Mavs parlay trade into 3 picks
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
DALLAS (AP) Now that the NBA draft is done, the Dallas Mavericks can concentrate on their expected pursuit of hometown All-Star guard Deron Williams.
They certainly hope that free agency turns out as well as their draft did.
The Mavericks traded the 17th overall pick, their highest since 2000, and moved down seven spots. They said they still got the player they wanted in the first round, Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham, while adding two early second-round picks also expected to be part of their roster next season.
"We wanted to get some hard-playing, energetic-type kids. ... We feel it was a good night for us," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's a time of change right now. We're going to load up on the right kind of guys and we're going to coach the heck out of them."
After using the 17th overall pick to get 7-foot North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, the Mavericks then traded his draft rights along with guard Kelenna Azubuike to Cleveland for three selections.
Before that deal was formally approved by the NBA, the Cavaliers made three selections for the Mavericks.
Along with Cunningham, Dallas also got the draft rights to Bernard James, a 27-year-old center and Air Force veteran from Florida State selected 33rd overall, and Marquette forward Jae Crowder, the Big East Player of the Year taken with the next pick.
"Overall, it was a great draft," owner Mark Cuban said. "If we would have just gotten the one guy we liked, but we got three guys that we think are going to come in and play for us."
Cunningham led the Pac-12 in steals the past two seasons. As a junior for the Beavers last season, he averaged 17.9 points, which was second in the Pac-12. Cunningham also had 91 steals, matching Gary Payton's mark as a junior, and averaged 3.8 rebounds.
"Cunningham was in the mix at 17, in that area. We felt there was a good likelihood that he would be there (lower), so we rolled the bones a little bit, and picked up two second-round picks to boot," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "Two guys that can come in and fight for a position."
The 6-foot-10 James joined the Air Force in 2003 and did three tours in the Middle East. After leaving the Air Force, he went to Tallahassee Community College, then played the last two years with Florida State, averaging 10.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots a game last season.
When James' name was called out in New Jersey, there were chants of "U-S-A!, U-S-A!" as he made his way to the platform.
"James is a terrific shot-blocker and rebound, gives us a punch in the front court," Nelson said. "A guy that's got a lot of maturity and is a soldier, literally."
Crowder averaged 17.5 points and, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. The 6-foot-6 Crowder scored 20 points or more 13 times, and was in double figures in 31 of 35 games last season.
The Mavericks had the oldest team in the NBA last season, when they were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Oklahoma City a year after winning their only NBA championship. They could undergo significant roster changes around perennial All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Dallas covets the chance to get Williams, the Brooklyn Nets' All-Star guard who is from the Dallas area. Williams is expected to choose between Dallas and Brooklyn.
Williams tweeted Thursday that he had just finished playing golf with Kidd at East Hampton Golf Club in New York. His tweet included a line, "let the speculation begin????" Kidd later responded to that with a tweet of his own, "Since you won that means we're going to .......", obviously not finishing that thought.
Dallas also had the 55th overall pick, the second-round selection they got from the Los Angeles Lakers along with Lamar Odom before last season. The Mavs used it for another Marquette player and another Odom, guard Darius Johnson-Odom, whose rights were then traded to the Lakers.
An agreement was also in place for Lamar Odom to head back to Los Angeles for a second stint with the Clippers and Mo Williams will be reunited with Utah, a person with knowledge of that deal said Thursday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the three-team deal between Dallas Mavericks, Clippers and Jazz was contingent on Williams exercising his $8.5 million player option for next season.
Odom is due $8.2 million next season, and Dallas faced a Friday deadline to a $2.4 million buyout of that contract. The expected deal would instead mean an $8.2 million trade exception for the Mavericks, similar to what they used to get Odom.
Adding Azubuike in the draft-night deal with Cleveland also added a little more cap flexibility for Dallas moving ahead to free agency.
Updated June 29, 2012