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Retooled Dallas searching for another ring

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Retooled Dallas searching for another ring

A year removed from winning the NBA championship the Dallas Mavericks still have superstar Dirk Nowitzki, but a new supporting cast is in place as they try to rebound from a disappointing 2011-12 season. Gone are Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Lamar Odom and Brendan Haywood, while Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Elton Brand join the Mavericks for the upcoming season. Yes, there were a lot of changes for Dallas after a 36-30 record and a first-round playoff exit at the hands of Oklahoma City.

Dallas owner Mark Cuban felt the biggest off-season move was the signing of O.J. Mayo to a two-year deal, and Mayo is penciled in as the team's shooting guard. Cuban blogged: I think he can be a star and I think O.J. knows that this is his make-or-break, who-am-I-really-going-to-be-in-this-league year. And Coach (Rick Carlisle) is going to give him that opportunity. Well see what happens.

Mayo was runner-up to Chicago's Derrick Rose for rookie of the year in 2009, averaging 18 points for Memphis, but his statistics have fallen every season since, and he averaged only 11.9 points off the bench for the Grizzlies last season. He gets a new lease on his NBA career as a starter with Dallas.

Chris Kaman will be the opening day center for Dallas. The former all-star Kaman gets reunited with Nowitzki as the two were teammates on the 2008 German national team that played in the Olympics. Kaman averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds for New Orleans last season after being dealt there from the Clippers.

Darren Collison comes over from Indiana and likely will be the point guard on opening day. Collison averaged 10 points and 5 assists to help the Pacers get to the second round of the playoffs.

After getting amnestied by Philadelphia, the Mavericks signed Elton Brand to a one-year deal and hope that he has some game left in him. The burly veteran power forward scored 11 points and 7 rebounds a game for the Sixers, but his salary of 16-million was too rich for the Sixers so they let him go.

The notable pick by Dallas in the NBA Draft was Jae Crowder out of Marquette who they took with a second round pick. The 6'-6" Crowder was the Big East's player of the year and would likely be used as a spark off the bench for the Mavericks.

Dirk Nowitzki is 34 years old now so the window for him to get another ring is closing fast. The Mavericks made wholesale changes this summer but it's probably not enough to make Dallas a legitimate factor in the extremely loaded western conference.

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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has been all smiles in public when discussing his rehab from Achilles surgery. He has even remarked how smoothly this recovery has gone compared to others he's underwent in the past.

But his road back from a ruptured left Achilles has not been entirely free of obstacles. He revealed to NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast recently that he dealt with an infection that delayed him getting out of his walking boot.

That was already weeks after he first had surgery to remove bone spurs from his heel in January. He had a series of infections following that procedure, one of which helped doctors discover his Achilles had torn during a fall in his home.

Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him.

"I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'"

What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity.

"I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don't want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating," he said.

Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards' practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights.

After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court.

"Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that's a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I'm in a great space where it's fun," he said. 

"I'm able to do what I'm able to do, even if I'm not playing at a high speed and running up and down, I'm able to shoot and do ball-handling. That's what I love to do."

Wall continues to make progress, now nine months removed from the Achilles surgery he had on Feb. 12. He is likely to be out at least three more months, and he could miss all of the 2019-20 season.

At some point, Wall may get restless, but he continues to preach patience towards his return. When asked by Chris Miller if he will start bothering the coaches soon to play, he said he's just happy to be back on the court in practice.

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