Nets get $5.25 million disabled player exception approved for injured Brook Lopez

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It’s been well-documented that the Nets will have the league’s highest payroll this season when including luxury tax costs, a bill that will total in the neighborhood of $180 million when all is said and done.

The league offered Brooklyn a small amount of relief on Tuesday, granting the Nets a disabled payer exception worth $5.25 million that the team can use to replace the injured Brook Lopez if it chooses to do so.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

After the season-ending injury to center Brook Lopez, the NBA has approved a $5.25 million disabled player exception for the Brooklyn Nets, a league source told Yahoo Sports.

For Brooklyn to use the full exception and pay the ensuring luxury-tax bill, it would cost the Nets approximately an additional $20 million on top of the $180 million-plus in roster salary and taxes they’re already paying this season.

The Nets have until March 10 to use the exception through a free-agent signing or a trade. The Nets have a full roster of 15 players, so they would need to clear a roster spot to make use of the exception.

Multiple reports have the cost of adding an additional player with the exception to be in the $16-$20 million range, and with the championship aspirations seemingly out the window now that we’ve seen exactly how little Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett appear to have left, it doesn’t make sense to spend all that money for a player who may or may not ultimately affect the team’s immediate future.

Andrew Bynum is an interesting name, of course, but it’s unclear if there would be mutual interest in a pairing at any price. Bynum wasn’t engaged in Cleveland, and it may take a championship or bust situation to truly pique his interest.

Most reports say the Nets won’t use this exception to add additional talent, due to the prohibitive cost. But they applied for it and it has been granted, so it’s at the very least something to watch.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.