Mavericks apparently had a “players on expiring contracts” issue last year

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At the end of the piece we brought you yesterday from the Dallas Morning Newsabout how Dirk Nowitzki’s feeling good, feeling great, ready, ready to celebrate, there was an interesting little stick at the end.

Nowitzki also made it clear that he is in no mood this season to hear about players who are on the last year of their contract or feel like they are headed for another destination in the off-season. That mentality crept into the minds of some players last season.

“We are all professionals, and I expect everyone to play at a high level and give it their best no matter what their contract situation is,” Nowitzki said. “It is an honor to represent the Mavericks and that is how we will approach it.”

via Dirk Nowitzki excited about Mavericks’ overhaul, says knee is good to go | Dallas Mavericks Blog.

So that’s a not-so-subtle shot at former teammates who were running up the whine tab last year trying to get contracts they didn’t end up getting. Jason Terry’s a reasonable suspect here, as he talked quite a bit about where he might go in the offseason, including Miami, something that had to tweak Mark Cuban if he read it. But that would be pretty shocking considering how much Terry was valued in the locker room. Jason Kidd also spoke on record about the situation, but never made any sort of disruptive claims. Whoever was upset last year at least kept it in house.

But you can’t really blame them. The Mavericks had several guys looking for their last payday of their careers. These things do take a toll, especially after watching Cuban let Tyson Chandler and Jose Juan Barea walk just months before.

Well at least it won’t be a problem for a whi… oh, wait. Five players have expiring contracts this season and have eleven players whose contracts expire between now and July 1 of 2014. It’s part of the business. Dirk can hope things will be different and with a different crew, it might be. But as long as Cuban values flexibility (as well he should) this is going to be a side-effect.

 

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.