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McGrady can picture Howard and D-Will in Dallas

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As they are the two guys left in the game of “franchise player musical chairs,” it is kind of logical Deron Williams and Dwight Howard could end up on the same team. That is certainly what New Jersey has banked its Brooklyn opening on.

But what about Dallas? Mark Cuban has all but sacrificed a shot at a repeat on the alter of cap space for next summer to go get a new franchise player.

Tracy McGrady told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo he can see not just one but two stars landing in Dallas. He can’t see Howard staying in Orlando.

“I’ve been watching Orlando play, and I think they let it go too far – to where they can’t compete for a championship,” McGrady said. “Dwight’s going to find a sweeter spot for him next year with him being a free agent, with D-Will being a free agent, and Dallas already having an established star there. … Yup, Dallas.”

And then he laughed and said, “You heard it from me first.”

If Howard doesn’t come to the Nets Williams is all but gone next summer and that means….

Hold on, Mavs fans. Reality intervenes here and pretty much blows this up.

Dallas will have cap space with Jason Terry and Jason Kidd coming off the books plus a buyout of Lamar Odom’s final year possible. But they will only have enough cap space for one max (or near max) deal, not two. The only way they can sign two players near the max is to amnesty Brandan Haywood and find someone to take on the final two years, $18 million of Shawn Marion’s contract. Good luck with that.

D-Will is a Dallas native, there is some logic there if he wants to go home again. Howard is the bigger (literally and figuratively) prize here, the better player in the long term to build around. But Orlando will eventually have to trade Howard (near the March 15 deadline) or risk losing him for nothing. And Dallas doesn’t really have the trade assets unless Marion and Terry sound like the kind of veterans Orlando is seeking.

I don’t want to bet against Cuban, but it’s hard to see him drawing a pair this summer.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.

Kevin Love drips snot all over his face, maybe into his mouth (video)

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Cameras zoomed in on Kevin Love at the wrong moment:

Need a sensory cleanser? Enjoy this fantastic outlet pass from Kevin Love to LeBron James:

Derrick Rose out for Knicks-Cavaliers with back injury, getting MRI

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Derrick Rose #25 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2016 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.

Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.

Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.

Brandon Jennings will start in Rose’s place.