Which 1-on-1 matchups would you like to see?

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NBA fans have long wanted to see a one-on-one tournament of some kind during All-Star Weekend. HORSE ended up becoming a reality, so a one-on-one tournament might at some point in the future. It’s unlikely that the matchups everyone wants to see will happen, like Kobe-LeBron, CP3-Deron, Carmelo/Durant, or KG/Zaza. However, if the NBA uses the one-on-one contest like it uses the dunk contest, to showcase the talents of rising stars, there are still some great matchups.
 
Here are some of my ideas, revolving around players with similar skill-sets, battles between young guns, and of course PRIDE-style freak show matches:

Brandon Jennings vs. Jamaal Crawford

Lots of sweet crossovers, plenty of long jumpers off the dribble, not a lot of defense, and some great back-and-forth. This one would be a doozy.

JJ Redick vs. Adam Morrison

Years in the making. Redick’s quietly become a solid player this season, but how would he fare against NBA champion Morrison? Redick plays defense and has a better all-around game, but Morrison can score the ball, and his moves would be suited to a one-on-one match. Also, I’d look forward to JJ trash-talking Ammo in poem form.

Gerald Wallace vs. Josh Smith

An obvious choice, but still needed. When they meet at the rim, the universe may collapse upon itself.

Tyreke Evans vs. Danilo Gallinari

Evans is a guard with freakish strength who dominates in the paint. Gallinari has the size of a power forward but does his damage with a sweet three-point stroke. Would Gallo’s size allow him to keep Evans out of the paint and shoot over him, or would Evans’ strength allow him to push aside Gallo and keep him from getting the looks he wants offensively?

James Posey vs. Derek Fisher

INTANGIBLES BATTLE.

Steph Curry vs. Jameer Nelson

After Curry’s explosion against the Clippers and Brandon Jennings’ 55-point game against the Warriors early in the season, it’s become clear that the ultimate rookie performance would happen if Steph Curry was somehow able to play with Steph Curry guarding him. Sadly, that’s impossible, but Nelson’s game and build are fairly similar. Nelson’s a better defender than Curry, but he’s no Alvin Robertson either.

Rasheed Wallace vs. Nate Robinson

I would much rather see this than have Nate do another dunk contest. I think he’d win, which would mean maximum possible embarrassment for Rasheed. Sold.

Rajon Rondo vs. Russell Westbrook

Another choice based only on sheer awesomeness.

Joakim Noah vs. Anderson Varejao

This would be the most exciting and boring game of one-on-one ever played all at once.

Well, there are my choices, but there are certainly many, many more great possible matchups out there. What are some of the matchups you’d like to see if a one-on-one contest ever becomes a reality?

LeBron James, do you owe Cleveland anything? “I don’t owe anybody anything”

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It will be the biggest off-court topic of the NBA season: Will LeBron James stay with the Cavaliers after this season?

Right now, LeBron doesn’t know the answer to that question for sure. I’m sure he has ideas, but he wisely leaves all his options open, then can make a call next summer when the time comes.

When that time does come, does he owe his hometown Cleveland anything? LeBron answered that question in the latest issue of GQ, and he answered with an emphatic no.

“LeBron James owes nobody anything. Nobody,” he said. “When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent. That’s why I’m there — to inspire that city. But I don’t owe anybody anything.”

That’s not what Cavs fans may want to hear, but it’s also spot on. LeBron has given this franchise everything he has, he has brought them the first title the team has had in 50 years, and nobody sane can question his passion or how hard he plays.

LeBron could well get to his eighth straight NBA Finals, feel he’s on a team that can push the Warriors, then look at his options — the Lakers and a young core that doesn’t defend well, for example — and think maybe he’s best where he’s at. Perhaps he teams up with another star in Los Angeles or somewhere else. If LeBron called up 28 teams and said “I want to come there” those teams would make whatever moves they needed to for the deal to happen. (I say 28 because the Warriors wouldn’t, and even they’d think about it.)

LeBron has the leverage, and he is always a guy who keeps his options open. He will be asked about his future in every road stop, he will dodge the questions, and we’ll try to read the tea leaves, but as of right now LeBron doesn’t know for sure what LeBron will do next summer. Neither do we.

Report: Final season of LaMarcus Aldridge’s contract extension just $7 million guaranteed

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Spurs big LaMarcus Aldridge, who will earn $21,461,010 this season, agreed to exercise his $22,347,015 player option for 2018-19 in conjunction with signing a two-year, $50 million contract extension.

As usual, the devil is in the details.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Guaranteeing Aldridge just $7 million in 2020-21, when he’ll be 35, is obviously to San Antonio’s advantage relative to fully guaranteeing his extension. But it sets up an uneasy choice for the Spurs. Their three options for Aldridge will be:

  • Pay him $24 million in 2020-21 to play for them
  • Pay him $7 million in 2020-21 not to play for them
  • Pay him $2,333,333 in each 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 not to play for them

There’s a solid chance that none of those are appealing.

Some speculated San Antonio extended Aldridge to facilitate a trade, removing uncertainty stemming from Aldridge’s player option. Though the Spurs now can’t trade him before the deadline, they could move him in the offseason.

But that 15% trade kicker is a significant inhibitor. His salary is already lofty for his age. An increase would only dissuade teams.

The simplest explanation is probably correct: The Spurs value the stability of their core, no matter how old it is, over flexibility.

Thunder give P.J. Dozier No. 35, Kevin Durant’s old number

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The Thunder signed P.J. Dozier, who went undrafted out of South Carolina, to a seemingly innocuous two-way contract.

Then, they let him pick No. 35 – previously worn by Kevin Durant.

Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Honoring Reggie Lewis seems like a valid reason for Dozier, who probably didn’t want to get swept into what has become a minor controversy.

Personally, I don’t mind a player wearing any unretired number. Even numbers that will clearly be retired can be fair game until the jersey goes into the rafters. This is a non-issue to me.

But people care about this stuff. Many see it as a sign of disrespect to Durant, who left Oklahoma City on bad terms when signing with the Warriors. The Thunder lose deniability about not caring, considering they told Dion Waiters he couldn’t wear No. 13, which was previously worn by James Harden.

Will Oklahoma City eventually retire Durant’s No. 35? He spent a fantastic eight years there (and another season with the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved). Time will ease the bitterness of his exit. It’s certainly possible he’s honored that way.

In the meantime, let Dozier wear No. 35 in peace. It should have nothing to do with Durant.

Cornrowed Joel Embiid calls minute limit f—ing BS

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76ers center Joel Embiid made clear yesterday he disliked the minute restriction placed on him, which Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said would keep Embiid below 20 minutes per game.

Today, sporting a new hairstyle, Embiid upped the rhetoric.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“That’s f—ing BS,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than I don’t know whatever number they have.”

“I think the concept of minute restrictions is kind of complicated,” Embiid said. “I don’t think there should ever be minute restrictions. I think it should always be about how my body feels and how it’s reacting.”

“They know that I’m frustrated, but once again you’ve got to trust the doctors,” Embiid said. “They care about me. It’s all about the long-term view.”

“Like I always say,” he said, “you’ve got to trust the process.”

We’ve been here before – an injury-prone Philadelphia center rocking cornrows (at least Embiid went all the way with them) and Embiid lashing out at his minute limit.

Embiid is incredibly competitive, and he can’t just turn it off. It’s an attribute that contributes to his on-court excellence.

Embiid appears to have just enough trust-the-process perspective here, but Brown will also likely have his hands full keeping Embiid from getting too frustrated throughout the season.

At least Embiid has his contract extension and isn’t restless to get on the court and earn his big payday.