Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat

Cavaliers sold Kyrie Irving on contract extension with LeBron James-Kevin Love plan

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Throughout last season, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers appeared to be having problems.

There were rumors Irving didn’t want to be in Cleveland, the Cavaliers didn’t want to offer him a max contract, Irving and Waiters didn’t get along and Irving wasn’t in the loop with the team’s brass.

Irving almost definitely wasn’t going to turn down a max-salary contract extension this summer, but there seemed to be a possibility he’d take fewer years to allow his escape sooner. At minimum, he could have waited until later in the offseason to see how Cleveland built its roster.

Yet, come July 1 – when Irving was eligible to sign an extension – everything went smoothly. He agreed to terms essentially immediately.

How did the Cavaliers convince him so quickly?

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

The Cavs and Kyrie Irving met in a Manhattan  restaurant at one minute past midnight on July 1 — the first moment they could officially discuss signing a five-year, $90 million extension with their guard.

Owner Dan Gilbert and Griffin talked big picture, and it had to sound more like a wild dream to Irving.

The Cavs would add Love and James. It really, really could happen, they insisted.

Really, Irving wondered.

Really, Gilbert and Griffin insisted.

“Kyrie bought in,” said Griffin. “That started everything. It created the momentum.”

On July 1, calling the Cavaliers signing LeBron James and trading for Kevin Love “far-fetched” would have been an understatement. It seemed downright impossible.

But Irving believed, and his confidence in the organization might have played a part in LeBron’s decision to trust the franchise he once spurned, which led to Love joining Cleveland.

Of course, Irving had about 90 million reasons to stick with the Cavaliers, which makes any LeBron-Love dreams secondary. Again, though, Irving could have pushed for a shorter extension. If he was truly dismayed with Cleveland, he probably would have.

In the end, Irving’s faith was rewarded. Not only did he get his near-max contract extension, he’ll play with LeBron and Love next season. Just as Gilbert pitched.

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.