Mavericks guard Collison drives past Thunder guard Westbrook in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City

Dallas Mavericks point guard Darren Collison wants to stick around long term

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Darren Collison has not had an easy season. He was benched for Derek Fisher earlier in the year, despite the fact Fisher couldn’t actually move on the court. He’s been yanked off the court for guys like Mike James, and he’s survived the Roddy Beaubois experience.

At no point has it looked like the Mavericks were willing to commit to Collison as their starting point guard right now, let alone any point in the future.

But Collison, to his credit, is not easily deterred. Many other players would have mailed it in on a losing team, but Collison is still playing hard and wants to be a part of the Mavericks’ future:

“I hope so,” Collison said when asked if he wanted to stick around long term. “I love Dallas. I love the fans. The fans have been good to me, and the organization has been real good to me. Coach has worked with me and helped me be a better player every day. I haven’t had that in a long time.”

Via Eddie Sefko | Dallas Morning News

Collison will be a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning the Mavericks can match any offer made to him in free agency so long as they issue a qualifying offer and don’t renounce their rights to him. It’s hard to tell what direction Dallas will take with Collison, mainly because they’re in such a weird spot as a franchise. The best players for Dallas are all on their last legs (Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Elton Brand) and the young players aren’t good enough to keep the team competitive on their own. There’s no real future piece to build a franchise on, unless you’re much higher on O.J. Mayo than I am.

Although Collison is the hard working, resilient type of guy you want around, he’s still an average point guard at best. You simply don’t invest money and playing time into average players if you want to be anything other than mediocre. Collison is still young at 25 years old, and he is shooting the ball at the best percentages of his career, but he struggles to get guys the ball in good spots and he has almost no in between game. Collison would be a great backup point guard, but Dallas really can’t put the cart before the horse.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.

Russell Westbrook on Zaza Pachulia: ‘I’m going to get his ass back’

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Russell Westbrook has spent a lot of time bagging on Kevin Durant since Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors.

In a move that can’t help but be seen as a response, Golden State center Zaza Pachulia laid out and stood over Westbrook last night.

Of course, the Oklahoma City guard didn’t see that as rightful comeuppance.

Westbrook:

I don’t know. He me kind of hard. But it’s alright. I’m going to get his ass back. Straight up.

I didn’t see that [Pachulia standing over him] until just now, but I don’t play that game. I’m going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don’t know when it’s going to be, but I don’t play that game.

Pachulia:

I can’t worry about those kind of comments. I’m part of the amazing team, amazing group. We have a great goal of winning a championship. So, I’m all in with my energy. One hundred percent, I’m all in. So we’re thinking about this team and staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and we’re ending up playing for the championship.

That’s what I’m thinking about. I’m not thinking about those kind of comments.

That team is not there. So, they might be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. OK, you can get me back. But again, it’s my 14th year. We all know what my game is, to play hard and not dirty, but to play hard. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn’t dirty at all. So, I’m not worried about this.

Pachulia continued, via Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

“Bring it on,” he said. “Bring it on.

“I’ll be there. I’ll be in OKC, too, so whenever he wants, my pleasure. My pleasure.”

And via Royce Young of ESPN:

Both Westbrook’s and Pachulia’s competitiveness and toughness are beyond reproach. These are not the type of players to back down.

What does Westbrook have in mind? I believe him when he says he doesn’t know. But I’m intrigued to find out.

As if the Warriors visit to Oklahoma City next month didn’t already have enough storylines.