Wednesday And-1 links: Cuban is still spending on something

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Welcome to our look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Mark Cuban is going to spend about $1.4 million on Mavericks championship rings. He’ll do it without blinking. He’d gladly do it again next year, but that appears not to be a concern.

When Dwyane Wade is out, LeBron James and Chris Bosh put up bigger numbers (as they did against the Spurs Tuesday). Don’t confuse that with the Heat being better.

Expect Gregg Popovich to sit Tim Duncan for a game soon. To rest him.

Boston Celtics ticket prices are suddenly much more affordable.

Rumor is the Knicks want to get J.R. Smith when the Chinese season ends. I bet they would. But they are over the salary cap and are very limited in what they can offer, so unless Smith isn’t concerned about the money it’s a tough sell.

Just a reminder, the post Carmelo Anthony trade Knicks are a below .500 team.

Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls lineup Tuesday and had 11 points.

Martell Webster is back in the Timberwolves’ practices. He may return to games soon.

Al Horford’s surgery was successful on Tuesday, but he is pretty much lost for the season to the Hawks.

Vince Carter will be out Wednesday against the Clippers with what is described as a sprained foot (suffered on that final play against the Lakers, a missed three to tie the game). Expect him to miss a couple more.

The NBA is going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with special events this year. Globalization, baby!

The Hornets hope to get Eric Gordon back on the court next week.

Memphis officials were “encouraged” by the results of Zach Randolph’s latest MRI. Take that with a grain of salt, but it’s a good sign.

Kevin Love says all the right things about his potential contract extension with the Timberwolves.

Jeff Foster will be out a couple weeks for the Pacers.

Lakers rookie Darius Morris has looked decent after being forced into action. He’s way more athletic than anyone else in their backcourt not named Kobe.

The Nets waived Dennis Horner to clear a roster spot for Larry Owens.

The Knicks have sent center Jerome Jordan and guard Jeremy Lin to the Erie BayHawks of the D-League.

The Nets have sent Jordan Williams to the Springfield Armor of the D-League.

The latest State of Nate video, chronicling the life of Nate Robinson.

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24