Kurt Helin

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Paul Millsap says he hasn’t decided if he will opt out next summer, become free agent. Riiiiight.

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Next season, Paull Millsap can make $21.4 million with the Atlanta Hawks. All he has to do is opt into the final year of his contract.

However, as a clear max player, if he opts out and becomes a free agent, he can get a four-or-five year deal starting at $33.6 million.

That’s $12.2 million a year. We all know what Millsap is going to do, it’s the choice all of us would make in his shoes — even if we want to stay in Atlanta. He’s going to take the cash. Millsap, however, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Chris Vivlamore he has yet to make a decision.

“I haven’t decided anything, no,” Millsap told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday…

“I think the plan is to see how this season goes and go from there,” Millsap said. “I can’t predict what is going to happen. For me, it’s focus on basketball. Get through this year, try to get a championship for this team first of all. We’ll deal with all that during the summer time when we have all our options on the table.”

Riiight. Millsap may not have formally made his decision, but we all know what it will be. Barring a major injury that would damage his free agent value, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Millsap not opting out. He’s going to take the payday. Even if he wants to stay put (much like Kyle Lowry said he wants to do).

The Hawks did flirt with the idea of a Millsap trade last summer, part of the juggling act as they tried to retain Al Horford and worked to sign Dwight Howard. The Hawks are now committed to the Millsap/Howard front line, and they cannot let Millsap — their best player last season — walk.

For his part, Millsap may wish to spend the rest of his career in Atlanta. The Hawks told the AJC that retaining Millsap would be a top priority — but why wouldn’t he take the extra cash to do that? This is a business.

 

Russell Westbrook gets stuffed by the rim? It happened.

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For years, Russell Westbrook has terrorized rims around the NBA with his explosive dunks.

Tuesday night, the rim in Dallas got a little revenge for his colleagues around the league.

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It can happen to the best of them.

Expect Westbrook to continue his campaign of terror on rims all season long. He still has the upper hand in that showdown.

Popovich told Boban Marjanovic to take big payday, “Get your ass out of here”

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In his rookie NBA season, Boban Marjanovic showed he was more than just a big body. Make no mistake, at 7’3″ and 290 pounds he is a load, but he has a surprisingly soft touch on his shot (60.3 percent shooting), he’s got pump-fakes and moves, plus he’s more mobile than expected.

Which is why a lot of teams were going to come after him as a restricted free agent last summer. Due to salary cap restrictions, the Spurs could only offer Marjanovic $3 million a year. The Pistons came in over the top and offered him $7 million a year for three years.

Easy choice, right? Not for Marjanovic — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had to tell him to take the cash. Via Jeff McDonald of the Express-News.

“He’s such a good kid, at some point I had to work to get him to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million,” Popovich said. “I said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it.’ But he felt bad.”

“My first wish was to stay,” Marjanovic said. “But this is good now. I think I made a good decision.”

Marjanovic is going to be a cult hero in Detroit like he was in San Antonio.

He’s also going to have an expanded role — he’s the big in the paint that will anchor Stan Van Gundy’s inside-out offense when Andre Drummond rests. He was playing less than 10 minutes a night in San Antonio, that’s about to bounce north of 15 for sure, and with more opportunities to score when he is in the paint. If he remains as efficient as he was last season, the Pistons will have gotten a deal at that price.

Heat pay tribute to Marlins’ Jose Fernandez with shirts, silence

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MIAMI (AP) — Dee Gordon had a courtside seat to watch the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, for a very good reason.

The Miami Marlins second baseman was there to represent Jose Fernandez .

Miami’s first home preseason game of the season had a somber beginning, with the Heat paying tribute to the late Marlins ace right-hander by wearing his initials and jersey No. 16 on the back of their warmup shirts – then by offering a moment of silence before tip-off against the Brooklyn Nets.

The 24-year-old Fernandez and two friends died last month when the boat they were riding in crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach.

“It was a devastating blow to all of us in South Florida and our hearts go out to his family and everybody at the Marlins,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s just so tragic for a player so young. We also want to acknowledge the other two gentlemen who were on that boat as well, and their families.”

Gordon told Fox Sports Florida during their broadcast of the game that when he heard about the gesture – the Heat announced it a few hours before game time – he made arrangements to be at the game. Gordon wore one of the team’s shooting shirts with the Fernandez tribute on the back.

“He was the heart and soul of Miami. … It’s just still weird that he’s gone,” Gordon said. “That’s just the part we’re trying to get over, but I think it’s going to be tough.”

The Heat players and coaches all linked arms for the playing of the national anthem in a show of unity, while the Nets’ players and coaches draped their arms over each other’s shoulders.

HEAT 121, NETS 100

MIAMI – Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes for the Heat. Whiteside is averaging 19.3 points and 13 rebounds in three preseason games, shooting 71 percent and playing about 24 minutes in each.

Goran Dragic added 17 points and 11 assists for Miami. Jeremy Lin led the Nets with 16 points.

NETS: Brooklyn was down by 12 in the first quarter, then led by 11 in the second quarter and trailed again by 17 after three quarters. … Bojan Bogdanovic scored 13, while Luis Scola and Justin Hamilton each scored 12. … The Nets took 13 3-pointers in the first quarter alone.

HEAT: Whiteside made his first five shots. … Josh McRoberts (foot) and Josh Richardson (knee) remain sidelined, and veterans Udonis Haslem and Beno Udrih also were held out.

UP NEXT: Brooklyn (1-2) hosts Boston on Thursday. Miami (2-1) visits San Antonio on Friday.

GRIZZLIES 121, 76ERS 91

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Troy Williams scored 22 points for the Grizzlies, who pulled away with a 17-0 run in the third quarter.

Mike Conley and Zach Randolph each had 17 for Memphis. Joel Embiid and Timothe Luwawu scored 13 apiece for Philadelphia.

76ERS: Embiid scored his 13 points in only 12 minutes. He logged less time than any other 76ers player who saw the court Tuesday. … Luwawu led Philadelphia with nine rebounds.

GRIZZLIES: James Ennis had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. … Memphis led by 15 after one quarter, then got outscored by 15 in the second quarter, then led by 35 in the second half.

UP NEXT: Philadelphia (1-3) is at Washington on Thursday. Memphis (2-1) plays Oklahoma City in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Thursday.

MAVERICKS 114, THUNDER 109

DALLAS – Jonathan Gibson‘s three-point play with 1:43 left broke a tie and put Dallas ahead to stay.

Dwight Powell scored 16 points and J.J. Barea added 15 for the Mavericks. Ersan Ilyasova had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, while Kyle Singler added 17 points.

THUNDER: Russell Westbrook had 12 points and seven assists in 24 minutes. … Enes Kanter grabbed 13 rebounds. … Oklahoma City had 42 points at the half, then scored 40 in the third quarter alone to rally from what was a 20-point deficit.

MAVERICKS: Deron Williams scored 11 for Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki had eight in 16 minutes. … Andrew Bogut had 11 rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes.

UP NEXT: Oklahoma City (1-2) hosts Memphis in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Thursday. Dallas (2-2) is at Phoenix on Friday.

Watch Damian Lillard drop 30 on Lakers in preseason OT win

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Damian Lillard was in midseason form Tuesday night.

Maybe better than that — at one point he scored 15 points in 2:45 seconds.

The Blazers guard finished 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting — 6-of-9 from three — in what went on to be a 109-106 Portland win in overtime. Maurice Harkless pitched in 14 points off the bench for Portland.