Legends' Antonio Daniels out 4-6 weeks
"Make that superglue for us," one team official joked.
The Texas Legends thus took it hard upon learning that Daniels, who's trying to get back to the NBA as the D-League's oldest player ever at 35, will be lost for at least four to six weeks thanks to a hand injury that probably will require surgery.
"We will miss him dearly on many levels," Legends coach Nancy Lieberman said Thursday night.
The only consolation, purely from the Mavericks' perspective, is that rookie guard Dominique Jones should now receive significant minutes at point guard in Daniels' place. There is strong sentiment within the organization that Jones, because of his passing ability, has untapped potential at the point, even though owner Mark Cuban paid $3 million on draft night to acquire his rights from the Memphis Grizzlies with the idea that the Mavs were landing a shooting guard after Jones' scoring prowess at South Florida.
Jones is averaging 16.4 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor in five games in the D-League since the Mavs designated him for assignment, and he had begun to take practice reps at point guard even before Daniels got hurt. Given the struggles of highly touted Mavs teammate Rodrigue Beaubois to get comfortable with the intricacies of NBA point guard play, Jones could certainly solidify his standing on the roster if he adapts well.
Lieberman -- the first female head coach for a men's team under the NBA's umbrella -- has described Daniels as a virtual co-coach for the influence he has on the floor and in the locker room. He's expected to rejoin the team after surgery to continue to support Lieberman, but the effect of Daniels' absence in the lineup will be hard to minimize.
Daniels is averaging 17 points and 8.2 assists in nearly 39 minutes per game for the 6-3 Legends and might have become the D-League's first NBA call-up this season had he avoided injury, with the Portland Trail Blazers said to be giving strong consideration to signing the 6-foot-2 vet to ease their own backcourt crisis with star guard Brandon Roy clearly playing hurt.
Daniels missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury with the New Orleans Hornets in the 2009 playoffs. The injury to his right hand, suffered in Tuesday's home loss to the Tulsa 66ers, occurred after Daniels tweaked his ankle earlier in the game and came back in.
The Legends, meanwhile, continue to wait on veteran guard Rashad McCants to decide whether he wants to rejoin the squad.
The former 2005 lottery pick left the Legends last week after appearing in just three games as Jones' backup, saying he was about to sign a contract in China. The Chinese team (Liaonang) elected to sign former Atlanta Hawks draftee Donta Smith instead of McCants, according to NiuBBall.com, but the Legends retained McCants' D-League rights and have left the door open for him to return.
McCants left town before the deal with Liaonang was finalized when the Mavericks refused to give him any assurances about eventually securing a roster spot with them. The 26-year-old hasn't played in the NBA since the 2008-09 season and finally agreed to report to the Legends -- after missing training camp and the first three games of Texas' season -- in hopes of playing his way back onto the NBA's radar.
Any overseas team that wants to sign McCants must pay a buyout of $45,000 to the D-League, despite the fact that McCants' salary with the Legends is a mere $25,500, which represents the D-League max.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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