Olympiakos' Antic celebrates victory against CSKA Moscow after their Euroleague Final Four semi-final basketball game at the O2 Arena in London

Hawks sign Pero Antic

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The Hawks have been re-tooling a team that earned the No. 6 seed last season and tied the Pacers heading into Game 5 of their first-round series.

Paul Millsap replaces Josh Smith. Elton Brand replaces Ivan Johnson. Dennis Schroeder replaces Devin Harris. Mike Budenholzer replaces Larry Drew. Lou Williams is getting healthy. Free agents Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are back.

Does this make Atlanta better? Probably not, but the Hawks aren’t necessarily worse, either. They’re just changing, and for a playoff team, that’s not so bad.

But all hopeful playoff teams could use more depth in at the power positions, so Atlanta has signed Pero Antic, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Vivamore:

Antic (pronounced An Titch) said he had an opportunity to sign with the Magic in 2008 but couldn’t pass up the financial offer of a team from Russia. Now, he wants a chance to prove himself against the best.

“This time, for myself, I don’t want to say that I had a chance but didn’t go (to the NBA),” Antic said. “This is for myself, for a bigger challenge, and this is the biggest challenge you can get.”

Antic said he sees himself as a power forward who can spread the floor with his ability to shoot and who will get rebounds. He added that he will play center if that is what the Hawks need him to do.

“Pero is a skilled and versatile big man who will add depth to our frontcourt,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. “He will fit in well with what we’re building and we’re excited to add him to the team.”

The Hawks have a few proven big men – Al Horford, Millsap and Brand – ahead of Antic. So, they don’t need Antic – a 6-foot-11, 230-pound 30-year-old who averaged 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 15.2 minutes per game for Olympiacos last season – to provide much. Just a little boost off the bench in the back end of the rotation could be enough to keep Atlanta in the playoffs as it battles a crowded middle in the Eastern Conference.

Baron Davis figured out why Russell Westbrook isn’t starting All-Star Game: Russian hackers

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When the starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans were announced this week, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter because Russell Westbrook — the guy averaging a triple-double this season — wasn’t picked. It’s hard for me to get worked up over two-time MVP Stephen Curry getting the nod, but if you want someone to blame it was the fans’ call — they voted Curry first overall, James Harden second, Westbrook third. The players and media had Westbrook first, Harden second, but the tie is broken by the fan vote.

Enter Baron Davis with the timely joke.

We just need to tie in a Zaza Pachulia joke and it will be perfect.

Report: Bucks brought Jabari Parker off bench for discussing with media team’s meeting

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker, center, looks for an open teammate as he is surrounded by Miami Heat players during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bucks 109-97. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Associated Press
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The Milwaukee Bucks had lost four in a row and had slid out of a playoff slot in the East. It’s not one end of the court — in their last five games, the Bucks had the second-worst defense and fourth-worst offense in the NBA. After that fourth loss, the team held a players’ only meeting, one where Jabari Parker reportedly ripped his teammates for a lack of togetherness.

In the postgame media sessions that followed, Parker told the press he confirmed there was a meeting and said he had been “thrashed” by his teammates for what he said.

It was that speaking to the media that got him benched for a game — as decided by his teammates — reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker did not start in Saturday’s road loss to the Miami Heat for violating a team rule that prohibits disclosing locker room discourse to the media, league sources told ESPN…

Parker’s teammates deliberated and decided the appropriate punishment for the violation was to bring him off the bench against the Heat, league sources told ESPN. It was the first time this season that he did not start.

The meeting and the benching didn’t help, the Bucks fell to the lowly Heat 109-97. (Team/players meetings are overrated in how often they help teams turn things around.)

The good news for the Bucks is that in a tight East they remain just a game out of the playoffs and three games out of the five seed. It’s going to be a tough week to turn that around with the Rockets, resurgent Sixers, Raptors, and Celtics on the schedule.

 

Denver’s Kenneth Faried gets up, blocks DeAndre Jordan dunk attempt (VIDEO)

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Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers don’t have much going for them offensively. However, there is one thing: DeAndre Jordan can still run to the rim and dunk with authority.

Denver’s Kenneth Faried took that away Saturday.

Faried hustled back in transition, showed he still had some hops and swatted away a Jordan dunk attempt.

The Nuggets went on to win the game comfortably, 123-98, behind 19 points and 10 boards from Nikola Jokic.

Suns’ Devin Booker sinks three that defeats Knicks (VIDEO)

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The Knicks last three losses have come by a total of six points. The team is not good, a little banged up, and doesn’t play any defense, but New York also has just had a run of bad luck.

The latest example: Phoenix’s Devin Booker draining a three to knock off New York, 107-105. It was a mistake by Derrick Rose, who sagged down to the free throw line watching Eric Bledsoe with the ball coming off the pick, which led to the open pass. Also, notice that Booker set up three feet back of the three-point line — this is a trend a lot of teams and good shooters are following (watch a Rockets’ game) because it makes the closeout harder. Rose would have contested a shot at the arc, but Booker gets a clean look from where he spotted up, and drills it.

Carmelo Anthony got a shot to win it for the Knicks, but his rimmed out.