Mark Cuban, on whether this is a rebuilding year for the Mavericks: ‘Don’t even go there.’

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The Mavericks were one of the teams that made a pitch to Dwight Howard in free agency, and believed that with Dirk Nowitzki in the fold and with a roster’s worth of cap space available in advance of the 2014-15 season, that they’d be able to build a championship contender around Howard in just two years’ time.

Howard signed with the Rockets, of course, so the Mavericks pursued other options. They signed the likes of Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Samuel Dalembert, among others, in order to try to win immediately after missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons last year.

Mark Cuban believes that his free agent acquisitions were dollars well spent, and doesn’t want to hear anything about next year being one of rebuilding for his Mavericks.

From the Dallas Morning News:

On if this is a rebuilding year:

“Oh no. Hell no. Don’t even go there. Look, there’s no template for winning in the NBA. … Dirk’s got to be healthy and he’s working hard. He’s been in the gym every single day looking great. Then we’ve got to come together as a team. We’ve got Samuel Dalembert, Monta Ellis, Wayne Ellington, DeJuan Blair. We brought in a lot of really good players and now it’s up to Coach Carlisle to make it all work together.”

I don’t know about Wayne Ellington, but there’s no question that Dallas went out and got some players that the team feels can contribute next season.

As for the failed pursuit of Howard, Cuban said that the team would have been better in the long run had they been able to secure his services. But since that didn’t happen, he believes that the Mavs will be better next season with the multiple players they were able to get instead.

“Now, I think over the long term would we have been better Dwight? That’s why we went after him, but this year, I think we’ll be better.”

It’s tough to say definitively, because we don’t know who Dallas might have been able to get to surround Howard on the roster. But if you have Howard plus Nowitzki and not a whole lot more from a talent perspective, it’s hard to argue with Cuban’s assessment.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.