Kidd: Mavs' center spot 'up for grabs,' rookie Lively to get 1st look
Jason Kidd is giving Dereck Lively a shot.
The Dallas Mavericks head coach will start the rookie center alongside Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the recently signed Grant Williams for the team's first preseason games in Abu Dhabi in October.
"It's up for grabs," Kidd told NBA reporter Marc Stein on 97.1 The Freak when asked about the starting center position. "I will start Lively with the big group and see how that goes."
Alongside Lively, Kidd said fellow rookie Olivier-Maxence Prosper will most likely get a shot in the starting lineup during the preseason.
"I can say that we'll probably start both rookies here early in camp and probably in one, or if not both games, in Abu Dhabi, just to see how they handle the situation," he said.
Australian wing Josh Green is another player in consideration to start with Doncic, Irving, and Williams, Kidd added.
The Mavericks acquired both rookies in draft night trades, getting Lively in a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Prosper in a move with the Sacramento Kings that also included Richaun Holmes, another candidate for the starting center position. Dallas also retained big man Dwight Powell in free agency.
Both rookies have the chance to help shore up the team's defense; the Mavericks ranked 25th in defensive rating and 16th in opponent points per game last season. Lively made the ACC All-Defensive team in his lone season with Duke, averaging 2.3 blocks. Prosper also showed prowess as a versatile defender while at Marquette.
Dallas traded for big man Christian Wood last offseason in an attempt to shore up the center spot. The 27-year-old mainly came off the bench, averaging 16.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks. He remained unsigned until September when the Los Angeles Lakers inked him to a two-year deal.
The Mavericks swung for the fences last season by acquiring the former All-Star Irving in February. The Doncic-Irving pairing went 5-11 together, and Dallas missed the postseason after sitting the Slovenian star during a pivotal contest in April - allowing the franchise to pick in the lottery and acquire Lively.
"They've (Lively and Prosper) done everything we've asked them to do. Each week, they get better. So we're excited. I look for those rookies to play a lot this season. They're going to be a part of our fabric. There could be a chance of one of them starting (in the regular season). So, we'll see," Kidd said.