Dirk Nowitzki passes Elvin Hayes for eighth place on NBA’s all-time scoring list


The milestones keep coming for Dirk Nowitzki. He scored 14 points in the Mavericks’ 102-98 win over the Lakers, giving him 27,322 for his career. He passed Elvin Hayes (27,313 career points) with a jumper near the start of the third quarter, and received a standing ovation from his home crowd.

Next up for Nowitzki is Moses Malone, who had 27,409 points in his NBA career (29,580 counting his years in the ABA—Nowitzki is 10th on the combined list). He needs 88 points to do it. He’s averaging 18.5 points per game this season, so he should be on pace to pass Malone’s NBA-only total on January 5, in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Here are some highlights of Hayes, a Hall of Famer who was one of the most underappreciated players of the 1970s and early ’80s:

Anderson Varejao undergoes surgery for torn Achilles, out for the season


We already knew this was going to be the case, but the Cleveland Cavaliers announced on Friday night in a press release that center Anderson Varejao will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon.

Cavaliers Center Anderson Varejao underwent successful surgery today at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland to repair his recently ruptured left achilles tendon. Dr. Brian Donley performed the surgery with Cavaliers Head Team Physician Dr. Richard Parker and Dr. James Rosneck assisting. Varejao is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA season while he recovers and progresses through his rehabilitation process. A timeline for his return to basketball activity will be established at a later date.

This is awful news for the Cavs, whose frontcourt depth—which was already not great—is now decimated. Brendan Haywood is legitimately their third-best big man right now. Varejao was one of their better defenders, and outside of LeBron James (who has lost a step on that end from a couple of years ago) and Shawn Marion (who is 36), they don’t have anyone else on that end as the roster is currently constructed.

With Varejao gone for the season, the Cavs need to trade for somebody, but it’s unclear who. Brandan Wright, who was just traded from the Mavericks to the Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo trade, is probably available if the Cavs are willing to give up a first-round pick. That’s a deal that probably makes sense for both teams, but other than that, there aren’t many bigs available who would move the needle for the Cavs.

With the Chicago Bulls rounding into shape and the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks as hot as ever, the Cavs’ road to the Finals is going to be tough, and as of now they can’t really be looked at as the favorites. As good as their top-end talent is, that likely isn’t going to change unless they add somebody who will replace Varejao’s production on the defensive end.

Kyle Lowry on almost being a Knick last year: “Essentially, I was gone”


Raptors fans have James Dolan’s fear of getting fleeced by Masai Ujiri — again — to thank for their position a top the Eastern Conference.

Remember at the start of last season the Raptors just were not working, they needed changes, and GM Masai Ujiri was clearly thinking big moves. First he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento (which worked out well for both sides), then he set up a deal that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and a 2018 first round pick (Metta World Peace’s name was rumored also). A reasonable trade. But Dolan backed out (he didn’t like how the Carmelo Anthony trade went with Ujiri), Lowry stayed and the Raptors started winning. A lot.

Lowry reflected on all of that and last season speaking with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

A day after the Raptors failed to sign Steve Nash as a free agent, (then GM) Bryan Colangelo brought Lowry in from Houston in a trade for a first-round pick and somebody named Gary Forbes. Lowry remembers his emotion on that day.

“Two and done and I’m going home,” he said….

“I figured two years and I’d be a free agent and go somewhere else. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tell people that all the time. You can’t predict your future. You have to live it by the day….

“Our season last year was a helluva story. I was traded (to New York). Essentially, I was gone. My best friend (Rudy Gay) got traded. It was all messed up.”

Now Lowry is happy — he signed a new deal with the Raptors this summer (four years, $48 million), he loves the city and he loves all the winning. Lowry matured, his game matured and everything fell into place last season.

Lowry is playing at an All-Star level again this season — 20 points and 7.7 assists a game with a PER of 23.9 — and the coaches are not going to leave him off the list this year as an alternate (he’s fourth in the fan voting, Toronto has come out for him in numbers, but it’s not likely the fans vault him past John Wall, Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to be a starter).

As for the Knicks… well, you don’t need a ball dominating point guard in the triangle really. So you can try to console yourself with that.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry leading in early All-Star voting returns


You really like LeBron James. But we knew that.

You really like Stephen Curry. But we knew that as well.

What is interesting is you have now fallen for Anthony Davis, John Wall and even Pau Gasol in Chicago. And Kevin Durant has some catching up to do.

That’s what we can take away from the first — and somewhat early — returns from the fan voting for the All-Star Game on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The NBA released the early returns on Christmas Day. Remember that fans get to vote on the starters — two guards and three front court players — for each conference, then the coaches vote for the bench players that round out the rosters.

Here would be the starters if the voting holds:

Eastern Conference: John Wall, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol
Western Conference: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol

Here’s the secret about the early voting: There are usually not many changes between this and the starting five in the All-Star Game. Last season saw more than normal, and I think we’ll see a couple this year (hello Kevin Durant) but this is usually a pretty stable indicator.

Some quick thoughts on these returns (you can see more detailed voting return numbers below):

• Being injured left Kevin Durant in an “out of sight, out of mind” state but I expect he will climb the ladder and make it into the starting lineup if he gets healthy.

• Wow, that’s both Gasol brothers starting.

• Not surprisingly LeBron James leads all vote getters early on, however his is less than 30,000 over Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Curry even leads Kobe Bryant. Nobody used to lead Kobe.

• While Chris Paul and James Harden are normally locks, they are well back of Curry and Kobe. Not likely the West starting backcourt changes.

• Raptors fans are getting out and voting this year. Kyle Lowry deserves the support, but you can tell they are voting in numbers when Louis Williams makes the top 10 of guards.

• Will Pau Gasol really be able to hold off Kevin Love for a starting spot out East?

• Voting remains open through Jan. 19. The voting is now all digital — fans can vote on NBA.com; through social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblog; via SMS text, and the NBA Game Time and using the NBA Game Time from Sprint applications.

Here is the top 10 vote getters so far.

Eastern Conference


1. LeBron James (Cle) 552,967
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 265,170
3. Pau Gasol (Chi) 247,953
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 208,549
5. Kevin Love (Cle) 169,818
6. Joakim Noah (Chi) 69,994
7. Marcin Gortat (Was) 57,715
8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 52,318
9. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 46,494
10. Al Jefferson (Cha) 43,230


1. John Wall (Was) 299,209
2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 265,917
3. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 237,356
4. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 182,896
5. Derrick Rose (Chi) 105,465
6. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 99,984
7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 51,946
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 17,512
9. Louis Williams (Tor) 15,329
10. Bradley Beal (Was) 13,911

Western Conference


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 524,623
2. Blake Griffin (LAC) 307,908
3. Marc Gasol (Mem) 227,554
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 198,649
5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 191,881
6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 152,253
7. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 117,003
8. Dwight Howard (Hou) 104,699
9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 100,015
10. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 74,501


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 549,095
2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 521,542
3. James Harden (Hou) 336,998
4. Chris Paul (LAC) 257,528
5. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 107,366
6. Klay Thompson (GS) 90,957
7. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 84,686
8. Damian Lillard (Por) 82,884
9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 77,276
10. Tony Parker (SA) 50,287

Report: Cavaliers talking with Celtics about facilitating three-team trade


The Celtics trade of Rajon Rondo didn’t just net Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.

Boston also got a $12,909,090 trade exception.

The Cavaliers have sure taken notice.

Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources say the Cavs, in recent days, have been in contact with the Boston Celtics about working as a facilitator in three-team trade scenarios. The Celtics, blessed with frontcourt depth in the wake of their recent acquisition of Brandan Wright in the Rajon Rondo deal, have been aggressive recently in their attempts to acquire future draft picks.

The most obvious Cavaliers-Celtics trade is Wright for a draft pick(s), especially because Anderson Varejao’s injury will keep him out the rest of the season. The Cavaliers are still looking for a defensive-minded big after failing to land Timofey Mozgov or Kosta Koufos. Wright is a bigger offensive threat, but there’s obviously a limited pool of available quality bigs, and Tristan Thompson would need help.

However, Cleveland, which could absorb Wright’s salary into the Keith Bogans trade exception, and Boston could make that deal without a third team.

As for three-team deals, the possibilities are practically endless. The Celtics could use their trade exception to absorb unwanted salary, collecting another draft pick in the process. Boston already has five extra incoming first rounders (not counting one it’d receive only if the 76ers make the playoffs this season), but Danny Ainge would always take more picks to help the rebuild.

Only Varejao, if his injury is severe enough, is the only Cavalier who’d have that type of toxic contract. But, because of his recently signed extension, he can’t be traded until Cleveland’s season ends. That means the Celtics’ trade exception would be most useful accepting salary from another team.