PBT’s All-Star reserves — no Celtics, no Mavs, no apologies


This is the hard part. And the fun part. Picking the NBA All-Star game reserves.

The voters picked the starting five from each team, but picking the reserves is a balancing act of rewarding good players and making sure the teams doing well get represented. You can’t make this omelet without breaking some eggs, and I’m breaking the Celtics — they get none. No Knicks backups either.

And out West, no Mavericks make it.

It’s a harsh world where tough decisions get made. Here are my picks.

Eastern Conference Reserves:
Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, Joe Johnson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert.

Just missed out: Luol Deng, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler, Darren Collison, Danny Granger, Lou Williams

Why: Rajon Rondo would have made it had it not been for the injury. The next best point guard not listed to me is Holiday, who has been a go to guy on the Sixers, as much as they have one. I gave serious consideration to Kyrie Irving for a spot, who has had a fantastic start to the season, I don’t care if he’s a rookie. If you want to put Irving in there I am good with that. I just had to get a couple of Sixers in there.

Deng is a glue guy that is hard guy to leave off as he has been huge, but the injuries set him back. Didn’t like leaving Ryan Anderson off either, he has had a great start to the season. Leaving Granger off hurt, but that is a deep position.

I have Hibbert making it because at least one Pacer should make it to represent them. If you want to make it Granger and remove the Hawks Johnson go ahead, but now you’re disrespecting a Hawks team with the second best record in the East (better than the Pacers).

Western Conference Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol

Just missed the cut: Pau Gasol, Nene, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson, Al Harrington, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Marcin Gortat.

Why? First, to me Love, Westbrook and Aldridge should be unquestioned locks.

With Andrew Bynum as a starter it came down to Nene, Gortat and Marc Gasol at the backup five spot, and while you can make a real case for Gortat (who is having a fantastic year) so is Marc Gasol and he has had to take on more of a load with Zach Randolph down. So Gasol got my nod. Besides, doesn’t there always have to be one Gasol on the All-Start team?

Pau Gasol has been inconsistent and Dirk Nowitzki is just not having a good year. Steve Nash missed a couple games with injuries but you can put him on — you just can’t take off Westbrook (Gay would be my last guy to make the cut). Gallinari has been the leading scorer on a selfless team in Denver that has the second best record in the West.

The time Chauncey Billups tried to trick teams into believing he’d be a bad teammate

AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Leave a comment

In 2011, the Knicks amnestied Chauncey Billups. Unlike traditional waivers, amnesty waivers didn’t require claiming teams to pay Billups’ full salary. They could bid a partial amount – New York on the hook for the rest – and the highest bid would get Billups.

So, it was practically a forgone conclusion someone would claim Billups. The only questions were which team and for how much?

But Billups didn’t want to go to the highest bidder. He wanted to become a free agent and choose his destination – even though his contract and the Collective Bargaining Agreement put him on a different course.

So, Billups – a consummate professional throughout his career – threatened to become a problem. Adrian Wojnarowski at the time:

Wojnarowski now:

I remember talking to Chauncey on a Saturday morning one day. He was very determined that no team would put a waiver claim in on him, because he was headed to Miami. He was going to go play with the Heat. He had his bags packed. But he needed a team not to claim him. And he and I were just talking about this. I read this quote back to him recently, and we were laughing.

He went on this two-, three-minute rant about that basically, “I’m just going to be a complete asshole wherever I go if you claim me.” And so, he went on this rant. And he read that, and he kept going. And finally he stopped. I don’t even remember if I asked him a question. He just started when I called him. And at the end, there was like this pause. And he goes, “Do you think anyone is going to buy it?”

The Clippers submitted the highest bid for Billups, and he quickly got on board. Even though they traded for Chris Paul at point guard shortly after, Billups of course was a model teammate and veteran leader. Late in his career, he couldn’t stay healthy enough to contribute much on the court. But the Clippers still valued his presence. He even re-signed with them the following summer.

This was such a readable bluff – which says plenty about Billups’ character.

Rumor: Magic expected to fire Frank Vogel

AP Photo/John Raoux
1 Comment

Magic president Jeff Weltman inherited an expensive and bad roster, limiting his options to shape it.

He also inherited coach Frank Vogel, and maybe there’s something Weltman will do about that.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs.

Perhaps, these people in coaching circles are doing nothing more than connecting dots. Many coaches with poor records – only the Suns and Nets have been worse during Vogel’s two-year tenure – inherited by a new front office get fired.

Or it could be something more concrete, like Orlando putting out feelers for potential replacements. That possibility gives juice to this report.

Vogel has one more guaranteed year left on his contract, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Will ownership pay to oust Vogel? That seems likely. The alternative is paying Weltman to sit on his hands.

This would be a tough break for Vogel, who coached well with the Pacers. The Magic’s roster is just so lacking. Vogel hasn’t impressed in Orlando, but his opportunity to do so has been narrow.

At least it’d be more understandable if he got fired by a losing team. Last time, he got fired by a winning team.

Rumor: Bucks, Jabari Parker could part after season

AP Photo/Morry Gash

Jabari Parker is a confounding fit on the Bucks now and in the future.

Could he and Milwaukee part ways this summer, when he’ll be a restricted free agent?

Gery Woelfel on 105.7 The Fan:

At this very moment, I’d say the odds are slim to none it’s going to happen … that he’ll be on this team next year.

I just don’t see a good fit there. I didn’t bring this up, and I’ve been meaning to do so, but I haven’t. He came very, very close to being traded at the deadline. And I think that spoke volumes of they think of Jabari Parker and whether he’s a part of their future plans.

Bucks executive Alex Lasry denied it:

So did general manager Jon Horst. Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Horst made it clear both on the radio and in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that the Bucks never had any intention of trading Parker

Teams often discuss trading players then deny it to avoid offending the player. Whether or not they nearly traded Parker, the Bucks would probably respond now similarly.

As far as Parker’s future in Milwaukee, it’s unclear where the well-connected Woelfel’s reporting ends and his analysis begins. There’s a huge difference between trading Parker for value and letting him walk for nothing. Just because the Bucks came close to trading Parker wouldn’t mean they won’t re-sign him.

Shedding Parker would not open cap space without additional moves. It would probably allow Milwaukee to use the full mid-level exception and stay beneath the luxury-tax line. But that’s unlikely to land a player who combines Parker’s age and talent.

Because Parker will be a restricted free agent, the Bucks hold the cards. If he’s upset about trade talks or anything else, he can’t unilaterally leave.

Milwaukee must determine how much to pay Parker and how to utilize him with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Those are hard questions. But the Bucks throwing up their hands and letting Parker walk in free agency isn’t the answer.

Tony Parker: My quad injury 100 times worse than Kawhi Leonard’s

AP Photo

Tony Parker reportedly led a players-only meeting in which Spurs implored Kawhi Leonard to return.

Leonard injured his quad last season, has played just nine games this season and remains sidelined. The Spurs have reportedly cleared him, but he got second opinions and is waiting for his medical team to clear him.

Parker injured his quad last May then returned in November – and said at the time Leonard would return in 2-3 weeks.

Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:

It’s not hard to read between these lines.

Though some Spurs reportedly told Leonard to return only once he feels ready, Parker is clearly applying pressure. It’s not working, but he’s apparently not stopping.

These comments don’t befit a healthy organization, which is just so stunning for the Spurs, whose excellent culture has been exalted for year.

Maybe Parker will get his wish, and a shamed-into-playing Leonard will lead San Antonio deep into the playoffs. But it seems more likely these quotes will just increase tension.