Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki warned Mark Cuban the Mavericks had big problems before last season

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The Mavericks were so desperate to find a point guard last season, they started Darren Collison, Mike James, Derek Fisher and Dominique Jones in a futile attempt to keep throwing floor generals at the wall until one stuck.

O.J. Mayo started all 82 games at shooting guard, but his play did not impress Rick Carlisle.

There were certainly other factors, but Dallas’ guards were a reason the Mavericks finished 41-41, their worst record in 13 years, and missed the playoffs for the first time in that span.

It’s easy for me to make that assessment now that I’ve seen Dallas’ 2012-13 season, but Dirk Nowitzki could have told you the same thing before it even began.

Mark Cuban on 103.3 ESPN Radio, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News:

Something that I haven’t said publicly, I remember last year when we went to Europe, and I was kind of excited like I normally am, and we had gotten Darron [Collison], and we had gotten Kaman, and Elton Brand, and O.J., and I thought we kind of were fortunate to get the guys we did, and Dirk came up to me and said, ‘We can’t pass, and we can’t shoot. Our guards aren’t there.’ This is the preseason, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ and he’s like, ‘Sorry, bro.’ And Dirk is kind of a Debbie-downer. He and J-Kidd were always that way where it was always the worst ever, and then he digs in and he’s a warrior, but that was the first time I’d ever really heard him say anything that negative, and he was right. This year, you talk to Dirk, and he just smiles and shakes his head. And when you get that out of Dirk, that shows that I think he’s fired up, he’s ready.

Cuban clearly believes in Nowitzki. Just read the rest of that interview for even more Dirk praise from the owner. So, if Nowitzki says he likes this year’s backcourt – newly acquired Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis – that might be good enough for Cuban.

Personally, I still have questions. Can Calderon sustain his level of player into his late 30s? Will Ellis just hog the ball? Whom will either of these two defend?

Calderon and Ellis should be an upgrade over Collison/James/Fisher/Jones and Mayo, and if that’s all Nowitzki and Cuban want, they’ll likely be pleased. This is no longer a backcourt that can be dismissed in the preseason.

Now, if only we could get Nowitzki’s early opinion of Dallas’ aging wings.

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

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.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.