Philadelphia 76ers v Dallas Mavericks

Nowitzki is happy for Kobe, but his next contract will be different

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He’s the face of the franchise and the heart of the team’s marketing, but also an aging veteran in the final year of a massive contract, one that will determine what and how the team can move forward the next couple of years.

Kobe Bryant? No.

We’re taking Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks.

But their situations are similar — Nowitzki is a star and the face of his team, and one in the last year of a massive contract ($22 million) that could hamper the team’s ability to bring in more players around him.

Nowitzki, however, plans to go a different route than Kobe and his massive new extension — Dirk will become a free agent then re-sign in Dallas, he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.

“Obviously, it’s good for Kobe,” said Nowitzki, who passed Garnett Monday for 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. “That’s a lot of money for a 35-year-old, but if one guy earned it, it’s definitely Kobe….

“I don’t really want to look forward too much,” Nowitzki said. “I’m not going to extend, obviously. I want to play the season out and then we can talk about the summer. I want to have a good season. I want to have an injury-free season and then [his coach/agent] Holger’s going to take his leather coat and meet with [Cuban] in the bunker suite and we’ll go from there.”

By becoming a free agent Nowitzki can take a lot less money with his next deal — if he wants to take $10 million (which is what Tim Duncan did in a smaller market than LA), he can. At that price the Mavs would have about $21 million on the books (if they renounce Shawn Marion and Vince Carter), which would allow them to make a run at some guys. Monta Ellis and Nowitzki are clicking this season. All of it together means Dallas has some flexibility.

How much flexibility the Lakers have with Kobe at $23.5 million next year depends on who you ask — they certainly have some (they could bring in a max player) but they could have had more. You can debate who they might have gotten or not, but they lost flexibility.  It’s their choice, Kobe and the Lakers knew what this deal meant, they still think it can work.

The situations are different in key ways — Kobe’s value to the Lakers brand is astronomical and keeping him at this price is still a value. Question the basketball decision if you want, but the Lakers needed to do this deal.

Nowitzki is a different personality in a situation with some similarities but plenty of differences. So he wants to handle this like Dirk. Not Kobe.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.

Kevin Love drips snot all over his face, maybe into his mouth (video)

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Cameras zoomed in on Kevin Love at the wrong moment:

Need a sensory cleanser? Enjoy this fantastic outlet pass from Kevin Love to LeBron James:

Derrick Rose out for Knicks-Cavaliers with back injury, getting MRI

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Derrick Rose #25 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2016 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.

Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.

Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.

Brandon Jennings will start in Rose’s place.