The Dallas Mavericks are confident they are inching closer to the eventual signing of veteran center Jermaine O’Neal, according to team sources. Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks — who continue to closely monitor the 36-year-old center’s progress as O’Neal works out in preparation for a comeback — hope to sign him by the All-Star break.
December 1, 2015 | 7:23 am EST Update
As you are going forward with the franchise, you had a lot of losing and you don’t take losing easily. Was there a period of time where you thought, “Maybe this isn’t a good fit that isn’t going to work out”? Now, of course, you are in a situation where you have a long-term contract and there are a couple of cornerstone talents on the roster, which are so important in the NBA. Can you describe that evolution? Ricky Rubio: No, I never thought about leaving this franchise, for a lot of reasons. One of them is because they trusted me from the beginning. And I trust them. My first year I think we would have made the playoffs if I wouldn’t get hurt, but like I said, you can’t blame it on what happened — we didn’t make the playoffs. But I feel like I really didn’t have the opportunity to take this team to the playoffs. My first year we almost did it, my second year I was hurt. My third year we won 40 games, which is a pretty good amount, and then last year I got hurt again.
Ricky Rubio: So I felt like I never really had the opportunity to take this team to another level. And I think this is the year where we have great pieces in place and we are trying to win as many games as we can, to, if not this year, next year to be in the playoffs.
Knicks president Phil Jackson wasn’t that much a basketball genius that if Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis were both on the draft board last June, he would’ve gone Latvian. According to an NBA source, as much as Jackson’s top adviser, Clarence Gaines Jr., wanted Jackson to take Porzingis even if the Knicks had the No. 1 pick, that wasn’t the way the Zen Master would have gone if it was a choice between the two big men. Okafor was Jackson’s man. “He had to draft Okafor — too much a sure thing,’’ the source said.
You can make the argument Porzingis is having the better rookie season and stands to be a more complete player than Okafor, who turns 20 on Dec. 15. “He’s been pretty much as advertised, no surprises,’’ one NBA scout told The Post. “The surprise is off the court.’’