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Teletovic’s career night leads Nets over Mavs

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NEW YORK — Coming into Friday night, Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic had a career-high of 19 points. Within six minutes of coming on in the second quarter, he already tied that mark on his way to a career-best 34 points. Every single one was needed as the Brooklyn Nets remain the hottest team in January with a 107-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Nets are now 9-1 this month.

“It proves that we are a serious contender,” Teletovic said. “Dallas is one of the best teams in the NBA. They’ve proven it so many times and just to get a win against them, it’s tough.”

Trailing from the second quarter on, the Mavericks battled back to within three points with 8.1 seconds left after Nets forward Paul Pierce missed a pair of free throws.

Fouling Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on the inbound, he made the first, intentionally missed the second, but it was rebounded by Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko, who iced the game at the free throw line. A three-pointer from Mavericks guard Monta Ellis with .6 seconds left was too little, too late.

“We were just poor defensively as a team,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Mirza Teletovic hit his first couple of shots and we just let him keep going and you just can’t do that with professional shooters.”

Teletovic single-handedly kicked a sluggish game into gear and gave his side its insurmountable lead with a big-time second quarter. The Bosnian hit his first three, 3-pointers, all in succession, as he posted 24 points in the frame, including a career-high 19 in his first six minutes.

“Once I got in the game and I made one three-pointer, Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson), Paul (Pierce), KG (Kevin Garnett) everybody just started saying ‘give him the ball’,” Teletovic said. “I had wide open shots.”

An 8-2 Mavericks run to start the third quarter cut the Nets double-digit lead to as small as five, but Brooklyn answered quickly to regain its cushion momentarily.

“We weren’t fighting hard enough,” Carlisle said. “Second half, we fought hard in the third and fourth quarters. We weren’t making shots the way we’re capable of.”

Dallas would not go quietly, using two former Nets to get back into the game.

Forward Vince Carter was the Mavericks’ most productive man with 19 points coming off the bench. Carter, a former member of the New Jersey Nets, played for the organization from 2005-09. Guard Devin Harris, who played for the Nets from 2007-11 added 14 points and four rebounds before fouling out with six minutes left in the fourth.

Nowitzki became the latest victim of the Nets ever-improving defense, recording 18 points. Dallas’ second-leading scorer, Ellis who averages 20.0 points per game, was held to just seven points in the first half. He finished with 16.

Coming off the bench for a third consecutive game was Nets guard Deron Williams. Williams took over quickly for guard Shaun Livingston, recording a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists.

“The guys competed. Our bench was big tonight, but everybody contributed,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “In the fourth quarter, we probably gave up a little bit one too many points, but before that, the guys fought…We found ourselves winning a ball game that maybe in 2013 we would have lost.”

Pierce and Garnett complimented Teletovic’s leading performance with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as both former-Celtics are starting to settle into their new roles as supporting veterans. Garnett, with 11 rebounds, recorded his second double-double of the season.

“It just shows the depth that we’re starting to exploit against other teams,” Pierce said. “The good thing is, we have a number of people that are contributing. That’s the beautiful thing about this team.”

Before Teletovic’s introduction to the game in the second quarter, the Nets were shooting 8 of 20 from the field. During his blistering six-minute run, the Nets shot 10-of-12, opening up an 11-point halftime lead.

“Mirza was going good pretty much the whole night,” Kidd said. “He’s been working extremely hard at this game.”

NOTES: The Nets’ 8-1 record in January coming into Friday night was the best in the NBA. … At 25-19, the Mavericks hold the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If playing in the East, they would be the three seed. … In his 15th season, Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 21.1 points per game, good for 13th in the league. … Nets G Shaun Livingston continues to start despite the return of guard Deron Williams. The three-time NBA All-Star continues to come off the bench in order to keep the team’s chemistry intact. … Nets coach Jason Kidd and G Jason Terry will be facing one of their former coaches, Randy Carlisle. … Mavericks Gs Vince Carter and Devin Harris spent time with the Nets while they were in New Jersey. Carter was with the Nets from 2005-09 and Harris from 2007-11.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Mavericks are expected to pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option

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Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.

On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.

This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.

However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs’ organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.

Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.

Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, or Philadelphia 76ers.

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Jazz offering Mike Conley $75 million over next three years

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According to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Utah Jazz are preparing to offer point guard Mike Conley a three-year, $75 million contract to remain with the team. Of course, the exact amount is a ballpark figure. Stein stated, “Utah has made retaining Mike Conley its top priority, league sources say, and is preparing a three-year offer said to be in the $75 million range.” The 14-year NBA veteran is a significant piece to the Jazz’s championship window, playing alongside superstar teammates, such as center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell. He helped the Jazz finish their regular season with the league’s best record of 52-20 (.722).

Utah went on to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Though, the team lost four games to two in the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Conley averaged 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and six assists per game in 51 games started. Then, in the postseason, he averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. The 33-year-old also shot 44.4 percent from the field in the regular season. Last season, the 2007 fourth overall pick earned his first NBA All-Star selection.

On July 6, 2019, the Grizzlies traded Conley to the Jazz for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick. Furthermore, the Jazz can still trade Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles this offseason, if they wanted to improve their current salary cap situation. Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 cap holds, Mike Conley’s cap figure is $39,344,900. Cap holds are for pending free agents. Conley earned $34,504,132 last season.

The team’s current luxury tax space is $11,173,027. In addition to the aforementioned cap figures, Mitchell and Gobert have a combined cap figure worth 51.34 percent of the team’s total salary cap. These two players’ contracts alone are consuming a huge chunk of the team’s cap. Plus, on November 23, 2020, Mitchell signed a contract extension with Utah. He is set to earn $28,103,550 next season. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. He will earn $35,344,828 next season and $38,172,414 in the 2022-23 season.

However, if the team were to still trade Bogdanovic and possibly Ingles as well, this would clear up an additional 25.68 percent of the team’s salary cap. Bogdanovic’s future guaranteed cash amount total is $19,343,000. They are contributing role players who play together well with the team’s big three, but re-signing the most valuable players is the team’s main objective this offseason. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik might contemplate trading role players who are not worth their asking price. Competitive teams in both conferences have to trim the fat at some point.

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder

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First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not possess any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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