A quick look at your top free agents for 2013 (as of now)

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After a summer of rebuilding and trying to put a team together, there are a few teams out there that are clearly looking at next summer as the chance to remake their lineup. Yes, we’re looking at you, Dallas. But you are not alone.

So, who are next summer’s big potential free agents? Here is the short list, the highlights, the guys everyone will be going after. IF you want a complete list, including guys with options for next year (player or team) and restricted free agents, Hoopsworld can help you out.

Chris Paul: The Clippers are doing everything in their power to keep him, to the point that CAA seems to run this team at points. They brought back Chauncey Billups for him, they have taken the young core and turned it into Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe with veterans like Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. The “grow with the youth” plan is out. The smart money is that Paul re-signs with the Clippers. But he could look around the West, see the Lakers and Thunder, and decide the Clippers are not where he can win. And remember, Donald Sterling still owns his team so the potential for him to screw it up exists.

Dwight Howard: He has to be on the list as an unrestricted FA, but there is little or no chance the Lakers do not re-sign him. He will want that. After his public relations disaster the past year, he doesn’t want to start the free agency public process up again.

James Harden: We have discussed this at length — the Thunder want to keep him but they are not getting a discount. Someone will give him a max offer and Oklahoma City will have to venture into the tax realm to keep him.

Andrew Bynum: He most likely re-signs with Philadelphia unless things go wrong this season. But he is unrestricted.

Manu Ginobili: He’s an unrestricted free agent, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving the Spurs. Or them letting him. Length of the deal will be the question here.

Josh Smith: The Hawks forward is unrestricted and if he is the No. 2 guy on a team that team could be very, very good. Danny Ferry could be shopping him as a rental at the trade deadline, he seems to be shopping everyone.

Stephen Curry: He will be a restricted free agent and how in demand he will be will depend on how his ankle holds up this season. But if it does teams could make a run at him and the Warriors would have an expensive choice whether to match or nor.

Paul Millsap: Underrated and unrestricted, he is going to get paid next summer by someone who wants boards and strong play inside.

Al Jefferson: He is unrestricted as well, Utah could lose their front line. Or, they could r-sign him and Millsap.

DeMar DeRozan: He will be a restricted free agent in Toronto, they can match. He’s athletic and can play, but how much would you pay for him?

David West: One of the best pick-and-pop bigs in the game, a solid strong player if you have a good point guard to work off him. The Pacers will try to keep him but he is unrestricted.

Kevin Martin: He’s unrestricted if you want a gunner who can get to the line.

Ty Lawson: Restricted free agent, Denver will want to keep him but he could get offers.

Darren Collison: He’s a restricted free agent but with Dallas in rebuild mode and going after guys like Chris Paul he might be had with a nice offer.

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak

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DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.

 

DeMarcus Cousins ejected after elbowing Russell Westbrook in head

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ history of flagrant fouls certainly didn’t help him here, but if anyone elbows a guy in the head, he’s going to get tossed.

And that’s what Cousins did here.

Midway through the third quarter in New Orleans, Cousins blocked a putback attempt by Russell Westbrook, then grabbed the rebound. Westbrook tried to reach in across Cousins’ body for the steal, and Cousins cleared out space with his elbow — right to Westbrook’s head. Cousins walked around saying “no, no, no” afterward, and he likely thinks the officials had it out for him here because he was just getting a guy off him, but we go back to the original point — elbow a guy in the head, get tossed. The league is cracking down on blows above the neck. Westbrook did not leave the game.

The Pelicans went on to come from 19 down to win the game 114-107, behind 36 points and 15 boards from Anthony Davis.

Damn, Paul George with the in-game bounce pass alley-oop to Jerami Grant

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The game has been close (as of midway through the third quarter), but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from putting on a show in New Orleans.

Paul George had the ball on a 2-on-0 fast break and decided to throw the playground bounce-pass alley-oop, which Jerami Grant got up and finished with authority. This could be one of the dunks of the year.

We’re going to see that highlight for a while.

Jusuf Nurkic’s agent says big man wants to stay in Portland this summer

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Last season, after his trade from frustrated backup big in Denver to new starter in Portland, there was a honeymoon — the Blazers went 14-6, their defense was better, and Nurkic was a big man setting big picks for quick guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

This season the honeymoon is over, things have been up and down, but far from time to say the marriage should end, as he is a free agent next summer. Nurkic is the only real starting center on the roster (even if coach Terry Stotts left him on the bench in the fourth quarter in favor of Ed Davis a few games back). Nurkic is averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and the Blazers’ defense is 1.5 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. However, his effort level has been up and down, and his shot is off, with a true shooting percentage of just 49.4, and he is shooting just 56.6 percent in the restricted area.

Nurkic wants to stay in Portland, his agent told Ben Golliver in a story at Sports Illustrated (that story is worth the read for the Nurkic origin story, which is amazing).

“I feel like the Blazers are very happy with Jusuf and Jusuf is very happy there,” Tesch, the agent, told The Crossover by telephone this week. “We had some [extension] talks but we decided to play it out this year and engage in talks again in July. He has already proven that he can help the team. There is a fit for Jusuf in Portland and he’s looking to stay there long-term.”

The two sides talked extension before the season, but Portland understandably wanted to make sure there was more to this relationship than just a honeymoon. It gave Nurkic a chance to drive up his asking price.

Portland and Nurkic likely will find a long-term deal next summer because it just makes sense for both sides. There are not a lot of teams with max free agent money next summer (4-6, I was told by an insider), or a lot of money to spend in general, and both DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus would be centers on the market who rank ahead of Nurkic. Portland will offer more than other free agent destinations, if not as much as Nurkic dreamed of, and they will find common ground.

But there is a lot of season to play out before then. The Blazers feel like a team that should be better than its record so far, and Nurkic is part of that untapped potential. If things change, that’s good for Nurkic — and the Blazers.