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Agent: Mavericks have yet to make Nerlens Noel a serious offer

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The Mavericks reportedly entered the offseason with re-signing Nerlens Noel as their top priority. He surely dreamed of a max contract, which multiple teams were reportedly willing to offer.

But Dallas and Noel are at a stalemate.

Noel is the best free agent available, but he’s restricted, cap space is drying up around the league, and it’s a tight market for centers. There’s no solution in sight.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

The Mavericks’ negotiations with Nerlens Noel remain far apart and the representative for the fourth-year center said Tuesday that the situation could drag on well into the summer.

“We’re very disappointed with where things stand,” Walters said. “Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer.”

I’m curious what Walters considers a “serious offer.” Of course, he leaves it up to the imagination. The Mavericks might disagree with his assessment.

Unfortunately for Noel, he doesn’t have much leverage.

He could always take the $4,187,599 qualifying offer,* but that would mean a below-market salary this season and no guarantee of a lucrative long-term deal next year. Even as an unrestricted free agent in 2018, he’d face similar conditions – a stagnating salary cap and a league devaluing centers.

*Noel fell one start of meeting the starter criteria, which would have given him a $5,848,910 qualifying offer. After coming over in a mid-season trade from the 76ers, Noel began his Dallas tenure coming off the bench. He soon moved into the starting lineup, starting 11 of his final 12 games. But he curiously came off the bench for a single game in that span, against Milwaukee. Maybe that was just about the matchup, and it was easy to gloss over when it seemed Noel and the Mavericks would reach a long-term deal. But the longer this drags out, the more distrust that April lineup against the Bucks could generate.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.

Karl-Anthony Towns has fractured wrist, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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Karl-Anthony Towns was a surprise scratch from the Timberwolves last game before the All-Star break, a “left wrist injury” delaying the home debut of him with D'Angelo Russell (they did play a road game together in Toronto). Then came the rumors he could miss a few games when play started up again.

It’s going to be more than a few games, more than a few weeks.

Towns has a fractured left wrist, the team announced Friday. He is out and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. From the team press release:

“While Towns has been diligent in treatment with a goal of return to play, he has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days and the team continues to gather information on the optimal management strategies.”

Towns had been playing through wrist pain for a couple of weeks before this diagnosis.

Towns is having a career year on offense, averaging  26.5 points a game while shooting 41 percent from three (on 7.9 attempts per game), plus grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night. That has not translated into wins for Minnesota, however.

Towns being out doesn’t hurt the Timberwolves in the short term, they have fallen far out of the playoff chase in the West. However, this cuts into time Towns and Russell could have used to grow accustomed to each other’s games. It’s time lost for the coaching staff and front office as they evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.

Lakers vs. Clippers game rescheduled for April 9, forces Lakers into back-to-back-to-back

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It was the right thing to do when the league, in consultation with the Lakers and Clippers, postponed the game between the two teams on Jan. 28, just two days after Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.

However, it left the league in a difficult spot — it was not going to be easy to find a place to put that game. Both teams have full schedules, plus the Staples Center is also home to the NHL’s Kings plus other booked concerts and events.

The found a spot: The game will be played on April 9 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, and will be broadcast on TNT.

But to do that three other games had to be moved, and in doing so it has the Lakers playing in a back-to-back-to-back (something only seen in recent decades during the 66-game lockout season of 2011-12).

The other games moved are:

• The Chicago Bulls at Clippers game initially scheduled for April 8 will be played on April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT (moving from Wednesday to Monday).
• The Golden State Warriors at Lakers game originally scheduled for April 9 will be played on April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT (moving from Thursday to Tuesday) and will remain televised on TNT.
• The Bulls at Lakers game originally scheduled for April 7 will be played on April 8 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 PT (moving from Tuesday to Wednesday).

Meaning the Lakers host the Warriors Tuesday, the Bulls Wednesday, then are “at” the Clippers on Thursday.

The Clippers are now scheduled to play Monday (Bulls), Tuesday (at Jazz), and Thursday that week.

It’s not an ideal situation, but the league made the right move at the time. This is the price.