San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors - Game Three

When you vote for West All-Star guards, who you going to snub?

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When you sit down to fill out your All-Star ballot this year (or you may not sit down, you can do it from your phone while standing) who are you going to select as the starting guards in the West?

Are you going to take Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant, like last year? Smart money is they win the fan vote again. (We will see how Kobe plays post Achilles surgery, but if you think fans are not voting him in I question your logic — you also probably think Ben Affleck was a great choice as the new Batman).

But now you’ve left the coaches (who fill out the roster) with an impossible job.

Who get the three spots as backups? Last year the coaches selected Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and it’s hard to argue against any of those guys.

But then you are going to snub a number of deserving guys —the West is loaded with quality guards, some of whom will not make the cut and will have a legitimate complaint (something Jeff Caplan was talking about at NBA.com).

At the top of the list is Stephen Curry, who didn’t earn a trip to Houston for the ASG last year and after that “snub” (again, who are you leaving off?) he picked up his game and averaged 26 points a game (up from 21 before the ASG), 7.4 assists a game and shot 46 percent from three. Then he led the Warriors into the second round of the playoffs. He will make the cut this season.

Other guards in the West deserving consideration:

• Jrue Holiday was an All-Star last season for the Sixers and he’s now in the West for a Pelicans team that could surprise people.

• Ricky Rubio also is a fan favorite, plays with a flair and will lead another team that will surprise some fans if they can stay healthy (Minnesota is a playoff team out West if healthy).

• Damian Lillard will warrant votes. The Rookie of the Year averaged 19 points a game and should take a step forward (plus he won’t have to carry as much of he offensive load with Mo Williams and some added doeth all over the Trail Blazers roster.

• Ty Lawson is one of the fastest and better point guards in the league, averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 assists a game last season.

• Mike Conley has become a solid point guard, one of the better defensive points but a guy who still scored 14.6 points and averaged 6.1 assists a game, orchestrating a Memphis a Grizzlies attack that went all the way to the conference finals.

• Then there is the list of good guards not likely to even sniff making the team: Monta Ellis, Eric Bledsoe, Steve Nash and Klay Thompson. (I’m counting Andre Iguodala as a forward with Golden State.)

Some of those guys are going to have a monster first half of the season and put their names in contention. Then, when they don’t make the cut they will have a legitimate complaint. But there are just not enough spots for all the deserving guys.

Report: Clippers exploring leaving Lakers at Staples Center, getting their own arena

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Los Angeles Clippers pulls up for a shot between Brandon Bass #2 and D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers don’t just play second fiddle to the Lakers in Los Angeles. They play second fiddle to the Lakers in their own arena.

Unless the Clippers want to move from the NBA’s second-biggest market, the former isn’t changing.

The Latter?

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

The Clippers want to escape the Lakers’ shadow. Leaving the Staples Center wouldn’t turn the Clippers into L.A.’s team, but it’d give them a new avenue for attention — and revenue.

Of course, if the Clippers stay in the Staples Center, they’ll want the best terms possible. Leaking interest in a new arena only helps their bargaining position.

Report: Wizards unlikely to extend Otto Porter’s contract

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards reacts after scoring a three-pointer against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Verizon Center on February 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. 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 Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The small forward of the Wizards’ dreams, Kevin Durant, plays for the Warriors.

So, Washington is left with Otto Porter.

How do the Wizards feel about that?

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

Otto Porter appears likely to become a restricted free agent next summer, with no movement towards an extension to his rookie scale contract with the Wizards before starting the 2016-17 season, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Porter, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, has steadily improved in his three NBA seasons. He didn’t exactly take off last season from his breakout 2015 playoffs, but he’s still on an upward trend.

Just 23, Porter should continue in the right direction.

The combo forward a good and long defender. He gets out well in transition, shoots reasonably well from outside and minimizes his mistakes.

Without knowing offer terms, it’s impossible to say whether the Wizards are waiting to see more or Porter is betting on himself. Quite possibly, it’s somewhere in between.

Draymond Green says he didn’t talk much with Kevin Durant during playoffs

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hugs Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors after losing 96-88 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Thunder players were reportedly bothered by the relationship between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green last season.

The Warriors recruited Durant throughout the year, but that got complicated when Golden State met Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

But Green says the players didn’t cross a line.

Green (hat tip: Erik Horne of The Oklahoman):

Me and KD weren’t really talking during the playoffs. During the playoffs, it’s a little different. More is at stake. So, we weren’t talking much, and that’s normal. So, I heard something come out where they said, “Oh, Kevin Durant and Draymond was talking during the playoffs.” They were lying. But if that’s what they want to believe, if that makes them feel better about themselves — and when I say “them,” I’m talking about whoever, whoever’s saying it — then believe it. But they’re wrong.

If Green and Durant kept their distance during the postseason, that seems reasonable.

Durant’s former co-workers shouldn’t have a right to dictate his friends outside work, but when there’s direct competition, it’s a little different. It’s fair to ask Durant to separate himself from Green then.

There’s still no perfect solution. Durant’s and Green’s prior relationship opened the door for questions. But suggesting Durant and Green never should have bonded in the first place is unrealistic.

So, there’s little left to do but hope Durant and Green handled it was well as Green said they did.

 

Enes Kanter on claim nobody wants to play with Russell Westbrook: ‘Wrong!!!’

SAN ANTONIO,TX - MAY 10:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates with Enes Kanter #11 after a win against the San Antonio Spurs in game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 10, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.  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 Cortes/Getty Images)
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Kevin Durant might have left the Thunder, in part, because he grew tired of playing with Russell Westbrook.

But does that mean nobody wants to play with Westbrook?

Presented with that claim, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter refuted it strongly:

Of course, many players want to play with Russell Westbrook. He’s a great player and even better competitor. People want to be around someone so maniacal about winning and capable of delivering.

But there’s an obvious difference between Kanter and Durant. It’s much easier for a pick-and-roll big man than a superstar wing to play with Westbrook.

Westbrook tends to over-dribble, and he can be selfish. I’d understand Durant preferring a team with more ball movement like the Warriors.

Kanter doesn’t have the cachet to pick any team at any salary like Durant did. Of his options, Kanter is probably genuinely happy to play with Westbrook. And the Thunder should be happy to have Westbrook (as long as they do). His strengths far outweigh his flaws.

No scoring star seamlessly blend with each other. Even LeBron James and Dwyane Wadeclose friends and one an elite passer — struggled to mesh early in their Heat days. It’s just hard when there’s one ball.

So, it’s unfair to kill Westbrook for this drawback to his game. Maybe he’d click better with another star who’s more aggressive than Durant. And it’s not even as if Westbrook and Durant failed together. Oklahoma City won a lot of games with those two.

Plenty of players would sign up to replace Durant as Westbrook’s partner in crime.