There’s renewed energy in the voice of Dallas Mavericks superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Training camp hasn’t started yet, but Nowitzki is already touting the team’s work ethic in the off-season, the healthy return of Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews and the addition of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut in free agency.
“We should have a solid group. We just have to stay healthy,” said Nowitzki, who is hosting his inaugural ` Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic on Sunday at the SMU tennis center in Dallas. “I think D-Will (Deron Williams), when he was healthy last year, was a key player and at times our best player so hopefully he can stay healthy. Wes, I heard, has been a beast in the guy since the day we lost (in first round of the playoffs). I heard he’s in unbelievable shape and ready to go.
“This should be another fun, exciting, competitive year. We’ll see how far we can go.”
A free agency domino effect paved the way for Barnes and Bogut to join the Mavericks.
Oklahoma City All-Star Kevin Durant shocked the NBA world by leaving the Thunder and signing with Golden State. To make room for Durant and his hefty salary, the Warriors parted ways with Harrison and Bogut.
The Mavericks acquired Bogut along with a future second-round pick from the Mavericks in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick. The Mavericks signed Barnes to an offer sheet and followed through by getting his signature.
“It started slow there the first couple days of July. All the free agents went quickly and sometimes you get a little fortunate. I think with KD going to the Warriors, it played in our favor a little bit,” Nowitzki said.
Both participated in the Rio Olympics, with Barnes earning a gold medal with the USA Team. Bogut had some big games during the Olympics with the Australian team, which lost to Spain in the bronze medal game. Two seasons ago, Barnes and Bogut won a NBA title with the Warriors.
“They’re champions, great players, part of championship teams. They know how to play, know how to win,” Nowitzki said. “We have high hopes for Harrison for the future.”
Barnes has been very visible around Dallas. He was at Williams’ charity dodgeball event in Frisco earlier this week and he’s scheduled to participate in Nowitzki’s tennis event on Sunday.
Before and in between, Barnes has been a workout machine, according to Nowitzki.
“We want Barnes to keep developing his all around game. We all know he’s athletic, can guard 1 through 4. We want him to improve, off the dribble shooting, pick and rolls, and he has the work ethic to be a great all around player,” Nowitzki said. “He’s in the gym all the time. Lot of guys that come here say they’re gym rats, but I haven’t seen any really in my 18 years. But he walks the walk. Comes in the morning and back at night, wants to get better.
“I told him since the beginning, I’m going to support him, help him, whatever questions he has on and off the floor, I want him to feel welcome and hope to make him better.”