Knicks reportedly considered serious run at free agent DeMar DeRozan

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The Knicks had a fairly strong offseason. They signed  Evan Fournier to a four-year, $78 million deal, and while that may be a bit of an overpay he brings needed 3-point shooting (41.3% last season), secondary shot creation, and he averaged 17.1 points a game last season. New York got a steal in getting Kemba Walker (*knock on wood his knees hold up*), brought back Derrick Rose, plus Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks each got three-year contracts. New York got better.

But they could have gone a lot of other directions, the Knicks had the cap space and would have gone big game hunting if more big game had been available. One player they seriously considered going after was DeMar DeRozan, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Turns out, according to two NBA sources, [Knicks GM Scott] Perry was leaning toward a bolder pursuit, that of San Antonio standout swingman DeMar DeRozan. He made the All-Star Game his last three seasons in Toronto before being traded to the Spurs in 2018. DeRozan, though, would have cost more per season. According to the sources, DeRozan had sincere interest in the Knicks, but instead ended up with a generous deal in Chicago – a three-year, $85 million package. The Knicks inked Fournier for four years, $78 million (with bonuses) while retaining a team option for the final season.

Perry and the Knicks made the right call. While DeRozan brings buckets and shot creation — 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game — he doesn’t space the floor as a shooter and, at age 32, decline is a bigger risk than with Fournier. Plus, the Knicks may have overpaid a little for Fournier (although that is around the going rate for starting wings), but the Bulls overpaid a lot more for DeRozan.

The Knicks’ new management, led by former super agent Leon Rose, has made largely smart decisions since taking over. It’s been a bit conservative, not going all-in for the quick fix, but that is the smart play. New York got better this offseason, the problem is that might not show up on the standings — in a deeper East it’s unlikely the Knicks finish with the No. 4 seed again. They should be a better playoff team, but whether that will be enough is a question not answered until the Spring.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.