 points and nine rebounds Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. He had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.

“Jackie Carmichael is a monster — he impressed me,” Mavs guard Justin Dentmon said. “The first few games he didn’t play as much as he did, and then when he got his chance he just amazed me.

“He’s a freak athlete. He plays hard at both ends of the floor.”

The Mavs were unable to get a good read on young veterans Jae Crowder and Bernard James, and on rookie Shane Larkin.

Crowder was injured late in the first quarter of the 79-76 loss to the Warriors with a sprained left ankle and did not play in Friday’s 94-87 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

James missed last Sunday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats with an illness, and then flew home for personal reasons and missed the final five games.

Also, Larkin fractured his right ankle in practice on July 12 and never made it to Las Vegas. The rookie from Miami underwent surgery this past week and isn’t expected to return until the middle of training camp.

“I don’t think missing the summer league is going to hurt him that bad,” Mathis said. “I really don’t because Shane is a really tough-minded guy, and I think he’ll be back sooner than people expect.”

While guard Josh Akognon showed that he’s a scoring machine, rookie guard Ricky Ledo also made a good impression.

“He’ll be really good coming off screens,” Mathis said of Ledo. “The learning curve is there and he just got to be a sponge and take the coaching, learn from his mistakes, learn how to get better each day and understand the process.”

Point guard Gal Mekel, a rookie from Israel, also hopes to learn how to improve.

“For me I think it was a great week the first time getting to know the NBA game,” Mekel said. “I think I played pretty good for the first time.

“I’m waiting to start the season and to get better. I’ll work on my game, the stuff that I saw I need to work on this week, and I’ll be ready for training camp.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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