Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron, Durant, Kobe headline All NBA First Team

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Even before the season tipped off you had a pretty good sense that LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would be All-NBA First Team — they are dominant players at or entering their peak.

But Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan continue to defy father time.

The two veterans round out the All NBA Team voted on by 119 sportswriters from around the league. This is the 14th time Duncan has made the All-NBA list, but the first time as a center (he was officially a forward with the league, even though he played center).

It’s a good list — we could quibble that I would have had Marc Gasol over Duncan on the first team, but Duncan had a renaissance year and is deserving of the first team. I would have had Brook Lopez on over Dwight Howard on the third team as well. Plus, this is probably the last year Stephen Curry doesn’t make the top three, but the guys on the list all had good years.

If you want to pick things apart — who gave J.J. Hickson, Nikola Pekovic, and Nikola Vucevic third team votes? If those guys are in your top 15 NBA players you’re doing it wrong. We need more transparency in this voting.

Here is the complete list of the All NBA Teams. (The teams must have two guards, two forwards and one center on it. Duncan is considered a center for this.)

FIRST TEAM (with points)

LeBron James, Miami (595)
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (555)
Tim Duncan, San Antonio (392)
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (521)
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (537)

SECOND TEAM (with points)

Carmelo Anthony, New York (397)
Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (132)
Marc Gasol, Memphis (295)
Tony Parker, San Antonio (273)
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (306)

THIRD TEAM (with points)

David Lee, Golden State (79)
Paul George, Indiana (73)
Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers (203)
Dwyane Wade, Miami (145)
James Harden, Houston (253)

Other players receiving votes (with point totals):

Brook Lopez, Brooklyn, 132 (7 First Team votes); Stephen Curry, Golden State, 72; LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland, 62; Chris Bosh, Miami, 59 (4); Joakim Noah, Chicago, 56 (3); Zach Randolph, Memphis, 45; Al Horford, Atlanta, 31 (2); Paul Pierce, Boston, 24; Al Jefferson, Utah, 20 (1); Tyson Chandler, New York, 19 (1); Roy Hibbert, Indiana, 9; Luol Deng, Chicago, 8; Kevin Garnett, Boston, 8; Ty Lawson, Denver, 8; Josh Smith, Atlanta, 7; Deron Williams, Brooklyn, 6; Pau Gasol, LA Lakers, 4; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City, 4; Omer Asik, Houston, 3; Kenneth Faried, Denver, 3; Raymond Felton, New York, 3; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 3; Carlos Boozer, Chicago, 2; Mike Conley, Memphis, 2; David West, Indiana, 2; Rudy Gay, Toronto, 1; J.J. Hickson, Portland, 1; Andre Iguodala, Denver, 1; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, 1; Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota, 1; Rajon Rondo, Boston, 1; Nikola Vucevic, Orlando, 1.

Cavaliers keep re-watching their Game 7 victory over the Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots a three-point basket against the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers’ win over the Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals was an all-timer.

LeBron James bringing a championship to title-starved Cleveland, the Cavs topping the 73-win defending champions who’d built a 3-1 lead, Kyrie Irving‘s shot, Kevin Love‘s defensive stand – the game had it all.

The Cavaliers obviously enjoyed it. And enjoyed it, and enjoyed it and…

LeBron James, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

“I’ve seen it a few times,” James said. “It was on NBA TV throughout the summer. I watch it from a fan’s perspective. I see what we could’ve done better, but I also watch it for enjoyment, to see those three zeros on the clock.”

Irving, via Windhorst:

“I was rewatching the games and talking to my teammates about it, sending them snapchats of me watching,” Irving said. “I got chills. My stomach was dropping knowing the ball is going in but knowing exactly, emotionally how I felt at the time. It still gets me excited thinking about it. It’s such a huge moment for not only Cleveland but our team, our families, our friends.”

Iman Shumpert, via Windhorst:

“I’ve watched it over and over,” Iman Shumpert said. “Oh, it was enjoyable.”

At some point, the Cavs have to refocus on the upcoming season. Maybe they already have.

But I’m not going to tell them to stop reliving Game 7. It was a big deal. Enjoy it.

This can even be healthy if it motivates them to chase that euphoric feeling again.

And if it just distracts them from their goal of repeating? There are worse things – like being stuck on a Game 7 loss.

Report: Rockets give Gary Payton II fully guaranteed salary

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Gary Payton II #0 of the Houston Rockets poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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The Rockets scooped up undrafted point guard Gary Payton II shortly after the draft ended.

How did they do it?

Fully guaranteeing his deal, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

I rated Payton a borderline first-rounder coming out of Oregon State, but he went undrafted. Perhaps, the league just deemed him unworthy. Or maybe the teams that liked him most weren’t positioned to draft him. Or maybe teams opted for lesser players in the second round who were willing to spend a year overseas or in the D-League.

Houston guaranteeing his deal certainly points to a robust market for the point guard. It could also indicate the Rockets plan to keep him into the regular season.

Payton gives the Rockets 15 players with guaranteed salaries plus restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas, who has an outstanding qualifying offer and seems likely to return. There’s no obvious candidate for Houston to waive to reach the regular-season roster limit of 15 – and it could be Payton. This could just be a (more expensive than usual) way of getting Payton onto the Rockets’ D-League affiliate. They won’t be the only team to eat a guaranteed salary this season.

With James Harden (yup), Patrick Beverley, Pablo Prigioni and Tyler Ennis at point guard, Houston doesn’t have a pressing need for Payton. But Ennis, who has accomplished little in two NBA seasons, should be on notice. That Houston values Payton so highly could mean Ennis is the odd man out. Both players, and everyone else, will have the preseason to prove themselves.

Payton, son of the former SuperSonics guard, has major defensive potential. Running an NBA offense will be a tall order, but he has enough raw skills to offer intrigue on that end. He’ll need his defense to buy him time.

Report: Chris Bosh fires agent

MIAMI, FL - MAY 09:  Chris Bosh #1  of the Miami Heat looks on during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Arena on May 9, 2016 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Who does Chris Bosh have in his corner as he tries to play following a third blood-clot issue?

Not the Heat, who say they’re no longer working toward his return.

Not his longtime agent, Henry Thomas of CAA.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Bosh is in the midst of the the biggest quandary of his career. He needs a trusted advisor at his side.

But that might not be enough.

Bosh still has $75,868,170 guaranteed over the final three years of his contract. If he doesn’t play by Feb. 9 and the Heat waive him, they can exclude his salary from cap and luxury-tax calculations (while still paying him) IF a doctor agreed upon by the league and players union says Bosh can no longer safely play.

Bosh would be a free agent in that scenario, but would anyone want him? How much would Bosh resent missing a partial season before that? How much would he sacrifice in a buyout to become a free agent sooner? What if the jointly selected doctor says Bosh can return? What do Miami and Bosh do then?

These are difficult questions, and Bosh needs someone to help him navigate the minefield that lies ahead.

Why did David West choose to come off bench for Warriors? Kevin Durant.

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 21:  David West #30 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts after scoring during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 21, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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If you’re desperately searching for the flaws that will undo the Golden State Warriors, depth has to be the main argument. In order to get Kevin Durant under the cap Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli, Brandon Rush, and Marreese Speights had to be sacrificed.

However, they added a couple of veterans to fill in the gaps. Zaza Pachulia will be at the five, trying to be a poor man’s Bogut, is going to get the most attention.

But the Warriors also snapped up David West, who had gone to be part of the Spurs veteran bench last season and now is chasing a ring with the Warriors. How did that come about? Via the San Antonio Express-News.

“(The Warriors) reached out once we lost to OKC, maybe that night,” West told reporters at Golden State’s media day. “My agent was like, ‘If you’re interested in continuing to play, Golden State wants you.’ He was obviously talking to a few guys and to the coach during the process. Then, when Kevin Durant reached out, he told me he wanted me to come join, so it was a no-brainer.”

I have zero problem with a veteran player like West taking a pay cut and chasing a ring — we as fans can’t say “today’s players care more about money/friends than winning” then turn around and hammer the guy who puts winning first. That sounds like a Trump debate tactic.

Plus, West is going to get some run-up front with Golden State. He’s still solid — he is a physical defender, sets a good screen, and if you don’t stick with him on the pop West will destroy you from the midrange. He’s not his vintage self, but he’s still a guy a championship-caliber team can lean on.

And the Warriors will.