Is Dirk's knee the D-Will smoking gun? - NBC Sports

Is Dirk's knee the D-Will smoking gun?
Maybe not, but for young star deciding long-term future, it's at least in evidence
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Did Dirk Nowitzki's being on the backside of his career arc give Deron Williams pause about the idea of committing long-term to the Mavericks? That would make sense.
October 23, 2012, 2:10 am

Q: With all the back and forth between Cuban and D-Will, isn't it obvious Williams made the right decision in light of Dirk's knee problems?
-- Sid, Far Rockaway, N.Y.

A: Let's not overstate a knee issue for Dirk Nowitzki that only now is coming to light, at least the latest chapter.

But the premise to your question is legitimate - that Deron Williams clearly could have had second thoughts about committing to a long-term Dallas future with an All-Star forward who clearly is on the downside.

With the Nets there is the relative youth of Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, and at the time Williams re-upped with Brooklyn, there still was a chance of landing Dwight Howard.

Mark Cuban merely is doing what team officials always do, moving past the ones that got away, praising what instead remains in place.

But don't try to convince us that if Deron Williams, with his skill set, were standing in front of Cuban on "Shark Tank" that Cuban wouldn't be outbidding the others in the room.

The Nowitzki knee situation might not be dire, but there never is anything good to be said about recurring knee issues with an older player. There just isn't.

As it is, Cuban essentially finds himself buying time as he looks to reload the Mavericks, time Nowitzki might not necessarily have.

Q: Doesn't Kobe's belittling of Smush Parker actually say more about Kobe? Smush Parker? When's the last time anyone's mentioned him?
-- Steve, Laguna Niguel, Calif.

A: Hmm, that would be when he got cut by the Heat a couple of years later after a run-in with a Miami valet-parking attendant. Also, he'll go down as the last Heat player prevented by Pat Riley from wearing a headband (something LeBron James does very visibly these days).

But it did seem rather small for Kobe Bryant to be going in that direction, particularly when it turns out that virtually every move made by Mitch Kupchak, including saving future cap space and retraining Andrew Bynum (another rant victim of Bryant), wound up revitalizing the franchise.

The Lakers facilitated the Shaq trade for Kobe because it became evident the crumbling chemistry wouldn't work. But first they tried to make it work by bringing in Karl Malone and then Gary Payton.

They then reloaded Bryant for a pair of championships, and now have given him Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. And he's complaining about Smush Parker?

Really?

Q: With T-Mac going to China, which I think we all saw coming after he played with Yao, does it say that players no longer are going to be forced into taking minimum salaries in the NBA instead? Look at what China has done for Stephon Marbury.
-- Lupe, Shenzhen.

A: What it means is that players who recognize that they're at the ends of their careers, simply flitting from team to team, as McGrady has done the past few years, that the lack of stability might as well include any team that is interested, regardless of geography.

Yes, the overseas game revitalized Marbury's career, just as it did earlier the career of Bob McAdoo. But NBA players who believe they can contribute in the NBA still prefer the NBA, even if it means a waiting game. The prime current example is Kenyon Martin, who seemed to regret his China decision as soon as he made it last season.

Q. I was watching a show on one of the Fox regionals about Charlotte's front office and how they went about the draft, and there was more Rich Cho than Jordan. Is M.J. out of the day-to-day picture?
-- Julio, Miami.

A: Never. Not as long as it's his money being spent (something Michael never has been a fan of).

But after a series of wayward personnel moves and draft picks, Michael seemingly has come to recognize that there are others better suited to such decisions, with Cho a quality hire by the Bobcats.

Sometimes the stars have trouble noticing the nuances of lesser talents, which is why some top players have failed as coaches or executives. You can bet that if the Bobcats make a blockbuster move or are able to attract a top-tier, big-money free agent, that the signing, for better or worse, will be signed off on by Jordan.

But when it comes to filling out rosters with complementary pieces or sorting through second-round draft picks, Jordan seemingly has come to the epiphany that such moves are better left to others.

Q: Ira, is Kyrie Irving back from his hand surgery? I never thought I'd be rooting for the Cavaliers.
-- Rob, Durham, N.C.

A: He is, and he very well could be the NBA's next big thing at point guard, especially considering John Wall's run of bad luck.

And there certainly are worse fates than rooting for the Cavaliers, who just might sneak into the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference this season, considering there simply isn't much in the East behind the Heat, Celtics, Bulls, Pacers, 76ers, Nets and Knicks.

Don't be surprised if the Cavaliers are contending for the playoffs in March and April, if Irving is able to stay healthy.

Q: Why do you keep writing that Chris Bosh is the Heat's answer at center? He's not a center and said it himself with the Raptors.
-- Jeffrey, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A: And then he was put in the starting lineup at center during last season's playoffs, and then he went and won a championship.

He fooled around and fell in love with being a center.

Chris Bosh not only now is a full-time center (even if Erik Spoelstra refuses to admit as much in his "position-less" approach) but well could emerge as the Eastern Conference's starting center in the All-Star Game, now that he is almost assured of being listed at center on the All-Star ballot.

Being a center in the East no longer means having to go up against Dwight Howard four times a season or even up against Andrew Bogut. Suddenly, it's not nearly all that daunting a premise, with all due credit to Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert, Nene, Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Al Horford.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http.//twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

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