Jason Terry Tyson Chandler

Jason Terry lobbies for Tyson Chandler’s return to the Mavs

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Tyson Chandler shocked the known basketball world yesterday with an acknowledgement that he doesn’t expect to be back with the title-winning Dallas Mavericks next season. For a variety of reasons, the Mavs have reportedly underwhelmed Chandler with their offers thus far, and their starting center — and the key to their half-court defense — could walk in free agency as a result.

Yet the Mavs’ Jason Terry will be there through every step of the process, whispering in Chandler’s ear and insisting he return back to the team that made him a champion. From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

“You can’t see my fingers or toes, but they are crossed hoping Tyson’s coming back because he was a big part to what we have accomplished here,” Terry said. “And, we’ve laid a foundation. To go back and take a step backwards would be terrible. Not saying that we wouldn’t have a chance to win this year if Tyson does not come back, but definitely puts things up against us.”

…”I’ve spoken to him every day for the last two weeks and he wants to be here, he wants to be a Maverick next year,” Terry said. “Now, it’s on ownership to make it happen.”

…Terry said he’s been actively recruiting Chandler to stay in Dallas. The 7-foot-1 center who finished third in last season’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year is considered a top-three free agent with Denver Nuggets center Nene and New Orleans Hornets power forward David West.

“He’s big. Again, without Tyson on this team last year I just don’t know if we win a championship,” Terry said. “It’s just letting him know how much we want him to be a part of this team this year.”

Chandler’s on-court impact is both significant and highly visible; it was easy to see the difference he made with the Mavs last season, and GMs around the league are trying to bottle that same defensive impact for their teams. If Dallas were fully committed to the preserving their championship core, Chandler’s departure wouldn’t be a very realistic possibility.

But Chandler and the Mavs are caught in a tricky situation. There is a desire on both sides to keep Chandler in Dallas, and the two-year buffer preceding the new luxury tax penalties kick in would theoretically allow the Mavs to retain Chandler and sort out the tax implications later. Yet with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson looking to manage Dallas’ cap room for 2012 and drive the payroll back towards the tax line, Chandler could be left with an insufficient offer from his incumbent team.

Cuban and Nelson are doing their best to balance championship contention in the coming season and the construction (or at least attempted construction) of a competitive core for the coming decade. Chandler — and the massive contract he’s soon to sign, in Dallas or elsewhere — just so happens to be the key piece that will push the Mavericks down one path or the other.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.