The Dallas Mavericks have grown tired of people telling them they need to tank games in order to improve their position in the June 22 NBA Draft. The outcry began to swell after the Mavericks started the season 4-17.
While in theory tanking games might be a grand idea, from the Mavericks’ perspective it’s a horrible idea. The Mavericks want no part of trying to lose games on purpose so they can target a particular player in the draft.
“We have a lot of pride in this locker room,” forward Harrison Barnes said. “We have vets who played in this league a long time — won championships — we have younger guys who are trying to make a name for themselves in this league and are trying to get established.
“And to kind of throw it in and say, ‘Oh, we’re just going to not really care’... and get blown out every single night, it’s not really who we are, it’s not the culture that we’re trying to build.”
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Since the Mavericks don’t believe there is a bona fide franchise player in the 2017 draft, they figure their best scenario is to get their young players playing time, hoping that it will carry over into next season. If they happen to stack up a few more wins, so be it.
A prime example is rookie Yogi Ferrell. The Mavericks don’t know if he’s equipped to be their starting point guard for the future.
But the more quality time Ferrell gets in games with the veteran players, the more that will help the Mavericks properly evaluate him.
“I feel like our entire team is still full of competitors, “ Ferrell said. “And we still want to go out there and play our hardest and win for each other.”
The Mavericks (32-44) have the ninth-worst record in the NBA with six games remaining. When they face the Sacramento Kings (30-47) at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on the road, the Mavericks will not be trying to lose.
“We’ve got a high-character group,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “These games aren’t meaningless, because we’ve got young guys.”
Barnes, who won a world title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015 and is missing the playoffs for the first time in his five-year career, said it’s not the time to focus on next year’s rookies.
“This year was difficult in the sense that the lineups and the roster that we had at the beginning (of the season) is not what we have now,” Barnes said.
“But for the guys that are here and came through Week 1, we want to try to continue to encourage them, continue to build, continue to develop chemistry and move forward.”
Forward Dirk Nowitzki is questionable for Tuesday’s game with a sore right Achilles, but guard Seth Curry (left shoulder injury) might try to play against the Kings.
Carlisle said he won’t play Nowitzki on both ends of back-to-back games. The Mavericks play at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Curry has had the contest against the Kings circled on his calendar, since this is the Mavericks’ only trip to Sacramento this season. In 44 games for the Kings last season, Curry averaged 6.8 points in just 15.7 minutes per game.