Before the Mavs ship off the kids to Summer League, they put them through the AAC gauntlet. That gives us our first chance to hang in person with Cunningham (and his nagging hammy), James (on 'smackdowns') and Crowder (on QB'ing), which we do with our DB.com Video Visits:
ITEM: While some of the focus on the Dallas Mavericks is understandably pointed at things the club is not yet accomplishing, the team itself has tasks at hand. That includes preparation for the Mavs' Summer League entry in Las Vegas, which was supposed to feature 24th overall pick Jared Cunningham ... but he's got some nagging hamstring problems that could limit him or restrict him altogether.
"He's got a hamstring that we're working on getting better and we're going to be able to do some things on the floor with him in terms of footwork, shooting, those kinds of things,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "But how much he actually plays in the summer-league games or if he plays at all is to be determined. But the important thing is that we get him completely healthy and ready for Sept. 28 when veterans camp starts.''
ITEM: Hopefully ready to go: the two second-rounders, forward Jae Crowder and center Bernard James.
"This,'' Carlisle said of his trio, "is the beginning of a long journey for them."
ITEM: Cunningham finished his three-year career at Oregon State ranked 13th in career scoring (1,271 points), second in steals (219) and third in free throws made (427). He was named First Team All-Pac 12 as a junior when he averaged 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Our DB.com Video Visit with Cunningham:
Said Carlisle: "I think more and more now in the league, we’re getting to guys that are playmakers; point guards that can play off the ball, 2-guards that can make plays with the ball. You know, you’ve got to have guys that make plays offensively and defensively. And so, we see him as a guy that’s got some real dynamic athleticism. He’s got a skillset that has a lot of upside, and we know he’s a hard worker.”
ITEM: Crowder (6-6, 235) is a four-year player who finished his career at Marquette after transferring from Howard College where he was NJCAA Player of the Year. In his senior year at Marquette, he was named Big East Player of the Year when he averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
GM Donnie Nelson says he has an "Artest-type body and is a locker-room leader, a big-time integrity.''
More to come on Crowder later (including the full at-large video below. For now, know that the man was a high-school quarterback on the football team ... and that in my visit with him, he talks with the confidence of someone who has been in charge of a team. ... and who thinks he's much more than a basketball bull-in-a-china shop.
ITEM: James (6-10, 240) is a former Staff Sergeant who served six years in the Air Force including three tours to Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. In his senior season at Florida State, James averaged 10.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while being named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Defensive team. James also won the Most Courageous Award by the United States Basketball Writers of America.
Our DB.com Video Visit with James:
James is exactly what you’d expect from a guy who spent time on multiple tours in Iraq and Qatar. He’s cool and he's tough. According to his coaches he never missed a game or practice at Florida State.
ITEM: James on if he was an intimidating officer: "Sometimes you get some knuckleheads and you've got to put the smack down!"
Carlisle was amused by that; it's the sort of thing a coach would say. Interestingly, the other two rookies didn't see at all bothered by the attention paid James; they looked up to the 27-year-old as much as the rest of us probably should.
As you can see by the photos, Cunningham will wear jersey No. 1, Crowder No. 5 and James No. 32.
ITEM: The Mavs' Summer League group will engage in two-a-days starting on Thursday and then go to work in Vegas with the following schedule: July 15 against Denver at 5 p.m.; July 16 vs. Toronto at 5; July 18 vs. Atlant at 7; July 20 vs. New Orleand at 9:30; July 21 vs. San Antonio at 5.
ITEM: James talking about the military and about his three tours of duty:
"The military,'' Sarge said, "is just a big team."
ITEM: Here's the full presser Part 1:
And Part 2:
Listen, y'all, I know we're not much in the mood for sunshine-pumping right now. But the rookies are in town. They definitely arrive with good stories and we'll soon see if they arrive with any game. Can we enjoy this sunshine just a little bit?
Thanks to DB.com videographer Imran Virani for his work at the AAC!
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