Wizards

Cuban: Struggling Mavericks won't trade Nowitzki

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Cuban: Struggling Mavericks won't trade Nowitzki

DALLAS (AP) Mark Cuban says he plans to keep star Dirk Nowitzki even though the Dallas Mavericks have their worst record since a few months after he bought the team in 2000.

Cuban said before Saturday night's game against Memphis that he wanted to be clear with Nowitzki that he was committed ``through thick and thin'' to getting the team back in contention.

Dallas recently fell 10 games under .500 for the first time since Nowitzki's second season in 1999-2000. Since then, the Mavericks have made the playoffs 12 straight years and won the title in 2011.

The Mavericks are playing with a revamped roster for the second straight season after Cuban decided not to bring back several key players from the championship team.

``I told Dirk we're not going to trade him. He was happy. I think,'' Cuban said, laughing. ``I wanted to make it clear to him. I said, `We're in this through thick and thin,' and so there's no way I would trade him no matter what.''

Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games after the first knee surgery of his career, blew off some steam after a recent loss by saying the Mavericks couldn't count on landing a big name in free agency next summer after they missed on Deron Williams last offseason. It was an indirect shot at Cuban's decision to let Tyson Chandler and others go after the franchise's first title.

``When Dirk has something on this mind, he's never shy,'' Cuban said. ``If he's going to tell you what he said in the media, you don't think he's going to dump on me? I mean, I've got texts from every single year and emails from every single year. Dirk wants to get it out of his system and then at the end of the email or text it's like, `Don't you worry. I'm a warrior and I'm going to lead these guys and we're going to get it rolling.'''

The Mavericks added guards O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, center Chris Kaman and forward Elton Brand on short-term deals with the idea that they could pursue big names later, but also with the belief that the team could win now with Nowitzki. When the 7-foot German couldn't make it through training camp without pain in his right knee, Dallas was suddenly figuring out how to survive without him.

The Mavericks actually did OK at 12-15 while Nowitzki was out, but he was sluggish the first few games during a rough part of the schedule. Dallas lost nine of 10 and fell to 13-23 before beating Sacramento on Thursday in a game that also snapped an NBA record-tying 10-game overtime losing streak.

Nowitzki had a hand in a few of the defeats, missing key free throws late in losses to New Orleans and Miami.

``The odds of Dirk missing the free throws ... I would have taken that bet anytime, anywhere,'' Cuban said. ``It just takes time. No one hurts more about it than Dirk. And there's nobody who's a bigger warrior and that's why I won't ever trade him.''

That doesn't mean the Mavericks won't be active before the Feb. 21 trading deadline. Cuban said there was a ``100 percent chance we're going to try to look to do something.'' He says the Mavericks could benefit from other teams trying to avoid harsher luxury tax rules that kick in next year.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.