One of the things we’re sure you’ll be watching a week from Friday — because what could you possibly have that’s better to do on a Friday night? — is the All-Star Shooting Stars contest. You know, where one current NBA player, one WNBA player and one TNT analyst per team shoot standing shots from numbered spots on the floor. Who would want to miss that?
Great news for you then, the teams have been announced. I knew you’d be excited.
Team Los Angeles will include the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Sparks’ Tina Thompson, and NBA TV analyst — and Big Bang Theory cameo guy — Rick Fox.
Team Atlanta features the Hawks’ Al Horford, Coco Miller of the Atlanta Dream, and NBA TV analyst Steve Smith.
Team Chicago is comprised of the Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson, the Chicago Sky’s Cathrine Kraayveld, and TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr.
Defending champion Team Texas is represented by the Maverkicks’ Dirk Nowitzki, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ Roneeka Hodges, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
If you care (and we’re not really sure you do) the rules are there are six numbered shooting locations of increasing difficulty, with each team attempting to make all shots in numeric order in the fastest time. Each team will select a specific player rotation to follow throughout the competition. Each shot must be made before the next player begins shooting in succession.
The event will be broadcast on ESPN. Set your DVR, then when you get home you have something to help you fall asleep.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.