The Question

You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to the latest installment of our twitter mailbag, where we answer your questions. Any questions.

You have to date a girl that looks exactly like Joakim Noah or Tyronn Lue. Who do you date, and why? (@adonismuir)

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this. A disturbing amount. Obviously, if faced with this choice, the correct answer is “I’ll become a priest.” Beyond that, if you look at pictures of Noah and Lue, Noah has the potential to be a prettier woman, but he has that little mustache and beard that throw the whole thing off. As for Lue… didn’t work for me on the court, doesn’t work for me as a date.

I needed a woman’s opinion. Not my wife, because explaining this then trying to sleep in the same bed with her was not going to go well. So I turned to Holly McKenzie of The Basketball Jones and other places (you have to follow @stackmack on twitter). Her first answer was it has to be Noah because of the hair. Then she made the best point — have you seen Noah’s sister? The model? Basically, Noah has the genes of a beautiful woman in him.

So Noah. That or the priesthood.

• Which team will be hurt most by the NBA lockout and which team benefits the most from the lockout? (@marvin_is_joe)
• Does a shortened #NBA season help or hurt older teams like my #Celtics? Fewer games, but played more often in a shorter time (@PowerForward44)

I’m combining these questions into one because, well, it’s my column and I can do anything I want. I have the power.

The answer to this question depends on how long the lockout lasts. If training camps are shortened (almost a given) and there are between 60-70 games on a pretty normal schedule, then veteran teams benefit. For the Celtics, Spurs and Mavericks it means less wear and tear on older bodies before the playoffs and they should do well in the regular season because they come in knowing who they are and what they want to do. (The Lakers lose that benefit with the coaching and system change.)

But if the lockout drags on and this is 1999 redux — 50 games crammed into a short schedule with some back-to-back-to-back games scheduled — then those veteran teams suffer from the wear and tear. They don’t have the fresh legs come the playoffs. That benefits good but younger teams — the Thunder, Bulls and Heat come to mind. They have legs that will bounce back from the condensed schedule faster.

How long before JR Swish commits a felony in China and ends up in secret Chinese prison? (@djbrnz)

Not going to happen — he’s going to be so sick from trying to eat what passes for food in China he’s not going to have time to get in trouble. He’s going to be lying in bed with a bucket beside him Googling McDonald’s locations.

By the way, if one guy will get an “under the table” deal to be cut from a Chinese team when the lockout ends, it’s Smith.

are the sixers an Iguodala trade away from being contenders in the East? (@jutmcquaid)

Why all the Iggy hate in Philly, people? It’s not like he’s Santa Claus. If you trade him you lose a quality perimeter scorer and more importantly your best perimeter defender by a mile. Yes, he is overpaid for what he delivers, but he does deliver something and if you trade him you create a new hole to fill. I think you live with him. The Sixers need a true superstar to take the next step forward, but that guy should be paired with Iggy. If the Sixers can run more and get Iguodala more transition opportunities, it will be best for everyone.

Why can’t Sam Presti properly evaluate college big men? #bjmullensproblem (@nick_van_hexel)

I would like to introduce you to the fans of 29 other teams, who would love to trade you Sam Presti’s list of draft picks in the last five years for their team’s. Sure, B.J. Mullens has not worked out (the next two guys picked after Mullens were Rodrigue Beaubois and Taj Gibson) but Presti has built a winner and he made a good trade for Kendrick Perkins (which just was a bad matchup with Dallas). Nobody hits all their picks. Nobody. Cut the guy some slack, would ya.

Who do you believe is the best basketball player in the world? As of right now. (@kaycgee)

I don’t see how you can argue anyone other than Brian Cardinal. It’s not even close.

(Okay, it’s LeBron James. And frankly that’s not up for debate.)

Will Norris Cole be the point guard the Heat need in order to focus on finding a true center? (@GeeYo)

When did finding a center and finding a good point guard become mutually exclusive? I’m confident Pat Riley has the skills to do both at the same time.

The real question is, when was the last time a rookie point guard played a key role on a title team? Magic Johnson? So sure, count on Cole to solve your problems. Point guard is an issue for the Heat but not the biggest one. The Heat need a real center far more than they need another good perimeter player. Miami needs its own Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint on defense and grab rebounds. That is their key to a title.

Shouldn’t Allen Iverson be picked up by the Lakers? (@The_Hawk_13)

So you think the Lakers need to get an old point guard who can’t defend and would take shots away from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? The only way the Lakers want Iverson is if the deal includes a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back so they can go grab the 2001 Iverson.

The Lakers need a starting PG, Iverson is a backup right now. At best.

How long before the Grizzlies move to Seattle? (@jbunkis)

Right about when Kurt Cobain buys the team. About the same odds.

Report: No, J.R. Smith isn’t talking to Sixers

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with the fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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What is with the ridiculous, unrealistic Philadelphia 76ers rumors of late? Last I checked recreational use was not legal in Pennsylvania. Not that the law is stopping anyone.

The latest silliness follows this logic:

This summer the Sixers made runs at veteran guards such as Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili (and they forced the Spurs to pay up for the Argentinian to keep him).

The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith are in a staring contest, and Smith remains a free agent.

The Sixers have more than $22 million in cap space still.

So…

No. Not happening.

Or, we could have just asked Smith who has said he is not talking to other teams and doesn’t want to play anywhere but Cleveland.

I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?

Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.

Paul George says “I’m ready” to challenge LeBron James for supremacy in East

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 29: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks for a pass while under pressure from Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on February 29, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James is the best basketball player walking the face of the earth. The only guy who could start to challenge that supremacy the past couple of years has been Stephen Curry, and last season’s NBA Finals answered that question for now.

In the Eastern Conference, for years now it has been LeBron James and his team then a step back to everyone else — LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, four in Miami and the last two in Cleveland. Most pundits (myself included) think that’s going to be seven in-a-row because the Cavaliers are clear and away the class of the East.

Paul George says he and the Pacers are ready to change that narrative. Here is what he told Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“Honestly, I look at us challenging them. I’ve been in the East and I’ve been No. 1 with LeBron being on a team,” George told The Vertical in a recent telephone interview, harkening back to when the Pacers finished with the best regular-season record in the East in 2013-14, the season before his gruesome Team USA leg injury….

“I’ve always matched up with him like, ‘I know he can do this, I know he can do that,’ ” George told The Vertical about James. “Not in an awe fashion, but it’s more so, ‘I’m not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I’m trying to challenge him. I know what I’m up against.’ Now it’s, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let’s meet here, let’s get this job done.’ I’m prepared. I’ve had time to figure this out. I’ve had time to lick my wounds. I’m ready.”

Good for George — this is exactly what you want an elite competitor and top player to say heading into the season. He sees Everest in front of him, and he wants to climb it.

I’m also higher on the Pacers than most; I think they are a top-four team in the East that can finish top two. They upgraded at the point with Jeff Teague, plus they added the underrated Thaddeus Young (although they will miss Solomon Hill) and depth up front with Al Jefferson. I don’t get Larry Bird pushing Frank Vogel out the door at all, but Nate McMillan is a solid NBA coach to take his place. I think the Pacers are taking a step forward this season, maybe a fairly significant one.

But they’re still not in the Cavaliers’ class.

The East is still Cleveland then everyone else. Last season Toronto won 56 games and had its best season in franchise history, and they were still a step or two below the Cavaliers. No team in the East — not the Raptors, not the Celtics, not the Pacers — are making up those steps. Unless injuries or something else unforeseen brings the Cavaliers back to the pack, the Eastern Conference once again will look like Secretariat at the Belmont.

Russell Westbrook says he will not kneel for national anthem “as of right now”

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook spins the ball as he poses for photos during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Without question, some kneeling/raised fist protests of the National Anthem are coming to the NBA once preseason games start in a couple of weeks. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers has already come out saying “there’s no more American thing to do than to protest.” Teams are discussing the need for social change.

While the NBA has a rule that players must stand for the anthem, the NBA and players’ union are already discussing exactly how and if that rule should be enforced.

While some players will kneel, Russell Westbrook will not be among them. Probably. Here’s is what he told Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript.

Obviously, Westbrook is leaving himself some wiggle room here. Also, if there is one NBA star you can expect to be blunt about the situation when talking to the media, it’s Westbrook (when he feels like opening up to the media, anyway).

I expect few if any of the NBA’s top stars — the guys with the biggest international brands — will join the protests. However, there certainly will be players taking part. For a league that sees itself as progressive — and has a more politically progressive fan base compared to other American sports — how the league handles this will be watched.

Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau thanks Kevin Garnett after retirement announcement

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics sits not he bench prior to Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks on April 28, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”

It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.