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.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”