The Dallas Mavericks are going Euro with their rebuild Authentic Aaron Rodgers Jersey , the same way they did 20 years ago with Dirk Nowitzki.
Dallas moved up two spots in the NBA draft Thursday night to get Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, who was selected by Atlanta at No. 3 while the Mavericks picked former Oklahoma scoring sensation Trae Young for the Hawks at No. 5 as part of the deal. The Mavericks are also sending a protected first-round pick to Atlanta.
The Mavericks are coming off consecutive losing seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years, back when Nowitzki ended up being the centerpiece of a rebuilding project that led to 12 straight trips to the playoffs and the franchise’s only championship in 2011.
The big German is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history and one of seven overall with at least 30,000 points. The Mavericks acquired Nowitzki during the 1998 draft, trading down to get the 7-footer who was taken ninth overall by Milwaukee.
The 19-year-old Doncic will be his teammate, with Nowitzki expected to become the first player in league history to spend all 21 seasons with the same franchise.
Nowitzki, who was in the draft room with the Mavericks two nights after celebrating his 40th birthday, quickly greeted his fellow European on Twitter, and Doncic replied in kind.
”He’s a great leader, a great person,” Doncic said of the 2007 MVP and 2011 NBA Finals MVP. ”I’m just really happy to be part of his career. I just want to learn so much about him.”
Doncic arrived in New York on Wednesday after helping Spain’s Real Madrid win its league championship after he won Euroleague MVP and Final Four MVP honors when they won that title this year. His lengthy European season kept him from working out for teams but he knew the Mavericks were interested.
”I’ve been talking to Dallas a lot,” Doncic said. ”They were very nice to me, and I think we had a very good relationship.”
At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Doncic averaged about 15 points, five rebounds and five assists during Real Madrid’s championship season. As with Nowitzki 20 years ago, the question is how his game will translate to the NBA.
”This kid has won everything there is to win in European and international basketball and he’s done it at an age that’s unprecedented,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”I’m not sure what position he is. I think his position is on the floor, making plays and making people better.”
Doncic signed with Real Madrid at age 13 and made his debut as a 16-year-old. He teamed with Miami’s Goran Dragic to lead Slovenia to a surprising gold medal at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. His father, Sasa Doncic Bruce Smith Jersey , played professionally for 15 years.
The Mavericks made the move for Doncic a year after drafting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall pick, giving Dallas a chance to have one of the NBA’s youngest backcourts depending on where Doncic lands in the rotation. Carlisle said he sees Doncic as a starter.
”He’s the kind of player that is going to be able to play with virtually anybody,” Carlisle said. ”He just has the skill set and an understanding and a feel for the game. He’s a great shooter, so he creates space for other players, which is really going to help Dennis.”
President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson played a big role in Nowitzki coming to Dallas, and remembers a rough first couple of seasons for the 13-time All-Star. So he’s taking a guarded approach with Doncic for now.
”Luka is his own guy,” Nelson said. ”He’s got his own challenges. It’s not going to be quick. He’s got a very unique skill set. Anyone who can make his teammates better, shoot the long ball, get to the paint, he’s going to be a pretty darn good asset for the Mavericks for years to come.”
The Mavericks took another guard with the 33rd overall pick in the second round, getting Jalen Brunson, who won two NCAA titles in his three years at Villanova. The reigning Associated Press player of the year averaged 18.9 points and 4.6 assists in his final season.
Dallas swapped picks late in the second round with Philadelphia and got Dayton’s Kostas Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was the 60th and final pick of the draft.
The 76ers got former SMU guard Shake Milton, who was the 55th choice. Dallas also got Ray Spalding of Louisville at No. 56, another pick originally belonging to Philadelphia.
Sean Couturier did what he could to deal with the pain in his left leg, then hopped over the boards and let the adrenaline that comes with playoff hockey take care of the rest.
The Philadelphia Flyers are still alive as a result.
Barely 72 hours removed from a frightening collision with a teammate in practice threatened to end his season, Couturier returned for Game 5 and threaded a shot through traffic that slipped past Matt Murray and into the net with 1:15 left to lift the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night to send the series back to Philadelphia.
”I think it might have hit one of their guys,” Couturier said. ”Lucky bounce, but we’ll take them.”
The Flyers certainly need them. They still trail 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Sunday but counterpunched effectively against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
Valtteri Filppula’s short-handed goal tied it late in the second period shortly after the Penguins had taken the lead and Couturier’s second goal of the playoffs was a knuckler that deflected off Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin and by a surprised Murray.
Claude Giroux picked up his first goal of the series and Matt Read added an empty-netter. Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 shots Blake Bortles Jersey Black , including a diving stop on the doorstep to deny Penguins star Sidney Crosby with 50 seconds left.
”I like playing in the playoffs, like facing the pressure,” Neuvirth said after making his first start in more than two months in place of struggling Brian Elliott. ”But it’s only one game and we came here to win a hockey game. We did that. Now we have to win the next one.”
Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust scored for the Penguins. Murray made 21 saves but Pittsburgh missed a chance to close out the Flyers thanks in part to a slow start and a power play that was the best in the league during the regular season went 0 for 5.
”I thought the second and third (periods) we were much better,” Crosby said. ”We ended up making a couple mistakes that ended up in our net.”
Mistakes that injected some actual tension into a series devoid of it coming in. The first four games were blowouts on the scoreboard if not always on the ice, three of them ending with the Flyers skating off the ice wondering what they needed to do to keep pace with cross-state rivals.
Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol, perhaps fighting for his job, made his first significant change in an effort to keep his team’s season alive, giving Neuvirth his first playoff start in nearly two years after Elliott couldn’t shake out of a funk that saw him pulled in Game 1 and again in Game 4.
The Flyers also Couturier back to center the third line just three days after teammate Radko Gudas accidentally took him out during a drill in practice that forced Couturier to watch Pittsburgh’s clinical 5-0 Game 4 romp from the press box.
There was no need for change in Pittsburgh, which has developed a killer instinct under coach Mike Sullivan it lacked at times earlier in the Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era. The Penguins came in 8-5 in potential close-out games since Sullivan took over in December 2015, including a 5-2 mark at home.
Make it 5-3.
Giroux, a non-factor through much of the series, gave Philadelphia the lead 17:29 into the first when he found some space in the slot and took a pretty feed from behind the Pittsburgh net by Jakub Voracek to pump a shot by Murray.
The Penguins replied with two goals in a 4:45 span in the second for the first lead change of the series. Bryan Rust beat Neuvirth with a wrap around 12 minutes into the second for his ninth career goal in a potential elimination game. Guentzel then took a feed from Crosby and slipped it between Neuvirth’s legs to put Pittsburgh in front.
The Flyers, for the first time since Game 2, responded. Now Philadelphia has to do it again at home, a place where the Penguins outscored the Flyers 10-1 while rolling in Games 3 and 4.
”We have to keep battling next game and play the with same kind of mentality,” Couturier said. ”It was a road game. We didn’t put a show on, but we kept it tight and found a way to win.”
NOTES: Penguins F Patric Hornqvist missed his second straight game due to an upper-body injury. Hornqvist did skate earlier Friday and remains day-to-day. … Malkin missed the final 4 minutes of the first period after Philadelphia’s Jori Lehtera fell on it when the two got tangled in the corner. Malkin returned to start the second period.