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What we learned from Mavericks Media Day

Training camp is well underway

NBA: Dallas Mavericks-Media Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While the Mavericks officially started training camp on Wednesday, today was Media Day, the annual training camp kickoff where all of the media can ask questions of just about every single player on the roster. It’s a fun way to see what type of storylines the season will contain, check-in on players, find out what goals the team and players have, etc.

For this year, there wasn’t anything especially revelatory, but there was definitely a renewed sense of energy — the Mavericks overhauled their roster this summer more so than any off-season since 2019. There are fresh faces in Dallas for the first time in years, and that added to a bit of the energy and excitement in the building. Here are the major things we noticed.

A note: For the first time in years, we didn’t have a physical presence at media day. We’re getting too old! Damn it! So thank you to all the Mavericks media people that attended and asked questions, and a special thanks to the Mavericks digital team, which uploaded every player press conference to their YouTube page so we can get those answers and share them with our readers. Feel free to poke around that YouTube page to see the full press conferences for every player that spoke today.

Everyone really likes the rookies

By far the most prevailing narrative from Media Day was just how gosh darned impressed the Mavericks vets are of the new rookies — center Dereck Lively and forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper, taken with the 12th and 24th picks of the 2023 draft, respectively. Just about every Mavericks veteran was asked about the two rookies on Friday, and every single one had nothing but excitement and praise.

“He has that ‘it’ factor, man,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said about Lively. Comparisons between Lively and current Mavericks development coach Tyson Chandler were abundant.

“Oh, man. When I say bouncy, I don’t think that’s even the way to describe it,” new Mavericks big Richaun Holmes said. “I played with Tyson in Phoenix, and he looks so much like him.”

Chandler’s best seasons were in Dallas and New York, a little over 10 years ago at this point. That would make Lively, currently 19-years-old, a kid during Chandler’s prime. So he admittedly said he had to brush up on Chandler’s game when he got to Dallas. “He’s definitely said that many times, I’m just grateful,” Lively said. “At first I was never really familiar with Tyson’s game until I did my research and was like, wow, we do play the same.

“He an amazing player, person, character. He’s someone I’ve already learned so much from, he always has something to say. Been able to tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.”

Prosper’s answers during his session probably had Mavericks fans ready to run through brick walls. With the Mavericks desperately needing more size and athleticism on the wing, Prosper has an opportunity to play a lot of minutes right away. Judging from what he said on Friday, he’s more than ready. He already knows who’s up first when the Mavericks start the preseason next week against the Timberwolves in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s gonna be a challenge but I’m up for it,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in front of me, what your resume is. Are they gonna make tough shots on me? Yes, but it’s part of the game. (Timberwolves All-Star) Anthony Edwards is my first game but I’m gonna make life hard on him.”

The vibes might be immaculate once again

Last year at this time, it was pretty clear the team was down bad, even if the players and coaches didn’t directly say it. After the Mavericks splendid Western Conference Finals run, the Mavericks endured what might be one of their worst off-seasons in years: the team let Jalen Brunson leave in free agency to join the New York Knicks and the Mavericks used what little free agency money they had on center JaVale McGee.

McGee didn’t even make it 10 games before he was removed from the rotation and then waived one year into a three-year deal that the Mavericks will now be paying for in smaller chunks across the next five years. Brunson had a spectacular season in New York, leading the Knicks back to the playoffs, while the Mavericks missed the postseason entirely, finishing 11th in the West.

During Media Day last year, it was a bummer. Almost every player was asked about Brunson’s departure and what it would mean, while Christian Wood and coach Jason Kidd foreshadowed their rocky relationship with Wood not being aware he was coming off the bench until the media asked him about it, since Kidd earlier in the summer said Wood wouldn’t start. We’re 12 months past all of that and things couldn’t be different.

The Mavericks overhauled their roster with youth and athleticism. Wood is no longer around, and just about every Maverick knows their role and place on the roster (well, mostly, we’ll get to that later). You can just see in the players’ faces and cadence in their voice that they’re all excited for this fresh start.

“There’s good, healthy, positive energy,” Dwight Powell said. “Those young guys rejuvenating some of that energy in the building is great.”

Grant Williams is a talker

If we learned one thing about the Mavericks biggest addition this offseason, it’s that forward Grant Williams will never shut up.

“Grant’s been amazing, it’s always nice to be around someone who’s a great guy,” Josh Green said. “He’s a leader, he’s vocal, talks a lot, maybe too much. He’s gonna be big for our team.”

Williams’ defensive intensity will be crucial for a Mavericks team that got pushed around on that end of the floor a season ago. Most Mavericks echoed Green’s sentiments on Friday. Communication is the key to any healthy defense, so this is a good start.

Richaun Holmes hears you, Mavs Twitter

The funniest thing about Twitter (no, it’s not X, sorry), is how much it doesn’t actually matter. People get really self-important on the platform, but we can tell you it doesn’t actually drive that much traffic to our website, and other site managers will tell you the same thing. Compared to other social media behemoths like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, Twitter’s user base is a drop in the bucket. We’re all just screaming into the void, literally.

That’s made it frustrating when members of the Mavericks organization try to label the Mavericks fan base for whatever the loud minority on Mavs Twitter is screaming about on certain days. But today, Mavs Twitter, you finally get your flowers: new big man Richaun Holmes heard you loud and clear for the last few years, as you’ve undoubtedly sent him thousands of tweets and messages to come to Dallas because you’re tired of watching Powell give up buckets at the rim.

“Very excited,” Holmes said about coming to the Mavericks. “Dallas fans have been showing me love on social media for a few years now.”

Kyrie Irving is on his best behavior

The biggest risk of the Kyrie Irving trade for the Mavericks was his track record — Irving has left every team he’s ever been apart of on bad circumstances: threating a knee surgery if the Cavaliers didn’t trade him (they did), leaving Boston after two seasons after a flood of stories about the rocky chemistry he brought, getting traded from Brooklyn after missing a mess of games due to injury, his anti-vaccination stance, and not backing down on the promotion anti-semantic material on his social media profiles and during press conferences. He hasn’t left any franchise in a happy place, so that’s the worry: is Dallas next?

We won’t really know that until more time as passed, but for now, Irving and his teammates are saying all the right things. During Irving’s media availability on Thursday, he really gushed about how Dallas feels like home for him and his family.

“I wish I would’ve got drafted by Dallas initially,” Irving said. “Obviously, they weren’t in position in 2011, but just feeling how this organization wraps their arms around the guys.”

His teammates are sharing the same feelings. Any Maverick that was asked about Irving just emphasized Kyrie’s grace as a teammate and leader.

“Since Kyrie’s been here, he’s always been helpful to me,” second year guard Jaden Hardy said on Friday. “He’s like an open book, willing to pass down information. He wants to help the younger guys.”

Here’s what Seth Curry had to add:

“It’s great, we’ve been on a team together twice but we haven’t played together much,” Seth Curry said. “We’ve been on the floor, it’s been a smooth fit. He’s another unselfish guy, I feel very comfortable sharing the floor with Kyrie.”

Grant Williams hasn’t even played a second with Kyrie in an NBA game, but already had his opinion ready from the short time they’ve spent in practices and workouts together.

“Kyrie did a phenomenal job communicating with me about what my role would be,” Williams said. “He’s been a phenomenal teammate.”

As for how good Irving and Luka Doncic can be together? Well Irving thinks the sky is the limit. And who can blame him? Last season the Mavericks were molten fire when Irving and Doncic shared the floor together, the problem was the rest of the roster being depleted from the trade and years of mismanagement. Now that roster problem might be solved, which has Irving excited.

“With me and Luka, we’re so skilled. He makes the game so easy for everyone around him,” Irving said on Thursday. “I think we got a lot of open shots last year because of how much attention he garnered.

“For me I was just coming in and alleviate some of that pressure. A few times I think we were being too passive with one another — we’re both killers on the court, everybody knows it. We want to win, so we just have to continue to have that consistent mentality together.”

The end might be near for Tim Hardaway Jr.

Perhaps the only bummer during Mavericks Media Day was Tim Hardaway Jr.’s press conference. There was a definite shift in tone from the happy-go-lucky, energetic answers from the previous players. One thing was very clear: Hardaway has heard the trade noise.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be here this season, if I’m being honest with you,” he said.

To add salt to the wound, apparently Hardaway wasn’t informed about coach Jason Kidd’s plan to bring Hardaway off the bench. Kidd noted earlier in the week Hardaway could win the Sixth Man of the Year award. This was apparently news to Hardaway.

“You guys heard it first from him,” Hardaway said. “I’m a hybrid, I guess, at this point of my career. Whether I start or come off the bench, I’m not going to be one to have an ego or anything like that. That’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News then followed up and asked if winning the award appeals to him. “Once I have a conversation with him (Kidd), then we’ll see,” Hardaway said. Yikes!

Hardaway has been in trade conversations almost as soon as he rehabilitated his career in Dallas. Most recently, there were reports the Mavericks attempted to trade Hardaway for center DeAndre Ayton, who just recently was moved to Portland as part of the three-team Damian Lillard trade.

While Hardaway has been in trade talks for a long time, for whatever reason it appears now he’s run out of patience. Hardaway talked like a player that didn’t expect to be in Dallas for much longer, but will try to solider on regardless. While there doesn’t appear to be anything close with Hardaway and a trade, at this rate it would be surprising to see him on the Mavericks roster past the 2024 trade deadline in February.