Is Daequan Cook the worst All-Star Saturday participant ever?

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Due to an interesting wrinkle in how NBA All-Star Saturday works, Daequan Cook was invited to All-Star weekend to defend his title as the champion of the three-point shootout. This means that  Cook gets to participate in All-Star weekend despite the fact he has had very little success at playing basketball this season. In 31 games for the Miami Heat this season, Cook is averaging 4.4 points and 0.8 assists per game while shooting an abysmal 28.8% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc. If Daequan Cook isn’t the worst player ever to ever participate in an All-Star Saturday event, he’s certainly close. 

Cook’s selection prompted me to think about other All-Star Saturday participants who weren’t very good players from recent years. Most of them were having more success than Cook when they participated, but All-Star Saturday has certainly seen its share of interesting characters in recent years. Here are a few that spring to mind for me:
Gerald Green, 2007 Dunk Contest Champion and 2008 Dunk Contest Participant

Green gave the dunk contest some of the best performances it has ever seen, throwing down massive windmills, smooth between-the-legs dunks, one of the few dunks ever done in socks, and the unforgettable “Birthday Cake” dunk, which also introduced Green and Rashard McCants as two players who absolutely should’ve had their own reality show. 
Blessed with otherworldly athleticism and a sweet three-point stroke, Green had all the talent required to be a superstar in the NBA, but he never came anywhere close to putting it together. He had no idea what to do if the ball wasn’t in his hands, and was a stunningly inept defender and passer. During his final NBA stint in Dallas, Green somehow managed to record only 15 assists in 38 games, which goes beyond selfishness and into performance art. 
Damon Jones, 2007 Three-Point Shootout Participant

Jones got into the contest by openly begging for an invite; the self-declared “Best Shooter in The Universe,” Jones’ main NBA goals were to win a three-point shootout and be part of a three-man booth while playing in a game. Jones was a valuable contributor to the Miami Heat once upon a time, but during his stint with the Cavs he was known for literally doing nothing but shoot catch-and-shoot threes. Although Jones was supposedly a point guard, he had a hard time just bringing the ball up the floor, and his defense was nonexistent. His shooting was never good enough to make up for his deficiencies as an overall player, but his All-Star invite is a testament to how anything is possible if you’re shameless enough. 
Desmond Mason, 2001 Dunk Contest Champion and 2002 Dunk Contest Participant

To be fair to Mason, he was a productive enough player when he was actually participating in the dunk contest. Since that time, however, Mason has become the poster child for what happens to one-dimensional athletes when they age without evolving their game. He’s been one of the worst rotation players in basketball for the last few years; last season, he somehow managed to record a PER of just over seven, which is less than half the league average of 15. 
Antoine Walker, 2003 Three-Point Shootout Participant

Again, out of fairness to Walker, he was a very good player when he was invited to the shootout. This choice stands out because it rewarded Walker’s penchant for three-point shooting, even though he was perhaps the most egregious chucker from beyond the arc in the history of the NBA. The year Walker was invited to the contest, he only shot 32.3% from beyond the arc, but was firing seven and a half threes a game. Antoine got a three-point contest invite when what he needed was a three-point intervention, and that’s why he makes the list. 

Report: D-League All-Star, Magic call-up Keith Appling arrested with loaded AK-47 in strip club

Orlando Magic's Keith Appling (15) makes a shot in front of Philadelphia 76ers' Jerami Grant (39) and Nerlens Noel (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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If you’re on the fringe of the NBA, trying to get teams to take a chance on you, this is the opposite of what you should do.

Former Michigan State star Keith Appling, who last season was a D-League All-Star for the Erie Bay Hawks and got a couple of 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic, has reportedly been arrested and is still in jail in Dearborn, Michigan, for allegedly taking a loaded assault rifle into an area strip club. (Dearborn police have not yet responded to NBC’s request for confirmation. Some Michigan outlets with sources in the area do have confirmation but few details.) This is how the story broke:

If true, Appling has much bigger problems then getting an invite to an NBA training camp next fall.

Byron Scott says he felt “a little” blindsided by Lakers’ firing

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott watches play against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Lakers fans were demanding it. Logic dictated it — even the questionable talent did not fully explain why Byron Scott could not get the Lakers to defend, they had one of the two worst defenses in the NBA each of his two seasons as coach.

Still, Byron Scott said he was blindsided by his firing by the Los Angeles Lakers, something he said on the Dan Patrick Show this morning (video above).

Scott makes a couple of valid points. First, the Lakers did take their time after the season (letting good coaches get snapped up elsewhere) while making this call, giving the impression Scott might be safe.

Second, the Lakers did not give Scott much talent to work with. I don’t care if you resurrected Red Auerbach and John Wooden and had them tag team as the coach, these Lakers were not making the playoffs. Scott was brought in to both shepherd the Kobe farewell years — he did that exactly as management wanted — and start to develop the young talent on the team, building a foundation for the future. That is where he fell short, both in terms of building a defensive foundation or forming a strong relationship with the young Lakers, most notably D'Angelo Russell.

Scott discussed his relationship with Russell, too.

It’s far too early to say how good a coach Luke Walton will be for the Lakers, but it’s safe to say he’s an upgrade over Scott. In that way, the Lakers made the right move.

Barack Obama calls Wizards about coaching job in White House correspondents’ dinner video

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From practically the moment they fired Randy Wittman (and probably before that), the Wizards appeared locked in on Scott Brooks as their next coach. They pursued him hard and convinced him to accept the job.

But did they miss out on a better known candidate in the process?

President Barack Obama sure sounded interested.

Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to re-sign with Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates as he leaves the court during the final minute of the second half in an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Monday, April 11, 2016, in Salt Lake City. The Mavericks won 101-92. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of the final year of a contract that would’ve paid him $8,692,184.

The big question: Why?

Does Nowitzki want a higher salary? More years? A lower salary that enables the Mavericks to upgrade their supporting cast?

He could command whichever of those he desires.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN, transcribing Nowitzki’s interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas:

Nowitzki reiterated Monday that he is committed to remaining with the Mavs for the rest of his career, saying that decision was essentially made when Dallas won the championship in 2011.

“That would have been the only scenario where I go somewhere at the end to kind of hang on and maybe try to win one,” Nowitzki said, referring to if he didn’t have a ring. “But ever since I won a championship here and we did that, I want to finish my career here. I always said that. The only scenario where I’ll try to go somewhere is if we’re rebuilding, if we really say, ‘This is the end of the line. We tried every which way and we can’t go any further and we’re starting basically with five rookies.’

“Obviously, that’s not what I want my last couple of years. But knowing Mark and Donnie, they always want this to be a winning franchise, so there’s no reason for me to go anywhere.”

“We had one more year on the contract, but I think this is the right thing to do,” he said. “We’re going to sit with Mark [Cuban] and Donnie [Nelson] obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again.

“Ever since after the championship, we’ve been basically a first-round exit. We’ve been a seven, eight seed. We’ve only won a few playoff games, and obviously the goal was to compete at the highest level in my last couple of years. So there is some moving to do, some thinking, some putting our heads together the next few weeks heading into free agency, heading into the draft. So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”

Usually, I’d say this would at least open the door to the player leaving. But it’d be difficult for the Mavericks to pivot into rebuilding now. They don’t have their own first-round pick, and Justin Anderson is their only young player of consequence.

With Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea signed long term and Nowitzki intent on returning, it makes far more sense to try to win now. Dallas might fail, but it’ll almost certainly be the goal.

The Mavericks project to have about $20 million in cap space accounting for cap holds for Chandler Parsons ($19,969,950), Nowitzki ($12,500,0001), Deron Williams ($6,454,769) and Dwight Powell ($1,180,431). If those players sign elsewhere or get renounced, Dallas would clear more room.

Nowitzki could accept a lower salary than his cap hold, and his first-year salary would become his cap number once signed. Essentially, he could monitor free agency and slide his salary requirement depending on the quality of free agent the Mavericks could sign with the available money. Land a star, and maybe Nowitzki would take far less to accommodate him. Strike out, and Nowitzki might want a raise.

He has leverage, though it seems he’s set on using it harmoniously with management.

Still, what if Dallas flops majorly in free agency? Could Nowitzki leave? I expect the Mavericks to land productive veterans, and I doubt Nowitzki would leave anyway. But by opting out, he has the ability to walk.

The Mavericks have an opportunity to improve this offseason. Two years ago, they leveraged Nowitzki’s commitment to the franchise into a below-market deal that helped them sign Parsons. The goal should be once again involving Nowitzki in the process and having him help.

The better Dallas does in free agency, the more likely Nowitzki will be to sacrifice for the team.