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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Mark Cuban says Mavericks will accept Dogecoin cryptocurrency for purchases

Mark Cuban

In case there was any doubt, Mark Cuban is officially the spiciest meme lord among all the NBA owners.

Cuban announced this week that his Dallas Mavericks will begin accept the popular cryptocurrency Dogecoin for purchases of tickets and merchandise.

Cuban was asked why they’re making the move and gave a simple response.

“Because we can!” said Cuban, per Isabelle Lee of Markets Insider. “Sometimes in business, you have to do things that are fun.”

Dogecoin, which is currently trading around $0.05 per coin, began in 2013 as a joke based around the well-known Doge meme. It has since gained legitimacy though after boosts from celebrity backers such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and is up nearly 2,000 percent in just the last year alone.

The Mavs began accepting Bitcoin, the most recognized cryptocurrency, in 2019. But Cuban is far from the only NBA figure to delve into these waters.

Kevin Garnett withdraws bid to buy Wolves, takes more shots at owner

Kevin Garnett

Much like he did with the rare opal in “Uncut Gems,” Kevin Garnett is taking himself out of the bidding in the sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The retired Wolves great announced via Instagram on Tuesday that he and his ownership group are officially out of the running to purchase the team. Garnett also took more shots at owner Glen Taylor, saying “thx Glen for being yourself n (sic) what I know you to be.”

The former NBA MVP proceeded to call it a “joke” that the players who helped build a franchise “like a home” could “never own them, only rent them.” Additionally, Garnett hinted at the possibility of getting involved with ownership bids for potential expansion teams in Seattle and Las Vegas.

Garnett is the greatest player in Wolves franchise history, having put the team on the map in their first decade of existence with his superstar play. But he has had a longstanding grudge against Taylor and has yet to get his jersey retired by the Wolves.

Taylor, who has owned the Wolves since 1994, has been fielding bids to sell the team since last summer. Garnett and a pair of billionaires recently got involved in the process with Garnett having previously said that he would love to “remove” Taylor. Unfortunately though, Garnett’s group is now out, and those hoping for a storybook ending will ultimately be disappointed.

Lou Williams will retire if Clippers trade him?

Lou Williams

Any NBA team hoping to trade for Lou Williams before this year’s deadline is probably spit out of luck.

The LA Clippers guard made an interesting revelation about his NBA future on Wednesday. Replying to a troll who commented on one of his Instagram posts about the possibility of Williams being traded, the former Sixth Man of the Year indicated that he would retire if dealt by the Clippers.

“This my last stop champ,” Williams wrote. “I get traded it’s gonna be to LouWillVille lol.”

Williams is 34 and in his 16th NBA season. He will also be a free agent in the summer. While Williams’ numbers are down this season (12.4 points and 3.7 assists per game), he is playing fewer minutes and is actually shooting a career-high 39.6 percent from deep.

The trade gods have been circling Williams for several months now. But for a player who has already had a fruitful NBA career with over $80 million in earnings, retirement may be the most appealing route if he does get traded.

Alex Caruso turned down invite to compete in Dunk Contest

Alex Caruso

This year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest was almost going to be the single greatest event in the history of Western civilization.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso revealed this week that he received an invite from the league to compete at the event but turned it down.

“[I’m] maybe looking forward to [the break] a little bit more,” said Caruso, per Bill Oram of The Athletic. “I’ll probably just play some golf with some buddies and leave it at that.”

The Dunk Contest will not have very much star power this year, especially without a cult hero like Caruso taking part. The three participants will be Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers.

The 27-year-old fan favorite Caruso actually almost found his way into All-Star Weekend through the will of the people. But it sounds like he would rather spend the All-Star break working on his golf swing instead.

Twitter divided over Rockets’ decision to retire James Harden’s jersey

James Harden

James Harden will be getting his No. 13 jersey lifted to the rafters in Houston, and it is leading to a mixed bag of reactions from the Internet.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said on Tuesday that the team plans to eventually retire Harden’s number.

“James Harden will always be a Rocket,” he said, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning this franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fanbase/community [are] truly remarkable.”

Many on Twitter thought that the honor was well-deserved for Harden.

Others, however, questioned the team’s decision, citing Harden’s lack of playoff success.

The Rockets have retired a total of six jersey numbers in the 54-year history of their franchise: Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, Clyde Drexler, and Yao Ming. Three of those players (Murphy, Malone, and Yao) never won a ring with the team.

For Harden’s part, he accomplished a lot in his eight seasons with Houston. He made the All-Star team in every single season, earned seven All-NBA selections, led the league in scoring three times, led the league in assists one time, and won NBA MVP in 2017-2018. Harden also led the Rockets to four division titles and two conference finals berths, including a narrow seven-game loss to one of the greatest teams ever assembled in the Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors.

Regardless of how Harden’s time in Houston ended, those accolades are more than worthy of a jersey retirement. Still, one of those aforementioned Rockets legends sitting in the rafters may not exactly agree.

Report: Lloyd Pierce had lost Trae Young’s support

Trae Young

Trae Young is very much the future for the Atlanta Hawks, and it sounds like he may have had a role in the team’s decision to fire coach Lloyd Pierce.

Chris Kirschner, Sam Amick, and David Aldridge of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Pierce had lost the support of Young, among other players. The report states that Pierce and Young had “a difficult dynamic.” Pierce had allegedly taken a “tough love approach” with Young from Day One, which Young often pushed back against. The report adds that the two clashed on a number of issues, including Young’s shot selection and Pierce’s late-game decisions. Player support behind Pierce otherwise had also supposedly been dwindling towards the end with the Pierce-Young relationship said to be “a tone-setter of sorts” for the entire group.

Pierce departs from his post with a 63-120 record (.344) and zero playoff appearances in two-and-a-half seasons. Assistant Nate McMillan, who has 16 years of head coaching experience, will be Atlanta’s new interim coach.

The firing of Pierce may not fix all that ails the 14-20 Hawks however. Young has also had tensions flare up this season with some of his own teammates.

Lonzo Ball has played himself out of trade talks?

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball may have just taken his fate into his own hands with his excellent play of late.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on Monday that there is now little expectation that the New Orleans Pelicans will move Ball before the trade deadline. Fischer adds that fellow guards JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe still appear to be very much available, however.

The timing here hardly has to be coincidental for the 23-year-old Ball. He just wrapped up an impressive month of February where he put up 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Ball is also shooting three-pointers with much more confidence, connecting on a career-best 39.3 percent of them on the year as a whole.

There were some intriguing possible trade destinations mentioned for Ball. But his offensive game finally appears to be coming around to match his dynamic defense. Combine that with the strong chemistry that Ball shares with Zion Williamson, and you can see why the Pelicans would be smart to keep him around.

Ricky Rubio has more harsh words for Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio’s second tour of duty with the Minnesota Timberwolves clearly has not been the jam.

The veteran guard had some more harsh words for the team after a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

“We have to build good habits from day one, and I don’t think we are in the right way, to be honest,” said Rubio, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I can be here and be positive like we’re trying to be and it’s OK. But we have the worst record in the league. We lost way too many games by 20-plus.

“I don’t feel like this is building something,” he added. “It’s hard. You always have to take positive things. Of course, we want to get better. But at some point we got to start wanting to change something, and it’s not happening.”

Not much has changed for the NBA-worst Wolves since they fired head coach Ryan Saunders and replaced him with Chris Finch. In fact, their nosedive continues, having lost all four of their games since Finch took over. It is true that the team has been decimated by injuries and COVID cases this year. But with so many young ex-lottery picks on the roster (including Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Jarrett Culver), you would expect Minnesota to be performing a lot better right now.

Rubio already expressed similar frustrations earlier this season. That makes it seem like there are deeper fundamental issues plaguing the organization.

Photo: Joe Bielawa/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0