Yao Ming may enter 2010 free agent circus

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NBA_ming.jpgLeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. Yao Ming?

Maybe. Just our luck, we could have one major free agent to follow this summer.

Yao can opt out of his $17.7 million deal after the season, even though he has not set foot on a court this year due to foot problems. He told the Houston Chronicle he might opt out, but he has given it no thought. Whatsoever.

Yao, 29, said he has not considered his options, but was noncommittal about whether he might opt out of his contract.

“I’m sure I’m not sure until after we discuss (it),” Yao said. “We have not started (to) discuss it yet, so I’m not sure, either way. I have to talk to my agent first before we start to decide where I need to go. If you ask my agent, he will say, ‘I have to ask Yao and we will start discussing it.'”

Yao’s agent, John Huizinga, had no comment.

Once again, this is what the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks have brought us.

A healthy Yao is a max player — he’s 7’6″, strong, has shooting touch out to 15 feet, can block shots and intimidate on defense. He dominates Dwight Howard when they face off. And he can get the second-best player on your team voted into the All-Star game by his legions of fans in China.

If he opts out now, Yao can get what will likely be a larger and longer max contract from somebody. If he waits until next summer, who knows what the max deal will be under the new CBA? If the owners get their way the max salary may be a $100 Target gift card.

Yao is an injury risk — he has played 57 games or fewer four of the last five years and is coming off major surgery that has kept him off the court an entire season. In today’s risk-averse NBA nobody is offering him a deal unless he can prove he is all the way back. But it’s got to be tempting, because when healthy he is one of a handful of players genuinely deserving of a max deal. And when GMs start missing out on the Big Three there will be pressure to do something.

Luka Doncic fined $10k for kicking ball into stands (video)

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Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic got ejected a few days ago for kicking the ball into the crowd, his second technical foul of the game.

That outburst also got him fined.

NBA release:

Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić has been fined $10,000 for kicking the game ball into the spectator stands, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Dončić was assessed his second technical foul and ejected, occurred with 3:00 remaining in the third quarter of the Mavericks’ 111-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 19

Players usually get fined $25,000 for throwing something into the stands. But sometimes, they get just a $10,000 fine for that, seemingly if it appears they didn’t intend for the object to reach the crowd.

Did Doncic mean to kick the ball as far as he did?

Who knows? But it seems he got the benefit of the doubt here.

Mike D’Antoni: Not right NBA wouldn’t allow Rockets to trade Carmelo Anthony yesterday

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The Rockets signed Kenneth Faried, importantly to them, before their game against the 76ers yesterday. With Clint Capela injured, Houston needed another big against Joel Embiid.

But the Rockets had to open a roster spot for Faried. Their clear preference was trading Carmelo Anthony. Failing that, they’d release James Nunnally.

Houston agreed to deal Anthony to the Bulls but couldn’t complete the trade because the league office was closed, as is the norm on weekends and holidays (in this case, Martin Luther King Day). So, the Rockets dropped Nunnally, eating the remaining salary on his 10-day contract, increasing their luxury-tax bill and costing him the opportunity to play for a team that could use him.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I don’t think it’s right,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of having to terminate Nunnally. “There’s ways (the league) could have facilitated it.”

What happened to the Rockets was fair in that the rules were clear and applied equally to each team.

But I agree with D’Antoni. Games don’t stop for weekends and holidays. The league office shouldn’t, either.

Teams should have more ability to change their rosters on the fly, because games come so quickly. Halting business for weekends and holidays is antiquated. This is a global, multi-billion-dollar operation now.

The NBA can afford to employ enough people who review trades not to overwork any of them. It’d create a better product and make the sport operate more smoothly.

Stephen Curry slips and falls on wide-open fastbreak, gets ball back, air-balls 3-pointer (video)

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See, the Warriors are fallible.

Though Stephen Curry‘s mishaps coming during a blowout win undercuts the point.

Jaren Jackson Jr. bullies Nikola Mirotic with dunk on him (video)

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Yes, the Grizzlies lost to the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans by 20 last night. Results like that are why there’s thought Marc Gasol could leave Memphis.

But at least plays like this Jaren Jackson Jr. dunk on Nikola Mirotic provide hope for the Grizzlies’ future.

Jackson is a skilled 3-point shooter and rim-protector. Add a mean streak inside offensively, and the rookie could really take off.