Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has always had a fondness for Zaza Pachulia.
So when he was asked about losing out on DeAndre Jordan via free agency this past summer, Carlisle took time to extol the virtues of having the 13-year veteran on his roster.
We’ve always liked him and he’s been a quality player.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on center Zaza Pachulia
“Look, if you would have told me [Pachulia] would have been available in a trade for what we got for him, I would have been all over that,” Carlisle said before Saturday’s game against the Houston Rockets. “Milwaukee had signed [Greg] Monroe and I think they were looking at financial considerations, so we were fortunate.
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In the Mavericks’ first nine games this season, Zaza Pachulia registered five double-doubles.
“But we’ve always liked him and he’s been a quality player. And if you look it up, he’s had a lot of very high quality games against us.”
In the Mavs’ first nine games this season, Pachulia registered five double-doubles. That includes 18 points and 16 rebounds during Friday’s 90-82 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
On July 9, the Mavs gave the Milwaukee Bucks a future second-round draft pick for Pachulia.
“Zaza has been amazing,” owner Mark Cuban said. “Even though he’s struggled some — he hasn’t really hit shots, but he’s been able to go in there and just have an impact on the game in so many different ways.
“He knows how to use space, he knows how to be physical, he knows how to use his body, and he has great strong hands, he sets great screens. He impacts the game in so many different ways.”
Because everyone generally assumes Kobe Bryant will retire after this season, the Mavericks were all set to do something special for the Los Angeles Lakers superstar Friday night when the teams met at American Airlines Center.
“We almost did a special tribute to him, but he hasn’t officially said it was his last year,” Cuban said. “But we had to put something together. I don’t want to force him into retirement. He certainly started the game like he was 21 years old, and that’s what I told him after the game.”
Friday’s game was the Lakers’ — and Bryant’s — lone appearance in Dallas this season.
East trumps West?
Going into Saturday’s games, six teams in the Western Conference had a winning record while the supposedly weaker Eastern Conference had seven above .500.
So, is the NBA world upside down?
“It’s too early to tell,” Cuban said. “I don’t know if it’s an aberration.
“I don’t know if it’s how teams dealt with preseason and not playing their main guys as much. I’m really, really hoping the East just becomes a powerful force and the West becomes like the East was over the past 15 years.”
From Cuban’s vantage point, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t go about it the right way when he ranted at reporters in the locker room Thursday.
“I obviously don’t know exactly what happened,” Cuban said. “I just saw some of the clips just like everybody.
“But look, they can write, and athletes and those in the business have the right to respond, but you’ve got to pick the right way to do it. In the locker room when you know everybody all of sudden is going to turn around and just catch the tail end isn’t the way to do it.”