<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

JaVale McGee

Report: Dallas out of JaVale McGee running. They mean it this time.

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JaVale McGee wants to come back to the NBA on his terms. And he’s in no rush to do it.

McGee is looking for a deal for this season only (or a player option for next season) while the interested teams want a team option for next season so they can have the ability to retain him at a fair price. McGee is getting his full salary this season and next ($23 million total) from Philadephia after the Sixers bought him out. (He was acquired in a trade deadline deal.)

The Mavericks had been interested, they want some depth behind Tyson Chandler, but they are out now reported Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Mavericks have lost interest in free-agent center JaVale McGee and aren’t seeking any more roster additions, a source told Yahoo Sports.

Reportedly the Rockets, Heat, Celtics and Raptors still all have some level of interest.

He could help those teams. McGee, for all his numerous flaws, is an athletic big man who can be solid to brilliant in a limited role. He can block shots, run the floor and get a team some points and boards. He would be the kind of reserve big man who would be a good bench boost to just about any playoff team, especially on a minimum deal.

The fact that he is still out there speaks to a combination of his demands and chemistry concerns on the parts of teams around the league.

Still, expect him to sign somewhere in the coming weeks.

PBT Extra: Top NBA prospects to keep eye on in NCAA Tournament

SEC Basketball Tournament - Ky v Arkansas
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For a lot of NBA fans — even fans of the Knicks and Lakers who should have been paying attention since November — March and the NCAA Tournament is when we actually see and form opinions about potential pro prospects. NBA Scouts and GMs have already watched a lot of games of players, their opinions are formed and seeking confirmation, but many fans are just getting started.

So who should you watch? Jenna Corrado and I discuss that in the latest PBT Extra. Of course, you should watch Kentucky because everyone on their roster may well be on an NBA roster in a few years, led by Karl Towns. And of course we have to discuss the post moves of Jahlil Okafor.

But when we talk guys under the radar it’s off to Arkansas and Providence we go.

Marc Gasol no fan of being rested. Even if he needs it.

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics
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It’s that time of the season in the NBA where key players are rested for a game or three to make sure they are healthy, and their legs are fresh for the playoffs. Well, for Gregg Popovich that time of the season started in November but the rest of the league is catching up. The Hawks rested key guys against the Lakers (Kyle Korver wanted to sit so bad he broke his nose) but they still won. The Warriors rested all their key guys against the surging Nuggets, and Steve Kerr was willing to sacrifice the game (Denver won). LeBron James said he’d like more rest.

Marc Gasol is no fan of this trend.

The decidedly old-school Grizzlies big man sat out last Thursday, as did other key Memphis starters at the request of coach Dave Joerger, in what became a loss to Washington. Gasol did not like that, he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“No, I don’t like rest,” Gasol said. “It’s not my call. It’s never been my call. It will never be my call. I don’t like resting. I know I have a small window. Basketball, itself, gives you a small window because you have a certain amount of games. I take pride in playing every game. To me, it’s important to play every game. But I don’t run the show. There are other people that make those decisions and I’ll respect it. I respect Dave and I’ll have to deal with it.”

Gasol may not like it, but he could use it. He is apparently battling a little bit of a sore leg. He was not himself the night before he was rested (9 points on 9 shots vs. Boston), and even after a few days off wasn’t blowing anyone’s doors off against the Bucks (12 points on 12 shots, although he had 7 assists).

Memphis has faded a bit of late in the West, and Joerger is wisely looking ahead (he’s already been cutting back his stars’ minutes). If fresh this Grizzlies team could come out of the West, they are that good. But they need Mike Conley to get healthy, more consistent wing play (consistency is not Jeff Green’s middle name), and they need their big men to be the best in the game. Gasol and Zach Randolph are the heart of the Grizzlies.

So Gasol may have to suffer through a little more rest.

 

PBT Power Rankings: Boston, Indiana making late surge up the rankings

Stephen Curry
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Another showdown this week between the Hawks and Warriors, a potential Finals preview for sure. Although the Cavaliers and about six teams in the West will have their say about that. The Lakers return to the bottom of the rankings after they couldn’t beat the Knicks.

 
source:  1. Warriors (52-13, Last Week No. 1). They have won eight in a row at home and their next five are at Oracle, including an interesting rematch against the Hawks Wednesday night. Don’t expect to see David Lee in that game, he’s had three DNP-CDs in the last six games.

 
source:  2. Hawks (51-14, LW 2). They became the first team in the NBA to lock down a playoff spot, and with a 10-game lead on the Cavs they will be the No. 1 seed. So how much did Mike Budenholzer learn from Popovich about resting players down the stretch? He did it Sunday against the Lakers and got a win, although Kyle Korver played and broke his nose (he may miss a game or two).

 
source:  3. Cavaliers (43-25 LW 3). This is what having stars like Kyrie Irving and LeBron James on your team can bring — the Spurs were the better team last Wednesday and it didn’t matter because Kyrie was on fire and dropped 57. LeBron’s tweaked knee Sunday was a scary moment (the Cavs are 2-9 without LeBron this season).

 
source:  4. Trail Blazers (44-20. LW 6). They are just one game back of being the two seed in the West and they face off against the Grizzlies Saturday. The Blazers are 6-1 in March with their stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard playing maybe their best ball of the season. Someone forgot to tell them they were going to fall apart after Wesley Matthews was injured.

 
source:  5. Spurs (41-24, LW 7). No Manu Ginobili for at least a week with a sprained ankle. I don’ read much into the loss to the Cavs on Wednesday — the Spurs were the better team, just nobody could stop Kyrie Irving for a night. That happens. The Spurs are 1-5 in overtime games this season, which is more fluke than cause for concerns.

 
source:  6. Grizzlies (45-20, LW 4). They are 7-6 since the All-Star break with their offense not impressing anybody. They rested all their key guys Thursday in Washington then looked better Saturday in a win over the Bucks, we’ll see if they can build on that and right the ship.

 
source:  7. Rockets (44-22, LW 4). The Rockets are 14-8 without Dwight Howard and have stumbled some lately, but picked up a gritty win on the road against the Clippers. Harden is still putting up near MVP-level numbers but you have to wonder if he’s slipped behind Russell Westbrook in that race (in my book he never caught Stephen Curry).

 
source:  8. Clippers (42-25, LW 8). The return of Blake Griffin brings needed scoring and options to the offense, the key is to keep DeAndre Jordan playing at a high level as he has been. Griffin’s also brought back that get-under-the-opponents skin nature of Los Angeles, not to mention the need to lobby referees on every call. The good news for the Clippers is their schedule is one of the softest in the NBA the rest of the way.

 
source:  9. Thunder (37-29, LW 9). It’s going to be another week or so before Kevin Durant returns, and now Serge Ibaka is going to miss some time for knee surgery. That hasn’t mattered with the masked-man Westbrook pushing this teams to wins. Also combination of Enes Kanter and Steven Adams up front has worked pretty well (32 points and 29 boards combined against the quality Bulls front line Sunday), but they will be tested without Ibaka.

 
source:  10. Mavericks (42-25, LW 10). We’ve discussed Dallas’ challenges with top teams in the West, but they looked very good routing the Clippers last Friday. Can they build on that with the Thunder and Grizzlies on the schedule this week? And while they had some struggles, they are not sliding 5.5 games behind the Pelicans before the season ends.

 
source:  11. Pelicans (36-30, LW 11). Anthony Davis’ Sunday line is legendary: 36 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks, and seven assists. According to Basketball-Reference.com, no other player in the last 30 seasons has posted a line with at least those numbers. But the Pelicans lost in double OT to Denver, they have too many of those nights to make the playoffs.

 
source:  12. Pacers (30-34, LW 13). Best team in the NBA since the All-Star break but they have some real tests coming up the next couple weeks (this week it’s the Raptors, Bulls, Cavaliers and Nets). Get through these two weeks in the playoff mix and they are not coming out of it.

 
source:  13. Jazz (29-36, LW 17). The best team in the West since the All-Star break, but unlike the Pacers out East that’s not good enough to get you in the playoff mix in the West. They seem to be finding themselves on the court, but the shift in ownership with Greg Miller stepping down raises questions about one of the most stable franchises in the league.

 
source:  14. Bulls (40-28, LW 12). They have lost five of six, and the one win came because Aaron Brooks went off on the Sixers. There have been a few problems with their defense this season, but one of the biggest has become rebounding — the opponent’s possession isn’t over until you secure the ball. The Hornets and Thunder gave the Bulls all sorts of problems there.

 
source:  15. Celtics (29-36, LW 19). They have won four in a row and, in a sign we normally see from good teams, they are doing it with key guys injured (Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas). That this team is in the playoff hunt should get Brad Stevens some Coach of the Year votes.

 
source:  16. Wizards (38-28, LW 21). The Wizards beat the Grizzlies because Memphis chose that game to rest every player you can name. John Wall shouldn’t be offended, just take the win. You needed it. The Wizards have won three in a row but things get tough with Portland then a West Coast road swing.

 
source:  17. Bucks (34-32, LW 14). Jason Kidd and the Bucks wanted Michael Carter-Williams and his wonky shot, and traded Brandon Knight to get him. Well, since the trade deadline, they’re 4-9 with the 29th rated offense (using points per possession) in the league. Yes, they have been better offensively with MCW on the court, but not good enough at all.

 
<source:  18. Suns (35-33, LW 16). You knew after their trade deadline moves they were likely to fall out of the playoff mix and they have in any way that really matters. Tough stretch of the schedule against quality teams coming up, which will officially doom any playoff hopes.

 
source:  19. Raptors (39-27, LW 20). They have stumbled losing 8-of-10 because of a weak defense, but they may be able to hang on to the three seed the rest of the way thanks to DeMar DeRozan’s recent offensive explosion, and the fact their schedule is pretty soft the rest of the way out.

 
source:  20. Hornets (29-35, LW 15). Kemba Walker is understandably rusty. Al Jefferson is banged up. They have the toughest remaining schedule of any of the teams battling for one of the final couple playoff spots in the East — it’s going to be hard to hold off Boston unless they get healthy and get some steady offense.

 
source:  21. Heat (29-36, LW 18). Miami is only half a game out of the East’s final playoff spot, but the schedule this week is brutal: Cleveland, Portland, improved Denver, then a four-game roadie that includes the Thunder and Hawks. They need the Hassan Whiteside of a couple weeks ago back not the one losing his temper and not playing as focused.

 
source:  22. Nets (26-38, LW 22). For a team loaded with veterans they seem to be collapsing like a house of cards down the stretch. And not the good Netflix House of Cards (great show), I mean an actual one. They need some wins against the teams they are battling for a playoff space, starting with the Pacers Saturday night.

 
source:  23. Nuggets (26-41, LW 27). They are 6-2 under Melvin Hunt, who has at the very least earned a serious interview as the guy to replace Brian Shaw. Denver management may want to do something crazy and ask their core players — Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried — what they think of Hunt vs. other potential candidates.

 
source:  24. Kings (22-42, LW 24). No Rudy Gay for a bit as he rests his knee. The Kings are a lot more fun to watch and offensively dangerous under George Karl, but they have become a defensive mess. You don’t win games that way. The Kings are proof.

 
source:  25. Pistons (23-43, LW 23). They have lost 10 games in a row and the team’s shooting has been abysmal. It has made the big question remaining in Detroint: Can you see Reggie Jackson as the future point guard for this franchise? What are you willing to offer him this off-season? He hasn’t played like a guy deserving the big cash lately.

source:  26. Timberwolves (14-51, LW 25). No Kevin Garnett due to knee soreness the last four (all losses), which takes some of the luster off his little return. Actually the luster is off of everything: Andrew Wiggin’s shooting, Ricky Rubio’s ankles, anything resembling defense.

 
source:  27. Magic (21-47, LW 26). No doubt they are bad, but you see some hope with solid future rotation players like Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic (actually Vucevic could be a potential All-Star). Just hang in Magic fans and hope management hires the right coach.

 
source:  28. 76ers (15-50, LW 28). Thomas Robinson has played pretty well and looked like a potential future rotation player. Same with Robert Covington. And Nerlens Noel. And remember they could have three first round picks in this draft. They might be able to build something if management lets it

 
source:  29. Knicks (13-53, LW 30). Alexey Shved is not your savior New York, he is a mirage of entertainment. Which at this this point in the season you take. After listening to Phil Jackson the past couple weeks, if Knicks fans are worried about the future you can’t blame them.

 
source:  30. Lakers (17-47, LW 29). At their current pace (fourth worst record in the NBA) they have basically a 4-in-5 chance of retaining their top-five draft pick this season (if it is sixth or later it reverts to the Sixers). Most Lakers fans are rooting for Minnesota or Philadelphia to get hot enough they pass the Lakers and improve those odds.

Robin Lopez runs over and drops Raptors’ mascot

Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors
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Robin Lopez’s troubled history with NBA mascots is long and infamous. It’s not quite the Capulets vs. the Montagues, but it one of the more entertaining “feuds” in the NBA. It’s certainly more fun to watch than “the Clippers vs. all referees.”

Lopez’s feud continued Sunday as the Trail Blazers toyed with the struggling Raptors.

Before the game, the Raptors’ mascot was taunting Lopez wearing a Lopez/Sideshow Bob style wig. After the game CBSSports.com’s James Herbert asked Lopez about the Raptor and his feud.

He’s up there. He’s putting himself up there. Right now, I think he and Hooper from Detroit, they’re in the top tier. They’re really on my enemies list.

Don’t think this will be the end of it. Not by a long shot.