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Could Dirk Nowitzki come off the bench for Dallas this season?

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It’s hard to imagine this actually happening. Not to the best player in franchise history, the talisman of the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki is a starter, even if his minutes are reduced.

But… DeAndre Jordan is the starting center for Dallas this season, Harrison Barnes spent the majority of his minutes last season (56 percent of them) at the four, rookie Luka Doncic is really a ball-handling three, Wesley Mathews is at the two, and Dennis Smith Jr. is at the point. Where is Nowitzki in that?

Speaking to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki said he was open to the idea of idea of coming off the bench if that was best for the team.

“Obviously, the last couple years, I’ve played more at the five” Nowitzki said. “Jokingly, I told DeAndre that, the way the foot is healing, you’re going to have to fight for your starting spot. I texted him that two, three weeks ago. He was just laughing….

“Obviously, DeAndre’s going to be our starter at the five position and the rest will just kind of fall in place after that,” Nowitzki said. “If [Barnes] goes back to the four or we start other ways, I have no idea as of yet. But it’s a great problem to have. We want to be a franchise that is back in the playoffs and plays well and has fun again.”

In reality, Nowitzki will be the four, Barnes and Doncic will play a wing combo, and Smith will start at the point. Matthews will be with the second unit. What all of this gives the mad genius Rick Carlisle is options — he can go bigger, smaller, more defensive or more offensive depending upon the opponent and situation.

Is that going to be good enough to make the playoffs in the ridiculously deep West? Even with that versatility, Dallas is going to need some help.

Jimmy Butler joins 76ers defending reputation from Timberwolves exit

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76ers general manager Elton Brand wore a suit. 76ers owner Joshua Harris wore a suit. New 76ers center Justin Patton wore a suit – with a bowtie!

And then there was Jimmy Butler, who sat between them in sweats.

“As you can tell, I’m the only one up here without a suit on because my suit got here late this morning,” Butler pointed out at his introductory press conference today.

Butler begins his new chapter in Philadelphia trying to repair his image.

His trade request from the Timberwolves, his subsequent tactics and reports about his treatment of teammates tarnished his reputation. In a humbler outfit – a genuine consequence of a hasty move or another orchestrated stunt? – Butler addressed those questions.

“I think that I’m an incredible human being, teammate, and I’ll show that to the guys that are here,” Butler said.

So, he won’t convince anyone he’s humble.

But he shouldn’t have to. Butler worked his way up from a modest origin into superstardom. Arrogance can be earned. His ascent should be celebrated – and emulated.

Everyone, including Butler’s new teammates, could learn from his work ethic. That didn’t work well in Minnesota, where Butler sparred with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler would do well to exercise more patience while setting an example.

Not that he’s ready to admit wrongdoing.

“The funny part about it is all you hear is ‘sources say.’ You never hear a player say it,” Butler said. “And I think if a player had a problem or anything, they would. That’s how I feel about the situation. Unless everybody in my past locker room was just that fake, I don’t think I’m that big of a problem at all.”

I don’t think players turned off by Butlers fury would be above criticizing him anonymously. His confrontational style isn’t for everyone.

Besides, Butler used leaks to his advantage, too. It’s all part of the game, which resulted in Butler getting his Bird Rights – and the ability to offer a max contract projected to be worth $190 million over five years – to the 76ers.

Of course, Butler denied money drove his trade request. He insisted he’s still the guy who listens to country music, plays dominos and drives a minivan.

“I’ve already got enough money to have me and my family set for the rest of my life,” Butler said. “It’s not about the money. I’ve got to be able to love where I’m at and have a great chance of winning a championship.

“I love what Josh and Elton are doing. I think they’re doing it the right way. That’s what matters, the people that are around here and how everybody is treated. Because basketball is just one part of it. But to know that you’re wanted and that you’re always going to be taken care of, your people are always going to be taken care of, I think that’s what matters most to me – and a lot of other people in this league.”

Butler wasn’t pressed on what went wrong in Minnesota. He professed his fondness for Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau and said, “it just didn’t work out.”

Will it in Philadelphia? Butler said he dominated the ball in Minnesota only because that was asked of him. He sounds ready to adjust to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, whose social-media postings Butler called a “special work of art.” Talent tends to win out, and this team has awesome defensive ability.

Butler’s reputation never should have been as sullied as it was. The Timberwolves’ mismanagement contributed to the dysfunction as much as, if not more, than Butler’s trade request. He still performed very well for Minnesota in his year-plus there.

But if he comes to Philadelphia with an even larger chip on his shoulder, eager to prove his bona fides as a teammate and leader, that could be good for him and the 76ers. Butler lifted himself to an elite level. He still must show an ability to help others get there.

At least on day one in Philadelphia, Butler came dressed to work.

Report: Draymond Green-Kevin Durant spat ‘one of the most intense of this Warriors era’

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Draymond Green and Kevin Durant got into a confrontation with each other during a game two years ago. They quickly downplayed the argument and since won two titles together with the Warriors. The incident was largely forgotten.

Green and Durant quarreled on the bench again last night. This time, the surrounding rhetoric is trending the other way.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

An angry late game exchange between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green carried into the Golden State Warriors locker room on Monday night in Los Angeles, where some teammates loudly confronted Green for his decision-making on the final play of regulation, league sources told ESPN.

After the 121-116 overtime loss to the LA Clippers, some witnesses described the closed-door exchange as one of the most intense of this Warriors era. No one had to be separated, no player left his side and no hint of physicality loomed in the setting, sources said.

If harsh words over late-game strategy has been most intense exchange of the last three seasons, the Warriors are incredibly spoiled. Related: The Warriors are incredibly spoiled.

Teams would kill to suffer only this level of drama. Bickering over a November loss is nearly nothing. Green wanted to push the ball. Durant wanted to control it himself. It’s not necessarily a deep issue.

That said, because the Warriors have faced minimal challenge since signing Durant, this can feel more significant to them. They might overreact and let this linger in ways teams with more serious problems might not. So, this can spiral into something bigger.

Big enough to affect Durant’s upcoming free agency? He has the power to leave, and playing with the temperamental Green can be draining.

It can also be rewarding. Green’s attitude helps make him one of the NBA’s top defenders, and he’s a superb playmaker – a reason keeping the ball in his hands, despite the failed result this time, made sense. If Durant leaves Golden State, he might not find a teammate as good as Green (let alone Stephen Curry).

This episode will be one of the many things for Durant to consider next summer.

DeMar DeRozan learned he had been traded in parking lot of Jack-in-the-Box

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As if eating Jack-in-the-Box in your car at midnight was not depressing enough already…

That’s when and where DeMar DeRozan learned he had been traded from Toronto — the city and franchise he was all in on — to the San Antonio Spurs. The trade sent DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

DeRozan opened up to Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report about how he learned about the decision that rocked him to his core.

DeRozan found out about the trade after getting out of a screening of The Equalizer 2, featuring Denzel Washington. Upon leaving the movie theater in Los Angeles late into the night, he checked his phone. “[I] was wondering why I was getting missed calls,” he says.

He was hungry, so he went to get something to eat at a Jack in the Box. In the parking lot, he got the call telling him he had just been traded to San Antonio. “It just caught me off guard,” he says. “I sat in the Jack in the Box parking lot for, like, two hours just trying to process it all, like just trying to process the whole thing, and it just tripped me out honestly, just trying to figure it out, but that’s how I found out. Midnight, sitting in the Jack in the Box parking lot for about two hours till I went home.”

It’s a trade that Toronto felt it had to make, in the same way it felt it had to move on from Coach of the Year Dwane Casey. The Raptors were enjoying their best run of basketball success in franchise history, having won 59 games the season before, but come the playoffs their system and personnel were just a little too predictable, and they could not reach the next level. Plus LeBron James was in the way.

Except now LeBron wasn’t in the way, and the Raptors decided to swing for the fences. Early on Toronto looks very good this season, but the real test of Leonard and the new-look Raptors starts in April. We’ve seen the good regular season Raptors before.

DeRozan is averaging 25.2 points per game this season and has been more efficient as a shooter because the Spurs have asked him to play to his strengths — the midrange jumper. DeRozan is taking fewer threes in a league that has gone three crazy. The Spurs are 9.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, with most of that help on the offensive end. More than that, DeRozan has found a new home, a new comfort level.

But there are still a few scars from how all of it went down.

Nets: Caris LeVert dislocated foot, will return this season

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Caris LeVert‘s injury last night looked so severe, his Nets teammates cried and the Timberwolves prayed.

Thankfully, that all turned out to be an overreaction. (Or, if you believe, the compassion and prayer worked.)

Nets release:

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert returned to New York with the team last night and was evaluated today by Nets’ Team Orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Following the evaluation, LeVert was diagnosed with a subtalar dislocation of the right foot.

“Fortunately, tests performed this morning revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” said Dr. O’Malley. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required. Caris will begin a period of rehabilitation with the Nets’ performance staff, following which he is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.”

This is fantastic news. LeVert is one of the NBA’s up-and-comers and well-liked by nearly everyone who knows him. People all around the league wished him well in the wake of this injury.

It’s still unclear how much time LeVert will miss. A dislocated foot is a small matter only relative to the feared severity of LeVert’s injury. This will probably derail his Most Improved Player campaign.

But LeVert returning to the court this season will be a joyous occasion on its own.