Tiago Splitter injured playing for Brazil, but won't miss the FIBA World Championships

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Thumbnail image for Tsplitter.jpgThe San Antonio Spurs (and the Brazilian national team) dodged a bullet. Tiago Splitter dodged some long-term, season-altering damage to his muscle tissue.

Splitter was injured while playing against Venezuela in a pre-Championship tournament game, but according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, it’s been diagnosed as a minor thigh contusion. Splitter has actually been cleared to resume play already, but could miss a few of the lead-up games to ensure his availability for the big show.

The Mavs’ Rodrigue Beaubois broke a bone in his foot last week while training with the French national team, making it hard to blame any team official for living on pins and needles until the World Championships are over. International competition is always a tense subject around NBA owners and the like, and Beaubois’ injury combined with Splitter’s minor ailment won’t be helping things.

The FIBA World Championships have already taken their first NBA casualty in Beaubois (though depending on the severity of his injury, he could theoretically be available for opening night), and things could get even worse. Splitter is a crucial part of the Spurs’ plans for their upcoming season, but he’s hardly the only valuable NBAer risking injury to play for his country. Though this year’s crop may be low on traditional superstars, guys like Russell Westbrook, Luis Scola, Marc Gasol, and Nene could still break their NBA teams’ season by suffering a significant injury.

Hopefully that won’t be the case, as the World Championships remain one of the few beacons of hope for basketball fans during the off-season. There may be more reluctance to compete all around if the threat of injury becomes something more. That may not deter foreign players from channeling their basketball nationalism, but I think it’s safe to say that an injury to any notable NBA player (American or otherwise) would disrupt Team USA’s delicate balance. At some point, even the prestige, honor, and marketing opportunities of the Olympics aren’t worth the injury risk, and a season-ending fall by one of their contemporaries would act as a sobering dose of realism for participating NBA players.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.