By MIKE DOUGHERTY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: July 15, 2004)
LONG BEACH, Calif. Luis Flores hasn't escaped notice, but there's a strong possibility his NBA aspirations will not be fulfilled this season.
Getting off the bench is half the battle at the Los Angeles Pro Summer League, and the Dallas Mavericks are not lacking for point guards. He's already playing behind Devin Harris and Jon Stefansson and barely got a chance to warm up on Tuesday night against the Knicks.
"It's not hard to stay patient because that comes with the territory," said Flores, who did not score in 10 minutes. "I'm coming in from Manhattan College and I'm behind Devin Harris, a top-five pick in the draft. I understand. At the same time, I want to be out there playing."
There have been a few opportunities, and Flores has displayed qualities that might eventually result in a roster spot.
"He's a scoring point guard, there's no question about that, and those guys have had success in our system before," Mavericks president of basketball operations Donn Nelson said. "He's got his work cut out for him because it's a situation where we're looking at a lot of guys, whether they're on the roster now or other potential veterans out there. When you lose a Steve Nash, it's tough for any rookie to go in there, much less a second-round pick."
It sounds like Flores might be headed for Europe or the National Basketball Development League, but he's not thinking ahead.
"Right now, I'm focused on doing a good job here, and everything else will come after," he said.
After the competition here is complete, Dallas is heading for the Rocky Mountain Revue to see what else its young players can do. Flores is playing a little shooting guard, but he's also being asked to run the show. It's a difficult adjustment that's going to require plenty of court time.
"You're trying to find a spot and you have to play hard in every practice and every game," he said. "It definitely is different from a normal team setting. ... In college there were a lot of times where I had to allow the game to come to me. It's the same thing here. If there's a situation, I'll attack it. If not, I'll run the play.
"Everything is going as planned. Hopefully, that's how it will finish."
Since the Mavericks like what they've seen thus far in Flores, it's quite possible they'll retain his rights and set him up overseas. A little experience would improve his standing.
"I think he's got a bright future," Nelson said. "My feeling is, it would be good for him to get some mileage at the point and really run his own team so he's got a chance to grow into that position. But he possesses some things right now that could make him successful. He's got a great body, he gets to the rim, he finishes in traffic. But, look, point guard in the NBA is the toughest position, period. He's fighting the good fight at this point."
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