If Carmelo Anthony is gone, is Chauncey Billups far behind?

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Thumbnail image for canthony_billups.jpgIf you’re going to blow up the team and rebuild — and it appears the Denver Nuggets hand has been forced in that regard — then you do it right. Go all the way down to the foundation. Spare nothing.

Which is to say, if the Denver Nuggets are trading Carmelo Anthony (and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin) then what is the point of keeping Chauncey Billups?

Billups will turn 34 next season, which is not ideal for rebuilding but great for a team needing one more piece to make a run. Billups is still at the top of his game — he averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 assists per game last year, had a PER of 20.2 and a true shooting percentage of .601. Which is to say, your eyes don’t deceive you, he is still one of the top handful of point guards around. He’s a five-time All-Star (including last year) with a ring and a finals MVP award.

And he is an expiring contract, sort of. Billups is owed $13.2 million this season but his $14.2 million for next season is not guaranteed, so he can be bought out at a fair price. That will be attractive to teams who may not want to take on the long-term commitment or teams that want to win now and are willing to give up a young player for a playoff proven vet.

There has been no talk of trading Billups and he has not asked to be traded. Denver may want to keep him this season and buy him out next year for the cap savings themselves. This is all speculation.

But if they are looking for young players and picks, you’d have to think some team would pay handsomely for Billups. They have to consider moving him at the trade deadline pretty seriously.

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

Associated Press
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Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.

Devin Booker’s 3-point-contest victory bright spot for Suns (video)

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Los Angeles – Devin Booker‘s Suns have the NBA’s worst record (18-41).

“I think everyone is fed up with the losing, from the top to the bottom of the organization,” Booker said this afternoon. “So, for us, it’s what’s next?”

A 3-point contest victory.

Overcoming Phoenix’s poor record to draw an invite to All-Star Saturday Night, Booker won the 3-point contest with a whopping 29 points in the final round.

That score left little margin for 2016 champion Klay Thompson, who capped the event with a 25-point round that was otherwise the night’s high. Clippers forward Tobias Harris, in his new home arena, finished third.

Booker was all smiles after the rare victory.

“Season not going how we planned, but I know a lot of the city was ready for this All-Star Weekend, having somebody participate,” Booker said. “So, I’m glad I could win it.

Where he and the Suns go from here is still questionable, but he has a plan.

“I’m going to win the dunk contest next year,” Booker said. “No, I’m just kidding.”

Full results

First round

Klay Thompson 19

Devin Booker 19

Tobias Harris 18

Wayne Ellington 17

Bradley Beal 15

Eric Gordon 12

Kyle Lowry 11

Paul George 9

Second round

Devin Booker 29

Klay Thompson 25

Tobias Harris 17