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Don Nelson: ‘I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t getting more free agents’

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Just two years ago, the Dallas Mavericks were dreaming of adding Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.

But Dallas struck out on both, Williams re-signing with the Nets and Howard joining the Rockets.

Instead, the Mavericks – who play in a state without an income tax, haven’t had a losing season since 2000 and have one of the NBA’s most committed owners – have chosen from the free agent scrap heap.

Former Dallas coach Don Nelson, via Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

“I’ve said that for years that I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t getting more free agents, because it’s such a great place to play,” Nelson said.

“You’ve got an owner (in Mark Cuban) that spends money and is a players’ kind of owner, and you’ve got Donnie (Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations) there who knows talent. I know they’ve tried and missed on a few, but that’s always surprised me how come they don’t get a big-time star player who wants to come there.’’

It is a little surprising the Mavericks haven’t attracted better free agents, but we’re dealing with a small sample. For years, they had one of the NBA’s highest payrolls and no cap room. Since Dallas trimmed costs and increased flexibility, how many top free agents have been on the market? The Mavericks got Howard and Williams to strongly consider them, but ultimately those two signed elsewhere. That doesn’t mean free agents have something against Dallas.

The Mavericks’ fortunes could change soon, anyway.

Dallas has just $28,675,575 in salary committed for next season. Some of the remaining cap room will go toward keeping Dirk Nowitzki, but that still leaves a whole lot of money to work with.

if I were a free agent, I’d view the Mavericks very favorably. I’d see how they turned Monta Ellis from leper to someone getting darkhorse All-Star consideration. I’d see how they boosted the stock of O.J. Mayo, who received $4.02 million for his lone year in Dallas before the Bucks gave him $24 million for three years. I’d see how Rick Carlisle uses the sweet-shooting Dirk Nowitzki to make the job of everyone around him easier.

That doesn’t mean I’d ultimately sign in Dallas, but it’s an appealing place.

If the Mavericks keep pursuing free agents, they’ll get some good ones soon enough.

James Harden organizing Rockets pre-camp workout this week

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 13:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a three point shot during the second half of a game against the Sacramento Kings at the Toyota Center on April 13, 2016 in Houston, Texas. 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 Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Last year, James Harden organized a pre-camp workout where Rockets players could get in shape and develop some chemistry. Then the Rockets started the season slowly with Harden not being in good enough shape and the team having chemistry issues.

Hopefully, for Rockets’ fan this year is different — once again Harden is organizing a camp, reports, Fox 26 in Houston. And Harden is working to show what a great teammate he is.

For the second consecutive year Houston Rockets guard James Harden has organized a players-only minicamp scheduled for next week.

“James is doing everything,” said Corey Brewer, Rockets guard/forward. “He is showing he wants to be a leader. He’s the franchise player. He signed the extension. So it’s his team, and he’s doing all the right things to do what we need to do to have a chance to win championships.”

Harden’s plan is to hold the minicamp in Miami. However, the potential of bad weather hitting South Florida may cause the Rockets players to work in a different city.

Nearly every team does one of these, and how much good they do depends on who you ask. Teams that go deep in the playoffs have these camps, teams that disappoint and never make the playoffs have these camps. It certainly never hurts to get some voluntary team workouts in before the coaches take over at the end of September, and good on Harden for organizing it.

Just don’t read too much into any team doing this.

Top 10 NBA plays of last season by position (video)

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Which position – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center – produced the best highlights last season?

Watch this video to find out and be glad the positional revolution didn’t reduce it fewer highlights.

Ohio farm commemorates Cavaliers championship with corn mazes (photo)

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23, Kevin Love #0, and J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Could you find your way out of LeBron James‘ head?

Now, you can find out.

An Ohio farm has created three corn mazes – one featuring LeBron’s head, one that says Believeland and one with a Larry O’Brien Trophy – to commemorate the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title:

This is a championship-level corn maze. 🏆🌽 Thanks for the love, @maplesidefarms! #OneForTheLand #Believeland

A photo posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

College coaches vote UConn’s Kevin Ollie best-suited/most likely to make NBA jump

DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17:  head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies reacts on the sideline in the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title.

He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year.

But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last.

Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results:

Coach, college Percentage

Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent

Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent

John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent

Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent

Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent

Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent

Note: Other coaches who received at least three or more votes: Sean Miller (Arizona), Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).

Keep in mind 80% of responds didn’t answer Ollie. But he’s still makes sense atop the leaderboard.

Ollie isn’t the typical college-to-NBA coach, and Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan – and maybe eventually Fred Hoiberg – are changing that perception, anyway. Not is Ollie showing his basketball acumen at Connecticut, his 13-year NBA career suggests he can translate his style to the next level.

Of course, Calipari always comes up on these lists. He coaches more future NBA stars than anyone, and he loves the attention that comes with the perception NBA teams are chasing him. But he has the best job in college basketball at Kentucky, so luring him will be difficult.

Self and Wright, the other coaches who got at least 10% of the vote, come up from time to time in NBA rumors. But it never seems to be anything that goes anywhere.