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Dirk Nowitzki: ‘I’d love to keep’ Nerlens Noel

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Still up in the air is the future of center Nerlens Noel, who was acquired in a trade last season from the Philadelphia 76ers. The 6-foot-11, 228-pounder averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 22 games with the Mavericks last season.

Noel is a restricted free agent who has yet to sign with any team. If he were to sign a contract sheet with another team, the Mavericks would have the opportunity to match.

“He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” [Dirk] Nowitzki said. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time.

“I understand the business side of it. He’s a restricted free agent. I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move. We’ll have to wait to see how it all ends up.”

Source: Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated

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Jimmy Butler (Knee) Sits Out T-Wolves Win Over Raptors

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Jimmy Butler sat out Minnesota’s 115-109 victory Saturday night against Toronto with a sore right knee.

Butler is averaging 21.7 points per game for the revamped Timberwolves, who entered with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Minnesota had lost two straight before hosting the Raptors. Nemanja Bjelica started in Butler’s place.

Source: ESPN

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Celtics’ Kyrie Irving Set to Return From Shoulder Injury

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Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving went through the team’s entire off-day practice Saturday and expects to return to game action Sunday against the Orlando Magic after missing one game due to a sore shoulder.

Irving sat out Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after undergoing tests on a shoulder that had been bothering him recently. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but Irving will continue getting treatment even as he returns to game action.

Source: Chris Forsberg of ESPN

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LeBron After Loss to OKC: We Can Get Bounced Early in Playoffs

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Following one of the most inept defensive performances in Cavaliers history, LeBron James said his team looked primed for a short postseason appearance, barring any changes.

The Cavs fell 148-124 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, tying a franchise record for most points allowed in regulation. They are 3-9 since Christmas Day. “Playoffs? We can’t even start thinking about that, not the way we’re playing right now,” James said. “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend. Haven’t even began thinking about the postseason.”

Source: Dave McMenamin of ESPN

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