Clippers point guard Raymond Felton returned to Dallas tonight, and the shorthanded Mavericks may be wishing they had kept him, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The team is playing without Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, who have all been sidelined by injuries. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle called it a “franchise decision” to let Felton go, but he clearly misses having the veteran guard. “Felton played great for us, and I wish we would have brought him back,” Carlisle said. “He was a big difference-maker for us last year and probably one of the big reasons we got to the playoffs. You look at the whole year and everything that happened start to finish, Ray was filling in and starting. And we were winning a lot of those games because of what he was giving us. He’s a winner and was an ultimate pro here for two years. And the Clippers are very lucky to have him.” Felton, who got a one-year, minimum-salary deal from L.A., said the Mavericks were always his first choice. “I made it clear where I wanted to be,” he said. “Sometimes, things just don’t work out.”
The Mavericks welcomed Dirk Nowitzki back tonight in a move that should take the burden off some of the other starters, Sefko writes in a separate story. Harrison Barnes is second in the NBA in minutes played at 38.1 per game, and teammate Wesley Matthews is fourth at 36.9. The Mavs are always concerned about Matthews after the torn Achilles he suffered in 2015. “It’s not the injury history, it’s the length of the season,” Carlisle said. “There’s a cumulative effect of guys being out there too much. But there’s no substitute for a warrior like him who is the best perimeter defender we’ve got and hits big shots. His value to our team is unmistakable. I just got to find a little more rest for him, that’s all.”
Sefko suggested the Bucks’ Khris Middleton as a potential trade target if the Mavericks are able to make a playoff push. In a question-and-answer session, the writer said Middleton would be the kind of building block Dallas needs, but added that he had no inside information to suggest that such a deal had been discussed.
The team is hoping Harris will be back in a week to 10 days, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Harris hasn’t played yet this season because of a sprained right big toe and he will wear a carbon plate in his shoe for protection.