Saturday, October 6, 2007

Josh Howard honors Skip Prosser

Josh Howard often comes across as quiet and reserved publicly, but he wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s forthcoming and honest on any subject, including those that aren’t the easiest to talk about.

Howard’s college coach Skip Prosser died this summer shortly after jogging on campus at Wake Forest. Howard and Prosser were more than close. Though they butted heads early in their relationship, they would forge a lifetime bond.

Prosser talked about that bond with Howard last season before the Mavericks played at Charlotte.

“If I’m going into a street fight,” Prosser said in November, “I can’t think of anybody I’d rather have having my back than Josh Howard.”

Howard initially had trust issues with Prosser. After two years together, trust became basis of their relationship. Since Prosser tragically passed July 26, Howard has added two tattoos to honor his former coach.

“Trust” is inscribed on his right wrist. It won’t be visible during games, as Howard always wears wristbands, but the message is there. Higher on his right arm is a more direct tribute – “Skip.”

Howard also wore black sneakers Thursday night at Fan Jam, instead of his customary white, in honor of Prosser and plans to do it again.Howard was actually in Winston-Salem, N.C., when Prosser collapsed inside his office after jogging at the school’s track stadium.

“I wish he could have come to my camp that day,” Howard said, his voice beginning to crack slightly. “He went jogging instead.”

Under pressure?

The Mavs have made a point of locking up many of their key pieces over the last year. Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Devin Harris each signed extensions. Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse inked new free-agent deals when their contracts were up.

So does having security lead to added pressure or complacency?

“With that money comes a lot of responsibility,” Terry said. “You have to now go out and perform. There’s a little pressure there, but it’s healthy.

“It’s pressure that every player on this team has now. No one is worried about a contract. We all can go out there and play freely knowing what our ultimate goal is.”

So the money doesn’t get in the way?

“You go out there and you play like you don’t have any,” Terry added.

And should they feel the weight of added expectations, Avery Johnson said: “That’s my job to try to relieve them of that pressure.”

Stack on leadership

Jerry Stackhouse’s role on the court is clear – instant offense off the bench along with his trademark grit and attitude. In the locker room, Stackhouse feels it’s time to take on even more leadership.

“No doubt,” he said. “I’ve been a little passive watching how things worked around me. This year I’m going to come in and be myself. That’s what the guys really want from me.”

As for official captains, they’ll be voted on by the team before the season starts.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dance break, deal time

You might think Mark Cuban is busy – well, he is – but the Mavs haven’t been put totally on the backburner. He signed off on the Hassell-Greg Buckner swap in between rehearsals for Dancing with the Stars. “I wish they were all that easy,” he said.

D-Ham making it juicy

Darvin Ham, 34, is in camp trying to earn a spot on a team with the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts. The eight-year vet out of Texas Tech is making a strong case to stick.

“He’s found the fountain of youth,” Avery Johnson said. “He’s jumping, he knows where to go, he knows how to play the pick-and-roll defenses, he’s got tons of energy, he’s running the court really good, he’s banging. He’s looking pretty good.

“He’s going to make it tough on us.”

Johnson appreciates Ham’s experience, which includes a championship ring from his stint in Detroit, and work ethic. Ham spent much of the summer playing in pickup games on the Mavs practice court, which sits below the window of Johnson’s office.

He’s no stranger to team, having served as a studio analyst for Mavs games on Fox Sports Southwest. Asked if Ham would give up his TV gig for return to the league, Johnson quipped: “I’m sure he would.”

Kym Johnson stops by practice

The highlight of camp, at least on this end, was the appearance of Kym Johnson at today’s practice. Yes, she was with Mark Cuban. Anyway, the Dancing with the Stars duo chatted up players and coaches. Kym received more than a few hugs.

“He’s such a hard worker,” Kym said of Mark. “He’s so determined at wanting to get it all right in very long practices. It’s great to come here and see him in his element.”

They’ve made it to Week 3 and are doing the jive Monday night.

Eddie Jones sprains hammy

Eddie Jones suffered a slight right hamstring strain Thursday night at Fan Jam and didn’t practice today. He felt a knot after trying to make a move while catching a pass from Josh Howard, but stayed in the game.

He hopes to be back for Saturday’s practice and play in Tuesday’s preseason opener against San Antonio.

Jones took a spill early in the game on a play where a foul wasn’t called. That didn’t sit too well, as Jones barked at the ref some and added a livid glare for good measure.

“I probably would have got thrown out in a real game,” he said. “I was really upset.”

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cuban dancing his way to camp

Mark Cuban was “bummed” he couldn't get back from his “Dancing with the Stars” duties in time for Fan Jam, but hopes to be at Friday’s afternoon practice. Kym Johnson’s latest partner -- they're in Round 3, remember -- hasn't been able to attend camp yet.

Ager trying to find his way

The development of Maurice Ager likely won’t garner many headlines throughout Mavericks training camp. There’s enough going on even through the first few days to keep people’s interest off the second-year shooting guard from Michigan State.

That doesn’t mean Ager is flying under coach Avery Johnson’s radar. Not much does. Johnson’s assessment of what he’s seen from Agar so far is direct and candid.

“Flashes,” Johnson said. “Flashes here and there. Inconsistency, but loads of potential.”

Realizing that potential is the next step for the 28th pick in last year’s draft.

“That’s definitely a process,” Ager said. “Every single day in practice I’m trying to work on my consistency so I can help this team. I feel I’ve gotten a lot better since last year in understanding my role for this team, and understanding what’s going to help me get on the floor and continue to play here. Defensively I definitely want to get better and take good shots.”

If you want to read more, check out trainingg camp notebook for Day 3 at

Rehab timetable for Devean George

Devean George was back with the team Thursday night after have the stress reaction in his left foot reevaluated in Indianapolis. The current timetable may have George back on the practice court before the end of the month.

“He’s been released to work out on the treadmill for about the next two weeks,” Avery Johnson said. “And we’re going to increase his activity after that on the court for two weeks and then we’ll see how this stress reaction responds.”

The word from team physician T.O. Souryal and George’s doctor in Indianapolis is encouraging.

“Normally, 80-90 percent of these you’re OK after 2-4 weeks,” Johnson said.

Trenton Hassell Q&A

It’s been a hectic and trying week for Trenton Hassell. Not long after learning he was traded from Minnesota to the Mavericks last Friday, his father was hospitalized. Trenton spent much of the week at home in Tennessee with his family – his father is doing much better – before getting to Dallas midday Thursday.

From there it didn’t slow down. Trenton met his new teammates, recorded promos for the team’s TV broadcast and prepared for the night’s Fan Jam festivities at American Airlines Center. He will practice with the team for the first time Friday morning.

The 28-year-old guard, known for his perimeter defense and solid mid-ranger game, is expected to be a key contributor this season. During a quiet moment outside the locker room before heading out to sign autographs, caught up with the newest Maverick.

How is your dad doing?
He’s doing well. It was tough to deal with because it happened suddenly. He’s at home now doing well.

Talk about coming to Dallas.
I’m just happy to be here in this situation on a great team. I want to contribute in some way.

What’s it like going from a rebuilding situation to a contender at this point in your career?
It is blessing. I’m old enough where the only thing that I’ve got to accomplish is win a ring. I’m trying to get there and this is my best chance.

What’s today been like since getting here?
Busy. I’ve got a lot of things to do, so other than that everything went well.

Obviously, basketball is basketball, but you’ve still got to learn a new system.
I’ve got to learn and adjust myself to playing with a bunch of different guys in a new system.

Avery said he wants to bring you along slowly, but expects you to play a big part on this team. What are your expectations for what you can do this season?
We’ll see what happens. There are some great guys here. They’re fun loving, play hard and good friends.

Did you hear any rumors about coming to Dallas?
Miami. Not here. It was a shock. A good shock.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hassell coming Thursday, Armstrong free

Trenton Hassell is expected to work out Thursday morning with developmental coaches Popeye Jones and Billy Owens. The rest of the team has the morning off before the evening’s Fan Jam at American Airlines Center. Hassell won’t play in the annual intrasquad scrimmage.

Darrell Armstrong is an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers Wednesday afternoon. Though the Mavs haven’t ruled bringing Armstrong back at some point, early speculation has the veteran point guard landing in New Jersey.

Don't hold breath on C-Webb

The Mavs aren’t closing the door on Chris Webber, but the chances of adding the former All-Star power forward are slim. Though the team communicated with Webber this summer, negotiations never turned serious.

“I don’t want to say close the door,” Avery Johnson said. “It’s just something that we hadn’t talked about because from what he said he’s going to either retire or go back to Detroit.”

The team isn’t keeping a light on for PJ Brown, either.

“Right now our team that we have is our team,” Johnson said.

Mavs preview on

The Dallas Mavericks will seek to redeem themselves for their shocking first round loss to the Golden State Warriors in last season's NBA Playoffs. After finishing the regular season with an astonishing 67-15 record (tying for 6th best in NBA history), and earning the top seed in the Western Conference, the Mavs became only the third No. 1 seed in history to fall to the No. 8 seed.

Despite their disappointment, Dallas fans have ample reasons to be excited about their team. For the seventh straight season, the Mavs reached the 50-win plateau, and league MVP Dirk Nowitzki continues to improve each year, adding a career high 8.9 rebounds per game to his silky smooth shooting touch. This year he'll have a chip on his shoulder and will try to make amends for a disappointing playoff performance.

What to read more? Here's the complete 2007-08 Mavs preview on You can also check out the other 29 teams.

Devean George ailing

Devean George is headed to Indianapolis on Thursday for an MRI exam on the stress reaction in his left foot. The doctor who performed surgery on the foot while George played for the Lakers is reevaluating the injury. A stress reaction could lead to a stress fracture in some cases.

George began to feel pain recently as he prepared for the start of training camp and hasn’t been able to practice. His current therapy includes a protective boot, calcium pills and a bone stimulator.

Not be able to get on the court hasn’t been easy for George.

“This is my time to earn playing time, so it’s a little frustrating,” he said.

George missed 22 games last season due to injury and illness.

“If we can get him healthy he’s a serious weapon to have on your ballclub because he can play three positions,” Johnson said. “We saw glimpses of it last year.”

Johnson isn’t too worried about George’s health yet, but that can change.

“The longer we have to wait for him in October, even though it’s early in the season, the more concerned I’m going to get,” Johnson added. “He’s a little overweight right now. We talked about where we want his weight to be, but that’s not going to really come off until he can come out here and sweat it off.”

No mystery at the 2

One of the themes of the first day of practice, at least on, was the mystery at shooting guard. As in who’s going to start? JT, Trenton, Devean, Eddie Jones. Avery was typically coy on the subject.

Leave it to Stackhouse to burst the bubble Wednesday after the morning practice.

“Y’all got to stop listening to Avery, man,” Stack said with a knowing smirk. “It ain’t as open as you think. We’re not going to win a lot of games with Jason Terry sitting on the bench. He’s going to be there.”

Any questions?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Night & Day

The four days of training camp this week are broken into morning and evening practices, provided you also count Thursday night’s Fan Jam at AAC as a practice. Avery Johnson will have a theme for each session, which typically lasts about two hours.

Here’s Avery’s Tuesday night breakdown of Day 1: “We gave them a lot, especially offensively tonight. This morning we were leaning more towards defense, tightening up our transition defense, which was up and down last year. Just working more on our defensive game, some offense. Tonight was pretty heavy on the offensive side of the ball.”

A lot of practice is also muscle-memory and reviewing terminology. The night practice focused on shooting and spacing, while physicality and making contact ruled in the morning.

For more on the first day of camp, check out the Day 1 notebook at

AJ's number to be retired by the Spurs

Though his current NBA home is in Dallas, the playing career of Avery Johnson will always be associated with San Antonio. Soon, there’s going to be a permanent reminder.

Johnson is receiving an early Christmas gift in the Alamo City with the retirement of his jersey by the Spurs. The ceremony to place No. 6 in the rafters of the SBC Center is set for Dec. 22 before San Antonio’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and owner Peter Holt told Johnson about the honor this summer. Johnson, along with David Robinson and Sean Elliott, were considered the heart of San Antonio’s first championship team in 1999. The numbers of Robinson and Elliott had already been retired.

“That’s a really special deal,” Johnson said Tuesday after the first practice of training camp. “I got that call from Peter and Pop this summer, and it’s something to really be excited about. I don’t think I ever would have thought when I started playing in the NBA I’d get my jersey retired.”

Johnson is San Antonio’s all-time assists leader, and ranks in the top seven in scoring, games played and steals. His baseline jumper in Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals clinched the Spurs’ first title.

“I’m ecstatic about that,” said first-year Mavericks assistant Mario Elie, also Johnson’s backcourt partner on the 1999 Spurs. “Avery is an amazing man, father and part of the community. I just remember how much joy he had when he hit that shot and we won the championship.

“I had the pleasure of playing with three of those guys up there, and I knew it was only a matter of time for Avery. We both have such a special relationship because of the hard road we took to the NBA, and it’s going to be hard for me to hold back the tears when it happens.”

Johnson had one request for the ceremony.

“We’re not having it when the Mavericks play them,” he said. “Pop and I both agreed to that, so I’m really excited about that. It’s going to be a special night for me and my family, and all of the people that invested in me.”

Monday, October 1, 2007

Media Day coverage

Media Day is the start of the season and 2007-08 got off pretty much without a hitch Monday afternoon. Here's a rundown of the first official gathering of these Mavs (minus Trenton Hassell). Don't worry, T-Hass will join the team later this week. He's attending to his dad who recently took ill.

Refocused and refreshed: The Mavericks could have used another month off entering training camp one year ago. Playing into late June, tacking another 23 games to an 82-game regular season, took its toll on the body and, perhaps more importantly, their psyche.

Notebook: Dampier possibly out after the start of the season, Hassell to join team later in week, Dirk expects to be tired and the possible return of Armstrong.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

AJ and Mario reunited

And it feels so good. The backcourt of the 1999 NBA champions San Antonio Spurs will share the Dallas sidelines this season. Avery Johnson hired added former teammate Mario Elie to his staff. Check out the official announcement at