Jason Terry lobbies for Tyson Chandler’s return to the Mavs

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Tyson Chandler shocked the known basketball world yesterday with an acknowledgement that he doesn’t expect to be back with the title-winning Dallas Mavericks next season. For a variety of reasons, the Mavs have reportedly underwhelmed Chandler with their offers thus far, and their starting center — and the key to their half-court defense — could walk in free agency as a result.

Yet the Mavs’ Jason Terry will be there through every step of the process, whispering in Chandler’s ear and insisting he return back to the team that made him a champion. From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

“You can’t see my fingers or toes, but they are crossed hoping Tyson’s coming back because he was a big part to what we have accomplished here,” Terry said. “And, we’ve laid a foundation. To go back and take a step backwards would be terrible. Not saying that we wouldn’t have a chance to win this year if Tyson does not come back, but definitely puts things up against us.”

…”I’ve spoken to him every day for the last two weeks and he wants to be here, he wants to be a Maverick next year,” Terry said. “Now, it’s on ownership to make it happen.”

…Terry said he’s been actively recruiting Chandler to stay in Dallas. The 7-foot-1 center who finished third in last season’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year is considered a top-three free agent with Denver Nuggets center Nene and New Orleans Hornets power forward David West.

“He’s big. Again, without Tyson on this team last year I just don’t know if we win a championship,” Terry said. “It’s just letting him know how much we want him to be a part of this team this year.”

Chandler’s on-court impact is both significant and highly visible; it was easy to see the difference he made with the Mavs last season, and GMs around the league are trying to bottle that same defensive impact for their teams. If Dallas were fully committed to the preserving their championship core, Chandler’s departure wouldn’t be a very realistic possibility.

But Chandler and the Mavs are caught in a tricky situation. There is a desire on both sides to keep Chandler in Dallas, and the two-year buffer preceding the new luxury tax penalties kick in would theoretically allow the Mavs to retain Chandler and sort out the tax implications later. Yet with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson looking to manage Dallas’ cap room for 2012 and drive the payroll back towards the tax line, Chandler could be left with an insufficient offer from his incumbent team.

Cuban and Nelson are doing their best to balance championship contention in the coming season and the construction (or at least attempted construction) of a competitive core for the coming decade. Chandler — and the massive contract he’s soon to sign, in Dallas or elsewhere — just so happens to be the key piece that will push the Mavericks down one path or the other.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.

NBA promotes Bulls’ Mexico game with video of their bus bottoming out

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The Bulls will play the Magic in Mexico City tomorrow.

Even amid all Chicago’s problems, that’s still a marquee game for the NBA as it expands its reach globally. So, the league is showcasing Chicago’s trip.

With unintentional hilarity.

NBA:

That sound eight seconds in is Chicago’s season.

Stephen Curry on moon-landing conspiracy: ‘Obviously, I was joking’

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Stephen Curry said he didn’t believe we went to the moon.

That caused an uproar to the point NASA offered him a tour of a lunar lab.

Curry, via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

“One thousand percent,” Curry told ESPN on Wednesday of accepting the invite. “One thousand percent. Obviously I was joking when I was talking on the podcast. I was silently protesting how stupid it was that people actually took that quote and made it law as, ‘Oh my God, he’s a fake moon landing truther,’ whatever you want to call it, yada, yada, yada. So I was silently protesting that part about it, how the story took a life of its own.

“But in terms of the reaction that I’ve gotten, I am definitely going to take [NASA] up on their offer. I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe. But I’m going to go to NASA and I’m going to enjoy the experience whole-heartedly.”

Curry said he believed we didn’t actually go to the moon. I don’t find it unreasonable people took him at face value. I don’t find it unreasonable people thought he was joking, either. His sincerity was unclear.

I’m glad he set the record straight now.

We obviously went to the moon. There’s no way everyone who would’ve had to help fake the moon landing would have stayed quiet. People don’t keep secrets that well.

As for Curry, he got the NASA invitation and a lot of publicity. But it’s time to move on. Whatever he actually believed a few days ago, Curry has clarified his current view.

That separates him from Kyrie Irving, who also initially delivered a conspiracy theory during a lighthearted podcast segment. But Irving doubled down on his flat-Earth claim in several subsequent interviews.

Curry put this to rest fairly quickly.

Suns owner threatens to move team if city does not spend $150 million on arena upgrades

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The great professional sports team extortion of cities tour has come to Phoenix.

The Suns are pushing a $230 million renovation of their home since 1992, now named the Talking Stick Arena. As part of the deal, the City of Phoenix would pay $150 million from its “Sports Facilities Funds” (the city says that is mainly tourism taxes) and the Suns $80 million plus any cost overruns, and they would build their own new practice facility to free up room in the arena for the changes.

However, spending city resources on a stadium rebuild to enrich Suns owner Robert Sarver has proven unpopular. Understandably. Wednesday, Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams asked to postpone the City Council’s vote on the issue rather than watch the plan go down in defeat, reports the Arizona Republic.

Sarver threatened to move the team if the deal is not ultimately get approved, according to the report:

Whether they get a continuance or not could mark the beginning of a showdown between the city and Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is telling some council members that he will take the team to Seattle or Las Vegas.

This is a favorite tactic of sports teams owners across the country, regardless of the sport — threaten to move the team, hopefully scaring the hardcore fans of the team to back whatever changes they want. Teams often are part of a city’s identity and a local institution, and the owners use that as leverage to get their business demands.

Public money for arena upgrades are in general a flawed used of city resources — there are far more pressing needs for public money than arena renovations. Studies have shown the economic benefits for a city from these arena renovations (or a new arena) are limited at best — it is more a redistribution of where money is spent, pulling it from other areas into a concentrated downtown, than it is generating new income.

That said, standing up to Sarver comes with risks, he could follow through on his threat and try to move the team. Seattle pushed back on spending on upgrades to Key Arena and that is part of — although certainly not all of — why the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. (Then commissioner David Stern liked sending the message that cities should pay up.) Steve Ballmer wants to build a new arena in Southern California for the Clippers, but it would be privately funded (on land he purchased from the City of Inglewood).

The Suns’ lease for the arena currently runs through 2032, however, it could be broken in 2022 if the Suns could prove certain criteria saying the city did not live up to its end of the deal. If the upgrades are made the lease would run through 2037.

If the vote is postponed there will be public hearings to discuss what the money would be used for specifically, and the potential economic impact of the renovations. Postponed seems most likely because the other option is it gets shot down entirely. The council is expected to take the issue up again in January.