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Dwyane Wade's, Dirk Nowitzki's sacrifices show added value of winning in NBA

Dwyane Wade's, Dirk Nowitzki's sacrifices show added value of winning in NBA

A lot of teams will have money to spend this summer with the salary cap jumping from $70 million to somewhere around $93 million, and players negotiated deals in the last few years that give them options to become unrestricted. That’s going to mean a glut of max-sized contracts being handed out when 20-plus teams strike out in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.

There also will be some name free agents, such as Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks who said he will opt out of his deal, will be unrestricted though have little intention of leaving their current destination. The same could hold true for Jeremy Lin, who only made $2.1 million for the Charlotte Hornets but should earn a hefty raise should he exercise his player option.

It’s simply a business decision that gives Dallas the flexibility to rebuild its 42-win team around Nowitzki or give him a raise over the $8.7 million he earned this past season. Or he could end up taking less if more pieces can be put around him to contend. Nowitzki doesn’t have an agent. He’s never been interested in the wine-and-dine courtship of the free-agent process, preferring to deal straight forward with owner Mark Cuban which is what happened after he led them to a championship in 2011.

During exit interviews after the L.A. Clippers season came to a close, coach/GM Doc Rivers spoke about that kind of loyalty that a player has towards an organization that’s a product of winning. The San Antonio Spurs have contended for titles for most of two decades because they can get the likes of future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to make financial sacrifices to preserve the foundation and culture. Dwyane Wade, 34, took short money to stay with the Miami Heat after three titles and they’re back in the mix to make it out of the East.

Nowitzki just completed his 18th season, all with Dallas, and made short money though the 7-footer remains the team No. 1 option on offense. Wade is being compensated nicely at $20 million, but he opted out of a previous deal to give Miami a chance to chase LaMarcus Aldridge last summer. He made back some the money he sacrificed in his current one-year deal, and though he wanted more security it allows the Heat to be players in the free-agent market for Durant this summer. It's a give-and-take that occurs when a franchise has a history of winning, stability and trust between the front office and the locker room.

“They’ve gotten some of their key guys to take less and fit in because they’re a lot older,” Rivers said of the Spurs before pivoting to the bigger picture about his Clippers “That’s my goal. Us win one or two and Chris (Paul) and them are 35 and decide take less, which you think they would at that point to keep winning, but you’ve got to win it first. You don’t get that loyalty and then win it. You usually win it and then you get that type of sacrifice -- the Dirk Nowitzki sacrifice. He won it. Dwayne did it the one year. He had won it already it doesn’t usually happen before you win it.”

These situations are the exception in the NBA, not the rule. The Wizards, like the Clippers, are quite a few steps away from getting near that level. For that matter, so are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers.

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

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.


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:


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.' 


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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.