Blake Griffin won last year’s dunk contest in an exciting and memorable way that most think will be difficult to top by any of the contestants participating in the event this year. Jumping over a car isn’t something we see every day, and last year, JaVale McGee said he had no shot to top it unless he jumped over an airplane next.
This year’s group of relative unknowns — Paul George, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Williams, and Chase Budinger — are going to have a tough time keeping the event interesting if they don’t bring some serious creativity to the Amway Center on Saturday night.
We caught up with Griffin Friday morning at the Rising Stars Challenge practice, where he had some advice for the contestants, commented on Jeremy Lin (that’s going to be a theme this weekend, unfortunately), and let us know what his favorite hoops movie is (again, All-Star weekend is a media free-for-all, so lots of “wacky” questions).
Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.