Ellington hopes to recapture North Carolina glory days with Mavericks

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The average Dallas Mavericks fan may not know that Wayne Ellington already has some pretty impressive hardware adorning his mantel.

In 2009, Ellington was the star player when North Carolina blew out Michigan State 89-72 to capture the NCAA championship. Ellington, who now plays for the Mavs, was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament and was hoping to ride that success to a standout career in the NBA.

But after four subpar seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers where playing time was sparse, Ellington hopes to make the most of his fresh start in Dallas.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard signed a two-year, $5.4 million free-agent contract during the off-season with hopes that he can recapture his glorious past on North Carolina’s famed Tobacco Road.

“I’m just trying to learn every day and continue to get better,” Ellington said. “I’ve had some really good days and I’ve had some days when I haven’t been so good.”

Shooting is what Ellington does best. He made 7 of 10 3-point attempts in the 2009 Final Four, and has converted 10 of 20 from 3-point range during the Mavs’ first six preseason games.

Ellington is averaging 8.8 points in 20.2 minutes per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

“Ellington been a very solid player,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He plays to his strength, which is his shooting ability.

“Defensively, he’s been very good some of the time. He went downhill for a four- to five-day period and now he’s picked it back up, and he’s going to be one of the players we’ll count on.”

The Timberwolves made Ellington the 28th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Ellington played three seasons for Minnesota, then was traded to Memphis in July 2012. The Grizzlies then traded him to the Cavs in January.

Finding a permanent home with the Mavs is paramount for Ellington, who made a career-high seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 25 points last season against the world champion Miami Heat. He knows what he has to do to impress Carlisle.

“I’ve got to make sure that I’m doing the job I need to do on the defensive end of the floor,” Ellington said. “And then on offense be able to knock down shots, spread the floor and make people guard me.”

Energy shortage

Juggling work and rest has become a necessity for Rick Carlisle.

After Monday’s 100-95 loss at Houston, Carlisle noted that his team lacked the energy he saw in its previous five preseason games. He needs that to change before the regular season starts Oct. 30.

“With eight days left until the opener, we’ve got to get the right amount of work and rest for these guys,” Carlisle said. “And we’ve got to be real sharp come a week from [today].”

After Wednesday home game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Mavs close out preseason play Friday at home against the Indiana Pacers.

Four players waived

The Mavs trimmed their roster to 16 Tuesday by waiving

forwards Renaldo Balkman and Devin Ebanks, center Fab Melo and guard D.J. Kennedy.

NBA teams must trim their roster to 15 by Monday. Rookie free agent guard Mickey McConnell, the only remaining Dallas player without a guaranteed contract, is the most likely candidate to be released.

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

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