Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

Andrew Bynum skipping Olympics… so who is in for USA?

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When Dwight Howard went under the knife and sacrificed his summer, the speculation began — who gets his spot on Team USA for the London Olympics this summer?

It pretty much guaranteed that Knicks big man Tyson Chandler is in now. He was on the bubble before, but now he is a must as the United States needs his size and ability to protect the rim. But with a likely gold medal showdown with a big Spanish team — Pau and Marc Gasol plus Serge Ibaka — there was talk of the Team USA getting more size.

Specifically, the Lakers Andrew Bynum. But he told the Los Angeles Times that London is not in his plans, rather the Kobe Bryant knee procedure is.

“I’ve got to take care of my legs in the off-season,” Bynum said Friday. “I’ve got some things planned for my knees…. I’ve got to do some therapy that I’m going overseas to do.”

So now what? Howard is out, LaMarcus Aldridge is likely out due to hip surgery, so who is in on the 12-man roster? Here is my call

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant. I would add Russell Westbrook here, but that comes at the expense of adding another big.

Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. Bosh and Love are locks and they can play the five in international ball, where smaller centers who can knock down the outside shot are common. If you do that, you play a lot of Carmelo and LeBron at the four, which again works internationally. The guy on the bubble here is Blake Griffin, who is a freak of nature but with his inconsistent midrange game and 52 percent free throw shooting may not be a fit.

Center: Tyson Chandler. That’s it. Love and Bosh behind him. That’s a risk if Chandler gets in foul trouble. If you want to think about another long defensive stopper, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis could be a guy to look at, but frankly I’d rather add Westbrook as a combo guard and go small more often. The problem there is simply Spain — could the USA lose the Gold because they got pounded in the paint?

To me, if you can’t have Howard or Bynum the quality of big men drops off enough that I’d rather have the guard and just run teams into the ground with our athletes.

But Howard will be missed. Maybe a lot.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.