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Latest All-Star voting returns in, Charles Barkley will not be happy

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Apparently, you folks have no concern whatsoever for Charles Barkley’s feelings.

The day after Barkley said Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett have not played well enough to be part of the All-Star starters, they are both in. Howard solidly, he’s a lock, and Garnett has stretched out his lead over Chris Bosh.

Basically, nothing has really changed since last time we reported the results, including Kobe Bryant remaining the top overall vote getter. Fans get to vote in the starting five in each conference for the All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Houston. These lineups look pretty locked in and they 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.

There are only two races that really could change and neither looks likely. As noted above Bosh is within striking distance of Garnett at just under 28,000 votes behind (that’s a lot to make up but not impossible). In the West, Jeremy Lin remains about 46,000 votes back of Chris Paul for the second starting spot in the backcourt. With just more than a week left of voting any change in the starters is unlikely. There has been some movement farther down on the lists, but the focus is starting to turn to who the coaches will bring in and what players will come down with sudden ailments that will keep them out of the 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) 1,151,304
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 1,054,099
3. Kevin Garnett (Bos) 390,751
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 362,973
5. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 315,752
6. Paul Pierce (Bos) 205,096
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 158,743
8. Josh Smith (Atl) 131,508
9. Anderson Varejao (Cle) 116,166
10. Shane Battier (NYK) 107,190

Backcourt:
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 765,077
2. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 675,822
3. Deron Williams (BKN) 350,618
4. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 308,878
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 232,441
6. Monta Ellis (Mil) 84,609
7. Raymond Felton (NYK) 77,123
8. Jrue Holiday (Phi) 66,514
9. Jason Terry (Bos) 62,189
10. Brandon Jennings (Mil) 56,826

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Frontcourt:
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,088,797
2. Dwight Howard (LAL) 716,671
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 593,024
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 352,534
5. Pau Gasol (LAL) 239,440
6. Kevin Love (Min) 221,291
7. Omer Asik (Hou) 160,935
8. Rudy Gay (Mem) 140,864
9. Serge Ibaka (OKC) 134,172
10. Marc Gasol (Mem) 114,465

Backcourt:
1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,177,456
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 651,893
3. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 605,624
4. James Harden (Hou) 337,585
5. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 268,558
6. Steve Nash (LAL) 202,274
7. Tony Parker (SA) 128,966
8. Ricky Rubio (Min) 112,352
9. Stephen Curry (GS) 97,761
10. Manu Ginobili (SA) 84,564

Draymond Green says he doesn’t want to chase 74 wins: “It’s brutal.”

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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If the Warriors have been consistent about one thing in the run-up to the coming season it is this: They are not going for a record number of wins again.

From the GM on down they have worked to tamp down expectations about their regular season, saying there is no goal of chasing their 73-win total of last season. This is how Draymond Green put it on media day, via Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Last season Steve Kerr and some of the staff were hesitant to chase the Jordan-era Bulls 72-win record, but it was a push from the players — Draymond Green being at the front of that parade — who wanted it. They pushed, and Kerr let them. They got 73. Was that lack of rest down the stretch the reason they were down 3-1 to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals, then blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals against Cleveland? Certainly not, there were plenty of other bigger factors (hello LeBron James), but it may have played some role. Clearly, the team thinks it did, based on their words and actions.

However, the Warriors still want the No. 1 seed in the West and will make that a goal. The question is, with an excellent regular season team in San Antonio — one that had a better point differential than the Warriors last season, then they added Pau Gasol — how many wins will it take to get the top seed in the West? 65? More? How hard will the Warriors and Spurs push to get home court throughout?

The Warriors aren’t going for the record, but the top of the West is still going to be an interesting place.

Mike D’Antoni declares James Harden the Rockets’ point guard (‘points guard’)

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James Harden is no longer the NBA’s best shooting guard.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Harden – who averaged 29.0 points and 7.5 assists per game last season – is now Houston’s point guard, though D’Antoni added it wouldn’t be a big adjustment.

D’Antoni, via ClutchFans:

With James, we’ll make a cheap joke. He’ll be a points guard.

We just renamed it. You guys got something to write about.

Harden already controlled the ball a ton, taking primary playmaking and distributing responsibilities last season. This just gets the ball into his hands quicker and should allow the Rockets to play faster, a key component of D’Antoni’s offense.

Of course, D’Antoni’s offense functioned best when Steve Nash – more of a pure passer – ran it with the Suns. Harden won’t duplicate that. His passing ability is more predicated on taking advantage of his scoring threat. But Harden – who, like Nash, is an excellent ball-handler – could make the offense hum in his own way.

Even though D’Antoni is trying to downplay the position switch, it’s a notable shift. Harden fully commanding the offense is a grand experiment with major upside (and potential for a rocky downside).

This will also allow Houston to use Patrick Beverley (historically a point guard) or Eric Gordon (historically a shooting guard) in the backcourt with Harden, allowing a more flexible rotation.

LeBron James says he’ll stand for national anthem

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers
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LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul made a statement denouncing the mistreatment of black and brown bodies and retaliatory violence.

Then, Colin Kaepernick took the civil discourse to another level by sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutalizing black Americans.

Will LeBron – the most powerful player in the NBA – follow Kaepernick’s method of demonstration?

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“I think you guys know when I’m passionate about something I’ll speak up on it, so me standing for the national anthem is something I will do, that’s who I am, that’s what I believe in,” James said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing. You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something.”

“You see these videos that continue to come out, it’s a scary-ass situation that if my son calls me and said if he got pulled over, that I’m not that confident that things are gonna go well and my son is going to return home,” James said. “My son just started the sixth grade.”

“I don’t have the answer,” said James, who has a track record for speaking out when notable cases of police violence toward blacks occurs. “None of us have the answer, but the more times we can talk about it, the more times we can conversate about it. Because I’m not up here saying all police are bad because they’re not. I’m not up here saying that all kids are great and all adults are great, because they’re not.

“But at the same time all lives do matter. It’s not black or white, it’s  not that. It’s everyone, so, it’s just tough being a parent right now when you have a pre-teen.”

To many – seemingly including LeBron – the national anthem (at least the verses we sing) represents what America aspires to be. Kaepernick and those who’ve followed his lead can’t overlook what America is.

Neither approach is wrong.

What’s important: We continue the conversation about police overreach and racism in America. The first step in fixing the problems are acknowledging that they exist.

Kaepernick has brought an incredible amount of attention to the issue. His protest is working.

LeBron will add to the cause in his own way, but Kaepernick kneeling opened the floodgates. Because of Kaepernick, LeBron was asked about this today, and his fears about his son interacting with police will be heard.

Derrick Rose: ‘I felt I didn’t do anything wrong’

FILE - In this June 24, 2016, file photo, New York Knicks' Derrick Rose speaks during a news conference at Madison Square Garden in New York. Phil Jackson made a risky move when he traded for the injury-prone Rose in June, and now the Knicks face the possibility of their point guard's involvement in a rape trial in California during his first preseason with the team.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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The Knicks say they’re not concerned about Derrick Rose, who’s facing a civil lawsuit and criminal investigation for an alleged rape.

Rose doesn’t sound concerned, either.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

Maybe Rose said he believes he did nothing wrong because he did nothing wrong. Maybe Rose said he believes he did nothing wrong because he’s lying.

Or maybe Rose said he believes he did nothing wrong because he doesn’t understand he did something wrong.

That’s the sad possibility of this case and countless others. People sometimes rape because they don’t understand consent.

Having sex with someone too drunk to give proper consent is rape. Doing a sexual act to someone who consented to sex but not that specific act is rape.

Rose should be concerned. The evidence against him is compelling, and it could lead to civil and criminal penalties. He should also be concerned whether he properly understands the line between rape and consent. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I hope Rose – even if he already already possessed a clear understanding of rape and consent – and everyone else uses this as an opportunity to thoughtfully examine what is and isn’t consensual. It’s important information to hold, because ignorance of what’s rape does not justify rape.

This isn’t an issue to brush aside for something as trivial as basketball.