Kurt Helin

New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle says team will err on side of caution with Wesley Matthews return

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Players have bounced back from a torn Achilles, as Wesley Matthews is trying to do in Dallas this season. That said, history is not kind to them. Those players often are never quite as explosive, their efficiency tends to take a big dip.

And the worst case scenario is what happened to Kobe Bryant — another injury.

Which is why Dallas is going to take it slow and easy with Matthews, something coach Rick Carlisle told the official Dallas Website.

“You know, we’ve done research on it,” Carlisle said while speaking on Matthews’ injury. “We’ve talked to his people, and we talked to the doctor that did the surgery. Casey has all that information. He’s definitely on track for a full recovery, but we’re going to be erring on the side of being conservative and cautioned. I think the most important thing is that he makes a full recovery, because we’re signing him to a four-year deal. The first year is more about making sure that he’s right and getting him out there on the right terms, and from there we want him to make a full recovery and continue to get better.”

Thinking long-term is the smart approach, the only one the Mavericks should consider. The only fair one to Matthews.

Consider this a reminder that this next season in Dallas is not about a quick rebuild to contention, but hopefully taking some steps in that direction. Like getting Matthews healthy, seeing what Deron Williams has left, and seeing if guys like Maurice Ndour can develop into useful players.

Just making the playoffs should be the goal in Dallas. And that may be too lofty a goal. But what really matters is sticking with the path.

Kobe Bryant’s popularity in China knows no bounds

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Thank you Guangzhou #rise #muse

A photo posted by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Kobe Bryant is Beatles during the British Invasion level popular in China.

The Associated Press

A decade ago, before other stars had recognized the market, Kobe was putting in the time there. Sure, he won titles and that helped, but he started going over to the country every year before it was fashionable. He set up a personal charity just in China. He showed a commitment to the country; he was not just some guy flying in to hawk shoes.

The result is his popularity is enormous. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing LeBron James and other Team USA members — men used to being treated like rock stars — were taken aback by Kobe’s popularity in the country.

In the end, that means Kobe can hawk a lot of shoes in China. And other products as well.

Ray Allen: “I won’t officially retire”

Ray Allen
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Ray Allen was recruited by LeBron James among others last season, but decided to stay retired and spend his winter golfing in Miami and hanging with his family. He was just in Las Vegas celebrating his 40th birthday — with an incredible cake.

Despite all that Allen has never officially retired from the NBA.

And he’s not going to, at least not anytime soon, he told the Hartford Courant (hat tip SLAM).

“I haven’t said anything about that and I won’t officially retire,” Allen said Saturday during a break in his basketball camp for kids at East Granby High. “Because if something came to the table, contractually and situational-ly, I want to be able to take a strong look at it. I don’t want to be that guy that says he’s retiring and then is coming back….

“I didn’t miss it,” he said. “I realized how much time I missed not being home with my kids. I probably missed it in the Finals. Watching Cleveland and Golden State play, it just seemed like an epic battle that required a lot of precision on the floor and that’s when I felt, that was probably the only time that I felt like, ‘Man, I should have been out there.’”

If he does not play again, Allen is comfortable with the run he’s had, which includes championships with the Celtics and Heat. […] “It would be one thing if I played 10 or 11 years,” he said “But playing 18, I got a lot out of it. I like the feeling of knowing I don’t have to beat myself into the ground.”

He’s leaving the door open, but this does not sound like a guy with a burning desire to get back on the court.

My guess is again Allen would not be open to a full-season contract, after 18 seasons and sitting the last one out he doesn’t want to go through a training camp and some preseason games. But if the Cavaliers decide closer to the All-Star break that they need more shooting, and they seem destined for the Finals, then maybe Allen would listen to the chance to make one more run at a ring.

Even then, I’d still bet on him choosing staying home with his family.

Report: Adidas makes $200 million offer to James Harden

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James Harden has been a Nike guy. While he didn’t have a signature shoe — yet — the Nike Hyperchase was pretty much his shoe.

However, Nike let their contract with Harden lapse as they tried to renegotiate and Adidas — still looking for a fulcrum, a superstar to build brand around — have jumped in with a $200 million offer, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

The company has submitted a bid of $200 million over 13 years to sign Houston Rockets guard James Harden, sources told ESPN.com. Nike, whose deal with Harden recently expired, has until the end of next week to match the deal or lose him…

With incentives, if the deal is consummated, Harden could very well make more from Adidas in the coming years than the Rockets. Harden signed an $80 million contract extension with Houston in 2012 that goes through the 2017-18 season.

If they land him, Adidas will make Harden and his beard the face of their basketball shoe line. Nike has been incredibly successful building its brand around stars (and great shoes) and they have long had the best in the game inked, from Michael Jordan up through LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Adidas has struggled to land stars and have that translate to shoe sales.

Despite having the NBA (jersey and apparel) deal, Adidas has slipped in recent years due to a lack of individual basketball stars. In 2012, the company signed a massive 14-year deal with Derrick Rose, only to see him miss plenty of action because of knee injuries. Its other star is Damian Lillard, whose Portland Trail Blazers aren’t really showing much promise. Endorser John Wall shows plenty of flash, but his first signature Adidas line fell relatively flat this year.

Adidas is giving up its uniform deal with the league after Nike came in with a massive bid to take it over.

While getting out of the uniform game, Adidas has shifted focus to finding the stars that can sell its shoes. They have Andrew Wiggins under contract and the Rookie of the Year shows potential to be a breakout star on an up-and-coming Minnesota team.

But Harden is an already established star with crossover appeal outside of just the basketball world — with his beard, sense of style, and being linked romantically to Khloe Kardashian, people know who Harden is who are not big hoops fans. Combine that with an MVP-level on-the-court game and this is a great gamble by Adidas.

Nike may match, Rovell says. Nike is still stung by getting outbid by Under Armour for Stephen Curry by $4 million, only to see him blow up into a superstar. They don’t want to lose another top NBA player.

Either way, Harden is about to get PAID.

Contrary to prior reports, Nuggets not waiving Kostas Papanikolaou. Yet.

Blake Griffin, Kostas Papanikolaou
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When Denver acquired Kostas Papanikolaou from Houston, reports came almost immediately that Denver would waive the small forward out of Greece. Denver already has 14 fully guaranteed contracts, most teams only carry that many players, and if the Nuggets keep a 15th it could be Erick Green (who is set to make nearly $4 million less).

Maybe the Nuggets ultimately will waive Papanikolaou, but not yet.

From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

For more detail, there is this from eurohoops.net, transcribed by Hoopshype.

On Saturday night, there were rumors about Denver releasing him. However at this point there are just rumors. Until now, the player’s side has no knowledge for this matter and the Nuggets hasn’t informed them about those kinds of intentions. According to Eurohoops sources, the Nuggets’ plan when they acquired Papanikolaou was to keep him in their roster and take their decision about him during Eurobasket, probably at the end of the tournament. That was their intention and that’s why they didn’t try to use his contract as a trade asset.

The Nuggets have until Oct. 4 to make a decision on Papanikolaou, that is when his $4.8 million contract for the next season becomes fully guaranteed.

What Denver wants to see is what kind of growth he has made. Papanikolaou was the best Houston player off the bench the first month of the season — he could play the three or the four and was a fantastic passer. As the season wore on the league seemed to catch up with him, and once the team traded for Corey Brewer and Josh Smith Papanikolaou dropped far down the rotation. Then he suffered a pretty severe ankle sprain and barely saw the court after the All-Star break. For the season he got in 43 games, shot 35 percent overall and 29.2 percent from three. To use a good snapshot, he had a PER of 7.8, which usually means a guy should be in the D-League or overseas.

The Nuggets can afford to watch Papanikolaou through the upcoming Eurobasket then even at workouts at their facilities at the start of training camp. They can see if the guy from the first part of the season is still there.

But the smart money — because Denver would save so much of it — is that he still eventually is cut. He’s going to have to prove