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Who got snubbed? Some All-Star roster changes

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The All-Star rosters are out. The NBA coaches — who select the All-Star reserves — went with the old guard, the tried and true, and the guys whose names we know. Whether or not their play merited it this year.

They ignored younger players who deserved it this year.

There should be changes.

Here are the biggest snubs and how we’d get them on the roster:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

IN: Rajon Rondo (Boston): The question was health — if he was healthy he was going to be in, and he’s back leading the Celtics after missing eight games. He’s been the Celtics one-man fast break and is giving them 13.6 points (at 50 percent shooting) and 9.8 assists per game. He defends, he organizes. He’s one of the best point guards in the game.

OUT: Luol Deng (Chicago): He’s a glue guy who has had a good season — and I get wanting to reward the East leading Bulls. I do. But Andre Iguodala is a better version of Deng and he is already on the roster, you don’t need another one. This is a case of rewarding the team and not the player.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

IN: Kyle Lowry (Houston): Maybe it is the record, McHale. He had a shooting slump, but this guy has been an elite point guard this season and the reason the Rockets are the four seed in the West as you read this. He’s giving Houston 14.8 points, 7.9 assists and even 5.8 rebounds per game, plus being a consummate floor general.

OUT: Tony Parker (San Antonio): Parker is having a good season — whoever you leave out of the Lowry/Parker/Steve Nash triangle could make a case they belong. You can make a case for Brandon Jennings while we are at it. Nash is putting up great numbers but he can only lift that roster so far, is that on him or the team? Parker carries a heavy burden this season in San Antonio but he has some veterans stepping up like Tim Duncan to help him, Lowry is doing it with less.

IN: Paul Millsap (Utah): We can make a case for Rudy Gay here too (with Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge on the roster we could use some slashing forwards) but Millsap just deserves this more. Millsap is averaging 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, shooting 52 percent. He is the best player on a surprising Jazz side.

OUT: Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas): He even said he didn’t want to be there. Look at it this way — Millsap has a PER of 24.2, Nowitzki 19.2. Dirk is averaging one more point per game but is shooting worse (47.9 percent) and provides fewer rebounds. It’s not that Nowitzki is having a bad season, but selecting him is more about what he has done in the last than what he has done this year.

James Harden says playing in every game should matter in MVP voting

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James Harden has played in every Houston Rocket game this season so far. Russell Westbrook has done the same thing for Oklahoma City.

When voters sit down in a few weeks to choose the league’s Most Valuable Player — in one of the most wide-open races in memory, with Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James making legitimate cases as well — Harden says they should take playing every game into account. It’s the latest part of the rest discussion going on around the league. Here’s what Harden told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

“Yeah, because you’re not leaving your teammates out there to dry, ” Harden said Tuesday morning, before the Rockets’ game against the Warriors. “For me, I worry about always having my teammates’ back and always being out there….

“I’m going to have [my teammates’] back and they know that they have mine as well,” said Harden, who is second in the league in points and first in assists. “For the coaching staff and the fans, especially here in Houston, the front office, I’m here to play.”

Both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard have had rest nights.

This injects Harden into the rest debate, where recently Harden’s teammate Patrick Beverley came out and said players are “disrespecting the game” when they rest. Gregg Popovich sees more nuance in the debate and certainly backs resting players. On the latest PBT Podcast, former Bull B.J. Armstrong told me that they didn’t have rest days back in his day, but players were kept out of games for things they could play through to get right for the playoffs, it was just listed differently. He added that the rest situation might have been different back in the day if the data about the increased chance of player injuries on the second night of a back-to-back (and it goes up from there with four games in five nights) had been available.

In this case, Harden lobbying for his case in the MVP voting. The thing is, his numbers make the case for him: Harden is averaging 29.4 points per game, leading the league with 11.3 assists a night, and he’s creating the most points per game 27.5 (buckets and direct assists. He has taken on the point guard duties in Mike D’Antoni’s offense and has taken on the largest load on offense he has in his career — and he has continued to do it efficiently.

However, one can make a strong statistical case for Westbrook (who carries a larger load for an OKC team that has less talent around its star than Houston), Leonard (best defender of the group), and LeBron (the Cavs recent struggles may doom his chances).

Little details are going to divide this group, and Harden is trying to get his point out there.

That said, the Rockets are almost certainly locked into the three seed in the West, and once it’s clear they are in that slot team management should discuss giving Harden a night off before the playoffs, to let his body rest. Whether he wants to or not.

Rajon Rondo is hilarious (photo)

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Is Rajon Rondo stubborn? Yes.

Is he petty? Yes.

Is he harsh? Yes.

But the Bulls point guard is also hilarious in his own way.

 

Sean Highkin of The Athletic:

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”

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For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).

The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek emphasized all this speaking to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.

The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.

Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’

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Did you know Master P had two NBA contracts?

Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.

These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.

Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.

Master P, via TMZ:

I think they need me to be an assistant coach.

I’m serious about coaching.

I don’t think he’s actually serious.

But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.

Would it be fun? Heck yeah.

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