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The Charlotte Hornets’ top draft pick was benched in favor of Michael Carter-Williams after the team lost six straight games.

Steve Clifford chose to bench his star rookie because he needed more defense. After losing six straight games, he chose not to play Malik Monk a single minute against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Charlotte Hornets‘ head coach said that “It’s not Malik’s fault, it’s just his position; [Michael Carter-Williams is] a difference-maker defensively.” (CharlotteObserver.com)

This was the first time this year that the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft didn’t play in a game for Charlotte. He saw at least nine minutes in the Hornets’ first 14 games of the season. In a surprising turn of events, Monk has fallen out of the team’s rotation while second-round pick Dwayne Bacon is still getting important minutes off of the bench.

The Kentucky product saw 19.8 minutes per game was averaging 8.8 points, 1.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds. He’s been struggling to find his shot shooting only 34.6% from the field and 33.3% from the three-point line. His lack of offensive production hasn’t been enough to overshadow his poor defensive play.

Monk’s defense was a big question mark coming out of college. His size is making him a bit of a liability on that end of the floor. To try and cover up his defensive woes, Coach Clifford was playing Malik at point guard so that he wouldn’t be forced to cover bigger shooting guards. That worked while Michael Carter-Williams was out rehabbing from offseason knee procedures but now that MCW is back, it looks like the rookie has fallen out of the rotation.

Even though the 19-year old is struggling, it isn’t out of the norm for a rookie to have a rough start at the professional level. Even Lonzo Ball, who was the second overall pick, is having his fair share of problems in the NBA. It takes time for most first-year players to adjust to the speed and style of the league.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues going forward. If the hamstring injury that Jeremy Lamb suffered against the Clippers keeps him sidelined, it could mean a return to the rotation for Monk. At some point, you’d have to think that Malik will earn his minutes back.

It’s far too early to completely give up on such a promising rookie but for the time being, the Hornets need win games and Steve Clifford is electing to go with defense over offense. So until Malik improves his play on that end of the court or Charlotte’s defense as a whole gets better, it’s unlikely that he will see significant minutes anytime soon.

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ATLANTA — The Sacramento Kings may be just the opponent that the Atlanta Hawks need to get their first home victory of the season.

The Kings take a seven-game road losing streak into Wednesday night’s game at Philips Arena and have lost 10 straight in Atlanta.

Sacramento’s 3-10 record this season is slightly less dismal than Atlanta’s 2-12, but the Kings’ futility in Atlanta at least gives the Hawks a historical edge.

The Kings are 5-25 at Atlanta since moving to Sacramento for the 1985-86 season and their last victory came on March 3, 2006.

Of course, the Hawks have had much more overall success during most of that stretch, going to the playoffs the past 10 seasons and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals three years ago after a 60-win season.

Both the Hawks and Kings are in rebuilds this season and victories have been as hard to come by as expected.

The Hawks won their opener at Dallas and have just one win since, a 117-115 shocker against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Nov. 8 that ended an eight-game losing streak.

Four consecutive losses have followed and the Hawks are the only NBA team without a home victory, although they have played just four times at Philips Arena. Six of the next seven games are at home.

The Hawks, who have at least kept most games close, made 39 3-pointers during a three-game road trip that concluded Monday in New Orleans and still have nothing to show for it.

Four of the Hawks’ 17 3-pointers in the 106-105 loss to the Pelicans came from 6-foot-9 rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, signed earlier this month to a two-way contract that will have him playing mainly with Erie of the G-League.

“It’s one of those good stories,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said after Cavanaugh’s 16-point game. “Certainly, frustrated that we weren’t able to find a way to get the win. … We’ve got to find those spots sometimes when you’re frustrated or having a tough night — and Tyler was certainly one of those guys tonight.”

The Kings haven’t won away from Sacramento since their road opener at Dallas and have lost by 27 and 18 points in the first two games of their current three-game swing.

At least veteran guard George Hill regained his shooting touch in Monday’s 110-92 loss at Washington, scoring 16 points while making all three of his shots from behind the 3-point arc.

Hill, who averaged 16.9 points for Utah last season, is scoring just 8.2 per game with the Kings and had struggled with his shot since the opening week.

The advice that Hill has been getting apparently paid off.

“‘Look to score first, try to make passes second,’” Hill said of the message after the game. “That’s what I was trying to do.”

Veteran Vince Carter has missed the Kings’ past four games because of kidney stones.

The Hawks signed Cavanaugh because they have been without frontcourt players Ersan Ilyasova (knee), Mike Muscala (ankle) and Miles Plumlee (quad).

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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors

BOSTON — Al Horford had 24 points in his return from a two-game absence because of a concussion and the Boston Celtics hung on to beat the Toronto Raptors 95-94 on Sunday for their 12th straight victory.

Boston (12-2) was playing without Kyrie Irving after he took an inadvertent elbow to the face from teammate Aron Baynes on Friday night against Charlotte. Irving has a minor facial fracture but has not been diagnosed with a concussion as initially feared.

Jaylen Brown added 18 points, and Terry Rozier helped fill in for Irving with 16 points off the bench. Boston shot just 40.2 per cent from the field.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, and Kyle Lowry had 19 points and seven rebounds for Toronto. The Raptors dropped to 7-5 after winning two straight.

Jayson Tatum’s acrobatic layup with 1:26 remaining in the fourth quarter put the Celtics up 95-90.

DeRozan missed a potential go-ahead stepback jumper with 19 seconds remaining. Tatum got the rebound, but elbowed Fred VanVleet in the face for an offensive foul that was confirmed by video review.

DeRozan had another look to give Toronto the win, but missed a turnaround jumper with two seconds left. Serge Ibaka scooped up the rebound, but lost the ball as time expired.

The Celtics took a 77-76 lead into the fourth after fighting back from nine down.

DeRozan and Lowry scored 21 of the Raptors’ 24 first-quarter points, but combined for just five in the second as Toronto led by five at halftime.
MASKED KYRIE

Irving visited a facial specialist Sunday and was fitted for a mask after being injured Friday. The last time Irving played in a mask was on Dec. 15, 2012, when he scored a then-career-high 41 points versus New York with Cleveland.
TIP-INS

Raptors: Lowry’s 3-pointer with 5:32 left in the first quarter moved him past Andrea Bargnani (6,581 points) into fourth place on Toronto’s all-time scoring list. … DeRozan had 20 or more points for the seventh straight regular season game in Boston and is averaging 22 points in that stretch. … Norman Powell left the game with a right hip pointer.

Celtics: Boston’s 12-game winning streak is tied for its third-longest in the last 30 years. The Celtics also won 12 straight from Jan. 11-Feb. 3, 2009. … Rozier scored at least 10 points in a career-best three straight games.

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Another Western Conference playoff hopeful. Another game that came down to the wire.

The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, 98-97, Tuesday night at the Moda Center in yet another game that came down to crunch time.

But unlike last-second wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Blazers couldn’t conjure up any late game magic against the Grizzlies.

CJ McCollum scored 14 of his game-high 36 points in the final quarter, but he needed one more bucket to cap a dazzling late game performance. He carried the Blazers for most of the night, keeping Portland in range while Damian Lillard (4-for-16) and Jusuf Nurkic (3-for-9) never got untracked.

The Blazers struggled to slow Memphis forward Tyreke Evans (21 points on 15 shots) and committed a crucial turnover in final minute. And yet still had a chance to pull the game out in the waning seconds.

After McCollum hit a three-pointer to trim Memphis’ lead to one with 12.6 seconds left and then Shabazz Napier forced a turnover, giving the Blazers a final possession.

McCollum missed a pull-up mid-range jumper short and then failed to get a second shot off after he chased down his own miss.

McCollum scored 35 points on 14-for-26 shooting, including 4-for-10 from beyond the arc. Evan Turner added 16 points off the bench and Napier had his best game of the season, scoring 12 points and coming away with the crucial defensive play late when he pressured Mike Conley on an inbounds pass in the final seconds.

Conley scored all 20 of his points in the second half, Mark Gasol added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and Evans finished with 21 points, getting into the lane at will all night.

THEY SAID IT

“If we can get a shot like that for CJ to win the game, I’ll take it every time,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “It was a great look.”

TURNING POINT

Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks reached in for a steal on Ed Davis, poking the ball away with 39 seconds left and triggering a fast break. Brooks finished in transition on the other end, drawing a foul and adding a free throw to put the Grizzlies up 96-91.

HOMECOMING

Brooks, the former University of Oregon standout, played his first professional game in Portland with his former coach in attendance. Oregon Ducks coach Dana Altman sat courtside across from the Grizzlies bench to watch Brooks make his third consecutive start. Brooks, the No. 45 pick in the June draft, finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes.

Brooks was a part of Memphis’ two biggest plays of the game. His steal with 39 seconds left put the Blazers into scramble mode late. Then on the game’s final possession he defended McCollum’s initial jumper then chased the Blazers’ star down in the corner, preventing a second attempt before the buzzer.    NEXT UP

The Blazers host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Allen Crabbe’s first game back at the Moda Center since he was traded in the offseason.

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Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic

Frank Vogel employed an unusual starting lineup Sunday night to combat the Boston Celtics’ lethal pick-and-roll combination of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.

With Elfrid Payton still out with a hamstring injury, Vogel started Jonathon Simmons at point guard instead of Shelvin Mack.

Simmons is a natural swingman, so he’s not ideally suited to run an offense. That said, Simmons is the Magic’s best perimeter defender. At 6-feet-6, Simmons was the Magic’s best bet to slow down Irving and disrupt the pick-and-roll combination of Irving and Horford.

Circumstances foiled Vogel’s plan and contributed to the Magic’s 104-88 loss.

Simmons picked up two fouls within the game’s first 4 minutes, 25 seconds. That foul trouble forced Vogel to sub out Simmons for Mack. On the ensuing play, Irving scored on a driving layup with Mack defending.

Simmons played just 21 minutes because of his foul trouble. In that time, he scored 14 points with one assist.

“When you’re shorthanded at one position and you have a plan to your guy, Simms, at [point guard] for pretty big minutes and he’s in foul trouble the whole night, obviously it changes things a lot,” Vogel said.

Vogel made no other changes to the starting lineup, which included Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.

Payton returned to full-contact practice on Saturday, but he still missed his eighth consecutive game Sunday.

Team officials want Payton to heal fully before he plays again.

The schedule should help the Magic, who won’t play again until they host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

“Elfrid Payton looked really good in practice [Saturday],” Vogel said. “The hamstring was still a little tight afterwards — enough to give us some concern not to push through it just yet. We’ve got a tough stretch coming up where we’ve got eight of 10 on the road and we have two days behind this game to make sure it’s fully behind him. So we’re going to give him one more game.”

D.J. Augustin missed his second consecutive game because of a strained left hamstring.

Irving finished with just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting and five assists.
Happy for Mack

Mack knows Celtics coach Brad Stevens well.

Stevens coached Mack at Butler University. Together, their Bulldogs finished as the NCAA Tournament runner-up in 2010 and again in 2011.

“Shelvin’s a special guy to me, obviously,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy [for whom] it wasn’t easy early in the league. He’s not a guy that you would’ve said was a for-sure NBA player coming out of high school. In fact, you probably would’ve said, ‘I’d be surprised [if he reaches the NBA].’ But the amount of work that he put in and how committed he is to the game is why he’s where he’s at, and he’s really transformed himself into a point [guard]. When he was playing for us [at Butler], he was playing mostly off the ball and [was] scoring because we needed him to score. But he’s a great competitor. He’s a really good guy. And I’m happy for him that he’s here.”

Layups

• A moment of silence was held before the national anthem to honor the victims of Sunday morning’s mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

• Gordon led the Magic in points (18) and rebounds (12).

• Vucevic finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high seven assists. The double-double was the 200th of Vucevic’s career.

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Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans hung 40 points on the Orlando Magic in the second quarter.

In the entire second half, they managed only 35 as Orlando scored a 115-99 victory at Smoothie King Center on Monday.

The Magic won this game with solid bench play, strong defense, aggressive transition scoring and lights-out shooting. Those four things have typified a red-hot start to the 2018 season for a team few expected to make any waves at all.

Davis came out strong and never let up. He got Aaron Gordon into early foul trouble (Aaron Gordon ended up playing just 18 minutes) and finished with an impressive 39 points on 20 field goal attempts. Jonathan Isaac subbed in for Aaron Gordon until he too picked up some quick fouls. Then, it was up to Marreesse Speights to guard Anthony Davis and play power forward.

In the first half, it looked like the Magic had no answers for Davis, who had his way over and over again in the paint. Nikola Vucevic appeared to shy away from shooting threes in favor of going at DeMarcus Cousins in the post, which was largely ill-advised aside from a few nice hook shots.

But the Magic started bringing hard double teams in the third quarter and managed to do so without giving shooters any openings beyond the arc. Every defender on the floor trusted each other, rotated properly and allowed the Pelicans no breathing room.

Once the defense gathered its bearings, everything else seemed to fall into place.

Per Cleaning the Glass, the Magic were near the top of the league in transition opportunities off steals entering this game. Aggressive defense from Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin may have caused that ranking to rise tonight, in addition to creating excellent scoring opportunities for their teammates.

Later in the game, coach Frank Vogel entered an intriguing lineup with Marreese Speights at center and good defenders all around: Shelvin Mack, Jonathon Simmons, Terrence Ross and Jonathan Isaac. Speights went absolutely nuclear, draining six threes, five of which came in the second half, and finishing with 18 points.

The Magic were clearly firing on all cylinders at this point.

The Pelicans began to look listless, getting little offensive production from anyone but Davis and Cousins, who seemed to look more to pass than to score at times. They did not let up and pulled away, winning by 16 and outscoring the Pelicans by more than 20 points in the second half.

A rough first half clearly did not discourage this team. They made good defensive adjustments and seemed to beat their opponents into submission as the clock ticked down. That is how the Magic will win games this season.

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What the Miami Heat had here was a failure to communicate.

At least that’s what the Heat hope amid this 2-3 start, that such concerns have moved into the past tense, after a team meeting prior to Sunday’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“Every season is different,” guard Goran Dragic said. “Every season, it’s not like we expected to have immediately that chemistry like we finished the season.”

So the players hashed it out in real and raw terms.

“We had our discussions this morning,” forward James Johnson said. “We aired it out this morning. A lot of people took heat. I think it was the best thing for us to do, even more important than film. That’s what this culture is about, that’s what we’re about — staring guys in the eyes, telling guys the truth and that’s how you show you really love somebody.”

So they shared the love, in a somewhat visceral manner.

“We made a great step in the right direction today,” forward Justise Winslow said, with last season’s 11-30 start a haunting memory. “I mean it’s a concern of ours, but it’s not the end of the world.”

What Johnson said can’t happen is maintaining an ongoing Hassan Whiteside Watch, with the center having missed the past four games with a bone bruise on his left knee.

“We’re going to keep fighting through it and figure out ways to win without him, because you never know, it’s a long season. You never know … he might be out the rest of the season or he could be out a couple more games,” he said, exaggerating the possibilities as a way of making his point. “But we need to figure it out now.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said Whiteside was limited to non-contact work Sunday, terming him “very doubtful” for Monday’s game against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, the fifth game on this season-longest six-game homestand.

“We’d like to get him some contact,” Spoelstra said of the optimal plan before a Whiteside return, “but this was a good step.

“He certainly is making progress. That’s why we’re all encouraged, just to see him down here. He’s working, he’s jumping, he’s running, and hopefully there’s no pain tomorrow.”

Spoelstra also attempted to put perspective on the pain that led to Sunday’s team meeting.

“Every season’s different,” he said. “I love all the emotions that players go through. I don’t even care if it boils over. It means you care. And our guys in the locker room really care.

“This is not the type of start that our group wanted. You can’t guarantee anything in this league.”

The element that the Heat pride themselves on, and acknowledge has been missing, is intensity.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not working harder than everybody,” Johnson said. “That’s doesn’t mean we’re not the most physical. That just means that we’re not applying more effort. There’s got to be more effort to it.

“We all got to play with a chip on our shoulder. And we also all got to play with that edge again. We’re losing who we were and who we are. And that can’t happen on this team.”

Dragic said he did not regret his Saturday postgame comments comparing last season’s opening struggles to the current predicament.

“That’s why we addressed this so early,” he said. “We feel like everybody is on the same page now. We know what we need to do, as long as we put some work in. That’s why we had this meeting.

“On the floor, we don’t talk much and I think that’s a problem, because you need to be comfortable to say, ‘You need to be on the help side,’ ‘You need to do this for me.’ The list goes on and on.”

The grievances have been aired. Seventy-seven games remain.

“Guys were honest today,” Winslow said, “just opening up and being vulnerable and letting it all out there, not holding anything in. It can go a long way in this league — that honesty and connection part.”

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Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers took a gamble on having just four veteran guards on their 15-man roster, and for the second time already, they have paid a price for their own admission.

They were put in a precarious state when starting point guard Milos Teodosic went down with a plantar fascia injury to his left foot that the Clippers said will sideline him indefinitely.

So now Austin Rivers, who started in place of Teodosic on Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams will see their playing time likely increase.

“You take a risk sometimes,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “In our case, we just decided we were going to go with four guards and then use some of the young guys, maybe. So now he’s out, and that hurts us.”

Austin Rivers suffered a strained left glute during the first exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors in Hawaii. That put the Clippers in an insecure spot for the rest of the exhibition season because he didn’t play in the last four games.

Now here the Clippers are again, down one of their seasoned guards. They are hoping that one of their rookie guards, Sindarius Thornwell or Jawun Evans, can provide a lift when called upon.

“I said that before the year. If anyone of those four guys goes out, that puts a strain on us,” Doc Rivers said. “So, Sindarius or Jawun, one of those two will play. They both are ready, in my opinion. I think Sindarius has a chance to be an elite defender in our league, maybe not right away. I think the minutes will help him. So, we’re just going to plug him in.”

Jazz’s Quin Snyder has history with Teodosic

When Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder walked into Staples Center on Tuesday night, he stopped to have a chat with Teodosic, who was on scooter.

The two have a history together.

Snyder was the assistant coach at CSKA Moscow in 2012-13 when Teodosic was on the team.

The amazing passing that everyone saw from Teodosic before his injury is something Snyder saw a lot of when they were in Russia together.

“He’s a unique playmaker,” Snyder said. “I think he’s just got a sense. He’s artistic in the way he plays the game. You don’t have to watch him for long to see that, as far as some of the passes and creativity. He’s a guy that people like playing with, and couple that with his ability to make shots and stretch the floor, he’s a unique player that can really add a lot to an already very, very, very good offensive team.”

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Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors

DALLAS – A week ago, it seemed nothing could stop the Warriors. Their depth appeared so overwhelming that NBA teams pondered if any weaknesses existed. The Warriors’ discipline appeared so consistent it suggested they could run on autopilot.

Instead the Warriors have lost two of their first three games, matching their worst three-game start since 2009-10 under Don Nelson, the season they finished 26-56.

It’s absurd to think the Warriors could crash to those depths. They remain the heavy favorite to win their third NBA title in four years. There is no sign of panic.

“If you ask anybody in this locker room, nobody was expecting us to be playing at the level we left last year,” Warriors center Zaza Pachulia said after the 111-101 loss in Memphis on Saturday night. “That’s normal. Maybe it’s even good. That way we work harder and prepare ourselves for April, May and June.”

The Warriors have coughed up double-digit leads in losses to Houston and Memphis, and nearly squandered their cushion in their win over New Orleans. After vowing to finish in the top-five in defensive efficiency for the fourth consecutive season, the Warriors have allowed 117.7 points per game. Opponents are shooting 47.1%. And turnovers; despite a training-camp emphasis on passing, the Warriors have made 52 turnovers in three games.

Defending NBA champions are vulnerable to complacency. NBA coaches, Larry Bird once said, tend to lose their influence on players after three years. That led Warriors coach Steve Kerr to crack: “I’m in year four, aren’t I? I’m on the clock.”

Turning serious, Kerr said: “I was really lucky coming into this organization at the right time when players were really entering their primes. The thing I try to do is keep it light and fresh and let the assistants do the talking and hopefully my voice doesn’t get too old on them too quickly.”

The Warriors have suggested their problems lay elsewhere.

After having reduced practice time due to a compressed preseason schedule and a week-long trip in China, the Warriors have admitted feeling behind both with their conditioning and rhythm. The Warriors suggested those issues have contributed toward their struggles to defend without fouling.

Kerr called that a “major problem… Our habits are really bad. A lot of reaches, a lot of silly ones late in the shot clock.”

Stephen Curry has been the biggest offender. He was called for four fouls in Houston and five in Memphis. That wreaked havoc on Kerr’s substitution rotation. Saturday night in Memphis, he kept Curry in the game after he was called for his third foul in the second quarter. Moments later, Curry picked up his fourth foul.

Curry knows what he must do.

“You can still play aggressive defense and not reach,” Curry said. “I’ve done it my entire career just being conscious of where my hands are and where my body is. You play physical, the ticky-tack stuff and you’re literally reaching in and trying to get a steal and overzealous. That’s the stuff that can get you come back and bite you.”

While Curry accepts responsibility for the Warriors’ foul trouble, Durant takes the blame for the team’s turnover problem. Of the 52, Durant has 19.

“I’m just rushing,” Durant said. “I need to calm and settle down and I guess that will ignite the whole team. If I turn the ball over, it’s contagious.”

Still, a win Monday night at Dallas — the Mavericks are 0-3 — would give them a 2-1 trip.

“If we go 2-1, I’m happy with that,” Klay Thompson said. “2-1 on the road trip, that’s a good outcome.”

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Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks

Count Mark Cuban among those who see the NFL becoming less and less popular in the future. And it has nothing to do with the national anthem protests by players that have pushed a handful of fans away.

Instead, the outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner pointed to the health and safety of the sport as the No. 1 reason for its decline. The national anthem protests, in Cuban’s mind, are more of a short-term issue.

Cuban referenced a study from this summer that found 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly called CTE, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head. Dr. Ann McKee’s study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The NFL has got real structural problems,” Cuban said during an interview on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. “I have an 8-year-old son — I would not let my son play football. CTE’s a problem. … You can’t push something like CTE under the rug.”

Cuban mentioned meeting with NCAA officials over the latest college basketball scandal, and the topic of football participation came up. Cuban said football participation is “down significantly” in all the SEC states.

“They’re going to have to go global,” Cuban said of football grooming players. “Half of NFL rosters (in the future) are going to be international guys. That’s a bigger issue for the NFL longer term, and I don’t know how to fix that.”

Cuban has criticized the NFL before, memorably saying: “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”

He stands by that statement regarding football’s future.

“They’re on path to be absolutely true,” Cuban said. “Because they haven’t been able to solve that (CTE) problem, they’re going to lose participants and they’re going to lose people watching. … I just don’t think kids are going to be as excited about football as we were growing up and that’s a long-term problem.”

Cuban also criticized the NFL for having too many games, particularly Thursday Night Football where the games have largely been underwhelming in recent years.

“People question the brand, question the quality of the brand,” Cuban said.

Even though the NFL faces well-documented challenges, Cuban made it clear that the NBA isn’t immune to them either.
Cuban acknowledged that it’s more difficult for every professional sports league to get kids excited and interested in their game and teams. That’s why he’s trying to lure more fans to American Airlines Center this season by offering more than 4,000 seats for $19 or less.

“We’ve got to be more aggressive in creating young Mavericks fans, young NBA fans,” Cuban said. “I see the NFL pricing themselves out of families, which is going to make it very, very hard for them to develop young fans. We all have that challenge of how do we turn young kids, boys and girls, into hardcore NBA and Mavericks fans? That’s going to be a huge challenge for all of us going forward.

“(We want it to be) where going to a Mavs game is competitive with going to a movie or going to a high school football game.”