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Kyrie Irving says he wants to retire in his early-to-mid 30s

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Hawks forward Vince Carter, 41, is in his 21st season.

Will Celtics guard Kyrie Irving – 26, is in his eighth season – match that longevity?

Irving, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

“No, no,” Irving said with a smile before the Celtics held morning shootaround ahead of the game. “Once I’m done with this, hopefully in my early to mid-30s, I’m done with this.”

“I love basketball itself,” Irving said. “But everything that comes with it? It doesn’t really matter to me, in terms of my life. I enjoy the game, I enjoy being with my teammates, playing every single day.

“I would say, I don’t want to go into major detail, but I would just say I wish there was sometimes more empathy in terms of what we’ve committed ourselves to doing every single day. Putting our bodies on the line, understanding kind of the mental strain you put on just trying to be great every single day, and just literally putting the ball in the hoop better than you did yesterday. It comes at a price, but it’s what we all signed up [for], and it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take for as long as possible in order to win as many championships and be as successful as I can.

“I just think the material gain in it just doesn’t really matter to me anymore as much as it once did. The little things are just what make the game special. Coming every single day and playing with these guys, and still try to figure out what that challenge is to be better as a basketball player rather than like, ‘What’s my popularity like?’ or ‘What branding could be done here?’ or something like that. That all comes, but I think the love of the game should always outshine everything else that comes with the NBA lifestyle.”

Irving has talked before about retiring relatively young. This isn’t just a fleeting thought.

Still, it can be difficult to actually walk away. Irving has spent so much of his life committed to basketball. You don’t reach his level without massive devotion to the sport. Plus, Irving will never near the compensation (through standard salary and endorsements) and perks that come with being an active NBA player once he retires.

But Irving definitely doesn’t think like a typical NBA star. He could pave his own way.

Also consider: It’s common for players to retire by their early-to-mid 30s, even if they’d rather keep playing. Injuries happen. Athleticism wanes. Even players who were as good as Irving at such a young age – and are declining from a high peak – sometimes fall off by then. Tracy McGrady retired at age 34. Isiah Thomas finished playing at age 32.

Irving pledged to re-sign with Boston next summer, and he can ink a five-year deal. He’d be 32 when it ends. It’s too soon for even Irving to say how he’ll feel about his future then. But maybe retirement will be around the corner at that point.

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.