Baseline to baseline recaps: Dallas has some issues

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What you missed while out celebrating Boxing Day….

Kings 100, Lakers 91: We covered this one already in our game of the night.

Nuggets 115, Mavericks 93: Mavericks forward Sean Williams threw up when subbed out in the fourth quarter of this game, which got a lot of laughs on the Mavs bench but pretty well summed up the Dallas performance. Ty Lawson dominated Jason Kidd and that was the spark… but the bigger issue was Dallas had no spark whatsoever for the second straight night. Denver controlled this game from the start. Not time to panic yet in Dallas, but it is time to be concerned.

Spurs 95, Grizzlies 83: This is the 11th straight season the Grizzlies have lost their opening game. Neither team looked sharp in this one, nothing like the playoff series last season, but the 24 turnovers by Memphis sealed it.

Nets 90, Wizards 84: The craziest game of the night by far. The Wizards led this 35-15 in the second quarter and were in complete control, until Johan Petro started to lead a comeback that had the Nets in the lead in the third quarter. A 21-5 Nets run in the fourth sealed it. This was a sloppy game where nobody shot well, although Kris Humphries was efficient on his way to 21 points and 16 rebounds (the Nets controlled the glass and had 19 offensive rebounds, which was key). John Wall seemed to spend the game trying to make the more difficult, spectacular pass when a simple one would have led to a good look shot.

Pacers 91, Pistons 79: Indiana had a balanced attack and three double-doubles — Roy Hibbert (16 points14 rebounds), David West (11 and 12) and Tyler Hansbrough (15 and 13). Indiana had control of this one from the start.

Magic 104, Rockets 95: If you have big man who cam match up with Dwight Howard — like the Thunder did on Christmas in Kendrick Perkins — you can slow the Magic down. Jordan Hill and Samuel Dalmbert could not do that for the Rockets, Howard had 21 efficient points and things opened up for Orlando. Hedo Turkoglu had 23 points on just 14 shots and it was bombs away for J.J. Redick with 20.

Bobcats 96, Bucks 95: Kemba Walker has gotten his Rookie of the Year bid off to a fast start, hitting two late free throws to win this game. Walker finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Jennings had 22 for the Bucks but their offense let them down again (just like last season). Charlotte won this with a dominant third quarter (30-14) where they dominated the glass. Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin sprained his ankle and is listed as day-to-day.

Raptors 104, Cavaliers 96: Not a great game if you enjoy defense, but Toronto brought more balance with seven players scoring in double digits. The Raptors went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter and never gave the lead back.

Trail Blazers 107, Sixers 103: Portland went small in the second half and the 76ers could not make them pay for it. Portland grabbed the lead in the first quarter and despite runs by Philly never gave it back behind 25 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 21 from Gerald Wallace. People who sleep on how good the Sixers are will regret it.

Thunder 104, Timberwolves 100: Young legs will be key for the Thunder this season. Up-tempo game (100 possessions) on the second night of a back-to-back but Oklahoma City gets the win. Kevin Durant had 33, Russell Westbrook 28 for OKC. Michael Beasley led the Wolves with 24 but needed 27 shots to do it. He is a black hole. One key — the Thunder got to the free throw line 31 times and made 29; the Wolves got there 26 times and made just 19.

And by the way, Ricky Rubio looked really good in limited run. More on that later.

Hornets 85, Suns 84: Newly acquired Eric Gordon got the call with the game on the line, squared up Jared Dudley and drained the 20 footer for the win with 4.2 seconds on the clock. The Hornets were able to keep the tempo of the game in check, which was key. Gordon had 20 for Charlotte, Robin Lopez led the Suns with 21. Steve Nash had 14 points and 12 dimes.

Warriors 99, Bulls 91: Stephen Curry can be so, so good — he had 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, outplaying Derrick Rose. But the scary part comes with his fragility — he had to leave the game after aggravating his ankle injury. This was really a win for the Warriors bench — the game was 16-16 in the first when subs started coming in and Golden State went on a 30-11 run and made that lead stand up against a Bulls team on a back-to-back. Chicago’s 20 turnovers helped that cause. Monta Ellis had 26 and David Lee 22 in the win. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 22.

Report: Mikhail Prokhorov ‘warmed’ to selling controlling stake of Nets

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Mikhail Prokhorov bought 80% of the Nets in 2010. A couple years ago, he tried to sell his stake, but decided to keep it. Then, he bought 100% of the franchise and its arena. After last season, he said he was selling 49% of the team.

Now?

Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, while focused on selling a minority stake in the franchise, has warmed recently to the possibility of offering a controlling slice of the team, sources close to the situation said.

The change of heart comes after the initial reaction to the minority stake sale was weak — and with interest in the Houston Rockets sale heating up, one source said.

The Rockets’ sale could shake out potential Nets buyers, and Prokhorov selling a controlling stake could also help. It’d cost more money than the 49% he’s offering now, but people with the money to buy an NBA team tend to value control.

This might be a good time to sell for Prokhorov, who lost a ton of money as the team paid major luxury tax for an all-in championship pursuit that flopped spectacularly. The NBA’s popularity is rising, and the league is reaping huge revenue from its national-TV contracts.

However, he shouldn’t assume the Rockets’ sale price will predict the Nets’. Buyers might prefer a good team with James Harden and Chris Paul to a bad one short on young talent after years of mismanagement. At least Brooklyn’s payroll is now tolerably low.

The big loser here: Leslie Alexander, who’s trying to sell the Rockets. The supply of NBA teams now available might have just doubled, and unless there’s no overlap in demand for those franchises, that can only drive down Alexander’s eventual sale price.

Report: Clippers paid $3.2 million – second-most ever – for draft pick (Jawun Evans)

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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The Warriors set a record by paying $3.5 million for a draft pick, buying the Bulls’ No. 38 pick and using it on Jordan Bell this year.

That eclipsed the $3 million spent by each the Thunder in 2010 (to the Hawks for the No. 31 pick, Tibor Pleiss) and Nets in 2016 (to move up 13 spots for Isaiah Whitehead).

So did the Clippers’ purchase of the No. 39 pick (Jawun Evans) from the 76ers this year.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

The Clippers also paid the Bucks $2 million for the No. 48 pick (Sindarius Thornwell).

I rated Evans a low first-rounder due to his speed and drive-and-kick game, so getting him in the second round is good value. I’m not as keen on Thornwell, who’s already 22 and built so much of his success at South Carolina on being more physical than younger opponents.

But the more swings the Clippers take on young players, the more likely they are to find long-term contributors. More power to owner Steve Ballmer for greenlighting this expenditure.

Importantly, as players acquired through the draft, Evans and Thornwell will count for the luxury tax at their actual salaries. Players signed otherwise, even if their actual salaries are lower, count at at least the two-years-experience minimum.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can spend $5.1 million in cash this season. That amount will increase (or decrease) in proportion with the salary cap in coming years. So, expect the previous record for draft-pick purchase price – $3 million – to fall again and again.

There’s just more leeway now for the NBA’s haves to separate themselves from the have-nots.

Jeannie Buss says she didn’t understand why Lakers signed Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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Last summer, the Lakers signed Luol Deng (four years, $72 million) and Timofey Mozgov (four years, $64 million) to contracts that immediately looked like liabilities.

At worst, Deng and Mozgov would help the Lakers win just enough to lose their top-three protected 2017 first-round pick – which would have triggered also sending out an unprotected 2019 first-rounder – then settle in as huge overpays. At best, Deng and Mozgov would provide a little veteran leadership while the team still loses enough to keep its pick… then settle in as huge overpays.

The Lakers got the best-case scenario, which was still pretty awful.

They had to attach D'Angelo Russell just to dump Mozgov’s deal on the Nets. Even if he no longer fit long-term with Lonzo Ball, Russell could’ve fit another asset if he weren’t necessary as a sweetener in a Mozgov trade. Deng remains on the books as impediment to adding free agents (like Paul George and LeBron James) next summer.

Who’s to blame?

Jeanie Buss was the Lakers’ president and owner. Jim Buss, another owner, ran the front office with Mitch Kupchak.

Bill Oram of The Orange County Register:

Within the walls of the Lakers headquarters, Jeanie’s grand corner office had begun to feel like a cell. She could not make sense of the strategy employed by her brother and Kupchak. They had cycled through four coaches in five seasons and under their watch the Lakers won a combined 63 games in three full seasons. Last summer, they spent $136 million of precious cap space on veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, who made little sense for the direction of the team.

“I just didn’t understand what the thought process was,” she said, “whether our philosophies were so far apart that I couldn’t recognize what they were doing, or they couldn’t explain it well.”

No. Nope, nope, nope. I don’t want to hear it.

Jeanie empowered Jim and his silly timeline, which made it inevitable he place self-preservation over the Lakers’ best long-term interests. That’s why he looked for a quick fix with Mozgov and Deng, who’s still hanging over the Lakers’ plans.

She deserves scrutiny for allowing such a toxic environment that yielded predictably bad results (even if family ties clouded her judgment).

That said, she also deserves credit for learning from her mistake. She fired Jim and Kupchak – admittedly too late, but she still did it – and hired Magic Johnson. There’s no guarantee Johnson will direct the Lakers back to prominence, but he clearly has a better working relationship with Jeanie than Jim did and, so far (in a small sample), looks more competent in the job.

Reports: Heat pessimistic about/uninterested in trading for Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving, in requesting a trade from the Cavaliers, reportedly listed the Heat among his preferred destinations. Though Irving – without a no-trade clause and locked up for two more years – holds only minimal sway, teams would logically offer more for him if they believe he’d re-sign.

Will Miami trade for Irving?

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Tim Reynolds, the reputable Associated Press Heat and NBA writer, said on Steve Shapiro’s Sports Xtra on WSVN-7 that he does not believe Miami is interested in acquiring Irving.

Like the Kings, though to a far lesser extent, the Heat might not be interested because they know they stand no little of landing Irving.

Goran Dragic would almost certainly have to go to Cleveland in a deal, supplanted by Irving in Miami. Dragic would upgrade the Cavs at point guard over Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon, but at 31, Dragic would also significantly shorten Cleveland’s window.

The Heat would have to send much more. It’s just not clear what.

The Cavaliers, with Tristan Thompson, might not have much interest in centers Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo. Justise Winslow‘s weak 3-point shooting makes him a tough fit with LeBron James, and Winslow’s shoulder injury last season damages his stock anywhere. Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson are helpful contributors, but Johnson’s salary skyrockets north of $19 million each of the following two seasons, and Richardson will hit free agency (and get a raise) after this season. James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk – who all signed this summer – can’t be traded until Dec. 15. (I’m not sure which prospect is funnier, Waiters returning to Cleveland or playing with Irving in Miami.) The Heat also owe the Suns two future first-round picks – one top-seven protected in 2018 and unprotected in 2019, the other unprotected in 2021.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, for Miami to assemble a suitable trade package given those constraints.

At least the Heat would keep open the possibility of LeBron returning if they don’t trade for Irving.