Mavericks Big Man Sends Strong Warning to Nuggets Star Nikola Jokic

Chicago Bulls

Getty Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.

During his time with the Miami Heat in 2021, Dallas Mavericks veteran forward Markieff Morris had an altercation that cost him a good chunk of the season. Morris committed a hard foul on Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. Following the foul, the two-time NBA MVP rushed to center court to get retaliation on Morris, shoving him while his back was turned.

Morris suffered whiplash from the hit and missed 58 games that season as a result. During an appearance on “All the Smoke,” with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, the Mavericks big man vowed to get revenge on the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

“Took a sucker shot. They call it snuck. He snuck me. It was a sucker shot. He’s gonna get his though. Don’t trip,” Morris said.

“Sucker shot. That’s what we call it in my hood. … So, the shot was, it was a little hard. It was like a little whiplash. So, I mean, to be 350, catching me off guard, it really ain’t do s***. But you know, at the time, I was a little off. It was so more with the Miami Heat. They were just trying to protect me from, you know, against me from myself. But I was cleared to play like two weeks after that. They just held me out. So, it really wasn’t one of those things where I was injured or in pain or anything like that.”

Derek Lively Predicted to ‘Surprise’ Mavericks

The Mavericks have high aspirations for 2024 after missing the playoffs last season. They have made roster moves to ensure they will be contenders, locking up Kyrie Irving with a long-term deal and trading for Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams, who has quickly become one of the NBA’s elite one-on-one defenders.

But one area is a question mark for the Mavericks. That being the front court. They allowed new Los Angeles Lakers big man Christian Wood to walk in free agency and waived JaVale McGee before training camp. But while the center position may be a question mark for some, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report believes that number 12 overall pick Derek Lively will be a ‘surprise’ player for the Mavericks.

“More than a decade has passed since Dallas allowed Tyson Chandler to walk away from its championship roster, and it has basically had a Chandler-sized hole at the rim-running center spot ever since. Lively, this year’s No. 12 pick, could be the player who finally fills it.,” Buckley writes.

“Lively will start this season as a teenager (he’ll turn 20 in February) and wasn’t super productive at Duke (5.4 rebounds and 5.2 points in 20.6 minutes), so it might make sense to temper expectations. Then again, the Mavs really only need rim protection and spoon-fed finishing out of him, so even in his raw state, he might already be able to step into this niche (but critically important) role.”

Mavs Champ Has High Praise for Derek Lively

No matter how much the game evolves offensively over time, one thing will always remain true – defense and rebounding will be pivotal for a team’s success. Lively is perceived as a raw talent, but he is a seven-footer with athleticism off the charts. And a talented team can always find use for that kind of skillset, like Nic Claxton with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets.

They do not need Lively to be prime Dwight Howard, just a player who can rim run and produce stops on the defensive end. Former Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler had that same skillset, and it helped Dallas beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the NBA title in 2011. During a recent appearance on “All the Smoke,” Chandler likened Lively to himself.

“He reminds me of myself a lot,” Chandler said. “They definitely, definitely needed [him]. That’s always been the missing key for the Mavs.”

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