Nike Basketball unveils All-Star edition shoes for LeBron, Kobe, and Kevin Durant (PHOTOS)

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Nike Basketball unveiled the All-Star editions of the signature shoes for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant earlier this week, and the style and color choices will undoubtedly be coveted by sneaker collectors worldwide.

While they’re not quite as amazing as last year’s Galaxy collection, there’s still plenty to like about the 2013 versions that the players will wear during the NBA’s star-studded midseason exhibition.

From the official release:

“The mission control center in Texas, widely know by its radio call sign “Houston,” provides the creative inspiration for a special collection of shoes for Nike Basketball’s fearless leaders LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

“Space exploration defies practical reality. To launch into space on a mission to reveal the unknown can be mind-boggling.  Extraterrestrial species, undiscovered planets, new constellations – there is no limit to the potential for discovery. These unlimited barriers also apply to Nike Basketball’s design philosophy- – no limits, no restrictions, rooted in exploration and discovery.”

LEBRON X

“An indestructible force originating from fictional Nike Space Program (NSP) planet NSP-LJ6, LeBron James’ dominance was born from the volcanic surface in the planet’s mantle. He is rumored to have journeyed to earth on a meteor made of the galaxy’s hardest substance – black diamonds.

“Technical benefits of the LEBRON X shoe include full-length visible Nike Zoom cushioning, dynamic Flywire technology and Hyperfuse construction — a trilogy set to unleash its fury in Houston.”

KOBE 8 SYSTEM

“Engineered to the specifications of Kobe Bryant’s Houston mission, with origins rooted on a planet marked as NSP-KB24. The Ice Mamba circles the volatile surface as guardian of the five rings. The wise veteran is known to strike with moves that leave his opponents frozen.

“Built for Bryant’s lightning speed and precision, the KOBE 8 SYSTEM shoe is Nike+ Basketball enabled for the first time and this shoe also features Nike Zoom in the midsole insert. Nike Engineered Mesh upper and tactile traction complete the shoe.”

KD V

“Identified as Dark Matter, the biological and molecular breakdown of this figure remains a puzzle for scientists. Early readings of its origin, NSP-KD35, have sent back conflicting reports of a planet that is simultaneously solid, liquid, and gas – properties that make his game adaptable to any situation.

“Joining with Bryant for their quest to lead the West to victory, this KD V shoe is designed to the specifications of Kevin Durant’s Houston mission. The KD V features the combination of Nike Zoom (forefoot) and Nike Air (heel) cushioning along with Hyperfuse upper and dynamic heel support.”

Check out the photos below, and let us know which is your favorite in the comments.


Nike Basketball 2013 All-Star collection

Nets hire Pablo Prigioni as assistant coach, Tiago Splitter as scout

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired former NBA player and Argentine guard Pablo Prigioni as an assistant coach.

The Nets also announced Tuesday that former Spurs center Tiago Splitter was hired as a pro scout.

Prigioni spent most of his professional career in Spain and won a bronze medal with Argentina in the 2008 Olympics before coming to the New York Knicks in 2012 as a 35-year-old rookie. He spent four years in the NBA with the Knicks, Rockets and Clippers.

Splitter helped San Antonio win the 2014 NBA championship before spending the final two seasons of his seven-year career with Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Nets said Splitter, who also played for Brazil’s national team, will have added duties related to player on-court development.

 

Celtics to get Marcus Smart back for Game 5 Tuesday

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It’s a series that has hinged on defense — Boston has played it well for the majority of five games, bottling up Milwaukee in the halfcourt. The Bucks only played it with real energy at home (and only for about six of the eight quarters the last two games) but when they do they have overwhelmed the Celtics, then converted turnovers and missed shots into transition and early clock opportunities the other way.

For Game 5 Tuesday night, Boston gets its best perimeter defender back — Marcus Smart. He has been out since before the playoffs following thumb surgery last March.

Stevens, via NBC Sports Boston:

“He hasn’t played in six weeks, so it’s hard to say how much (time he will get) but will certainly play,” Stevens said. Stevens said there would not be a minutes restriction on him, but added that the fourth-year guard wasn’t going to play 35 minutes.

Smart is a very good perimeter defender who is very physical and usually assigned to the other team’s best guard (or wing, depending upon the matchup). When Smart was on the court this season, the Celtics allowed less than a point per possession and were 3.6 points per 100 better defensively than when he sat.

Smart likely will get time against Eric Bledsoe and Kris Middleton of the Bucks. Just his presence brings needed depth to the Celtics in what is a critical Game 5 in a series tied 2-2.

Report: Pelicans have discussed offering DeMarcus Cousins less than max over two to three years

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Last month, Anthony Davis said he heard DeMarcus Cousins planned to re-sign with the Pelicans. Cousins was out a torn Achilles, and New Orleans was rolling with Davis playing more center. But New Orleans’ ceiling looked higher with Cousins, and Davis made clear he wanted to keep Cousins – in itself a big deal. More important than keeping Cousins is keeping Davis, which requires keeping Davis happy.

Then, the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers, becoming the lowest seed to sweep a first-round series.

Is everyone still sure Cousins warrants a max contract, which projects to be worth about $176 million over five years?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Pelicans have broached internally the idea of offering Cousins a two- or three-year deal at less than the max, per sources familiar with the discussions. I would not expect that to go over well with Cousins’ camp. But the Pelicans have the dual leverage of winning without Cousins and a tepid market for him.

Only a half-dozen or so teams have max-level space this season, and most won’t pursue Cousins at that level, sources say.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pelicans leaked this to test the waters. Word will get back to Cousins, and they can gauge how strenuously he objects. If they want, they can deny ever considering this and try to avoid offending Cousins.

But New Orleans has leverage.

It will be a tight market. Many of the teams with significant cap space are young and rebuilding, and they won’t want Cousins’ attitude. Even teams ready to win might not bring him into the locker room. Returning from a torn Achilles – hard for any player – will be especially difficult for the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins.

That said, Cousins has leverage on the Pelicans, too. He’s extremely talented, and players that talented are hard to come by. New Orleans would still essentially be capped out if he walked, left with only the mid-level exception to replace him. Cousins and Davis play well together, and Davis – who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 – wants Cousins around.

Confronted with a similar situation with Jrue Holiday last summer – capped out and no mechanism to adequately replace him – the Pelicans spent big. But Holiday wasn’t hurt and didn’t have any fit concerns with Davis.

For New Orleans, it’s clearly worth securing the 27-year-old Cousins for the next couple years. The upside is too high. But, especially given the injury, guaranteeing him money into his 30s is undesirable.

On the flip side, Cousins should want long-term security. This might be his last chance to get it.

So, maybe both the Pelicans and Cousins can meet in the middle. But finding that point is never simple.

Judge grills Suge Knight – facing murder charge – on NBA-champion pick (Rockets)

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Suge Knight is facing a murder, threat and robbery charges in three separate cases.

The former rap mogul was in court yesterday to set a trial date for the murder charge.

Marisa Gerber of the Los Angeles Times:

A few minutes later, during a separate hearing in the criminal threats proceeding, another judge asked Knight to return to his courtroom in May. The judge then turned to Knight, asking who he thought would win the NBA playoffs.

“At this time…” Knight said, before the judge cut him off, saying he wanted a once-and-for-all answer.

“Houston,” Knight responded.

“Alright, Houston. Good pick,” the judge said.

Knight smiled.

What?