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Pau Gasol says he plans to opt into final season of Spurs contract

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For years, Pau Gasol considered signing with the Spurs.

Now that he’s in San Antonio – on a contract that contains a $16,197,500 player option for next season – he’s in no rush to leave.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Asked if he intended to opt-in Year 2 of his contract, Gasol agreed it’s a safe bet.

“My intention is to continue here, and to be here as long as I can,” said Gasol, who will turn 37 before the start of the 2017-18 season.

“It was a great decision,” Gasol told the Express-News. “I came here to have a chance to win a title and we’re second in the league right now, second best record, so that puts you in a position to win a title. That was a priority, and it still is.”

With his shooting touch, passing acumen and basketball intelligence, Gasol slid seamlessly into the Spurs’ offensive system. They also adequately cover for his defensive deficiencies.

But that could be a different story in the playoffs, when Gasol’s lack of defensive mobility is more likely to be exposed.

Gasol is the NBA’s best 36-year-old. He’s also 36. At that age, production can fall off at any moment.

San Antonio accepted the risk in giving him this contract, but just because he has lived up to it so far doesn’t mean he’ll provide value next season. There’s always risk in paying someone so old so much, even if Gasol’s finger injury has no lasting effects.

Gasol opting in, barring another move, would effectively eliminate the Spurs’ cap room. They’d be left with just the mid-level exception, give or take, to spend. Of course, if they want to pursue major free agents, the Spurs can always try convincing Gasol to opt out and re-sign for less.

James Harden scores 61, ties Kobe Bryant’s Madison Square Garden visitor’s record (VIDEO)

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James Harden has been on a Wilt Chamberlain-level streak the past few weeks, it’s unlike anything we have seen in the modern NBA.

Wednesday night he topped himself.

James Harden scored 61 points against the Knicks. That would be:

• Harden’s career high.
• Tied with Kobe Bryant for most points scored by an opponent in Madison Square Garden (Carmelo Anthony holds the overall record at 62).
• A Rockets’ franchise record.
• His 21st consecutive 30-point game, tying Chamberlain for fourth-longest such streak in league history.

Oh, and Harden had the seal and dunk that sealed the win.

Harden also had 15 rebounds in the game. The last player to have 60+ points and 15+ rebounds in a game? Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal back on March 6, 2000, with the Lakers.

Harden is playing like an MVP — and the banged-up Rockets need him to if they are to have a chance to win every night.

Report: Wizards not trading Bradley Beal, but if team slips Otto Porter could be available

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The Washington Wizards have won 7-of-10 and have climbed up to the nine seed, just a couple of games out of the playoffs in the East. Without John Wall, the Wizards are making a push to get into the postseason.

Which impacts whether they are willing to trade players at the deadline.

The Wizards are not trading Bradley Beal — the most coveted of their stars — but might be open to Otto Porter trades if the team slides back, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Wizards star guard Bradley Beal is not going anywhere, which Washington has made adamantly clear, league sources told The Athletic. Depending on how the next week to two weeks shape up, the Wizards could look more aggressively toward moving Otto Porter. The Utah Jazz have been an interested suitor for Porter, league sources said.

History suggests the Wizards will not be sellers. The pattern for owner Ted Leonsis and GM Ernie Grunfeld has always been to think short term and make the playoff push, even when it was not the smart thing to do. We should expect that again. Maybe Washington crawls into one of the final playoff slots in the East, but is that the smart play?

Don’t expect the Wizards to move Porter, even if they wanted to finding a team to take on his $26 million for 13 points a game this season would be difficult (although Utah would be a good fit), plus Porter is owed $27.3 million next season and has a player option he very likely will pick up for $28.5 million two seasons from now.

Pacers’ Victor Oladipo stretchered off court after scary knee injury (VIDEO)

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Let’s hope this is not as scary as it looks.

Pacers’ All-NBA, All-Star guard Victor Oladipo was trying to defend a length-of-the-court pass to Pascal Siakam when Oladipo went down with a brutal knee injury were his kneecap was clearly not in the right place. Oladipo had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. The video is below, but be warned this is not pretty.

The team’s official announcement called the injry “serious.”

Oladipo is the Pacers’ best player and was a lock to be an All-Star reserve averaging 19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists a game this season in Indiana. His efficiency had dropped his season as teams game planned more for him. Beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to find a kinder, more genuine person around the NBA than Oladipo.

Quickly the NBA community rallied on social media to Oladipo.

Grizzlies franchise burning down. Literally. They had a locker room fire Wednesday.

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Things have seemed like they are burning down around the Grizzlies the past few weeks: The team has lost 12-of-13 games and now long-time franchise stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are on the trade block.

Now the franchise is on fire — literally. They had a locker room fire in the FedEx Forum, which fortunately was small and no one was injured.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or serious damage.

But this seems about right for the Grizzlies lately.