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Сообщение ou’re going to win your
Dirk Nowitzki plans to become the first player to spend all 21 seasons with the same NBA franchise.

Dennis Smith Jr. will be half the German star’s age when the Dallas Mavericks open next season looking to end the first two-year playoff drought in nearly two decades. The team posted its worst record since 1997-98 Jason Pierre-Paul Jersey , the year before Nowitzki arrived.

The No. 9 overall pick who turned 20 early in what ended up as a solid rookie season, Smith figures to have a new teammate facing high expectations the way he did. Dallas will pick no lower than seventh in June.

Smith will have at least one thing in common with Nowitzki, who turns 40 this summer. They want the Mavericks to be regulars in the postseason again, the way they were before the current swoon.

”I’ve been in a couple of arenas that are playoff teams, and I just witnessed the atmosphere,” Smith said. ”I can only imagine how it is playoff time.”

It’s certainly better than 24-58, tied with Atlanta for the league’s third-worst record. Youth, injuries and a difficult schedule buried the Mavericks early for the second straight year.

They spent the last half of the season wondering where they would fall in the lottery, and owner Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for suggesting that Dallas had been tanking for two seasons. Part of Cuban’s point was that he’d had enough of that approach.

”We do not want to go back to what we just experienced,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. ”That’s unanimous Dan Marino Jersey , from the top on down. When you go through retooling or rebuilding situations like we’re going through now, it’s done with the right people.”

For Nelson, two of those three people are in place in Smith and leading scorer Harrison Barnes. The third is coming in the draft. Nelson compared the situation to when he joined his dad, former coach and general manager Don Nelson, in Dallas 20 years ago. Michael Finley was already there. Steve Nash and Nowitzki were on the way.

The Mavericks made the playoffs 15 out of 16 years starting in 2001, winning their first championship in 2011. They haven’t won a playoff series since.

”We’re certainly hoping that we’re not in the early stages of a rebuild,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible. But there’s no way you can skip steps.”

Things to consider after the first 50-loss season for Dallas since the last of seven in an eight-season stretch in the 1990s:

DIRK FOR 22?

Surgery for bone spurs in his left ankle ended Nowitzki’s season a few games early, but after he had set a record for games in a 20th season with 77. He has had a season-to-season approach for several years now.

”I’m hoping the ankle will be tons better than this year,” said Nowitzki , who figures to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the career scoring list but get passed by LeBron James to leave him where he is now – sixth place. ”It’s hard for me at this point to commit further than one year or say one year’s it.”

SMITH’S BACKUPS

J.J. Barea has a year left on his contract after averaging career highs of 11.6 points and 6.3 assists per game. Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry have expiring contracts, but the Mavericks figure to be interested. Ferrell proved to be a solid role player on a two-year deal earned after a flashy start on a 10-day contract last season. Dallas had high hopes for Curry Blake Martinez Jersey , but the younger brother of Golden State star Stephen Curry missed the season with a stress fracture in his lower left leg.

MORE FIREPOWER

The Dallas roster was loaded with undrafted and/or G League players, and Carlisle has been praised for the development of some of those younger players. Now it’s time to replace projects with weapons.

”Getting Rick ammunition is our No. 1 priority in the offseason,” Nelson said. ”We’ve got a great opportunity in the draft. Free agency as you know will be extremely active. There’s trade fronts obviously that will be probed as well.”

THE LAST OF NOEL

There was no mention of center Nerlens Noel on the final day of interviews. Suspended the final five games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, Noel never developed into the post player Dallas envisioned after getting him at the trading deadline last season. After a lost season on a one-year deal as a restricted free agent, he hits the open market with little or no value.





The Pittsburgh Pirates, jockeying for first place in the National League Central the first several weeks of the season, go into a weekend series against Cincinnati looking at the possibility of spiraling into the cellar conversation with the Reds.

Pittsburgh (33-35) is eight games up on Cincinnati (25-43) but has fallen to fourth in the division and created some separation from the top three clubs by going 6-18 in its past 24 games.

The Reds come to PNC Park with a three-game winning streak.

Cincinnati right-hander Matt Harvey (1-4, 5.97 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (4-4, 3.95) on Friday.

Both teams had a day off Thursday.

The Pirates are coming off a 5-4 win on Wednesday at Arizona that concluded a 2-4 road trip. Friday’s game launches a 10-game, 10-day homestand.

They have been plagued in recent games by a plethora of problems, from defensive lapses to baserunning blunders Tony Jefferson Jersey , blown leads to offensive droughts.

“We’re going to get home and figure a lot of things out,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer, who was 7-for-17 with a homer and four RBIs on the road trip, believes the Pirates can turn things around.

“It’s the ebb and flow of the season,” he said. “You’re going to get into some of these situations where things don’t go your way.

“We’re able to relax a little bit now. We got a win. Hopefully, we can scratch another one out and roll with some momentum, especially at home with a 10-game homestand. Hopefully, we’ll get some momentum at home and carry it into the next road trip.”

The Reds are coming off a 7-0 win on Wednesday at Kansas City and are looking to get their rotation into a prolonged groove.

They have gotten back-to-back quality starts after going 15 games without one. During the winning streak, their rotation has a 1.40 ERA after ranking last in the major leagues with a 5.68 ERA.

“You get that, you’re going to win ballgames. You’re going to win your share anyway,” Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman said of the recent improvement.

It falls on Harvey Jack Tatum Jersey , who was acquired from the New York Mets on May 8 and will be making is seventh start with Cincinnati, to continue that. The Reds won in Harvey’s first three starts, then lost in his past three.

Last Friday, Harvey gave up three homers in his first three innings against St. Louis in a 7-6, 10-inning loss, then settled down in his subsequent three innings.

“That one had more well-thrown pitches than any of the games that he’s pitched … but the select few bad pitches he made really hurt him,” Riggleman said.

Harvey is 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh.

Kuhl has allowed seven runs in his past four starts, totaling 23 1/3 innings. Most recently, he gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings last Friday in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

In four career starts against the Reds, Kuhl is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.
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