Dirk admits his drive suffered after winning a title, still wishes he’d gotten to party more

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What do you do after you’ve done the best you can? Where do you go after you reach the apex? You spend 18 years of your life working towards something, and then, finally, after so many failures and disappointments, you walk away with proof of success. What do you do after that?

For Dirk Nowitzki, who has long been one of the most focused, dedicated players in the league, returning to the floor was hard. He’d endured so much, worked so hard to win a championship. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Nowitzki admitted that after winning the Finals last summer, he didn’t have the same kind of enduring drive he’s had for so much of his career.

“I know one thing changed, and that was my motivation was gone for a little bit,” Nowitzki went on. “And I really had to fight to get it back and get the fun back.”

via Mavericks NBA championship keeps Dirk Nowitzki motivated – Ian Thomsen – SI.com.

And you can tell. Nowitzki entered the NBA season out of shape for the first time, ever, and had to take a four-game break to rest his knee and go through his usual conditioning issues. To put it short, Nowitzki was not done celebrating. Even after a longer layoff than normal with the lockout, there wasn’t enough time for him after winning the championship to validate his career.

Part of that is because almost immediately, he was forced to jump into the European Championships to try and qualify for the Olympics with the German national team. The team flamed out, and Nowitzki told SI that bit too much into his ability to enjoy the title.

“Now I reached both goals, and it was just hard in the beginning,” he said. “The Euros came too quick, right after the [NBA] championship. I only had, like, a month off. I needed more time to get away and enjoy the championship. If I would have had a couple months off to enjoy it, party, get everything out of the way, then start slowly back up — that would have been the way to go. But I decided to play, to try my best, and we didnt qualify, unfortunately.”

via Mavericks NBA championship keeps Dirk Nowitzki motivated – Ian Thomsen – SI.com.

Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could wind up seeing your field goal percentage drop by six points, apparently.

Nowitzki came into camp out of shape and still wishes he’d gotten to party more. No wonder Cuban wants to get his guys out of the international competitions.

You can’t blame Dirk. You work so hard, you want to enjoy it. But that’s not how his career works. You can tell the lift is gone from Nowitzki, and it’ll be interesting to see if he  is able to regain it. Nowtizki in his usual reasonable, humble way, admits in the interview that winning another title will be difficult and the tone reflects a kind of resignation. He knows how long it took him to make his run, and how special that was, how different this team is. Hard to fault a guy for wanting to take a minute to just savor a life-long accomplishment.

(via IAmAGM.com)

Report: Timberwolves active in trying to land Paul George or Jimmy Butler

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Minnesota is one of the NBA’s best positioned up-and-coming teams. They have a franchise cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns, a quality No. 2 in Andrew Wiggins, maybe like Zach LaVine can blossom into an All-Star, and players such as Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica could be part of the picture. Maybe Ricky Rubio, too, although he’s further along his career arc. A lot of people look at this team and think around 2020, when the Warriors fade (or break apart), the Timberwolves can step up to elite.

Tom Thibodeau is apparently not willing to be that patient — he’s looking to get in the Paul George/Jimmy Butler talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Thibodeau helped develop Butler in Chicago and they have a great relationship, he certainly makes the Timberwolves better next season. Same with George, although he’s a rental who almost certainly bolts after the coming season

My question to the Timberwolves: Why?

What was wrong with the building trajectory they are on? I get it, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, a ton of money was just sunk into upgrades at the Target Center, and the owner is not getting younger. Those are all non-basketball reasons to screw up what the basketball side is doing right. It’s the mistake of poor franchises to let that happen.

Could the Timberwolves use a point guard of the future, more depth on the wings and better defenders all around? You bet. But they don’t need to rush the development program either. If Minnesota can land Butler only giving up Rubio and a protected future first or something, sure, but the Bulls continue to ask a very high price for a deal.

Outside of personal feelings, why would the Timberwolves do that?

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge unhappy playing for Spurs

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The Spurs trading LaMarcus Aldridge – they’re reportedly shopping him – could open enough cap space to sign Chris Paul.

But that isn’t the only reason San Antonio is trying to move Aldridge.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

According to a person with knowledge of the Spurs forward’s situation, it’s the 31-year-old’s unhappiness in San Antonio that is the driving force behind the Spurs’ trade talks on Thursday. The five-time All-Star, according to the person, is hopeful that San Antonio can find a better fit for his talents.

Rumors about the Spurs trading Aldridge emerged early in the season, as he was reportedly unhappy about Kawhi Leonard getting the spotlight. When Aldridge signed with San Antonio, it seemed Leonard could do the heavy lifting as the team’s best player and Aldridge could get outsized credit as the leading scorer. But Leonard has emerged as the go-to offensive player, pushing Aldridge into a supporting role both in reality and reputation. Gregg Popovich calling out Aldridge publicly during the playoffs surely didn’t improve relations.

Aldridge turns 32 this summer and will likely become a free agent after next season. Wanting to leave the Spurs – held up as the NBA’s best culture – will raise additional red flags.

San Antonio might not get as much as it hopes in a trade for Aldridge. If Chris Paul is coming, the Spurs wouldn’t need as much for Aldridge. But they won’t know about Paul until July.

San Antonio also values building a roster of players who’ve, as Popovich puts it, “gotten over themselves.” If that’s not Aldridge, the Spurs might not want to keep him around.

There are numerous factors to weigh and incomplete information, but this is the twisting road San Antonio is navigating.

Here’s Knicks’ reported asking price from Celtics in Kristaps Porzingis trade

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Knicks president Phil Jackson’s asking price for Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly “massive.”

Just what does that mean?

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

According to a Knicks source, Jackson is asking for the third overall pick in Thursday’s draft as well as next year’s Brooklyn pick along with Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder. This version of the deal would not include Boston taking on Joakim Noah‘s contract.

All the Knicks fans who threatened to relinquish their fandom if the team traded Porzingis – most would love this deal.

Would the Celtics? I doubt it.

The question is whether there’s a middle ground between what New York wants and what Boston would do. It’s possible Jackson won’t budge and is just shopping Porzingis on the off chance someone accepts outlandish requests like these and to teach Porzingis a lesson for skipping his exit meeting.

Report: First-round draft prospect says Phil Jackson fell asleep during his workout

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Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Jay Williams of ESPN:

A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”

Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.

Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.