Dwight Howard has a technical problem

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Cooler heads have prevailed —the calling of “respect for the game” technical fouls has calmed down for the most part around the league. Players reined themselves in a little, the refs are giving a little more leeway in an emotional game.

But none of that seems to happen when Dwight Howard is on the floor — he keeps talking and the referees keep giving him technicals. Number 12 on the season came in the first quarter Thursday night when Howard fumbled a ball out of bounds, said something and got T’d up.

Four more this season and he gets suspended for a game. And he gets suspended for a game for every other one after that. Which at his current pace is a lot of games off.

Stan Van Gundy lobbied for his player in the media Thursday, as reported by FanHouse.

“They (officials) are looking for him, no question. They make a call on him and they are looking for his reaction. Other guys get away with stuff. He’s going to have to accept that, they are looking for him. Every one of them (officials),” Van Gundy said. “For other guys, they look away. He’s not going to be treated like everyone else in the league…

“I could probably name you 20 guys in the league who are a lot harder on officials than he (Howard) is,” Van Gundy continued. “Why he’s been the guy to get all the technicals, I don’t know. There are guys that yell at them, swear at them and everything else, and they get away with it some. Dwight just has to make an adjustment, and we’ll go from there.”

Van Gundy said all Howard did to earn a technical Thursday was say “damn” and that other players used much saltier language but were not hit with a technical.

Maybe. There is other context there. But regardless of Van Gundy’s point this is still all about Howard — he has to adjust to the rules, fair or not. As pointed out at Orlando Pinstriped Post, Howard is racking up a technical every 93.1 minutes played, which is not quite Rasheed Wallace territory but it is up there.

Howard lets his frustration get the better of him, feeling he was called for unfair fouls he talks back. He has to control himself, and he is not. Howard has to do it for the team. Right now the Magic don’t have a real back up center (after trading Marcin Gortat to Phoenix) and they can’t afford to be without Howard. Which they will be in four more technical — or about 10 games at his current pace of fouls and minutes.

So complain about the rules all you want — we’re no huge fans of the respect of the game techs here — but in the end this is all on Howard. He decides his own fate.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki will make season debut Thursday against Suns

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Dirk Nowitzki is coming back for the Dallas Mavericks.

The veteran forward has been nursing a return from ankle surgery all season long, and has yet to make his debut in 2018-19. Despite not having Nowitzki on the floor, the Mavericks have jumped out to an impressive 15-11 record with Harrison Barnes, Luka Doncic, and DeAndre Jordan leading the way.

The news was announced on social media on Thursday before the Mavericks got set to take on the Phoenix Suns.

Via Twitter:

Of course, sending Nowitzki back onto an NBA floor against Phoenix is perhaps the easiest test he could have as he comes back from an injury. The Suns are god-awful, and Nowitzki will need some time to readjust to playing at full speed (or at least at whatever speed he normally plays at).

The 40-year-old German star should be able to help the Mavericks as a bench contributor this season. Hopefully with Nowitzki on the floor Dallas can solidify their potential playoff berth.

Rumor: Pistons among teams considering Markelle Fultz trade

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Markelle Fultz remains away from the 76ers, getting treatment for his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome while the rest of his teammates try to adjust to playing with Jimmy Butler (which is going better for some than others).

The sense around the league is the Sixers still plan to trade Fultz, they’re just waiting for better offers to come in, the first round was very lowball.

A few teams are kicking the tires on a trade, and among them are the Pistons, reports Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

Let’s be clear, nothing is close on any Sixers trade of Fultz right now. Teams are just testing the waters.

It’s an interesting idea for Detroit, the chance to add a player who was a high draft pick —  but only if they think he’s healthy and can get over his mental hurdles (his agent said there aren’t any, it’s all physical, and most of the league laughed at that). Also, the sides need to find a trade that works. Fultz, as a No. 1 pick, is not cheap, he makes $8.3 million this season and is guaranteed $9.7 next season, then $12.3 million the season after that (unless whatever team has his rights and just cuts bait on that last season).

The Pistons are flirting with the luxury tax line right now, their $123.3 million payroll is just about $500,000 below the tax line, so Detroit will not be taking on any salary in any potential trade. They also sent out last year’s first-round pick in the Blake Griffin trade, so they can’t trade this year’s, and likely would not include a pick anyway. A deal centered around Ish Smith or Langston Galloway plus Zaza Pachulia works (after Dec. 15 when Pachulia becomes available to trade). Both provide guard depth and Galloway offers Philly some shooting (34.9 percent taking 65 percent of his shots from three this season). Reggie Bullock also could be part of a trade.

There are options. Right now the Pistons are among the teams kicking the tires on a trade, but we are a long way from it actually happening.

Pacers fans epically bad at tic-tac-toe (video)

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Trail Blazers fans are off the hook.

A couple Pacers fans are also terrible at tic-tac-toe.

Pacers:

I can’t rule out this being staged, which is disappointing.

But if genuine – wow.

Spencer Dinwiddie signs three-year, $34 million extension to stay with Nets

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There were a lot of general managers eyeing Spencer Dinwiddie as a quality point guard they could grab on the free agent market this summer at a fair price. The hardworking point guard out of the University of Colorado has averaged 16.9 points and 4.8 assists for the Nets this season, is shooting 36.8 percent from three, knows how to be a good floor general, and while a lot of fans may not know his name smart front offices around the league saw an above-average point guard that would fit their system.

Which is why the Nets decided to lock him up and not let him leave Brooklyn. The team announced the deal, Dinwiddie himself confirmed it, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the details.

That’s an above the league average but low starter money, and it’s a good deal for Dinwiddie, who is making $1.6 million this year and that’s the largest payday of his career.

If you don’t know what Dinwiddie can do on the court, go ask the Sixers — he dropped 39 on them last night.

The Nets are trying to build a culture and have a core of smart, solid players to put stars around, and Dinwiddie fits right into this model. They could have tried to lowball him and save some money, but that came with the risk of losing him this summer. The Nets decided to take care of their own instead, a good sign for the franchise.