Did Orlando do enough to keep Dwight Howard in town?

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In the summer of 2012, Dwight Howard can be a free agent. (He has a player option for 2013.)

Orlando General Manager Otis Smith watched what happened in Cleveland last summer with keen interest — the superstar player in a smallish market who didn’t win the title he craved and bolted town because of it. Smith knows that a big man named Shaquille O’Neal did that exact same thing to Orlando a little more than a decade ago.

Smith heard Howard tell him over the summer he wanted Chris Paul or Carlos Boozer as a teammate because they needed to get in the arms race, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports. Those deals did not come together.

Then Smith watched the Magic stumble out of the gates… well, for them. The Magic are 16-10 but were clearly a step behind the Celtics and Heat (and basically even with a Bulls team that can’t stay healthy so far). Then Smith looked west and saw the struggles of the Denver front office, having to move Carmelo Anthony before the deadline so that they don’t end up like Cleveland.

Smith knew he had no choice — swing for the fences and win now. Make a big, bold trade. So he did. Hedo Turkoglu comes back. Gilbert Arenas gets a second chance. Jason Richardson comes to town. There’s some wild cards, some risks, but no doubt this is a bold move.

Will it be enough?

Only time will tell — but credit Smith for going big. Rather than waiting and hoping, rather than making smaller moves, he swung for the fences. It could fail and with it Smith could have endangered his job. That didn’t deter him, he went for it all.

It could lead to other problems — Jameer Nelson could be a free agent in the summer of 2012 too and may not like having Arenas around. But Smith is close to Arenas, plus he had no real choice.

Now we’ll watch and see if Smith connected and hit a home run. Enough of a hit to keep Howard in Orlando.

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.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.