Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

Forbes: Knicks most valuable franchise, Kobe biggest earner

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The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are each worth more than $1 billion dollars.

That is billion with a “B.”

They are the first NBA franchises to pass that mark, reports Forbes Magazine in its latest valuation of NBA franchises. The Knicks are worth $1.1 billion, the Lakers $1 billion even. The average NBA franchise is worth $509 million, up 30 percent from the year before, the magazine estimates.

Oh, and by the way, Kobe Bryant makes a lot of money — $59.8 million in salary and endorsements this year. The magazine also has released its list of highest earning players.

With the franchises, the Knicks move back into the top spot somewhat due to success on the court but mostly because of the $980 million renovation to Madison Square Garden. The renovation paved the way for more of the expensive, luxury seating and perks that drive team revenue. Because of that the value of the franchise jumped 41 percent in one year, according to Forbes.

By moving to Brooklyn and the new Barclays Center, the Nets value jumped 48 percent to $530 million. The lowest valued team? The Milwaukee Bucks at a “measly” $312 million.

As for players earnings, it’s Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and then everyone else.

Kobe tops the list with LeBron James second at $57.6 million. LeBron has more endorsement money coming in but his actual NBA salary is just more than $10 million less than Kobe’s $27.8 million.

Derrick Rose — he of the large Adidas contract — is third on the list at $32.4 million.

The rest of the top 10 is:

4. Dwyane Wade
5. Kevin Durant
6. Carmelo Anthony
7. Amar’e Stoudemire
8. Dwight Howard
9. Chris Paul
10. Pau Gasol

What each of those guys does is put butts in seats (even Gasol, although to a much lesser extent). Yes, they can score a lot (save maybe Stoudemire) but pay for an NBA player at the max is not just about on-court production as what he means for the bottom line of the franchise. While Kobe may be getting paid $27 million he’s worth probably three times that to the Lakers in terms of ticket sales, sponsorships and more.

DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91

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With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.

The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.

It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.

Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors

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Golden State is in Philadelphia, and so are the celebrities.

Kevin Heart — a Philly native — was on hand and he got to ring the bell pregame (a Sixers tradition).

Having him on hand seems to help as the Sixers were hanging around through the middle of the third quarter with a team looking for its 50th win.

Bucks’ Michael Beasley has to be helped to locker room after apparently hyperextending knee

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04:  Michael Beasley #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks in action against Mindaugas Kuzminskas #91 of the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 4, 2017 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Let’s just hope this is nothing too serious.

Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.

The team is calling it a sprain for now.

Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.

Kevin Durant on return to Washington D.C. that never was: “I really just didn’t want to play at home”

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on December 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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A year or two ago, there was a palpable buzz among Wizards fans — they had a shot to get Kevin Durant. LeBron James had just returned like a prodigal son to Cleveland, and there seemed to be a sense from fans that other stars wanted to go home to play. The Wizards needed another star, they had the cap space, so some saw a path for Durant to return to his native D.C.

Except, a lot of players don’t want to go home again. Not to play.

Durant was one of them, as he confirmed to the Washington Post.

“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.

“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”

Not every Wizards fan will see it this way, but that’s an entirely reasonable thought process. Sometimes in life, we need a change of direction, and for Durant this would have been a step back into the past. The one he made to go to Golden State has worked out pretty well for him so far.

KD is not alone in this. Players see a lot of added stress returning home, both in terms of expectations and the demands of family and friends (asking for tickets, etc.), and some are just not into the idea of a return. The idea that Blake Griffin wants to return to Oklahoma and play for the Thunder may not fit with who he is right now. Russell Westbrook seems to like it in OKC and isn’t itching to get back to Los Angeles (but Paul George might be). Each player is a different case — how they view their hometown, whether they would want to play for the team there  — and each will make his decision.

Durant made his and is comfortable with it.