Wednesday And-1 links: Cuban is still spending on something

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Welcome to our look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Mark Cuban is going to spend about $1.4 million on Mavericks championship rings. He’ll do it without blinking. He’d gladly do it again next year, but that appears not to be a concern.

When Dwyane Wade is out, LeBron James and Chris Bosh put up bigger numbers (as they did against the Spurs Tuesday). Don’t confuse that with the Heat being better.

Expect Gregg Popovich to sit Tim Duncan for a game soon. To rest him.

Boston Celtics ticket prices are suddenly much more affordable.

Rumor is the Knicks want to get J.R. Smith when the Chinese season ends. I bet they would. But they are over the salary cap and are very limited in what they can offer, so unless Smith isn’t concerned about the money it’s a tough sell.

Just a reminder, the post Carmelo Anthony trade Knicks are a below .500 team.

Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls lineup Tuesday and had 11 points.

Martell Webster is back in the Timberwolves’ practices. He may return to games soon.

Al Horford’s surgery was successful on Tuesday, but he is pretty much lost for the season to the Hawks.

Vince Carter will be out Wednesday against the Clippers with what is described as a sprained foot (suffered on that final play against the Lakers, a missed three to tie the game). Expect him to miss a couple more.

The NBA is going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with special events this year. Globalization, baby!

The Hornets hope to get Eric Gordon back on the court next week.

Memphis officials were “encouraged” by the results of Zach Randolph’s latest MRI. Take that with a grain of salt, but it’s a good sign.

Kevin Love says all the right things about his potential contract extension with the Timberwolves.

Jeff Foster will be out a couple weeks for the Pacers.

Lakers rookie Darius Morris has looked decent after being forced into action. He’s way more athletic than anyone else in their backcourt not named Kobe.

The Nets waived Dennis Horner to clear a roster spot for Larry Owens.

The Knicks have sent center Jerome Jordan and guard Jeremy Lin to the Erie BayHawks of the D-League.

The Nets have sent Jordan Williams to the Springfield Armor of the D-League.

The latest State of Nate video, chronicling the life of Nate Robinson.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

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Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.

Kristaps Porzingis reportedly gave Knicks wish list of trade destinations: Nets, Clippers, Heat, Raptors

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Kristaps Porzingis will sign long-term with Dallas this summer, and Porzingis he was on the same page.

But he will be a free agent. Restricted, but a free agent, nonetheless.

Porzingis’ exit from the Knicks provided a clue about where he’d want to go if he explores leaving the Mavericks.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

The four teams Porzingis had on his wish list of trade destinations were the Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, according to two people with knowledge of the list who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Porzingis had little leverage to get to any of these teams. Because he’ll be a restricted free agent, the Knicks or any team acquiring him would retain immense team control over him.

The Nets and Clippers project to have cap space this summer. The Heat and Raptors don’t.

But even if Porzingis signs an offer sheet elsewhere, Dallas will will likely match it.

Still, Porzingis will become an unrestricted free agent someday – 2020 in the unlikely event he accepts his qualifying offer or a future year if he signs a multi-year deal this summer. It’s probably best to file away this list until then.

Kyrie Irving on video with Kevin Durant: ‘Me and one of my best friends talking’

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The Knicks opened double-max cap space for next summer. Kevin Durant‘s company is moving to a new office in New York. Kyrie Irving backed away from his commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

Plenty of people were already connecting dots when this video emerged of Durant and Irving talking at the All-Star game (in which, not for nothing, they jelled).

Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops:

Irving, via MassLive (warning: language in the above video):

It’s just crazy. This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. It doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bulls— like that, of just putting fictitious things on what we’re talking about. It’s crazy.

It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all that s—.

That wasn’t a denial.

Still, it’s hard to believe Durant and Irving really discussed free agency in a hallway with so many people passing. There are far more discreet places to have that conversation.

Like a restaurant in Miami where they were spotted together:

I understand Irving’s exasperation with this, just as I understood Durant’s testiness over constant speculation. They should be allowed to spend time together as friends without it turning into a bigger deal.

But there is immense interest in where they play next year. People will continue to search for clues – some that prove insignificant, some that might prove significant – about the stars’ futures.

So, I’m at least glad Irving addressed this. It’s going to get discussed either way. Better for him to enter his perspective into the conversation.