Four finalists left bidding for Golden State Warriors

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warriors_logo_classic.jpgThe possible sale of the Golden State Warriors is moving along quickly. Probably a lot more quickly than Don Nelson would like, as he is likely toast as coach once the sale is done.

Associated Press is reporting that there are four “finalists” bidders left in the running.

Larry Ellison, the founder and CEO of Oracle, is still in the running. And he may well win the bid. He is by far the richest man in the game — he is worth more than double new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He is the sixth richest man on the planet. He could literally write a check tomorrow for more than anyone else in the game. Plus he is well connected, having networked with David Stern on getting a team.

But in the end, it’s about the money on the table, and right now Ellison does not have the most, AP’s sources tell it.

“It’s my understanding that at least one and maybe more bids were higher,” one informed source said.

“I know Mr. Ellison and his people have done a lot of networking with the league, with the commissioner,” said the other knowledgeable source. “But in the end, it’s in the best interest of the commissioner and the league to get as much as they can for any franchise. Should that bid come from someone other than Ellison, and that person can get approved, then that person will get the team.”

Ellison is said to have bid $315 million for the franchise, which is what his people valued the franchise at. Current owner Chris Cohan wants $400 million or more.

The other known entity in the running is Mark Mastrov, who founded the 24-Hour Fitness chain. Ironically making him enough money to be fat and happy if he wanted to be. His ownership bid has partners, including one Magic Johnson (who would have to sell his five percent share in the Lakers to get, what one would assume, is a larger piece and role in the Bay Area).

However it ends, the Warriors will be in better hands. Which means Nelson will be on the way out.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.