Kobe Bryant still leads everyone in All-Star voting

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With his worldwide popularity — he sells more jerseys in China than Yao Ming — it shouldn’t be a shock that Kobe Bryant is on top of the NBA’s All-Star balloting.

The second round of released vote totals has Bryant with 1,153,694, well ahead of second place overall and Eastern Conference leader Dwight Howard (988,572).

Really, there is only one questionable decision on both rosters — Western Conference center. Yao Ming far and away has the most votes (thank you China!) but he will not play due to injury. Second on the list is Andrew Bynum, who now has played all of eight games this season and started one due to injury. Really, on merit from this season the best guys on the ballot are Nene or Marc Gasol, but both are far back in vote totals.

However, if Yao wins the NBA could do something smart (as pointed out by Tom Ziller at SB Nation) — start the Lakers Pau Gasol at center. He is listed on the ballot as a forward (and he is third in the voting behind Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony) but he has played most of this season at center and still plays that spot some every game. It makes more sense to slide Gasol into the starting center spot than to give it to Bynum (unless Bynum passes Ming in voting, something not likely as he is more than 200,000 votes behind).

As of now, the starters in the West as selected by fans would be Chris Paul, Kobe, Durant, Anthony and whoever replaces Yao at center. (Just because someone will ask, if Carmelo Anthony were traded to the East before the All-Star game his votes would move with him, but right now he would be fourth in that conference’s voting at forward.)

In the East, the starters would be Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (but Derrick Rose could catch Rondo, it will be close), LeBron James and Kevin Garnett at forwards (with Amar’e Stoudemire third), and Howard at center.

Voting remains open and can be done online at NBA.com. The All-Star Game is Feb. 20 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.

Report: Mutual interest between Knicks, Jeff Teague with Phil Jackson gone

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Phil Jackson’s exit is already opening doors for the Knicks.

No position differs more in the triangle from modern spread NBA offenses than point guard. But without Jackson demanding his point guard fit such a narrow profile, New York can pursue greater talents – like Jeff Teague.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

With Phil Jackson out and the triangle de-emphasized, the Knicks, under general manager Steve Mills, have interest in free agent point guard Jeff Teague, league sources told ESPN. League sources say the interest in Teague is mutual.

The Knicks aren’t as desperate at point guard after drafting Frank Ntilikina, but Ntilikina probably isn’t ready to run an offense full-time yet. Teague could be a stopgap – which might be necessary considering New York can’t easily pivot into rebuilding with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee locked up.

Teague’s future with the Pacers appears uncertain with Paul George on the trade block. A key part of Larry Bird’s retooling last summer, Teague and Indiana might be headed in different directions now.

The Knicks make as much sense as anywhere for Teague – now that Jackson is gone.

PBT Extra: Rockets, with Chris Paul trade, show fearlessness in face of Warriors’ dominance

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The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.

Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.

Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.

PBT Extra: With Phil Jackson discarded, Knicks face next challenge

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The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?

Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?

Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.