Larkin wants to play with Howard _ in Dallas
DALLAS (AP) — Shane Larkin wants to lead the public relations campaign to bring free agent center Dwight Howard to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Miami point guard said Monday he hasn’t quite figured out the sales pitch. He just knows this: He’d love to run the pick and roll with one of his favorite players growing up in Orlando as the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.
There’s one tricky part. The Mavericks liked Larkin enough at No. 18 in the draft to quit trading down in their quest to clear salary cap space for a run at Howard. But they might have to deal Larkin to lure Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Mavericks were expected to meet with Howard on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I told the coaches, I told everybody — I want to be a Dallas Maverick,” said Larkin, who was drafted by Atlanta and ended up in Dallas as part of a deal involving the 16th pick, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira. “But at the same time, I know the NBA’s a business. At the end of the day, there’s no bad feelings if something happens.”
Right now, it’s safe to assume Larkin will get his wish because the Mavericks came out of the draft without another point guard on the roster. They sent their only one — 2012 first-rounder Jared Cunningham — to the Hawks in the draft-night deal.
Dallas is still in the market for a starting point guard because president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson says the Mavericks see Larkin as a backup for his rookie season. Still, Larkin concedes nothing at this point.
“Whether it’s veterans or young guys like me, we’re all going to be going after the same position because it’s pretty much wide open right now,” Larkin said. “If they happen to bring in a veteran that outplays me and he’s just that much better than me that he’s getting more minutes, hopefully he can mentor me and show me the ropes and just help me become a better player.”
Larkin brings quite a pedigree. He grew up around professional sports with a dad who was a 12-time All-Star and World Series champion with Cincinnati, where Barry Larkin spent his entire 19-year career.
As a sophomore, the younger Larkin helped lead Miami to its first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and a trip to the round of 16. He averaged 14.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, doubling the output from his freshman season.
“He has phenomenal bloodlines,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s one of the best guys we’ve seen coming out of college shooting off the dribble. It’s a bit of a lost art.”
The 5-foot-11 Larkin has drawn comparisons to diminutive former Dallas guard J.J. Barea, who was a backup for the Mavericks, but became a starter for the last three games of the NBA Finals in 2011 — three straight Dallas wins that clinched the title over Miami.
Barea was one of several key players who didn’t return after the championship season and ended up in Minnesota. The Mavericks have been looking for an effective pick-and-roll offense ever since.
“Shane is one of the best in college basketball at doing that,” Carlisle said. “What we’ve seen is that he does a good job of reading situations, and he’s been a winner. It makes a lot of sense for us.”
For now, Larkin’s goals are a lot simpler than pairing with Dirk Nowitzki — and maybe even Howard — as a pick-and-roll tandem that can get the Mavericks back in the playoffs after a 12-year postseason streak ended just two years removed from Dallas winning it all.
“I’ve just got to get playing time,” he said. “I’ve got to go in there in training camp, summer league, at the beginning of the season, and prove my worth.”
He hopes he’s proving it to the Mavericks — and Howard.
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler