Video: Suns welcome Goran Dragic back to Phoenix for free agent visit

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It’s nice to see the Suns welcome one of their former players back for a free agent visit, even if the same people who sent him away via trade are the ones pursuing him once again.

Phoenix rolled out the orange carpet for Goran Dragic this week, with team employees lining his entrance route back into the US Airways Center. Near the very end of the video, that’s Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby who’s all smiles hugging Goran at the end of the line.

The trade that sent Dragic to Houston didn’t seem like a bad one for Phoenix at the time. The Suns sent the Rockets a first round pick in addition to Dragic for Aaron Brooks, who was clashing with the Rockets coaching staff after winning the league’s Most Improved Player award the season before.

Dragic was struggling with injuries at the time, and came to the team when the previous basketball operations staff was running the show. The new regime didn’t have the same investment in Dragic, and felt that Brooks would do well in Phoenix after getting what GM Lance Blanks called at the time a “fresh start.”

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. Dragic emerged as maybe the best backup point guard in the league, while Brooks ended up in China as a casualty of last summer’s lockout. The Suns retained the rights to Brooks as a restricted free agent by extending him a qualifying offer last week.

The latest reports have Dragic and the Rockets very far apart from a numbers standpoint, so he’s not expected back in Houston next season. The Suns have the cap space to make Dragic a lucrative offer and rectify their mistake, but the team also has many other decisions to make in terms of how it wants to rebuild the roster after Steve Nash’s departure.

[via ClutchFans]

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.