Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony

Dirk Nowitzki ‘thrilled’ to reunite with Tyson Chandler, will participate in recruiting Carmelo Anthony to Dallas

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NEW YORK — Dirk Nowitzki was recently of the belief that it wasn’t realistic to expect Carmelo Anthony to leave the New York Knicks and sign in Dallas as a free agent.

With Anthony already having opted out of his deal, however, and with the Mavericks completing a trade that brings Tyson Chandler back to town, those odds may have changed.

Speaking before Steve Nash’s charity soccer game in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday, Nowitzki said he’d participate in the recruitment of Anthony, who is expected to have a formal meeting with Dallas at some point in the process.

“For sure,” Nowitzki said, when asked if he’d like to speak with Anthony. “I mean, if Dallas is on his radar, he’s one of the best scorers we have in this league. He can score with the best of them. So if that’s really a possibility, then we’d love to have him.”

But in his traditionally humorous style, he admitted his participation might not ultimately have much of an effect on Anthony’s decision.

“I was active [in recruiting] the last couple of years, but it didn’t do anything,” Nowitzki said. “I was active with [Deron Williams], he stayed [in Brooklyn]. I flew to L.A. last year to meet with [Dwight Howard], and he went to Houston. So I guess they don’t like me much.”

Adding Chandler to the mix might change some free agent perceptions about Dallas as a destination capable of winning immediately, but that remains to be seen. Nowitzki wouldn’t talk too much about the trade that had just been completed, because he said he hadn’t been officially filled in on the details. The idea of bringing back a former teammate that contributed to winning the lone title in Nowitzki’s career, though, was certainly exciting.

“He helped me get the championship,” Nowitzki said. “We had great chemistry together, and if it’s true I’ll be more than thrilled.”

Nowitzki himself is a free agent this summer, but it’s long been widely known that he’ll re-up in Dallas. He reiterated that he wouldn’t even consider taking a free agent tour this summer to see about playing anywhere else.

“I’ve been in Dallas so long it wouldn’t even feel right to go somewhere else, wear a different jersey, live somewhere else,” Nowitzki said. “I never saw that happening in 2010 the last time I was a free agent, and I’m not going to see it now. I think [Mark Cuban] and I are going to find a deal that’s acceptable for both sides, and then hopefully get better again. I like what we did last summer, and now we’ve got to build on it.”

The topic of LeBron James came up, of course, because though his leaving Miami seems to be unlikely, he did opt out of his contract and is now an unrestricted free agent. Nowitzki realizes it’s beyond a long shot to lure James, but knows that every team must try when the game’s best player technically becomes available.

“If he’s out there and we’ve got cap room, I guess all the teams have got to try,” Nowitzki said of James. “He’s the best player in the league we’ve got right now and if he’s a free agent — it obviously doesn’t happen very often when the best player in the league’s a free agent — then you’ve obviously got to go out and try. I’m not sure what our chances are, but you’ve at least got to try.”

And if Nowitzki were to get the opportunity to pitch LeBron on coming to Dallas, what would he say?

“You can have the keys to the city,” he said. “It’s all yours.”

Kings GM Vlade Divac on Rudy Gay’s communication complaints: ‘He has my number’

Vlade Divac
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.

Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:

“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”

“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”

I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.

But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.

Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.

It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.

Union to fund health insurance for retired NBA players

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Professional basketball player Chris Paul commentates during the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament presented by GoBowling.com at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on February 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association)
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association
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The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.

Today, the union announced a formal plan.

NBPA release:

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.

“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”

The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:

  • Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

  • Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

  • Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

  • Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

  • The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.

This is a good thing.

It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)

But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.

Report: Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio ‘strong favorite’ to replace Anderson Varejao on Brazilian Olympic team

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on February 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 116-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.

Where will Team Brazil turn now?

Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.

At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.

If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.

Report: Equipment staffer punched by Blake Griffin no longer works for Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stands on the court as equipment manager Matias Testi, left, stands behind the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. Griffin broke his hand last month when he punched Testi in the face. The Clippers won 105-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.

Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.

TMZ:

The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.

We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”

#Family