DALLAS, TX–Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks (33-28) welcome Rajon Rondo and the tenth-seeded Sacramento Kings (24-35) on Hardwood Classic Night at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs come into this evening’s game riding a three-game winning streak led behind a sizzling Chandler Parsons, who is averaging 21.0 points in his last 8 contests. It’s the second night of back-to-back for the Kings, who come into tonight’s game on a four-game losing streak after falling to the Memphis Grizzlies last night 104-98.
Parsons has been an interesting topic of conversation of late, not only because of his great play, but because the effect that his play is going to have on his impending free agency this summer. After signing a three-year, $46 million deal in July 2014, he’s able and expected to opt out of his contract and explore other potential options.
“I want to prove I’m worth that, and I want another contract,” Parsons said. “And I want to win big. I came here looking for a bigger role, I came here for more leadership, and I’m ready for that next step in my career.”
He’s already been linked to a hometown return to Florida in a move that would bring him to the Orlando Magic. According ESPN Dallas, sources say Parsons will be looking for a place where he can reach his best long-term potential and not just in terms of dollars.
While that remains a major concern for the Mavs this offseason, until those free agency conversations are officially on the table, the Mavs will continue to enjoy his leadership and steady play during the regular season. After struggling for much of the first half of the season while recovering from offseason ‘minor hybrid’ microfracture surgery, his positive play of late has helped ensure a return to postseason play for the Mavericks.
And it’s not just Parsons that’s been clicking during the Mavs’ three-game winning streak. Collectively, they are taking advantage of lesser opponents after a brutal schedule to begin the calendar year that had the Mavericks playing 18 games in 31 days. During their current three-game winning streak, the Mavs are averaging 123.7 points on 53 percent shooting from the field including 39.3 percent from downtown.
Another big reason why the Mavs have been so effective of late has been the late-season addition of F/C David Lee, who was signed with the team just 10 days ago after he was bought out from his contract with the Boston Celtics. In just four appearances with the Mavs, Lee is averaging 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. Lee was brought in to help Dallas specifically in the rebounding department, where the Mavs rank 18th in the league with just 42.9 boards per outing.
“Even with learning two positions, he’s picked it up quickly, and then offensively, we’ve scaled some things back overall, too,” Carlisle said. “I’d say he has at least 80 percent of it, and frankly I don’t know if we’ll go much farther than that. We’re trying to simplify things for the team right now, too.”
Expect heavy minutes from Lee tonight, as the Mavs try and figure out a way to defend the 6th best rebound team (45.2) in the NBA in the Kings. Between center DeMarcus Cousins (11.4 RPG), forward Rudy Gay (6.6 RPG) and point guard Rajon Rondo (6.4 RPG), the Mavericks will certainly have their hands full.
After sitting out with an injured back in the Kings first appearance on the season in Dallas back in January, Rondo hopes to play tonight after tweaking his ankle in the fourth quarter of last night’s game versus the Grizzlies. Rondo now holds the Kings record for most games with at least 10 assists in a season (40) and is currently leading the league with 12.1 assists per game. Cousins is averaging 30.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last four versus Dallas.
The Mavericks will be seeking their longest winning streak since December 30 with a victory tonight to close out their six-game home stand with just 21 games remaining in the 2015-16 regular season.