Dan Feldman

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Report: Knicks to host 76ers on Christmas

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The NBA is so eager to showcase New York on Christmas, in 2015 – the rare year the Knicks were left off the Christmas schedule – the league reportedly regretted omitting them after they exceeded expectations.

They were 14-16.

New York’s market allows for a low bar. Apparently, the Knicks – despite Carmelo Anthony being on the trade block and the team talking of prioritizing player development – will clear it this year.

Spike Eskin of Sportsradio 94WIP:

The 76ers, another team that gets the big-market benefit of the doubt (though to a far lesser extent), are more deserving. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz comprise an exciting young core. J.J. Redick and Robert Covington fill in nicely to help make Philadelphia competitive now.

Kristaps Porzingis is also a budding star, but beyond him, the Knicks don’t have much – except the New York market. That just matters so much to the NBA’s bottom line.

Variety helps engage fans, too. This will be the 76ers’ first Christmas game since 2001 and just their second since 1989.

They also carry enough potential pitfalls – Embiid getting hurt, the young players not being ready – that they won’t necessarily blow out the Knicks on national TV. Not many viable Christmas-playing teams offer that.

Rumor: Warriors to pursue Paul George

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Remember when Klay Thompson‘s dad/Los Angeles sportscaster Mychal Thompson brought up the Warriors chasing Kevin Durant more than a year before they actually signed him?

It seems Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson of The Athletic are doing something similar with Paul George and Golden State.

Kawakami on Posting Up:

Marcus and I have teased this for more than a year. We think they’re going to go after Paul George, somehow. I think Joe Lacob is going to try to find a way to get Paul George. I don’t know how that would happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen when they were – three years ago, when they said they were go after Durant. Well, they didn’t say it. But they might have whispered it.

The Warriors could have had George already – if they would’ve traded Klay Thompson to the Pacers. But there’s obviously a huge difference between acquiring George on an expiring contract and signing him outright in free agency next summer.

As far-fetched as Golden State landing Durant seemed, the impending salary-cap spike always made it plausible. The Warriors had to dump Andrew Bogut and let Harrison Barnes walk, but that was small potatoes for getting Durant.

Signing George would almost certainly require very large potatoes.

A little perspective: The salary cap projects to be $102 million next summer, but it won’t be determined until then. Even if they trim their roster to just Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors wouldn’t have enough cap room to pay George his max unless the salary cap eclipses $118 million. The NBA’s salary-cap projections can fluctuate, but a $16 million increase within a year is nowhere near heard of. And that would leave just the room exception – which would be about $5 million in this scenario – for Kevin Durant, who would have presumably opted out. He might be taking an unexpectedly large discount this year, but that’d be a monumentally large sacrifice by Durant next year.

More realistically, Golden State could use Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to sign-and-trade for George. But that’d require appeasing the Thunder, no easy task. The Warriors would also have to stay below the hard cap – which is barely feasible, unless George and/or Durant take large discounts. Even then, it’d be a tough squeeze.

Golden State could also try to trade for George before the trade deadline, acquiring his Bird Rights then spending any amount to re-sign him and Durant. But Oklahoma City would have even more leverage than the offseason. How could the Warriors entice the Thunder? If good enough, Oklahoma City might not be at-all willing to deal Russell Westbrook‘s co-star. (This could be a reason Westbrook has yet to sign a contract extension. If he waits to re-sign until next summer, he implicitly demands the Thunder not sell during the season – or leads to them trading Westbrook, too).

If George hits free agency, Golden State’s realistic chances of landing George likely evaporate. The Warriors would probably have to trade one of their top four players to get George. But doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?

Willie Reed’s wife: I asked for his domestic-violence charge to be dropped

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Clippers center Willie Reed was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence against his wife, Jasmine Reed.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida SunSentinel:

The statement released by Miami-based attorney Ivlis Mantilla from Jasmine Reed reads:

“This incident has been totally blown out of proportion. I did not call the police and I did not ask anyone to call the police on my behalf. Willie is a good man and a great father. I have no intention of pressing charges and I have asked the authorities to immediately dismiss all charges against Willie. This is a private matter between my husband and I and for the sake of our family I would like to keep it that way.”

Domestic violence is complicated.

Dirk Nowitzki on Mavericks’ restricted free agent Nerlens Noel: ‘I’d love to keep him’

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Remember a couple years ago when LeBron James publicly advocated for the Cavaliers to re-sign restricted free agent Tristan Thompson? It felt like LeBron was throwing his weight around, especially because he shared an agent – Rich Paul – with Thompson.

Mavericks franchise player Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t been quite as direct nor does he share the same business ties, but he’s also not shy about stating his preference about Nerlens Noel.

Nowitzki, via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

“He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki said. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time.

“I understand the business side of it. He’s a restricted free agent. I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move. We’ll have to wait to see how it all ends up.”

Of course, Nowitzki wants Noel back. Noel’s defense can cover for some of Nowitzki’s slippage on that end, and Noel just makes Dallas a better team overall.

The Mavericks surely know that. As Nowitzki said, they traded for Noel before last season’s trade deadline with the intent of re-signing him.

Dallas surely wants to lock up Noel at a team-friendly rate. At last check, the sides weren’t close.

Though the salary offers should be made mostly independent of each other, Nowitzki signed an extremely team-friendly deal. That allows the Mavericks to pay Noel more – at least for the upcoming season. Future years are probably Dallas’ bigger concern.

Still, if he wants to stick up more strongly for Noel, Nowitzki – who might be retired by the end of Noel’s contract – could remind the team of his discount. After all, LeBron ramped up his public lobbying for Thompson over time.

Here’s guessing Nowitzki, ever-loyal to the Mavericks, sticks with middle-of-the-road statements like these.

Report: Knicks signing Michael Beasley

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Just in case they actually trade Carmelo Anthony after months of starts and stops, the Knicks have already found a high-volume, isolation-heavy, one-dimensional scoring forward to replace him:

Michael Beasley.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

New York is down to minimum-salary offers, and that’s probably all Beasley can command at this point, anyway.

The 28-year-old is a curious fit on a team supposedly focused on developing young players. Maybe this is a sign that new/old president Steve Mills’ talk of patience was just lip service, following a long succession of Knicks executives.

But Beasley might just be too good to pass up for the minimum. He was an effective scorer for the Bucks last season, justifying his gunning role and shortcomings elsewhere with above-average efficiency. Beasley got into the paint frequently and finished well, made his mid-range jumpers and even converted his 3-pointers at an impressive clip (though in a small, selected, sample). He could have decent trade value in the likely event the Knicks should be selling before the trade deadline.

The former No. 2 pick has run into trouble throughout his career, and now he’s heading to a huge market to join one of the NBA’s more dysfunctional franchises. There are potential pitfalls here (and plenty of jokes to be made). But there’s a solid chance this works out – which is about all you can ask for a minimum-salary player.