Dirk Nowitzki says he’d love for the Mavs to land Dwight Howard or Chris Paul in free agency

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The Mavericks missed the playoffs this season for the first time in 13 years, and if we’ve learned anything from Mark Cuban over time, it’s that mediocrity in Dallas won’t be tolerated for very long at all.

Dirk Nowitzki is equally competitive, and doesn’t want to spend the twilight of his career playing for a losing team, or one that’s planning on going through a rebuild while the 11-time NBA All-Star still remains on the roster.

Dallas has the salary cap space to make a big splash in free agency this summer, and if things don’t fall the right way for the team with the players who are currently available, they have virtually no one on the books for the following season and can make another run at that time. But Nowitzki wants to win now, which is why he’s willing to step up his involvement in the recruiting process — both personally and financially.

Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the biggest names on the open market, and Nowitzki said the obvious during a radio interview on Tuesday: He’d love for the Mavericks to improve immediately by landing one of those two superstars.

From The Dallas Morning News:

On Dwight Howard and Chris Paul:

Dirk Nowitzki: We’d love to get one of those two. We’d love to get a player in here who can create his own shot and be a superstar-type player. It’s still a long way to go until July. Those guys need to clear their minds a little bit and get away and then start thinking what they want to do with their futures. Hopefully, that’s where we come in and put a great pitch out there and see what happens.

On the pitch to free agents:

Dirk Nowitzki: I’ll definitely be a little involved. But I’ll be in the draft ‘war room’ for the first time … order some pizza and talk some basketball. I got one year left on this deal and then I’m coming off the books. So if that helps for us to be better I’m going to take a paycut. That’s part of the pitch. Cuban and Donnie have got to be part of the pitch.

Both Howard and Paul are likely to re-sign with their respective teams in Los Angeles, for a variety of reasons. But Dallas, due to a combination of being a large market and Cuban’s willingness to spend to keep his team relevant, make for one of the more attractive free agent destinations outside of L.A., New York, or Miami.

If you had to choose which player would be more likely to be tempted by the Mavericks, you’d have to go with Howard, given how little he enjoyed living with the championship-level expectations during his first season with the Lakers, as well as his historic level of indecisiveness about where he’d like to play.

As for the pay cut part of Nowitzki’s comments, that wouldn’t happen until the 2014-15 season.

Nowitzki has one more year remaining on his contract, and will earn over $22 million next season. The year after, he could play for as little as would make sense in order for Dallas to stockpile talent in pursuit of one more title before he decides to hang ’em up.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.

Report: Isaiah Thomas looking at first week of January for return to Cavs

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Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.

Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.

Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.

Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.

Via Twitter:

Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.

No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.

If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.