Trade Rumor Roundup: As deadline nears, lots of questions remain

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It is now just a little less than 13 hours until the NBA trade deadline and we have had all of one whopping trade. Which means it’s going to be a very busy Thursday… probably. There are going to be deals, guys we expect to get dealt will get dealt, but there may be fewer surprises as teams are still very reticent to take on more tax money.

Here is where things stand as of this late Wednesday night/Thursday morning post as we head into the final hours.

We have had one trade — last draft’s No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson, along with Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt plus a second round pick were sent to the Rockets from the Kings. In return, the Kings get Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas from the Rockets. In a related move Houston sent Marcus Morris to Phoenix (where he will now team up with his brother Markieff) for a second round pick.

For the Rockets, they get a serviceable rookie who should at least grow into a solid role player in Robinson, and they get most of his rookie deal. The Kings save a lot of money, which is what the Maloof family is into even if they are selling the Kings.

• Once and for all, the Lakers are not trading Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. The Celtics are not trading Kevin Garnett and there isn’t a great market for Paul Pierce.

• Reports are the Josh Smith sweepstakes is down to the Suns, Bucks and Nets.

The Nets have been offering the same package — Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick — to everyone for everything. So far the Hawks didn’t bite. The Celtics didn’t bite for Paul Pierce, the Bucks didn’t bite for Ersan Ilyasova, and it’s hard to see anyone really biting on that package.

The Bucks are offering deals mostly based around Monta Ellis and interestingly Smith said he wouldn’t rule out re-signing there this off-season. The Suns are offering Marcin Gortat, likely P.J. Tucker and some picks. It feels like the Hawks are going to make a move but are waiting to see if any of these deals gets sweetened before they make a move.

• J.J. Redick also is likely going to be moved before the deadline, the only question is where. Memphis, Indiana, Milwaukee, Chicago and Minnesota all have reportedly shown interest. And word has now come that the San Antonio Spurs are in the mix, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. He ads that the Magic are not opposed to keeping Redick the rest of the season but that seems unlikely.

• The Bobcats are still shopping Ben Gordon around, trying to unload the guard and his $13 million salary for next year. However, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports the Nets are not interested. At all.

• The Jazz are still expected to move either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap. One interesting possibility is a Millsap for Derrick Williams trade with Minnesota — that deal has been discussed.

• The Hornets are testing the waters for guard Eric Gordon. They had conversations with the Warriors about a swap for Klay Thompson, but I’m not sure how serious that really was. Plus, a lot of pieces would be needed to be added with Thompson to make the salaries work.

• The Timberwolves are willing to trade J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour as well as Williams, reports Ken Berger of CBS.

• Dallas has put Rodrigue Beaubois, Brandan Wright and Dominique Jones out there for potential trades, but they only want picks, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. What the Mavs do not want to do is take on more salary and mess with their cap space.

• The Knicks have shopped Ronnie Brewer around, reports ESPNNewYork.com.

• At Hoopsworld, the Pacers GM has shot down rumors that Danny Granger is available.

‘Tired’ Jimmy Butler sits out All-Star Game at his own request

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LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game at 37.3. He’s ninth in the league in total minutes played and played 77:35 minutes in the two games leading up to All-Star Weekend.

Butler was tired and asked Mike D’Antoni to give him some rest, according to both parties (despite speculation this was really a win for the Los Angeles nightlife). Butler did not play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

“Rest,” Butler said when asked why he didn’t play. “I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

“He was tired and he just felt like his legs weren’t there,” Team Stephen head coach Mike D’Antoni. “He didn’t practice yesterday or play today. You have to respect that. He plays hard. Sometimes your body just needs a rest.”

Butler is having the kind of season that has him in the discussion for a place on the MVP ballot. He’s averaging 22.4 points per game with a very efficient true shooting percentage of 59.3, plus he’s playing strong defense. He and Karl-Anthony Towns have led the Timberwolves to a 36-25 record that has them as the current four seed in the West, poised to break an 11-year playoff drought for the franchise.

Still thankful, LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan’s record for years between All-Star MVPs

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Los Angeles – When LeBron James became the youngest-ever NBA All-Star MVP in 2006, he said during the trophy presentation: “I’d like to thank the fans for voting me in as a starter.”

Twelve years later, he sounds similar, maybe just a little more thoughtful: “It’s always been my fans who voted me in. For 14 straight years, my fans have voted me in as an All-Star starter, and it’s been up to me to go out and let them know and show them, listen, I appreciate that, and here’s what I’m going to give to you every time you vote me in.”

He plays similarly, too.

LeBron again won All-Star MVP, leading his team to a 148-145 victory Sunday. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“Every night I step on the floor, I have to lead my guys or prove to myself that I’m still able to play at a high level,” said LeBron, 33. “I feel great.”

The 12-year gap between LeBron’s first and last All-Star MVP – he also won in 2008 – is the longest in NBA history. It tops the 10 years between Michael Jordan’s first (1988) and last (1998).

Here’s the difference between the first and last All-Star MVP for every multi-time winner:

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Players’ effort in this exhibition game comes and goes, but LeBron appeared invigorated .

When LeBron’s team trailed by 15 in the second quarter, he checked in and quickly led it back into the lead. When his team fell behind by 13 midway through the fourth quarter, he again led a spirited comeback. He hit the go-ahead bucket.

Despite playing a game-high 31 minutes, his intensity lasted all the way through the final buzzer.

His coach, the Raptors’ Dwane Casey, said he asked LeBron whether to foul or defend on the final possession while up three. LeBron said defend.

“If he says that, or any great players say that, you want to go with them because it was their idea, their belief, and he had it,” Casey said. “…He got the guys jacked up and juiced up as far as wanting to get a stop.”

LeBron and Kevin Durant swarmed Stephen Curry, who couldn’t shoot and could barely pass. Curry’s team didn’t even get a shot off:

“As you can hear in my voice, that tells how competitive it was,” LeBron said scratchily.

Again, his message echoed 2006: “We’re competitors, and our competitive nature kicked in and said let’s get some defensive stops.”

A lot will get made about the format change, and it might have mattered.

But maybe LeBron is just uniquely capable of dominating and embracing of this stage all these years later.

Defense? Dramatic finish? Team LeBron wins All-Star Game that’s worth watching

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LOS ANGELES — The NBA gambled its new format — with captains picking teams playground style — would produce an All-Star Game where the players showed some pride, played hard, and the showcase again would become something that resembled basketball (unlike last season).

It worked.

For proof guys were invested this time around, check out how Team LeBron responded to winning with a defensive stop, taking away Team Stephen’s attempt to get a clean look at a game-tying three in the closing seconds.

The THRILL of #NBAAllStar VICTORY!

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“It had a real game feel to it,” LeBron James said.

Team LeBron beat Team Stephen 148-145. LeBron was named MVP with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. He also hit the game-tying and go-ahead shot that got the win.

“I played with (LeBron) a few times,” Kyrie Irving said of the play and pass that set up that LeBron game-winner. “I cut back door, (Russell Westbrook) was driving, I saw the opportunity. I saw, before even Russ even passed to me, LeBron was going to circle to the rim, and he’s one of the best finishers at the rim.”

Most importantly, this was an All-Star Game with some defense — it had 81 fewer points than the layup line game last year, and the fewest points in five years. It also proved to be the closest game in six years.

“We wanted to kind of change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke,” Kevin Durant said. “Today we wanted to make it a real basketball game.”

There was more defense than last year from the start of the game — for example, LeBron blocked an alley-oop pass in the first quarter. Of course, “better than last year” was not a high bar to clear, but there was some effort to not just have a layup line. Most of the time.

Also to start the game, Anthony Davis came out wearing the “0” jersey of injured teammate DeMarcus Cousins (he switched back to his own #23 before the first half was over).

On the night, Team LeBron got 19 points out of Kevin Durant, 16 from Paul George, and 14 from Andre Drummond. Team Stephen was led by 21 from both DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard, and 19 points and eight rebounds from Joel Embiid in his first All-Star Game.

The fantastic ending made up for what was a laughable opening skit/national anthem before tip-off that did something very rare — it unified NBA Twitter. It was awful.

Now all anybody is talking about is the game itself. And that’s what the NBA wanted.

LeBron James hits go-ahead shot in All-Star win (video)

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LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.

This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:

Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.