D-League All-Star Game rosters announced

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Just a few hours before Blake Griffin wins the Dunk Contest on Feb. 19, a bunch of guys who want their NBA shot will get a turn in the spotlight. Sort of.

The D-League All-Star game is part of the All-Star weekend festivities and is taking place next door to Staples Center at the NBA All-Star Jam Session. The Jam session is the official fan event attached to the All-Star Game (there are all sorts of unofficial ones at nightclubs across Los Angeles, but those are a little different and involve expensive vodkas).

Serious NBA fans will recognize a lot of the names on the D-League All-Star roster — most of these guys were drafted and have had a cup of coffee at least in the NBA. If you don’t know them, learn them because these are the guys most likely to get call ups to the NBA in the coming months.

Selected to the D-League All-Star East tea, were Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards), Ivan Johnson and Garrett Temple (Erie BayHawks), Walker Russell Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Othyus Jeffers, Courtney Sims and Curtis Stinson (Iowa Energy), DeShawn Sims (Maine Red Claws), Patrick Ewing Jr. and Dexter Pittman (Sioux Falls Skyforce). 

Chosen to the D-League All-Star West team were Marcus Cousin (Austin Toros), Trey Johnson (Bakersfield Jam), Shane Edwards (New Mexico Thunderbirds), Jeff Adrien and Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Joe Alexander and Sean Williams (Texas Legends), Larry Owens and Zabian Dowdell (Tulsa 66ers) and Orien Greene (Utah Flash).

Not sure this exhibition will have that much more defense than the actual NBA All-Star Game the next day. Well, if it has any defense it will have more than the NBA game. So we can root for that.

The game starts at 5 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on NBA TV.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.