2012 NBA All-Star Game

No changes atop latest All-Star voting, but Lin and Bosh could sneak in

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NBA fans around the globe love Kobe Bryant. Stunning, I know.

The latest update on the NBA All-Star voting is out and there are no changes among the starters for either conference — but it’s starting to get close for a few guys.

What is different is that Kobe moved past LeBron James as the top overall vote getter. Kobe — in the middle of his best season in years — has 977,444 votes, just edging out LeBron’s 970,314.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Houston. As of now, the starters voted in by the fans are:

East: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett.

West: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard.

Where it gets interesting is that Chris Bosh is just more than 20,000 votes behind Garnett for the final frontcourt spot in the East. Bosh could catch him with a push from fans.

The bigger travesty would be Jeremy Lin catching Chris Paul for the final guard starting spot in the West — Lin is just more than 46,000 votes back of Paul. Fans — I don’t care what continent you are from — Lin isn’t even the best guard on his own team, let alone deserving to start. He is not a step behind Chris Paul on the court, he’s about to be lapped by CP3. Vote Russell Westbrook if you don’t want CP3, vote for James Harden but not Lin. Don’t do this, people.

On the bright side fans, good job putting Anderson Varejao — who is having a strong season — ahead of Andrew Bynum and Amare Stoudemire, neither of whom has played a game.

Voting is open online or at games through Jan. 14, with the fan votes choosing the starters and the rest of the team filled in by votes from team coaches. Here is where the voting stands as of now:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Frontcourt:
1. LeBron James (Mia) 970,314
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 891,759
3. Kevin Garnett (Bos) 328,716
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 308,194
5. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 260,000
6. Paul Pierce (Bos) 171,601
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 129,331
8. Josh Smith (Atl) 111,260
9. Anderson Varejao (Cle) 99,955
10. Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 90,996

Backcourt:
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 645,875
2. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 574,272
3. Deron Williams (BKN) 309,778
4. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 258,193
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 195,142
6. Monta Ellis (Mil) 71,287
7. Raymond Felton (NYK) 66,745
8. Jrue Holiday (Phi) 56,683
9. Jason Terry (Bos) 52,833
10. Brandon Jennings (Mil) 49,122

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Frontcourt:
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 924,898
2. Dwight Howard (LAL) 616,150
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 489,795
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 299,434
5. Pau Gasol (LAL) 197,377
6. Kevin Love (Min) 189,949
7. Omer Asik (Hou) 131,002
8. Rudy Gay (Mem) 125,562
9. Serge Ibaka (OKC) 111,963
10. Marc Gasol (Mem) 99,271

Backcourt:
1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 977,444
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 542,564
3. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 496,133
4. James Harden (Hou) 283,691
5. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 232,074
6. Steve Nash (LAL) 166,262
7. Tony Parker (SA) 111,032
8. Ricky Rubio (Min) 96,466
9. Stephen Curry (GS) 78,380
10. Manu Ginobili (SA) 70,813

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee go make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.

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.