UPDATE 12:31 pm: The league has announced this as official — Iman Shumpert has pulled out of the All-Star Weekend dunk contest and Jeremy Evans is in.
While Knicks fans are going to be bummed, the contest itself is not going to suffer — Evans is a great dunker. This should be fun (you can watch it Saturday night on TNT). The other contestants are Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Paul George. Not a big-name lineup, but some guys who can throw it down. So we’ll see.
10:40 am: Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert had been playing through knee pain for a couple weeks, but with the arrival of J.R. Smith and Baron Davis finally getting healthy, Shumpert was scratched Monday, is not expected to play Wednesday. He will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.
But what about the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest? Shumpert is scheduled to be one of the contestants.
If you haven’t seen Evans — which is possible, he’s only been in 16 games for Utah and is averaging 5.6 minutes per contest — he is a human pogo stick who can leap out of the building. Honestly, I didn’t know much about him until I saw him at the Impact Series of workouts/games this past summer in Las Vegas, and in that free-flowing setting his athleticism caught your eye.
Evans was a snub — there had been a campaign for him from Utah, so if Shumpert has to be out this is the right call.
Spurs demolish Thunder to take Game 1 of second-round series
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
ESPN sources say the Warriors, meanwhile, plan to go outside the organization at season's end for a replacement to add to the current staff.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
Luke Walton's contract to coach the Lakers will be for five years and about $25 million.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.