Mark Cuban says he won’t trade Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki was a bit critical of Mark Cuban’s plan for the Mavericks recently, as Dallas has found itself struggling in the two seasons following the team’s title run in 2011.

Cuban chose not to bring back certain key pieces of the championship team, including defensive standout Tyson Chandler, while opting instead for financial flexibility in order to build a younger contender in the future.

So far, not so good. But that doesn’t mean Cuban is content with his one ring, and it doesn’t mean he’s done with the franchise player who finally brought him to the promised land.

From the Associated Press (via ESPNDallas):

Cuban said before Saturday night’s game against Memphis that he wanted to be clear with Nowitzki that he was committed “through thick and thin” to getting the team back in contention.

“I told Dirk we’re not going to trade him. He was happy. I think,” Cuban said, laughing. “I wanted to make it clear to him. I said, ‘We’re in this through thick and thin,’ and so there’s no way I would trade him, no matter what.”

“When Dirk has something on this mind, he’s never shy,” Cuban said. “If he’s going to tell you what he said in the media, you don’t think he’s going to dump on me? I mean, I’ve got texts from every single year and emails from every single year. Dirk wants to get it out of his system and then at the end of the email or text it’s like, `Don’t you worry. I’m a warrior and I’m going to lead these guys and we’re going to get it rolling.”

Nowitzki was the one who first mentioned the possibility that Dallas may look to trade him as part of a long-term plan to rebuild, but did so while throwing out several different options.

Cuban has a bond with Nowitzki that goes beyond basketball, and would rather lose with him than win while seeing him contribute to another team’s title chances in the twilight of his career.

Whenever Nowitzki does retire, he’ll do so as a member of the Mavericks. Until that day comes, Cuban will continue to explore different ways to return his team to the level of championship contender, and you can count on the fact that Dirk will remain a part of those plans.

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.

PBT Extra: What coaches are on hot seat? Alvin Gentry at front of list.

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This season, for the first time in 46 years, no NBA coach will be fired during the season (nobody is getting canned at this point).

However, once the off-season starts, there will be a few changes.

Alvin Gentry in New Orleans and Fred Hoiberg in Chicago are the names most mentioned, but there will be an unexpected firing somewhere around the league. Some GMs are on the hot seat also (Rob Hennigan in Orlando leads that parade).

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez each suspended one game for thrown punches

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It was obvious this was coming. Get in a shoving match “fight” in the NBA and you get a fine. However, actually throw punches and…

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez each have been suspended for one game by the NBA “for throwing punches at one another during an altercation,” the league announced. What that works out to is a $120,715 hit for Lopez and a $111,364 ding for Ibaka.

Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire earned a $15,000 fine shoving the Bulls Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

This all came out of what seemed a rather innocuous play. Ibaka and Lopez were battling for rebounding positioning, it went on for a second after the ball went through the hoop, Ibaka caught Lopez with a little chicken wing elbow in the back, Lopez spun, and, boy, that escalated quickly. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair more than the body.

Both men got technicals and were ejected.