Justin Anderson

Mavericks’ Justin Anderson fined $25,000 for blow to Kris Dunn’s head (VIDEO)

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Dallas’ Justin Anderson was going or the dramatic chase-down block. Instead, he got a $25,000 fine and a flagrant 2 foul.

The play happened early in the second quarter of the Timberwolves’ win Monday night over the Mavericks. Kris Dunn had poked the ball away on a steal, got the long lead pass and was going in for the breakaway layup when Anderson tried to track him down. Anderson went up for the block but instead hit Dunn across the head, knocking him to the ground.

Dunn got up and continued to play, and at the time Anderson was given a Flagrant 1 by the officials. The league office reviewed it and made it a flagrant 2, and handed down the steep fine. The league does not mess around with blows to the head.

James Harden calls out Mavericks after Rockets’ 123-107 win in game with eight technicals

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 27:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half at American Airlines Center on December 27, 2016 in Dallas, 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 Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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DALLAS (AP) — James Harden was called for one of the eight technicals in a game that turned tense when Dallas center Andrew Bogut received a flagrant foul on a hard screen that staggered Houston’s star guard.

Despite 34 points and an easy 123-107 victory that completed a four-game season sweep of the last-place Mavericks on Tuesday night, Harden wasn’t happy.

“That other team was trippin’ tonight, just disrespectful, unprofessional, players and coaches,” Harden said. “I don’t know what was their problem, but I think that got us going. They wanted to throw a little cheap shot and just woke us up a little bit and it was over from there.”

Bogut was equally frustrated in his return after missing 11 games with a right knee injury. The call came in the second quarter, near the end of a 16-0 Houston run that broke a 37-all tie. Harden doubled over after running head-first into the 7-foot, 260-pound Bogut’s shoulder.

“If you watch the replay, yeah, he made no effort to run around my screen,” said Bogut, who had a couple of sharp verbal exchanges with Harden. “Yeah, it was a hard screen and I set hard screens. But to get a flagrant for it is kind of head-scratching.

“You admire the effort the league’s putting in in Secaucus (New Jersey) with that beautiful facility where they watch replays and watch TV and have leather chairs and all that kind of stuff. But you scratch your head at a lot of these things and it becomes very, very frustrating.”

Trevor Ariza was ejected after his second technical during the break after the third quarter, when five technicals were called. After the game, he was waiting outside the Dallas locker room for Mavericks center Salah Mejri.

Security had to make sure the pair didn’t interact after an exchange during the game that led to Ariza’s first technical. Houston was called for five and Dallas three.

“It wasn’t even basketball,” Dallas guard Wesley Matthews said. “Tempers, two in-state teams, we play each other four times, we’ve had battles in the past, so it is what it is. But we’ve got to be better than that. That was an opportunity for us to channel it into basketball and we didn’t do that.”

Harden had 24 points at halftime and finished with 11 assists without playing in the fourth quarter. The Rockets improved to 13-2 in December.

With two games left in the month, Houston can tie the franchise record of 15 wins from November 1996.

Harrison Barnes scored 21 for the last-place Mavericks, who lost their second straight following their first two-game winning streak of the season.

There were also two flagrant fouls, both against Dallas.

Most of the technicals came during dead-ball situations, with players and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle complaining to officials. Carlisle mockingly clapped at the refs, saying “good call,” after he was whistled for one.

“They tried to defend by being real physical and thinking that’s the way to do it,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t really want to get into it just because it doesn’t serve any purpose. We needed the win. We came out and we took care of business.”

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley sat out with a left quadriceps contusion. It’s not expected to be a long-term injury. … Sam Dekker had a game-high 11 rebounds. … The Rockets are 7-0 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

Mavericks: G Pierre Jackson was signed off the Mavericks’ NBA Development League team, and G Jonathan Gibson was waived. Jackson, a former Baylor guard who was drafted in 2013, made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter and scored seven points. … Matthews had 19 points.

BESIDES THE TECHS

There were a couple of face-to-face confrontations, the first ending in double technicals in the second quarter for Dallas’ Justin Anderson and Nene. Later in the quarter, Houston’s Ryan Anderson went nose-to-nose with Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki without a technical being called.

RARE GATHERING

The Mavericks had their projected starting five for just the fourth time, and first since a 128-90 loss at Cleveland on Nov. 25. The lineup is winless. Bogut and Nowitzki, in his third game back from his latest absence for a sore right Achilles tendon, stayed in the locker room at halftime. Bogut went scoreless with six rebounds in 10 minutes, and Nowitzki scored seven points.

Notes from Monday at Summer League: Thon Maker’s double-double included 10 fouls

Milwaukee Bucks' Thon Maker celebrates after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game,Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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LAS VEGAS — There’s so much constant action going on at NBA Summer League you can’t take it all in (sort of like Vegas itself). Let me dump my notebook from my first day watching games at UNLV.

Thon Maker had a double-double Monday: 10 points and 10 fouls.

He’s far from the first guy to foul out of a Summer League game — Andrew Bogut and Larry Sanders both did it, for example — but it’s a continuation of a rough week for the Bucks first rounder.

The reasons the Bucks like Maker have been seen in flashes in Las Vegas: The length, the athleticism, the motor, the shooting stroke. However, you can’t understate how much he needs to work on his game awareness. And to get stronger. Bucks Summer League coach Sean Sweeney said it was a good thing for Maker to go against the physical Grizzlies because they also put him in multiple pick-and-rolls and forced him to defend multiple actions.

Maker just needs time on the court. A lot of it. Right now he floats through offensive sets with little intuitive feel, he’s slow to recognize his defensive rotations, and he’s just raw. He needs a long stint in the D-League, where he can get real run. We’re at least a year away from knowing if he can work out. I didn’t like the Bucks taking him this high in the draft, and after watching him, this pick feels more like a reach than I thought it was draft night.

• Toronto’s big man Jakob Poeltl has plenty to like — nice touch around the rim, good footwork — but he needs to get stronger. He clearly is still adjusting to the physicality of Summer League/NBA play.

“I think he has a really good feel for the game,” Raptors coach Jamal Mashburn said. “I had a conscious effort coming into this game, I wanted to post him up more today, not only can he score out of the post I think he can be a playmaker for us out of the post. As this tournament goes on we’re going to try to utilize him more on the block and let him be more of a playmaker.

“He has a great feel. Obviously, he can block shots, he’s in the right place defensively.”

• Memphis may have a rotation player in Wade Baldwin (17th pick out of Vanderbilt). He showed poise and played well. Plus he did this.

Jamal Murray dropped 29 today. He likes the ball in his hands, Denver coach Mike Malone is going to have to stagger him and Emmanuel Mudiay.

• One of the most fun battles of the day, Sacramento’s Malachi Richardson guarding the Pelicans’ Buddy Hield. Give Richardson credit — someone coming out of Syracuse can defend man. He did a good job closing out space and preventing Hield getting the ball where he wanted. But in the second half Hield did a better job using screens to get open, finding space, and using his step back to knock down shots.

• I don’t know if D. J. Stephens can play in the NBA, but the man can dunk.

• I could see Bucks’ second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon developing into a “3&D” wing off the bench.

• Remember when the Raptors took a first-round gamble on Bruno Caboclo? Watching him here, not sold he’s going to become an NBA player. Maybe I’m wrong, but just not that impressed. Doesn’t make the swing for the fences the wrong move, but sometimes those swings lead to strikeouts.

• “This is a learning experience for him as well,” Mavs summer-league head coach Jamahl Mosley said of second-year player Justin Anderson. “He’s got to learn when to push through fatigue, when to make the right pass, the right decision. It’s part of it. He did make some very good decisions passing the basketball, and there also were times he could have made one more pass, or made the easy pass. But again, this is part of his learning curve.”

Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis lead NBA All-Rookie Team

Minnesota Timberwolvesï' Karl-Anthony Towns, left, looks to make his way around New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis, of Latvia, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Often when picking the NBA Rookie teams (we at PBT showed what our ballots would look like), you’re scrambling to find guys who fill out the second team and weren’t terrible. The picking can be slim, the dregs if you will.

Not this year — it ended up being a deep rookie class. Obviously, stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis were in, but this year the second team could turn out to have some future  All-Stars.

Here are the teams (with their vote totals in parenthesis, 260 is the max), as voted on by 130 selected media members:

FIRST TEAM:
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (260)
Kristaps Porzingis, New York (260)
Devin Booker, Phoenix (231)
Nikola Jokic, Denver (186)
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia (186)

SECOND TEAM:
Justise Winslow, Miami (151)
D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers (142)
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver (140)
Myles Turner, Indiana (139)
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento (50)

Other players receiving votes:
Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte, 47; Josh Richardson, Miami, 47; Stanley Johnson, Detroit, 42; Trey Lyles, Utah, 26; Bobby Portis, Chicago, 13; T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 7; Mario Hezonja, Orlando, 4; Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers, 3; Norman Powell, Toronto, 3; Justin Anderson, Dallas, 2; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn, 2; Boban Marjanovic, San Antonio, 2; Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio, 2; Jerian Grant, New York, 1; Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers, 1; Raul Neto, Utah, 1; Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City, 1; Joe Young, Indiana, 1.

Yes, Marcelo Huertas got a vote as a 32-year-old rookie (from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report).

Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to re-sign with Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates as he leaves the court during the final minute of the second half in an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Monday, April 11, 2016, in Salt Lake City. The Mavericks won 101-92. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of the final year of a contract that would’ve paid him $8,692,184.

The big question: Why?

Does Nowitzki want a higher salary? More years? A lower salary that enables the Mavericks to upgrade their supporting cast?

He could command whichever of those he desires.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN, transcribing Nowitzki’s interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas:

Nowitzki reiterated Monday that he is committed to remaining with the Mavs for the rest of his career, saying that decision was essentially made when Dallas won the championship in 2011.

“That would have been the only scenario where I go somewhere at the end to kind of hang on and maybe try to win one,” Nowitzki said, referring to if he didn’t have a ring. “But ever since I won a championship here and we did that, I want to finish my career here. I always said that. The only scenario where I’ll try to go somewhere is if we’re rebuilding, if we really say, ‘This is the end of the line. We tried every which way and we can’t go any further and we’re starting basically with five rookies.’

“Obviously, that’s not what I want my last couple of years. But knowing Mark and Donnie, they always want this to be a winning franchise, so there’s no reason for me to go anywhere.”

“We had one more year on the contract, but I think this is the right thing to do,” he said. “We’re going to sit with Mark [Cuban] and Donnie [Nelson] obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again.

“Ever since after the championship, we’ve been basically a first-round exit. We’ve been a seven, eight seed. We’ve only won a few playoff games, and obviously the goal was to compete at the highest level in my last couple of years. So there is some moving to do, some thinking, some putting our heads together the next few weeks heading into free agency, heading into the draft. So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”

Usually, I’d say this would at least open the door to the player leaving. But it’d be difficult for the Mavericks to pivot into rebuilding now. They don’t have their own first-round pick, and Justin Anderson is their only young player of consequence.

With Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea signed long term and Nowitzki intent on returning, it makes far more sense to try to win now. Dallas might fail, but it’ll almost certainly be the goal.

The Mavericks project to have about $20 million in cap space accounting for cap holds for Chandler Parsons ($19,969,950), Nowitzki ($12,500,0001), Deron Williams ($6,454,769) and Dwight Powell ($1,180,431). If those players sign elsewhere or get renounced, Dallas would clear more room.

Nowitzki could accept a lower salary than his cap hold, and his first-year salary would become his cap number once signed. Essentially, he could monitor free agency and slide his salary requirement depending on the quality of free agent the Mavericks could sign with the available money. Land a star, and maybe Nowitzki would take far less to accommodate him. Strike out, and Nowitzki might want a raise.

He has leverage, though it seems he’s set on using it harmoniously with management.

Still, what if Dallas flops majorly in free agency? Could Nowitzki leave? I expect the Mavericks to land productive veterans, and I doubt Nowitzki would leave anyway. But by opting out, he has the ability to walk.

The Mavericks have an opportunity to improve this offseason. Two years ago, they leveraged Nowitzki’s commitment to the franchise into a below-market deal that helped them sign Parsons. The goal should be once again involving Nowitzki in the process and having him help.

The better Dallas does in free agency, the more likely Nowitzki will be to sacrifice for the team.