Mavs like Beaubois-Jones backcourt
DALLAS -- Draft pick Dominique Jones delivered the line of the night with his befuddled one-word reply: "Who?"
His answer drew a roar of laughter from reporters gathered around a speaker phone that suddenly fell silent shortly after Mark Cuban ponied up $3 million so his Dallas Mavericks could crash the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft and acquire Jones with Memphis' 25th overall pick.
The 6-4 shooting guard was asked how much he knew about Rodrigue Beaubois, his soon-to-be teammate. Apparently the French sensation that drove Dallas fans into a tizzy this past season didn't make as much as a ripple on the South Florida campus, where the heavily tatted Jones was enforcing a one-way path to the free throw line as the Big East's second-leading scorer.
Don't worry. They'll get to know each other soon enough.
If the Mavericks have drafted deftly, they believe they have assembled a young, dynamic backcourt of the future. Their charge to nab Jones not only affirmed the club's determination to finally add a fearless penetrator, but cemented their belief that Jason Kidd will eventually pass the point guard mantle to the French-speaking young man from Guadeloupe.
When Beaubois did get his chances last season, it came at the 2-guard about 80 percent of the time, as estimated by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, and many times playing alongside Kidd. The jury was out on whether the point was really Beaubois' destiny.
"We'll see. Roddy's in play at both the 1 and 2 positions, for sure," Carlisle said. "He has been here the entire month of June, and we've been in the gym with him every morning working on getting better at the 1 position and the 2 position and just all around, getting stronger, being able to sustain a level of energy and intensity and all of that, and he's done a great job."
Thursday night's maneuvers seemed to make the Mavs' intentions clear.
"I think we all know it's there; just him getting more miles," said Mavs vice president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson of Beaubois handling the point. "You saw him do some things last year where he sees people, it's just he's too fast for his own body right now. He gets by everybody and, before you know it, he's in the third row trying to pass the ball back in bounds. He needs to get more sophisticated. He hasn't played basketball that long. So yes, I think their skills really meld well together."
Beaubois, 22, and Jones, 21, will join forces for the first time on the Mavs' summer league team for five games in Las Vegas from July 9-18. Both are expected to play nearly every minute of every game.
Calling Thursday night's developments near-perfect, the Mavs will ride that momentum into next week's intriguing start of free agency, where the top priority is fortifying the frontcourt. Having managed to acquire Jones in the first round without exhausting any assets, Dallas believes it has multiple roster pieces -- headlined by Erick Dampier's massive $13 million, non-guaranteed contract -- to contend for top free agents (via sign-and-trade) with the clubs best positioned in terms of salary-cap space, such as Chicago, Miami, New York and New Jersey.
Who knows how the summer will unfold, but Jones' addition opens some interesting options. Although the Mavs don't expect major contributions from Jones as a rookie, he adds to a crowded mix at the guard spots, especially shooting guard, where Beaubois still figures to accrue healthy minutes next season, perhaps even as the starter, as he evolves into a point guard.
It could make Caron Butler, who enters next season on an expiring contract, more expendable. J.J. Barea, with a low salary and an expiring contract, could be lumped in to a trade. Jason Terry could be in store for a possible reduced role. A clause in his contract calls for him to play 1,500 minutes next season to fully guarantee his final contract year in 2011-12.
The coming weeks promise to be busy. The Mavs' aggressive addition of Jones while guarding their assets has added increased intrigue to their summer, as well as the coming seasons.
"We're excited about that backcourt," Nelson said. "Those are our two young guns that are going to take the baton and run with it."