Nowitzki could return to help Germany qualify for Olympics

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Dirk Nowitzki decided to sit EuroBasket out, and as a result Germany was one of the teams eliminated after group play. Germany will not be taking part in the World Championships in Spain next summer.

Qualifying for the World Championship is easy compared to Olympic qualification — there are 24 total World Championship slots, 12 for the Rio Olympics. Europe will have at least seven and as many as nine teams in Spain, but for the Olympics there are only a handful of slots available (Europe had 5 teams at the London Olympics, and one was host Great Britain).

Nowitzki is considering a return to international competition if he can help get Germany into the Rio Olympics, he told ESPNDallas.com.

“If I’m still healthy enough and we have a chance to qualify, then I’d consider it,” Nowitzki told ESPN.com late Monday.

Nowitzki was responding to statements made earlier Monday by Germany coach Frank Menz, who told ESPN.com’s Mark Woods after Germany’s elimination from the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia that the face of the Dallas Mavericks has left open the possibility of a national-team return if the squad continues to progress.

Germany qualified for the 2008 games in Beijing, but missed out on 2012. To qualify for 2016 they could add Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Dennis Schroeder as well as journeyman center Chris Kaman (who helped Germany get to the Olympics in 2008). They also have some solid international players around those guys.

But Nowitzki is the star, the glue, the guy that makes it all work.

The main issue may be age and health. Nowitzki is 35 now, he will be 37 during qualifying and 38 for the next Olympics — will he want to tax his body that much to try to make it to Rio in those offseasons? Coming off knee surgery last season, will he be healthy? Also remember he has a family now and summers with them and not on the court play into the decisions.

We know what Mark Cuban thinks, but we’ll see what Nowitzki thinks in a couple years.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.