Knicks guard Lin smiles during player introductions before the start of the Knicks' NBA basketball game against the Timberwolves in Minneapolis

Jeremy Lin added to Rising Stars All-Star Weekend game

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How about Jeremy Lin throwing ally-oops to Blake Griffin?

You got it. Thanks to a late add by the NBA and some drafting prowess by Shaquille O’Neal, Lin and Griffin will be playing together the Friday night of All-Star weekend at the Rising Stars Challenge (formerly the Rookie/Sophomore Game).

Lin was not on the original list of invitees — put together and announced before his run the last couple weeks — but when it came time to pick team’s for the event on Friday, “commissioner” Kenny Smith was given the power to add two players.

He added Lin. Which is something we at PBT had suggested the league needed to do. Norris Cole also got added.

You had to know the NBA would do this — they are too smart at marketing to leave their hottest player on the sidelines during their biggest weekend.

Rather than rookies vs. sophomores this year, a group of 20 first and second year players were thrown in a pool and drafted playground style (one at a time) by TNT personalities (and former All-Stars) Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.

Team Shaq vs. Team Chuck.

Here’s how it shakes out:

Team Shaq: Blake Griffin (Clippers), Jeremy Lin (Knicks), Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves), Greg Monroe (Pistons), Markieff Morris (Suns), Kemba Walker (Bobcats), Landry Fields (Knicks), Norris Cole (Heat), Brandon Knight (Pistons), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers).

Team Chuck: Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Paul George (Pacers), Derrick Williams (Timberwolves), MarShon Brooks (Nets), John Wall (Wizards), Gordon Hayward (Jazz), Tiago Splitter (Spurs), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), Evan Turner (76ers).

Predicting an exhibition game is futile. But first glance, in a wide open game without defense…. I’ll take Team Chuck.

The game is Feb. 24, a Friday night, live from Orlando. You can watch it on TNT. (And PBT will be at All-Star Weekend giving you all the coverage you can handle.)

Rudy Gay, Vlade Divac clear the air

Rudy Gay
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Rudy Gay expressed displeasure with how the Kings were handling trade rumors. Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac retorted that Gay had his phone number.

Apparently, Gay found it.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Following those comments, Gay told ABC10 on Thursday afternoon that he had since spoken with Divac.

“I have talked to Vlade,” Gay said from his Nike Skills Academy at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. “I can’t say since Monday stuff has changed, but I just feel like we have a little bit of time to start changing things.”

Gay, who will be entering his 11th NBA season, has insisted he hasn’t demanded a trade and should he remain a member of the Kings by the time training camp opens in October, he says he’ll report and be ready to go.

“At this point in my career I just want to be happy,” said Gay. “I talked to Vlade and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Even if he hasn’t demanded a trade, it sure sounds like Gay would welcome one. I doubt the Kings would mind moving on, either.

But it takes another team to trade for Gay, and so far, one hasn’t emerged.

In the meantime, tensions appear to be eased. Open communication usually helps.

 

Jimmy Butler: I didn’t move Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah from Bulls

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Joakim Noah #13, Derrick Rose #1 and Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls react during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 30, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Bulls 99-93. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler said of the Derrick Rose trade, “It had to be one of us.”

Butler also says not blame him for the Bulls losing Rose — or Joakim Noah, who’s also headed to the Knicks.

Jimmy Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“That has nothing to do with me, I don’t move guys,” Butler said. “People are gonna think what they’re gonna think. I don’t let it bother me. I know where I stand, I know who I am. It’s one more thing for people to talk about. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

I can believe Butler didn’t directly urge Chicago to trade Rose, but Butler’s presence matters.

Rose and Butler clearly didn’t ideally mesh on the court, and there might have been off-court issues, too. If it weren’t for Butler, the Bulls might have kept Rose.

Noah is a little different, because it seems he, more than the team, was ready for a breakup. Still, that might have also had to do with Butler.

Butler is trying to grow into a leader, a natural progression for someone who became his team’s best player. But that was awkward with the Bulls’ previous leaders — Rose and Noah — still in the locker room. There’s no simple solution, though moving on without Rose and Noah will clear that cloud.

So — without other information — it’s too much to “blame” Butler for Rose’s and Noah’s departures. But Rose and Noah moving from Chicago to New York can still be ascribed to Butler.

It might not have been something asked for directly. It’s just the reality of the situation.

Dwyane Wade: “It’s Jimmy Butler’s team”

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Dwyane Wade is back in sweet home, Chicago.

Wade met with the media for the first time and talked about the pairing of himself and Rajon Rondo with the Bulls’ existing star in Jimmy Butler — Wade used the term “three alphas” more than once. But he also was clear about whose team this was going to be on the court.

“We’re not going to go through this all year. It’s Jimmy Butler’s team. Myself and Rondo are here to bring what we bring as athletes.”

Wade added that he would not be a Bull if Jimmy Butler had not personally called him and asked him to come.

Wade took that cue from Shaquille O’Neal when he joined Wade’s Heat team — which eventually led to the Heat’s first title in 2006. The Bulls would love for that kind of result here, although it’s much tougher to see this Chicago roster having anywhere near that kind of impact.

 

LeBron James talked Justin Bieber out of performing at Donald Trump’s nominating convention

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Justin Bieber drinks champagne at the podium during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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With the Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland, you knew there was going to be a LeBron James influence.

It apparently kept Justin Bieber away from Donald Trump and Co.

TMZ

Justin Bieber got a $5 million offer to perform at a Republican event during the GOP Convention, but turned it down after his manager considered quitting and LeBron James urged him to reject it … sources tell TMZ.

That’s a lot of money for a single gig. This either speaks to the power of LeBron’s words — or the embellishment of Bieber’s value.