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Početno hasn’t ruled out

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 Matt Ryan 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, from the top on down. When you go through retooling or rebuilding situations like we’re going through now John Kuhn Jersey , 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, 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 Forrest Lamp Jersey ,” 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.



Blake Snell was nearly unhittable for the second straight start, and he found a little more of the strike zone, too.

Snell took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Kevin Kiermaier hit a grand slam and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Washington Nationals 11-0 on Monday night.

Wilson Ramos homered twice and rookie Jake Bauers had four hits in the Rays’ fourth straight win.

”I felt like the way we hit allowed me to get in a more aggressive mindset, which changed my pace and tempo, all of that,” said Snell.

Snell (10-4) walked Trea Turner and Bryce Harper to open the game before retiring 18 straight, striking out five straight at one point. Anthony Rendon doubled off the left-field wall on a 3-1 pitch leading off the seventh for the first of Washington’s two hits.

Snell, 6-1 in his last eight starts, struck out 10 while walking four. He left after the seventh inning and 103 pitches.

Snell had pitched seven innings in a 2-1 victory over Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros his last time out Solomon Thomas Jersey , walking a season-high seven. In his last three starts, the 25-year-old left-hander has given up nine hits while walking 15.

”I don’t care if you’re a lefty or righty, he’s not a comfortable at-bat by any means. His stuff is that good,” Kiermaier said. ”He’s a superstar.”

Rendon’s hit spared manager Kevin Cash the unenviable decision of whether to take out the young left-hander as his pitch count approached a career-high 114, no-hitter or not.

”He’s not getting much past that,” Cash said. ”I’ve already been asked by the front office how we would have handled that, and I don’t have a good answer. But I would have been really concerned for Blake, and (pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) would have probably choked me if I had gone beyond that.”

Kiermaier’s first home run of the season came during a six-run second inning against starter Gio Gonzalez. It barely made it over the glove of center fielder Michael Taylor.

”I thought I hit it way better than that,” said Kiermaier, who was playing in only his 18th game because of a thumb injury. ”It was a wall-scraper, but over the fence I’ll take `em anyway I can.”

Gonzalez (6-5) threw 43 pitches in the second inning without getting an out. He gave up six runs, three hits and five walks overall Reuben Foster Jersey , three of them in succession before Kiermaier’s homer.

The one-inning start was the shortest of his career and resulted in the Nationals’ eighth loss in 11 games.

The game marked the return to Tropicana Field of Washington manager Dave Martinez, who spent seven seasons (2008-14) as the Rays bench coach under Joe Maddon.

Gonzalez’s early troubles made it a long night.

”Earlier in the season he was under control, he was using his legs a little bit better,” Martinez said. ”He wasn’t thinking as much. He was attacking the strike zone. Seems like his last couple outings, that’s gone by the wayside.”

COMEBACK CHRIS

Rays RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) had a 40-pitch bullpen session and is scheduled for a three-inning simulated game Thursday. ”No issues, no limitations right now,” Archer said. The opening day starter could make a minor league rehab start next week and be back around the All-Star break.

IN (FOR TWO GAMES) AND OUT

After completing Sunday night’s game after midnight, the Nationals touched down in Tampa at 4 a.m. on Monday and expect to fly out well before sundown after Tuesday’s afternoon game. ”The shortest trip ever,” said Martinez, who got to bed at about 6:30 Monday morning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) was reinstated from the disabled list and RHP Jefry Rodriguez was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson (strained right hamstring) will make his first start since June 3 after one more problem-free bullpen session.

Rays: RHP Jake Faria (left oblique strain) threw 30 pitches in his second bullpen session. He hasn’t ruled out returning in late July. … LHP Jonny Venters (strained right hamstring) went on the 10-day disabled and RHP Austin Pruitt was recalled from Triple-A Durham.

UP NEXT

Nationals ace Matt Scherzer (10-3) and Rays RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-3) are the scheduled starters Tuesday in the finale of a two-game series.



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